Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Walking Easy On The Earth

Over four decades ago, a man named James Kavanaugh left the Catholic priesthood to become a writer, counselor, and continuing seeker of truth and meaning.  He authored numerous books, both non-fiction and poetry.  His poems have been among my favorites.  They help my spirit soar when such is needed.  Some days they moved against my pain with healing balm.  On other occasions they kicked me in the gut so hard I lost my breath and had to struggle to regain it.  One of my favorite poems was entitled "Some Few Walk Easy." Evidently Kavanaugh wrote it to describe a male counterpart.  But it fits some women I have met also. It doesn't describe everyone I know, but it does remind me of a few who have graced my life when they walked onto my path and journeyed with me a while.

One of those persons was Jo Quinn Murphy.  We lost her a few weeks back.  (Seems like I'm writing a lot about departed friends and I still have another one to go after Jo Quinn).  I feel a sense of loss for those who are no longer here.  The beauty of their memory is that all were uniquely individual and gifted.

Jo Quinn walked easy.  For all that I may be able to recall about her, I do not remember a sense of heaviness.  Even as she stared down the so-called "Grim Reaper," it was done with a sense of calm and an almost matter-of-fact attitude.  I never sensed fear.  I never heard regret.  I never visited her without seeing her smile.

She was not religious.  Didn't need to be.  Her sense of the spiritual carried her deeper, and probably farther, than most.  She would occasionally gather in worship with some of her friends, but I think it was because friends were there and she appreciated the community (and the hugs and encouragement).  There is a statement that goes "spiritual, but not religious."  At least one book recently hot off the press challenges that notion and says that spiritual but not religious is not enough.  The author of that book never met Jo Quinn.  The "Spirit" of her life was in tune with the body, nature, the earth, healing, compassion, and the things that make for gentleness and grace.  Sounds good to me.  Don't know many religions that consistently top that.

She worked as a volunteer coordinator at the shelter for a while many years ago and encouraged others to invest their lives in the work of hospitality.  When she left she developed an idea called the "Card of Hope" which involved the selection of a local artist's work placed on a card that could be given at any time in honor of or memory of someone and the proceeds would go to support the shelter endeavors.  That one simple, but beautiful, effort has now become one of the larged fund-raisers for the shelter.  That was the easiness of Jo Quinn.  Combine art with an act of compassion and remarkable things happen.

Jo requested that there be no final service.  She thought a picnic would be more in order.  I hope it happens someday.  That would be so like her.

If you ever can, try to find Kavanaugh's poem.  See if the image of Jo Quinn Murphy does not come to your mind as you read.


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