The Reverend Jeanne Linderman … We'll Miss You
At the funeral service on Friday, March 2nd, the Reverend Canon Lloyd Casson gave the eulogy. Here are his remarks…
HOMILY AT THE SERVICE IN MEMORY AND THANKSGIVING FOR THE LIFE OF JEANNE HERRON LINDERMAN
By The Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson
Friday, March 2, 2012 at SsAM
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
This is a bittersweet time for most of us here today. We gather to mourn the passing of a great spirit among us. Jeanne's health has been in decline for some time, and more than once her situation was critical. But strong in spirit and tenacious in heart, she managed over those times to bounce back, sustained by the love and prayers of her faithful husband Jim, their children, and her church family of this parish, the Diocese of Delaware and beyond. However, Tuesday, a week ago, no possibility of life left in her, she departed from her body, in the faith and fear of God.
Jim, devoted husband of 57 wonderful years, and you, her beloved children, Susan, John, Richard, Craig, Mark and Elizabeth, and devoted grandchildren; we know how it is, that even though you may have begun, some time ago, to expect this, when it actually happens, the pain and shock may seem unbearable. Certainly you will be sustained by the unbounded love which she held for each of you.
In the midst of the pain, though, this is a beautiful day, as we reflect upon the life of this woman, who responded to God's love by showing it and living it, in all aspects of her life.
"This is my commandment," says one of the passages Jeanne selected for her funeral, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
This certainly is the way it was between Jeanne and her family. Despite the various paths that she pursued throughout her life, her primary mission was to be wife, mother, grandmother, mentor, spiritual guide for her family. The Linderman's have been such a close-knit family down through the years, and Jeanne really has been that special glue holding them all together through all of the chances and changes of their lives. Most of you have no doubt heard of Camp Linderman. That's the annual coming together of the Jim and Jeanne Linderman clan-children, grandchildren gathering together, one from as far away as Italy, to feast and play, to sing and pray, to share their stories and pass on the lore — and the faith — which continually define them as a family. It was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that Camp Linderman is not defined by a place; it happens wherever they have this annual gathering — whether in Hockessin, Rehoboth, or Alaska.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you". I suspect that this has been a sustaining rule for her own life, to manifest in her own person, beginning with her family, the unconditional love of God. I pray that the Linderman family will continue for generations yet to come, to gather for Camp Linderman, and recalling their matriarch and patriarch, Jeanne and Jim Linderman, will continue to be guided by these words of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you."
Would that all families would be guided by this rule of life. Would that the whole family of Jesus, The Body of Christ, the Church, The Anglican Communion, all of us would remember and live by these words of Jesus; for they are not simply a rule of life; they summarize what is our mission to the world: to show forth God's love to the world by our own acts of love, toward our neighbors of every stripe and in every place.
You see, what makes the Camp Linderman family love and unity something to praise, is not simply that Jeanne loved her family with her whole heart, and that the Lindermans love one another. What makes love real is that it is shared. Love that is not shared, dies. Jeanne's love for God, expressed by love for her family, spilled over into the rest of life. She had a genuine love for people, especially those forced out to the margins.
This was driven home to me way back in the Spring of 1968, when I was Associate Rector at St. Andrew's. It was the Poor People's Campaign. Many of you will remember that tumultuous time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had called for A Poor People's Campaign some months before he was assassinated. Its purpose was to call attention to the suffering and grinding poverty experienced by people all across this country. Using what he called an Economic Bill of Rights, he wanted the Federal Government to address the need for jobs, housing and a living wage. He referred to this Campaign as the second phase of the Civil Rights Movement, uniting people of all races by their common plight of poverty. Sadly, Dr. King was assassinated before the Campaign could really take off, but his organization decided to go ahead with it in Dr. King's honor. All over this country, people organized trips by bus, on foot and otherwise to go to Washington for a massive, non-violent rally and to erect on the mall a huge tent city called Resurrection City. When some of us learned that marchers would be coming though Wilmington on their way to Washington, St. Andrew's vestry agreed — not unanimously — to my request that we host the marchers, putting them up for the night and providing supper and breakfast.
Jeanne Linderman was all over this one. She and about a dozen St. Andreans helped set up the auditorium — the very space where the reception will be held after this service — for about 25 or so marchers, and to prepare meals to eat here and box lunches to carry with them. Everybody stayed up that night. Jeanne could be found among those listening to the marchers' stories and singing along with them. Many of our members and their families were really opposed to our doing this, and of course, concerned about safety and security issues. This moment was a life-changing experience for me; not only because we were sharing life with these neighbors from around the country; but because of the genuine, spontaneous, and courageous acts of love shown by Jeanne and the others.
Throughout those difficult days of assassinations, of unrest in the city, our streets occupied by National Guard Troops, Jeanne and Jim and a handful of others in the parish were concerned about more than their safety and the building's security. Jeanne's intuitive commitment was to see racial equality and economic justice achieved. Love extended beyond herself, to sisters and brothers on the other side of the street. "This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you."
Nearly 30 years later, when I returned to Delaware as first rector of this parish, Jeanne had been ordained, had been serving other places in the diocese of Delaware, and had been serving as Associate Rector of St. Andrew's. A few months before, St. Andrew's and St. Matthew's had voted to consolidate their missions and their assets — apparently not without some grieving over loss, mistrust, and apprehension on the part of both congregations. I learned from Sandy Johnson, Sr. Warden at St. Matthew's at the time, and who is working on a book about this history, just how stormy things had become in the process leading up to the vote. It turns out that without Jeanne's pastoral sensitivity, without her loving those people, there just might not have been an Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew. During the hiatus left by the vacating former rectors of both of the parishes, she literally held everything together. Preaching and celebrating at St. Matthew's at 8:00 o'clock, and St. Andrew's at 10:00 o'clock. Meeting with St. Matthew's people and St. Andrew's people separately and together.
Sandy describes her first encounter with Jeanne at such a meeting like this: "I particularly remember her glistening white hair, her bright lipstick, the black dress and priest collar, and her continual warm, bright smile. The encounter left me wanting to know more about her. She sat listening as the agenda unfolded … with about 10 of us learning how to say difficult things to each other." In meetings, in private, individual sessions, and in sermons, Jeanne listened and reflected. During my first months, I heard both from members of St. Andrew's and St. Matthew's, how Jeanne seemed to read, to empathize with them, and to help one to hear what the other was saying. I would say that Jeanne loved these two parishes together.
I can attest personally to Jeanne's pastoral intuition, and have relied on it for my own self as well as for relating to other members of SsAM. A natural born priest. Sandy writes: "Jeanne's quiet demeanor and distinctive voice reminded me of the Queen Victoria in her senior years. I have always marveled at her quiet independence, her six children, and making the decision to go into the priesthood. A renaissance woman!!!"
Just the other day, in a conversation with Jim, I learned that Jeanne had wanted to go into the ministry at a much earlier age, but was dissuaded by her pastor at the time. "This is not the time," he apparently said. She may have been denied an earlier opportunity for ordination, but that certainly didn't prevent Jeanne from being what a priest is in the greatest sense of that word: One through whom the love of God is manifested and experienced. Another one of the scriptural passages Jeanne selected is the one from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me." Yes indeed. It may be said with certainty. Jeanne Linderman was anointed by God from the beginning, to bear testimony to God's love through word, sacrament and by the healing and uplifting love and power of God.
Today, by saying these things about Jeanne Linderman, we celebrate her life among us. We are the richer for her having walked with us for a time. She leaves a legacy of lasting love and memories for her husband, children and grandchildren to cherish at Camp Linderman and always.
She leaves her family and us the legacy of her example. May this day be a new day for you — and for all of us. May we embrace the commandment to love one another as God in Christ, loves us.
To you, Jim, and Susan, John, Richard, Craig, Mark and Elizabeth, may you be sustained by the knowledge that the dividing line between life and death is love. Her body has decayed, but her love for you is for ever.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another. AMEN.
Photos by Ken F.
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