Monday, September 10, 2012

Reverend Nancy Eswein's Homily for funeral of The Very Reverend Judith Dunlop: Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Homily by Reverend Nancy Eswein at the Grace Cathedral Funeral of The Very Reverend Judith Dunlop, former Dean, The Episcopal School for Deacons.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans]

Funeral Homily for Judith Goldsborough Dunlop
Grace Cathedral
July 19, 2012

Wisdom 7:22-28
Psalm 84 (Hymnal 517)
Romans 12:1-2, 9-18
John 15:9-13

May I Speak in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Although they were aware of the fact that some of their colleagues found it rather odd, none of the many church services the two dear friends attended together over the years enthralled them more than a funeral. “Nothing like a good funeral,” they would say, making their way to the Big Four or other suitable watering hole, where they would put their heads together over a glass of Fume Blanc for one, Zinfandel for the other, and begin a thorough dissection of the liturgy they had just attended.

The Very Reverend Judith Dunlop
Their critics were right; there was no liturgy they loved discussing more than a funeral, and there were many funerals to attend over their twenty-three year friendship, forged at the height of the AIDS crisis. As the years flew by and email became commonplace, the funeral critiques continued in electronic form. The initial conversation over a glass of wine was just the beginning. It was in the emails that no holds were barred. They felt a bit freer to scream and howl electronically—no disapproving glances from the maitre’d at the Big Four when they got too loud!

One of the friends, an obsessive saver of electronic correspondence, kept those emails.  So when Judith Dunlop announced several months ago that she needed to start talking about her funeral plans, it was with considerable trepidation that I opened a particular folder on my computer. The folder found under Church/Liturgies/Funerals/Dunlop. The folder that contained years of the “If I Die First” emails—quintessentially Judith in their macabre and hilarious humor. Emails detailing her likes and dislikes, the “make sure you’s” and the “make sure you don’ts” (which were considerable!), her desires and fears, her hopes and dreams of what today—her own funeral--would be.

When we were close to finalizing the many required details, Judith asked me, “What is this funeral about?” Always the teacher par excellence, she wanted to make sure I understood the message of what she was trying to convey to us today; what she wanted to communicate about her core beliefs, her ministry, her life to all of us who have gathered to honor her here at Grace Cathedral. Luckily for me (not always the student par excellence!) the answer to her question was obvious. So I said to her, “I think it is all about Resurrection.” Judith replied “Good answer. You’re preaching,” and that was the last discussion we ever had about her funeral.

Judith Dunlop was many things to many different people and different communities: teacher, healer, tender of souls, nurse, priest, friend, dean, mother, sister, grandmother. Different roles, but common threads. Threads of wisdom. Intelligence. Kindness. Generosity of spirit. Steadfastness. Threads of her love—love woven through every aspect, every facet of her life.

These are some of the essential qualities we associate with the threads of Judith’s life; her earthly life. What might these qualities have to do with resurrection? With what Christians believe and know happens on the last day? Judith certainly knew what was going to happen on her last day; she had no doubts about it. She knew that she, like generations of people before her, would receive that crown of glory promised by our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who said, “My joy will be in you so that your joy may be complete.” Right about now Judith the teacher would ask us, “Tell me, just what was Jesus’ joy?” Certainly that after his resurrection and ascension he himself would be with God his Father, and that we would follow him on our last day. Good answer. But hardly complete.

Incomplete because Judith taught that Jesus’ joy also included resurrection in this life—not just the next. This world. Jesus’ fulfilled joy means resurrection must infuse every aspect of our human life; our earthly lives. That in all places and in all times, there would be signs of “on earth as it is in heaven,” as we say daily in the Lord’s Prayer. That the marks of his resurrection would be palpable; woven into all aspects of human life by the hands of those who believe in the power of God’s love.
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

What drove Judith Dunlop into the many places where very few of us have the courage to tread? To the sides of dying children and their families? To the lives of people with AIDS? To the spiritually confused and bankrupt? To the smug and self-satisfied and overly certain? To the sides of students who far too often seemed like they would never really get it? What drove her was her utter and complete faith in God’s power and love made manifest in the resurrection. She herself lived a life that at its core connected resurrection between this life and the next. She used to say one is simply not possible without the other. You can’t believe in a pretty resurrection in the next life if you don’t work your fingers to the bone for people who need resurrection in this life. And that she did. Like no one else most of us will ever know.

I look out into the great sea of people in this Cathedral who have come to honor her—all touched by her love. Her wisdom. Her strength. I look into an enormous sea of people today in Grace Cathedral who cannot really, completely believe that our beloved Judith is gone. Gone from this life, yes. But in a very real way will always be with us. This is a part of God’s mystery of resurrection. A mystery of love. Of hope. Of faith. Of death.
A mystery that unfolds for us to see in its utter clarity only at special moments in human life; moments such as death. The slow but certain unfolding of this particular mystery was certainly apparent to those closest to Judith—her beloved family. Her family who loved her dearly and were with her to the end, caring for her every need, her every desire; with her completely to the moment of her very last breath.

It was on a lovely Sunday afternoon—one she would have considered quite perfect in terms of temperature and breeze and quality of light--that this particular mystery, the mystery of death, unfolded in its entirety. On that lovely afternoon, just before three, the veil between this world and the next was parted. And when that veil parted, Judith Goldsborough Dunlop journeyed from this world to the next. How fitting that her final journey ended in the sublime loveliness of God’s perfect peace: that peace of God that passes all understanding.

Even people of deep faith, and that would be lots of us here today, wonder, “Where is she? Where did she go?” An easy question to answer until you lose someone you deeply love. In the last week or so I’ve had to get some advice and guidance from a friend of mine who is making her first visit to Grace Cathedral today. Her name is Gabriella Dunlop Tomatis. Since she is a close friend of mine I call her Gaby. Gaby has been reading a book called “The Invisible String” and spending time  reflecting on how, in the light of these “invisible strings” her grandmother Judith is still with us. Gaby says the invisible strings are really love—string of love, and that these strings of love hold us together. Even when we are far apart, as Judith seems now. Gaby likes to read this book in the evening, and muse about how strong these strings of love are—as strong as the love her grandmother had for her. Now that is strong! Gaby’s sure and certain knowledge that her beloved grandmother, though she now lives with Jesus, remains in her heart and in all of our hearts is not just a fairy tale—it is God’s great promise to us. Thank you Gaby, for explaining this mystery of God’s love so clearly. You have brought me, and now many others here at this Cathedral, great comfort in our time of sadness.

Earlier in the service, Kate read from the Book of Wisdom:
“There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, loving the good, keen,
irresistible, through all…she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
 an image of God’s goodness.”

Judith’s very spirit, now bound to us, forever, by God’s invisible strings of love.

In the Name of God. Amen.


John 9
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Romans 12
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Wisdom 7:22-28
For it is wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. 
There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, clear, unpolluted,
distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,
irresistible, beneficent, humane,
steadfast, sure, free from anxiety,
all-powerful, overseeing all,
and penetrating through all spirits
that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. 
For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. 
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. 
For she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness. 
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets; 
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

 Obituary by Grace Cathedral
El Greco--Descent of the Holy Spirit

The Very Reverend Doctor Judith G. Dunlop died peacefully at home on July 8 after
a long illness. The former Dean of The Episcopal School for Deacons dedicated her
life to serving people in need of spiritual and medical care. Judith’s special calling in
life was shepherding children and young adults with life limiting illnesses, and their
families, through end-of-life situations.

She was born Judith Drake Goldsborough, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis
Farrar Goldsborough of New York City. She attended St. Agnes School in Albany,
NY and the Yale New Haven Nursing School. The Very Rev. Dunlop was graduated
from Columbia University with a BS in Nursing Education and an MS in Clinical
Psychology. She first achieved distinction teaching nursing education in institutions
that included Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, SUNY Rockland Community
College in Suffern, NY and, after her move to San Francisco, CA in 1968, at the
College of Marin in Kentfield, CA.

After the birth of her children, she joined the Center for Attitudinal Healing in
Marin County, CA where she directed programs providing psychosocial care to
families of children and young adults with life limiting illnesses. During the 1970s
and 80s, she became a nationally recognized expert in pediatric palliative care and
oncology nursing. In 1982, she co-founded the first pediatric hospice in Northern
California at Children’s Hospital Oakland (CA). She was also among the first wave
of medical professionals offering care and counseling to victims of the AIDS crisis in
San Francisco in the 1980s.

In 1990 she was graduated from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP)
in Berkeley, CA with a Master’s in Divinity (M.Div). Following her ordination,
Bishop William Swing appointed her Dean of the Episcopal School for Deacons, a
position she held for eight years. From the time of her ordination until this year, she
served at several parishes in the Diocese of California. Most notable was her
dedication and service to the community of All Saints Parish, San Francisco.
Judith returned to the field of pediatric hospice in 2005, serving as Clinical Program
Director for George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA, the first
freestanding pediatric hospice in the United States. In 2009, she co-founded
Supporting Network, a non-profit dedicated to developing software enabling families
to memorialize their loved ones and network with other families facing similar losses.
Her contributions to pediatric palliative care and the Episcopal Church were
recognized by CDSP in 2010 when she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in

Throughout her life, Judith spent her summers at her family’s cottage in Chatham,
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which she considered her spiritual home. Her
grandchildren, Gabriella and Benjamin, were the lights of her life in her final years,
and she took an active role in caring for them until weeks before her death. She
enjoyed longtime patronage of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums and the San
Francisco Opera, Ballet, and Symphony. A voracious reader of fiction, she
particularly relished British crime novels. Judith swam daily at her gym up until the
final stages of her illness.

Her former husband, John R. Dunlop of Belmont, CA, survives Judith, as well as her
children, Katharine D. Tomatis of Redwood City, CA and Andrew F.G. Dunlop of
San Carlos, CA. Her beloved grandchildren, Gabriella E. Tomatis and Benjamin M.
Tomatis; two stepdaughters, Anais M. Schenk and Sara M. Schenk; and, her brother
Nicholas T. Goldsborough of Rancho Mirage, CA, also survive her.

A memorial celebration and requiem will be held at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
on (day, date and time). Contributions in her memory may be made to Bayview
Mission in San Francisco, CA, the Episcopal School for Deacons in Berkeley, CA, or
to George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA.

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