Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just Work---Just Be

"I am not doing art, I am doing theology," Brother Thomas Bezanson

Some met him years ago at Weston Priory in Vermont. Many met him here in Erie. Some were invited to his special tea ceremonies...using his own Japanese tea bowls, eating fruit and cheese and good wine. Others knew him more generally. All of the mourners who attended Brother Thomas' wake and funeral mentioned one common element: the beauty that he created and brought to the world.

A touching moment occurred when Bernie Pucker, owner of Pucker Gallery, recited from the Morning Prayer service at the synagogue that he attends daily. He read first in the Hebrew and then in English. He also told the chapel-filled group that he had been to Erie two times in the first 21 years Thomas lived here, and 16 times in the past nine months, sharing the unique experience of being part of Thomas' dying moments.

Sister Joan Chittister reflected on John's gospel and Jesus' exhortation to "Love one another" in her homily. Here is an excerpt: "Jesus message of friendship is very, very different. Jesus message about friendship is about revolutionary love. Love for the tax collectors you resent and suspect. Love for the fishermen who have no economic clout. Love for visionaries who want peace, but also for the zealots who want war. Love for the women and the lepers, for the rich and the poor, for the handicapped and the outcast, for the Jews and the Samaritans, for the Roman soldiers and the Canaanite women. Jesus message is about love, it’s about a friendship that is more than marriage, more than politics, more than convenience, more than personal comfort. It’s about being for one another. It’s about caring for one another. It’s about loving one another as God has loved us, all together, all at once.

"Thomas’ whole message, like Jesus’, these last seven months has shown us how he loved his whole life. It showed us what it means to love inclusively, to love widely, to love wholly, to love without bounds. Who here is not certain that they had a special relationship with him? He was the universal “brother” and people trooped in from across the United States, came from the homes and offices of the city, overflowed in this community. He showed us all how to be about more than the pots–whatever those talents, those gifts, those life-giving centers of creation may be–in our own lives. He showed us how to give our gifts without becoming captive to them. His work brings us all together today not because Thomas did pots, but because the pots he did generated a whole new way of living in each of us."

The full text will be posted at