“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Last week I attended the memorial service of one of our long-time members Janet McGahan. I also published a link to Greg Burham’s obituary which notes him as an “outspoken pacifist”. Both Janet and Greg knew suffering and found their way out. They also both led the way for many others. Janet gave the world many beautiful pieces of art, some of which hangs at JRPC and a couple of pieces will be in our silent auction.
At the memorial, I heard many stories of the love she shared with so many and felt lucky to have known her. I did not know Greg except for a few articles in our JRPC scrapbooks. I read about his 1974 walk from Alaska to Mexico to restore his faith in humanity after returning from Vietnam and his healing connections in 1989 with Veterans from the Soviet Union. One of our Peacemakers, Butch Turk, sent me several stories about Greg because he said,
“this 6’6″ former SEAL was one of the most sensitive, gentle souls I’ve known, was an unflagging advocate for vets, and was a consistent ally of peace people. I know that he inspired me.”
One of those stories was the words of another Peacemaker, Dan Gallagher.
“Burham is, to those who have worked with him, something of a “gentle giant.” From him I learned the healing power of a hug…Through him, I and many others received validation for our various efforts during times of self-doubt. As with so many he cared for, Burham’s wartime experience caused him to bear wounds that show no scars. While calmly counseling those affected by war, he argued passionately against the policies that sent America’s sons and daughters to war to kill other people’s sons and daughters. Even those taking issue with his opinions respected the innate sense of decency that shone out from the man.”
Our community has two great holes in it from these losses. Let us work to fill them by continuing the example of love and healing that Janet and Greg showed us. We would love to hear more stories of the people that inspire you and need to be honored as a Peacemaker. And please join us this Sunday to celebrate the community we live and work in…Betsy