Judith Buerkel, February 12, 1941-March 24, 2007
I’ve been privileged to be the not very good student of a succession of teachers. (This admitted, I remain surprised how much of the transmission gets through despite my own resistance!) Judith came into my life under a surprising fitting together of a corner of the jigsaw puzzle in 1995. We worked together, founding squareONE in 1996, until she first became ill in 1999. She courageously investigated death’s gateway a number of times before departing from her fragile body this weekend. God Willing, her peace is now assured. Alhumdulilah!
The glue of our process together was a series of weekly meetings over 30 months. We also conducted a couple of dozen workshops, yet the daring request I managed to meet was to stick my finger into her circuit regularly. Her teaching was not formal but it was bravura. She didn’t introduce me to the experiential mode but she exemplified how to go about it. She was there in every case to help debrief the experience in the aftermath of (my) task. I don’t feel she knew that she knew what she was doing. I trusted her anyway.
However, she was so effective that toward the end of her coiled journey I was given the opportunity to affirm to her the impress of her transmission.
This impress etched into me the availability of <em>Being</em> beyond the narrow strictures one imposes upon one’s self and being. She understood: <strong>human hugeness is urged to realize itself over and above the limiting confines from which we normally play out our obsessive satisfactions and dissatisfactions.</strong> Her teaching via experience confirmed opportunity and challenge cosmically provided for in and by the daily paradoxes, and, through the play of the symbolic, and oppositions, and fruitful problem recognition.
Curiously, she would tell me she really didn’t get ‘humor’ or ‘play’. This admission was made despite her great wit and it cannot be true in light of the many belly laughs. Life is but play, say the yogis. In our work we witnessed so many moments of graceful and playful learning; each moment was amazing if not startling. The description of my own learning, in almost every instance spinnable as a wise tale, weaves together very hearty aspects of playful self-recognition and response. Several of the stories are more than startling in their suggestion that this is the way it can, does, must, work.
Her illness imposed upon her a horrifying travail and task. Somehow, she was able to rise both everyday and through it all to face her task without yielding. She became more the student and learned to receive the generosity of those who deeply loved her. As a matter of forthrightness about this last phase, unfolded over nine years-some of them harrowing, it is necessary to note: a narrowing of horizons nevertheless provides for the concentration of energy and the focus upon the only mission critical application: to receive love and to be lovesome.
Almost everything darkly complicated, deleterious, and anxiety-provoking issues from our alienation from the profound vulnerability posed by this first and last receptivity.
In our work I hoped for a modest implementation and she hoped for a shattering instigation. She was a dramatic facilitator and I was the post-scientist, and designer, in the lab coat. In this we made a place between her intuition and my experimental rigor for shocking novelty and then we bid it to come in and be received.
Judith, you came in to my cells and there you shall remain.
In honor of Desse today, I literally pull a card from the deck, and, here it is bidden and abiding, in the words of Rumi, ra, inscripted on this card:
You’ll only enjoy the City,
and your relations,
all the griefs
and ordeals of exile.
Now the teacher of teacher departs, as the Teacher must always depart. Adieu, with love; in this Love. Salaamu, Ish’q