Hello friends,

Rose here. As part of our program development this year, we are working on creating a new type of Wisdom & Money circle that will support members to make end-of-life plans, including estate plans, to ensure that the money that flows after our deaths is offered in a spirit of extravagant love and blessing. I was inspired to explore this topic because of what I have experienced being on the receiving end of gifts that came to Wisdom & Money after a beloved friend and member of our community died. It has been very powerful to receive such gifts from “across the veil,” by which I mean the thin boundary that divides the living and the dead, heaven and Earth. It is equally as powerful to help shepherd gifts in an ongoing way with my friend Judy from across the veil; I further describe this shepherding below.

At the beginning of Holy Week, a few members of our team gathered to reflect on receiving gifts from across the veil and the power of love that is stronger than death. My colleague Jon asked me to describe what I mean when I say I am “working across the veil with Judy.” This reflection is my response. I offer it as a glimpse of Resurrection as we continue to celebrate Eastertide.

With gratitude,
Rose FeerickPhoto of Judy and Rose at an annointing, and Judy at a playful Levi's Table session at a retreat.

Love is as Strong as Death: Working Across the Veil on a Charitable Trust

By Rosemary Feerick

Since 2020, I have been serving as a trustee on a Charitable Trust set up by my friend, and member of this community, Judy Bork. Judy and I shared an interest in the connections between money and Christian spirituality, and developed a personal friendship through this work that lasted more than 20 years. Judy often called me when she was trying to discern how to give well. It, thus, came as no surprise when she asked if I would assist with the process of giving away her money after her death by serving as a Trustee on her Charitable Trust. When Judy died and I began that work, I believed I was entering into a new dimension of our friendship that included working together across the veil. My colleague Jon once asked me to describe what I mean by that. This piece is my attempt to answer that question.

 

First, I want to acknowledge that there is a particular theology at work in what I am saying. I am especially informed by Cynthia Bourgeault’s interpretation of the Holy Week mysteries as celebrating the reality that “love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6). Through that lens, I see that it is possible to continue a relationship with a loved one who has died, albeit in a very different way. And what if money could serve as a bridge between worlds? That’s the opportunity I see. I also believe that because Judy is no longer bound by time and space, nor the particular limitations of her personality, she is available to assist from the purity of her spirit, opening doors, smoothing the way, etc.. In my work as a trustee, I understand that I am in partnership with Judy.

The work of the Trust began in 2020, just as the world was moving into lockdown and pandemic. I started my role by gathering all the notes I had from 20 years of conversation with Judy. I also printed Judy’s giving intentions, gathered photos and cherished gifts she had given me, many of which she had made by hand. I put all of that in my car and drove down to New Camaldoli Hermitage for a three-day retreat. 

Over the course of that retreat, I created an altar with the items I had brought. I read through all the written materials, stopping to attend prayers, go for walks, and mourn the loss of my friend. At one point, I wrote a long letter to Judy. It was the raw kind of letter, as there were some unfinished, painful places in our relationship that we were working through when she died, and I needed to express those in order to stay open. When I was finished, I stood up to take a break. At that exact moment, the door to my room blew open. I understood that Judy was with me and that something had shifted in our relationship.

With my spirit clear and aligned with Judy, I sat down and drafted a mission statement for the Trust to guide us as we made decisions together. It included a general description of what Judy loved to support financially, drawing from giving intentions she had written up and sent to me. I also made notes about how she liked to give. Alongside the words, I cut and pasted my favorite photos to support my awareness of the unique fragrance of Judy’s spirit. All along, I understood that I was doing a kind of “Lectio Divina” of Judy’s giving life; I was listening for Judy, for her Spirit, and learning from what had not gone well.

On one level, that retreat was very ordinary “work.” I was sitting at a desk, typing on my computer, going for walks, pondering. At the same time, I know that when I am at the Hermitage, I am held in the prayer of the monks and retreatants. Also, being there gave me the opportunity to pray with the monks and ensured that I was free from distractions; there is no wifi or cell service at New Camaldoli. At the Hermitage, I am able to listen with more of me and I have an inner clarity that often arises with ease. It does not feel otherworldly; on the contrary, it feels very deeply “me.” I also knew and experienced Judy working with me, supporting me to bring my wisdom to the task at hand. 

Since that three-day retreat, I have continued to sense Judy working with me, opening doors, making certain things easier than they might be otherwise, helping me to learn from mistakes, and supporting the organizations that receive the funds that she left behind. Our partnership thrives when I am able to weave together Judy’s intentions, her continued presence, as well as my own knowledge, intuition and sight. 

To be clear, I do not see Judy or hear her voice. I do not have those kinds of spiritual gifts. What I do have are practices that enable me to quiet my being and open all of my faculties. So when I am working on the Trust I make sure to engage those practices. I also light a candle and place a photo of Judy nearby as a way of inviting her help. In fact, I did just that before writing this piece.

Judy offered me a wonderful gift when she invited me to serve as Trustee. Having the opportunity to participate in the flow of gift to organizations doing amazing work, and learning how to engage in ongoing partnership with someone beyond the veil are incredible experiences for me. And because of how I sit in Wisdom & Money, everything I learn expands what I bring to our community. The gift multiplies and continues to flow. 

Perhaps you recognize what I have been talking about. Have you had your own experience of working with money in partnership with a loved one who has died? I would love to hear what it has been like for you. Please make a note in the comments section below, or give me a call and we will talk.

Happy Easter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *