Several months after meeting Jane, George Regas, Rector of All Saints Pasadena, preached a sermon about people in one’s life who are “always there” to cheer one on. Using the metaphor of Genet’s play, The Balcony, George suggested one could think of gathering our supporters and placing them in a balcony where we could imagine them cheering us on and offering encouragement when we are in need.
Crossing the lawn following the service, I spotted Jane coming toward me wearing a beaming smile. She took my hand and giving it a tight squeeze said, “You’re in my balcony.”
In 1993, I organized a tour to Israel with Rich Thyne. Several members of All Saints participated in that group. Among them was Jane. As a result, again, Jane and I connected.
Jane had recently had her first diagnosis of cancer and was uncertain as to the outcome; but, was determined to go with the tour to Israel. Some weeks before departing for Tel Aviv, Jane called me at my office.
“I want to go into the West Bank to visit Palestinian refugees,” she said.
I gasped at the idea thinking I could dissuade her from this silliness by telling her of the dangers involved. Besides, no one had ever asked me before and I was more than honest in my reply that I know nothing about how to organize such a foray.
“The liability is enormous, Jane,” I said. “And to be honest, no one has ever asked me before.”
“I can’t go to Israel and return without an understanding of both sides of the issue,” Jane said flatly. The conversation ended and nothing more was said about the issue.
On the group’s return from Israel, I was greeted with stories of the wonders of the trip and particularly how Jane had organized a side trip into the West Bank where members of the group toured a detention camp and met the families of Palestinian Christians through St. George Church, the Episcopal Church ministry in Jerusalem. To a person, the journey into the West Bank was the high point of their Israel experience. Not one person failed to say to me that the experience changed their life.
That, in my awareness of her, is the quintessential Jane: passionate about life and about issues of social justice. Jane would set out on a task, accomplishing it quickly and quietly and without drawing attention to herself.
Less than a year later, Jane succumbed to cancer. At her memorial service, Jane’s son, Ty, remembered his mother taught him that “good enough isn’t.” I was reminded of Jane’s trip to Israel and how it was not good enough for her to go there as a tourist. She must see, experience, understand, and be able to articulate the essence of the situation.
I am also reminded that organizing a tour without consideration of current social issues in all their aspects is not good enough. As I begin planning a tour itinerary, I think, what would Jane want to know about this destination?
Jane and I connected. Briefly. The impact of that brief connection is dramatic in my life.