In Memory of Barbara Ann Bryant Havens

Today we come to celebrate the life of Barbara Ann Bryant Havens, a beloved mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and a dear friend to too many people to count. Although she is no longer with us, her memory will live on in our hearts for eternity. We feel your lively and beautiful spirit with us today, and we hope you sense our love for you in this room. We not only love you, but have learned much from you, been inspired by you, and been made to laugh and be joyful in your presence! We will always remember you!

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember you
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, we remember you
In the opening buds and in the rebirth of Spring, we remember you
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of Summer, we remember you
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of Autumn, we remember you
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember you
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember you
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember you
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember you
So long as we live, you too shall live, for you are now a part of us,
as we remember you.[1]

Each of us will carry in our hearts those special moments that will help us remember Barbara.

My wife, Karen, and I are fortunate to live on the same floor with Barbara for almost five years; I remember the day we moved in, there she came rolling down the hall to welcome us to the floor.

That was so Barbara!

Exuberantly extending her hands and heart to everyone she met. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, . . conversations at her place and dinners at ours; we will always remember, and miss her terribly.

We come together today from the diversity of our grieving,
to gather in the warmth of this community,
giving stubborn witness to our belief that
in times of sadness, there is room for laughter.
In times of darkness, there always will be light.
May we hold fast to the conviction
that what we do with our lives matters.

John and Parker feel the loss of a mother, Betty a daughter, Beau and Nola and Willow a beloved grandmother; we all feel their pain. To Parker and John, we ask ‘how do we let a mother go?’

How do we let a mother go?
How do we say “I’m ready now to go on without you”?
How can we ever have a clue of what that really means?
And all of a sudden, the moment is upon us, and there’s no turning back.

And then we know what grief is, . . .
and guilt
and love
and things undone.

But there is peace too. Peace and acceptance and overwhelming love that we maybe weren’t aware of, waves and waves of conflicting emotion,
And laughter too,
and memories we hadn’t bothered lately to recall come flooding back in shared company.

. . and it is all about you, Barbara!

And there’s gratitude. . .
so much of that, that we had you, such a wonderful mother…
Bright and shining, nobody’s fool, independent, but humble too;
Smart, and kind, and fun.


A part of you has passed away, but much is carried everyday within us, and will as long as we are here.

This may be a final tribute,
A day to celebrate your life and say goodbyes;
But it is not final![2]

Your children, grandchildren, and friends will keep your memory, and that zest for life you taught them and us. When met with difficulties and challenges, we will all simply ask, “what did Barbara do”? and we will gain strength and courage from your example.

When kindness and generosity are lacking, we will be reminded of what Barbara did – even amidst pain and physical limitations – and we will try to be kinder, more generous, and more loving to each other.

Every day we’ll celebrate in some way, just by the virtue of how you shaped our lives,

The absolute and incredible fortune that we knew you.

As a mother, a friend and a woman.

We are told in an oft-heard scripture from Ecclesiastes:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

We are grateful that you have broken the bounds of your beautiful but weakened body,
that you feel pain no more,
and that your boundless energy has returned.

Barbara is now standing tall,

with that red hair flowing in the breeze,

lips bright red,

nails always perfectly polished in red,

and those brilliant red shoes,

ready to take on the universe in her own personal, and vibrant way.

Denny Fultz and Tom Queen, two of Barbara’s longtime friends, will share some memories, followed by John, speaking for the family.

In closing, I would like to read a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, written in 1932, for a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with her and her husband. When Margaret’s mother fell ill and died, she was distraught that it was not safe to return to Germany. The heartbroken young woman told Frye that she never had the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”. Frye found herself composing a piece of verse on a brown paper shopping bag. Later she said that the words “just came to her” and expressed what she felt about life and death. This reminds us that death is not all there is:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.

Barbara, you have left us wiser, happier, and enriched – and we thank God for sending you to be our daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. And now in your honor and memory, we will go forth today in life – to do what you so fully lived – have a wonderful party and care for and love one another.

And so, although Barbara Bryant Havens no longer walks this earthly realm,

she is still with us, . . .

loving us, . . .

ever present in our hearts and minds.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra’s famous song:





Let us pray:

We lift up those who have lost loved ones. We see images of families in celebration; but their emotions are far from happy. There are empty places in their hearts where loved ones have been called from life. We lift them up to you that you might give them strength to get through their mourning. We ask for your grace to comfort them in their time of need. We thank you for their faithfulness and fear, hope and doubt, sorrow and joy. Amen.
[1]      Adapted from Yom Kippur Service, Michelle Markert Rubin
[2]      Unknown source
The Rev deniray mueller, Schoedinger Northwest, Columbus, OH; 10 February 2018

A Life Well-Lived : Remembering Gayle Lamb Nash

We are here today to celebrate and rejoice for the life of Gayle Lamb Nash: a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, a grandmother, a dear friend and a member of this parish for 42 years.

Gayle was born on November 20, 1937 and returned to be with God on May 9, 2016. The birth and death statistic is always mentioned in obituaries, as if that is the most significant piece of information about a person.

But what is more important, and is what we want to remember today is what happened between those two dates – who Gayle was, and what she did, and what she meant to all of us, in her 78 years.

One could say that Gayle was a person of commitment. She worked at Nationwide Insurance for thirty years, and Nationwide was an integral part of her adult life. There she connected with many people both within the organization and in the Columbus business community. She knew a lot of the movers and shakers in the city and could enlist their aid for community projects, both large and small.

Gayle was a stalwart member of Trinity Church; she became a member when her children was young and was an active leader. She taught Sunday School, served and lead many committees, and was known to one and all as ‘the Christmas lady’. She was determined that our decorations for Advent and Christmas should be done beautifully and properly and each year she directed everyone to make sure it was done ‘just right’. Some of the now adult members of the congregation remember well assisting her as children with hanging swags, lighting candles and changing bows from blue to red. For years, Gayle ensured that Trinity would look perfect as we progressed through the Advent/Christmas season.

She was a proud member of West High School Class of 1955, and was active in any activities related to the school throughout her life. She also attended Ohio State University and anyone who knew Gayle knew that scarlet and grey flowed in her veins. She was a constant and vigorous supporter of the Buckeyes.

Gayle was always there for not only her family, but also her friends and associates. But certainly her most loyal commitment was to her family, friends and colleagues.

Her grandchildren have posted touching remembrances on Facebook saying about their love for her and deeply important her love and care has been in their lives. She often was a second mother to them, their rock, and someone they could come to when they needed advice.

Of course, not only was she dear to her children and grandchildren, but they were dear to her. She was proud of each and every one of them, their accomplishments and the young adults they have or are becoming. The family was the most important thing in her life.

I was lucky enough to have been not only pastoral support, but also a friend of Gayle’s. While I was going through the ordination process, she was always there to reaffirm my calling, and in later years, I always felt her love and support. I, like many in this congregation and those who knew her, feel a lost in our hearts that we must fill with memories of what she meant to us, what she did for us, and what she taught us.

Always strong and determined in everything she did, Gayle was a trooper – through challenges and struggles, through good times and changes, she ‘soldiered on’ with unyielding purpose and strength of conviction. It is not surprising, then, that Gayle fought her disease and her failing health to the end. When I visited her shortly before she died, we planned this service. . . and she had definite ideas about what it should and shouldn’t be. You and God are in charge now, Gayle, and we hope we are fulfilling your wishes.

Gayle’s faith kept her going through the process. As a beloved child of God, she knew that death was not the end, but only the beginning of a new phase of her life. She believed she would be reunited with her parents and others who went before her. And that same faith assured her that those whom she left on earth would be supported in the love of God until they were with her again.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes that

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to love, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

So today mourn the passing of Gayle Nash, and we may weep. But we can also laugh and dance and be at peace, secure in the eternal life that we all share as promised by the resurrection of Jesus. We can hold close to each other with Gayle’s spirit alive in each of us, and for all eternity. As the poet Mary Elizabeth Frye so beautifully expressed, we can hear Gayle remind us:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there – I do not sleep.

I am the thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints in snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

As you awake with morning’s hush

I am the swift-up-flinging rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there – I did not die.


      Delivered at Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; May 14, 2016