Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ethel Heyer: In the Garden

Tonight on Facebook I learned of the death of yet another of the staff members at Bethany Fellowship (a Christian community and Bible school where I lived off and on from 1983-1989). The gardens there were lovely, largely thanks to Ethel Heyer. Joyce Haase said that Ethel passed away in her sleep last night, and I couldn't help but think of her bending gently over the heavenly rose gardens.

Gardeners have a special kind of grace, I think. Me, who never found a plant I couldn't kill in short order (even the artificial varieties get a little pot-bound), admire the kind of nurturing, instinctive patience it takes to coax life and beauty out of the soil.

My grandmother, Ogda Dix, had that gift. For years she beautified the public gardens and parks of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Ethel covered the acerage of Bethany Fellowship, and though the two women never knew each other I think they were kindred spirits. Both raised families and served their communities in a hidden, hard-working kind of way. Both brought joy to the lives of those who knew and couldn't help but love them. And both faced the end of their lives with the sure-fast conviction that they knew where they were going, and who they would meet when they got there.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord,

and may your perpetual light shine upon them.

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed,

by the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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