A Most Unusual Opening of the Year
For the first time in decades, the Ethical Culture Society will not open with a welcome from its Leader, Joe Chuman.
While not physically sick, Joe’s spirit is very ill. As you know, his wife, Linda, passed away on August 31. In an attempt to make some sense of this suffering for myself and others, I wondered what meaning we might be able to squeeze out of this nightmare.
Despair is suffering without meaning.
I think the humanists must project the meanings day after day, and it’s hard work many days.
Some of the hardest work we members of the Bergen Society have had to do is to be patient. This waiting, in an age of instant information, was painful. Joe is a public figure, always accessible. Respecting his privacy thwarted so many of our instincts both individually and as a community; to reach out, to comfort, to know more, to shed a tear together, to connect, to encourage, to hug, to listen, to bear witness.
Joe had needed to keep himself focused entirely on Linda. We now wish him the strength to endure what’s ahead. As for us, we have each other to turn to with our worries and our grief. We stand ready to be present and to be leaned on, but not until the time is right. When the time comes, we will meet that suffering with patience and with love.
It is with profound sorrow that we announce that Linda Gerstmann died August 31st. The world is a darker place with the passing of Linda, the wife of our Leader Joe Chuman. Information about visiting with the family will follow when we have more details.