Sharing from the Heart
A Place for Friends to Express Themselves, and Share from the Heart
by Wendy Sterba
When I was a young preadolescent in Gainesville in the late 60s, trying to grow up and become a good person, I had no idea that my family’s friend, Betty Odum, was a scientist who would produce twelve publications with almost 900 citations by others. I knew her instead as one of my first day school teachers and as a leader in helping bring together our community with involvement in building and repair projects for the poor on the other side of our segregated town. For us, she was a Mom of our friends Ruthie, Peter, Kathy and “Stevie” but I know now she was also a teacher. Our families would go swimming together or sometimes camping around the state. Betty was a leader in teaching us about nature both in Florida State Parks or simply in the back yard of the meeting house during first day school when we would talk about the connections of systems, be they cultural, natural or philosophical. I fear I gave her grief with my endless cynical questioning, but knowing now that she was a scientist in her other life, I wonder if she didn’t champion the spirit of my questioning, while gently offering alternatives to my doubting philosophical probes. She listened honestly to our childhood explanations of what the inner light might “mean" and was a person who accepted our juvenile theories with that wry smile of hers which gave encouragement while also pushing us to keep questioning and to keep striving to be better and to learn more. Betty was a wonderful model of life-affirming ways to question and grow and be persistent in trying to make the world a better place.
- Sunlight filtered down through shades of green, casting a soft beam of light on Gene’s white shroud.
- A gentle breeze rustled the leaves bearing the loamy smell of the fretting turned earth.
- A serenade of bird song drifted down from the tree tops.
- The hallowed words of Gene’s favorite hymns hung in the air, sung ever so sweetly by our own almost heavenly angels.
- The hushed silence as Gene’s shrouded body was gently lowered into the grave.
- The rythmic sound of shovels returning the earth in to the grave as long-time friends and family shared in this holy ritual.
- The profusion of colors and sweet scents of cut flowers being lovingly placed on the grave.
- The placement of the small brass marker with Gene’s birth and death dates and the works of the him she loved, `My life flows on’.
- Last but not least for me was the visceral sensation of being lifted by a great sea of light and lover.
- I believe Gene’s life flows on in my life and in the life of the Meeting.