MEMORIAL SERVICE - BERNARD SPITZ The Unitarian Society of Ridgewood May 9, 2015 b. September 29, 1925 d. February 5, 2015 Music for Gathering
Welcome Carlos R. Martinez, Intern Minister Friends, I call us to our purpose. We are gathered to remember the life of Bernard Spitz, known to many of us as Bernie: father, friend, husband, neighbor, and grandfather. Here with us today is his beloved family, his friends and his relatives who have travelled both from near and far. • • • • •
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Bernie’s wife--Marcia Bernie’s Son. Bill with his wife Donna Lieberman, and daughter Rachel Spitz-Lieberman His Son--Jonathan with his wife Susannah Chapman, and son Lukas Spitz-Chapman Marcia’s Daughter-in-law Erica Kiesewetter [KEYS-VETTER], the mother of Jonathan's children, Gabriella Stephane Spitz and Sebastian Bernard Spitz. Donna's mother Betty Lieberman, who lost her beloved husband Sidney Lieberman in December, just two months before Bernie's death. (Sadly it is Rachel Spitz Lieberman who has lost both her grandfathers this past winter). Two nieces--Christine Kelsey and Jennifer Backus (Marcia's nieces) from Maryland and Virginia. Bernie’s nephew BRAND Thumim [THU-MIM] from London, England BRAND's daughter Nancy Thumim from Leeds, England. and Susannah Chapman’s family is also present.
We are very grateful to be together and thank those who have traveled from all distances to be here today. It is this occasion afforded us—the living—to gather to ponder life in its truest and fullest meaning. It is THIS moment that is given to us to grieve, to mourn, to shed our tears and to uplift our cherished memories, to recall moments of laughter, delight and sadness as we bring forward the presence of Bernie through our stories, music, words and meditations. We are here to uphold a life well lived. We are here to make this space both holy and sacred and filled with the meaning of our lives through our appreciation of Bernie’s life. Let us not be deterred from our purpose. Let us join our tender hearts, let us pool our tears into our common vessel, let us grieve the loss and mourn his passing. For it is from this earth we are born and it is to this earth we shall return. For each of us death awaits as surely as the change of the seasons and the rising and the setting of the sun. It is in the face of this certainty that the
contour of our lives is felt and the meaning of WHO WE ARE and what WE CAN BE is given its fullest measure and meaning. Friends, I welcome you to this space which is made sacred in this season of loss with the spirit of the love and friendship you bring as we gather to remember Bernie. You presence here is evidence of the clay of life fashioned by Bernie’s hands. Your presence here today speaks of how Bernie touched, shaped and influenced you—his wife Marcia, his children Bill and Jonathan, and his grandchildren and you his friends and neighbors. Also, we include in this sacred moment those family and friends who could not be here today and the memory of those ancestors and relatives who came before and whose spirit and presence is still deeply felt and honored. Chalice Lighting Spitz Family I invite Bernie’s family to come forward to light the chalice. The chalice is a symbol of hope shared by all Unitarian Universalists. Opening Words Carlos R. Martinez I share with you "The Song of Zazen" by Zen master Hakuin, this is a work which Bernie often quoted: "How boundless the cleared sky of samadhi! How transparent the perfect moonlight of wisdom! At this very moment, what more need we seek? As the truth eternally reveals itself, this very place is the lotus land of purity; this very body is the body of the Buddha". We come together so that we may honor Bernie in our hearts and hold him dear in memory. We come first to remember Bernie as he was long ago, and as he was just weeks ago; to remember him in his times of strength and in his times of need; to remember him in moments of joy and pleasure and remember him in moments of sadness and struggle. The purpose before us is to REMEMBER. TO REMEMBER HIM as he was—NO MORE, NO LESS. In our remembering we celebrate not only who he was but also what his life meant and will always mean. We come to mourn—WE COME TO MOURN in the silent spaces once filled with his companionship, his conversation, his loving, caring and concerned presence and we mourn the loss of his love growing into tomorrow. We come to mourn for the times that were AND the times that could have been AND the times that can no longer be. We mourn for our private losses AND the sadness we feel. We mourn for the moment which has passed to speak those final words of understanding and endearment. We mourn for the loss of his wry smile and the TWINKLE in his eye that endeared him to us. The sense of our loss present here IS the space that Bernie filled in each life here today. It is through our gathering we come to invite Bernie’s presence to be with us here again to celebrate his life. Each of you is present and comes with your memories of Bernie.
You knew him as Dad, Granddad or GRANDPA; as a friend, neighbor and beloved member of this Society. He was WHO he was but he was not the same person to any two people here. Nor was he the same throughout his years for he grew and changed as we all do. Today we celebrate his life and make him present with us. We raise him up in our hearts again to feel his presence and give us the luxury which WE the living have-- to say good bye to our loved ones and to seal our hearts with their loving memory. We uplift our hearts to feel again his presence, the images of his face, his laughter, his concern, his challenges to do better and to be better. Our destiny or fate reveals itself with the passage of time. We can tune into the frequencies of the universe and try to decipher the code that is signaling to us. We can strain our ears to hear the very music that is intended to animate our lives. We can cast our eyes to the stars and ponder our destiny or console ourselves that our fate may reside either in the stars or in ourselves. Whether it is within our grasp or beyond our reach it is present. History makes of us vessels of time, containers of experience, we are each a text of life punctuated on each end by that first inhalation and the last exhalation of our breath. The certainty of our lives is that our first breath will come as surely as our last. The poetry, prose, music and art of our lives is contained between those very two points. I believe everyday people lead heroic lives. The hero in the Greek sense of the word faces adversity and danger for some greater good of humanity. The hero upholds martial courage or moral excellence for the greater good. To be vaulted into the pantheon of heroes is to ensure that the memory of their lives will survive once they have mouldered and returned to dust. The Ancient Greeks believed in conducting their lives in a manner that made each deed or act an investment in the memory that spoke to the legacy one desired to bequeath to their progeny and succeeding generations. The facts of our lives never tell the whole story of who we are and the legacy we bequeath to those who survive us. If I were to give you the facts of Bernieâ€™s life it tells only part of the story. So often the truth of a life lived lies somewhere between the lines of facts on oneâ€™s resume, the listing of accomplishments and the shorthand of an obituary. The fact is you loved him and he loved you. He demonstrated his love in supporting you his family, encouraging his children to pursue their dreams and to fulfill their lives with the greatness that he knew was within you. Bernie too had aspirations to satisfy. To work hard, to improve himself and fulfill the potential within himself to express himself through his artistry. This room filled as it is, is telling of the life he lead and the accomplishments which are his legacy. He dared to love, he dared to care, he dared to step beyond the known world of Brooklyn and to open up a world beyond the confines of his childhood. He met the world with a characteristic eagerness and vitality. There is so much to tell about Bernie. I now invite the family to come forward and share their reflections.
Family Memories Shared
Après un Rêve Gabriel Fauré / Eric Bartlett / Rachel Becker / Susannah Chapman / Gabriella Spitz / Jonathan Spitz Community Memories Shared I now invite those of you who would like to share a brief remembrance of Bernie to each come forward. Meditation
With the sounding of the bowl gong I invite you into a moment of silent meditation and remembrance of Bernie. Kaddish Donna Lieberman / Rachel Spitz-Lieberman CLOSING WORDS AND EXTINGUISHING OF THE FLAME It is fitting, as we draw near our close to hear Bernie’s own words, as he shared them, here himself, in his credo statement. “Life continues to surprise, like me up here talking about my credo statement, something I never really thought about. My credo, if I can call it that, does not necessarily hew to the UU party line, but here I am. It is hard for me to say NO…. I am many things, but I can say that I am a spiritual person. My spiritual feelings… comes from my personal connections forged over the years with you all, not so much words from the pulpit. My spiritual effort and work is: To be aware & be awake. This comes from a meditation practice that started in about 1976, and has been a constant through that time. It is the vehicle that gets me there, to that quiet place. This practice enables me to be ready to do the appropriate action that presents itself needed for that particular situation or condition My core belief is I DON'T KNOW! Conversely, I do indeed know a lot and experienced a lot in a full life of 89+ years. But there is so much that I don't know, so much that is unknowable! This “not knowing” opens me up to everything, all that there is to discover, like the world of pottery—making pots: earth, air, fire and water. That alone would be an entire lifetime's work in that world. Working toward achieving clarity, then even more clarity. How high is this sky, how deep is this well? Fully realizing and feeling the impermanence of all things. To actualize this core belief is to be still—sit still—be still, these feelings arise while doing deep mediation. Everything comes—& goes—thoughts, feeling, emotions.
So many of us have so much to say. [We] know so much and that is good—words, words, words, words—these words are wonderful, but like music it is the spaces in between the notes where art & beauty lie. So I say—my core belief—is to be open, to be awake (when I am awake) & be quiet when I sit zazen and to live fully & compassionately as I am able while still alive. I embrace the ultimate reality of impermanence as prevailing on myself and all beings & things.” * * * * * * In closing, I ask you to go in peace. Marcia, Bill, Jonathan, the grandchildren, beloved family and friends, as you leave here today carry with you the loving memory of Bernie. May the love you feel, embrace you and sustain you. May it lift your spirit and strengthen your heart. May its light shine upon you and out from within you and illuminate your path. Though we may walk through the darkest valley, be comforted knowing that we walk together.
Extinguishing of the Chalice The ______________ will come forward to extinguish the chalice. We extinguish the chalice here so that it might glow gently in our hearts. May it light your path as you leave this place. May it guide your way until we are together again. MUSIC Piano Trio No.1, Op.49 Felix Mendelssohn
Erica Kiesewetter Elizabeth Martyn Gabriella Spitz
I invite you to greet the family members and join them in Fellowship Hall for refreshments and light snacks. The service has ended. Peace. Shalom.