April 18, 2006

After Barbara Greenler's memorial

I am still so very tender. Her life spoke; her life preached.

I pull back from the world to listen to her fill my heart once more. Here are some memories, some lessons, some great one-liners I have heard about this remarkable meek woman.

  • "If you want to see Quakers mad, just draw a line somewhere."

  • Back in the 1950s, when Barbara was in her 20s, she was arrested in Washington, D.C. for walking down the street, singing with an interracial group. The charge was disturbing the peace. The song? Jacob's Ladder. When she was brought to the jail, she and the other white woman involved refused to go to the segregated cell. They stayed where they were and spent the night in jail, singing.

  • "We're all in this together."

  • Barbara had a collection of prairie insects that she helped put together for the Riveredge Nature Center.

  • Barbara had six grandchildren. She seemed to put aside time to spend with each one, separately. Sometimes it was for a chat, sometimes it was for an overnight. But when Barbara was with you, she was entirely and devotedly with you.

  • There were about 300 people at her memorial. The memorial lasted about two hours and included a number of songs. These are the ones that Barbara had requested:

    O God of All Creation, #18 in the Friends Hymnal.
    I Celebrate the Inward Light, #149 in the Friends Hymnal.
    Song of Peace
    Old Man River, with words slightly modified. Barbara had asked Dave French to sing this as a solo.

    At the potluck following the meeting for worship for memorial, about 150 people showed up. Towards the end, we began to sing in the manner of Nightingales, the Quaker group for fellowship-and-singing that Barbara helped found a few decades ago. All of us sitting in a circle. No books to sing from. Singing to each other, love and tears in our eyes. Children on laps. Arms around shoulders.

    Swing Low Sweet Chariot
    Mary Ellen Carter
    All God's Critters
    Climb, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain
    Music in My Mother's House
    Whispering Hope.

    I miss her. Her love made the rough edges smooth for so many of us. Barbara lived by the Law of Love.

    At Meeting for Worship the next day, which was First Day, an old and dear friend of Barbara's rose:
    I was thinking: When I die, I want a memorial like Barbara's. But if I want a memorial like that, then I have to live like that.


    Liz in the Mist said...

    I never had the privelege of meeting this lady but from what you have written, she sounds simply amazing. The world is a better place for having been touched by her life.

    Cat C-B (and/or Peter B) said...

    I love your blog. I've only been following it for about a week, but both recent and archived posts have spoken to me so clearly... "If I want a memorial like that, then I have to _live_ like that."

    Yes. Exactly.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Rich in Brooklyn said...

    Thanks for this wonderful memorial of Barbara Greenler. I had never heard of her until earlier today when, coincidentally, I added a "Quakerism" section to my google news page for the first time and this article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel popped up.
    - - Rich Accetta-Evans
    (Brooklyn Quaker)

    Liz Opp said...

    Thanks to all of you for your open support and companionship with me along such a tender journey.

    And Rich - a Milwaukee Friend shared that same article with me--it's just perfect. Thanks for mentioning it and including the link.


    Lorcan said...

    Thanks for sharing thy friend with us, and I'd say thee is off to a good start living as thee hopes...