Sunday, July 7, 2013

A funeral homily for August Feehan -- by the Rev. Richard Baker

Grant, O Lord, that my words may be Thy words and if my words be not Thy words, let thy people be clever enough to perceive the difference. Amen

Augusta Feehan is gone...and we have sorrow. We grieve...not for Gussie...but for ourselves and the loss we feel. An important part of us is gone...and our lives will not be the same again...worship at the Cathedral will not be the same again without her chair on Gospel side. But we are not gathered today to mourn and be bitter...Gussie would not have approved of that...We are gathered to recognize our give thanks for the pleasure of her company...and then to let go.

And what a pleasure her company could be! We all have great Gussie stories...and we intend for you to share them at the reception after this service.

She was a tireless advocate of the Holy Spirit, which she saw as an active force in the world, making things come out right, and she never missed the chance to announce, after some fortuitous event, “I tell you, honey, it’s the Holy Spirit!” She probably never realized that she fit that description as well -- an active force in the world, making things come out right...whether it was providing money for a young person’s education...or a music program...or lighting on the cathedral.

And what officiant at a cathedral wedding can forget the Holy Spirit (in the person of Augusta Feehan) doing combat with the mother of the bride to be sure things were done the right way -- or not done at all. I’m sure, however, that successive Deans have wished on occasion that the Holy Spirit would direct her along the path of greater cooperation. In both cases, she was making the world work better as she saw it.... she embodied that spirit.

We acknowledge today what a special force she was in our world and we give thanks for Gussie, the insights she gave us, the fun we had with her. I will savor forever her great line when asked why she didn’t eat many meals in the dining room of the residence on 18th Street: “Oh, honey, I can’t stand the organ know, those old people reciting which of their organs isn’t working right today.”

I give special thanks for Jim McGregor’s special care and concern for her since he came to the Cathedral -- she and I shared the conviction that his ministrations gave her 15 extra years...and we all give thanks for those extra years of the pleasure of her company.

I want to share with you a poem by The Rev. David Fly, entitled ‘A Farewell to Gussie’

Only three years before our Gussie was born,
Orville and Wilbur were tooting a horn.
Their news was amazing and could really astound,
‘Cause they found a way to get off the ground!

A flying machine they sat in and soared
That even predated the Model T Ford.
I tell you all this because I’m amazed
At what Gussie saw in all of her days!

She flew higher than Wilbur and that other Wright kid,
And put on more miles than Ford ever did!
Rocket ships, radar, robots and such
Have all come along in her life – it’s so much!

In her 106 years she saw wars go to peaces,
And astronauts soar into vast outer reaches!
She knew flappers and beatniks and hippies and more,
The human parade has danced past her door.

And since she was born she’s streamed clouds of glory,
And I’m honored to tell just part of the story.
we’ll miss you, dear Gussie,We’ll miss seeing you,
What an amazing time you have lived through!

Those of us who have known you want you to know
That you’ve touched us all deeply . . . and so . . .
Today, we’re the ones who are tooting a horn
Giving thanks to God for the day you were born!

And now we must say goodbye...and let go of that part of our lives that we called Gussie. We do so confident that she has now seen her redeemer,...seen God with her own eyes...and sure that God has welcomed her to a special mansion among the many dwelling places in God’s house.

We let go of her hand knowing that God now has hold of her hand...and that God will never let go.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...honey...

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