Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Eulogy that Deena offered at the Memorial for Noel Sparks killed by the Thousand Oaks Shooter

From Noel’s FB page September 9, 2017:-
Sometimes you don’t know the value of something until it becomes a memory – Dr Suess

“I knew also, that for us, the older generation, Noel was hope. When we think of how, despite our efforts, we have failed the time, we think of young people like Noel as hope for the future.”

I knew Noel from approximately age 8 to 14.  We met through poetry and music.  I was reading my poetry with Jami Sieber, cellist and Wendy Anderson, her mother, and Noel were in attendance.  They followed Jami’s music so closely I can only guess that Jami inspired Noel’s love of the cello.  In that way, I think my writing inspired this gifted young woman as well. Our souls found each other, Jami, Wendy, Noel and I.  When Noel was about twelve or thirteen, she attended a week-long writing retreat I offered for advanced writers, many already published.  She held her own and helped out in the kitchen.  All of it part of her home schooling, which Wendy pursued with the utmost seriousness and devotion.  She home schooled Noel because she knew how remarkable Noel was and had a sacred responsibility to provide the fullest most relevant education possible.  

When he confirmed that I would be speaking today, Pastor Curtis Johnson asked me to craft a message of hope.  I took in his request deeply and have been contemplating the nature of hope, how it arises and guides us.  I knew given these terrible circumstances and the grief and violence of these dark years like no other on the face of the earth since the beginning of time, that I had to offer real hope, not rhetoric or exhortation, but hope that would be palpable and sustaining for everyone, myself included.  

I knew also, that for us, the older generation, Noel was hope.  When we think of how, despite our efforts, we have failed the time, we think of young people like Noel as hope for the future.

When we read the current dire IPCC report, the International Panel on Climate Change, and see how grievously we have attacked the earth, or when we take in the tragedy of the fires still burning here and in the North, that are of our doing, we think of Noel who loved the Earth passionately, as someone who already carried and so would initiate the changes we must make in order for life to survive.

A simple story to set the context.  Wendy attended a workshop I offered in Topanga.  We spent a long time in silence on the land meeting the spirit of the natural world.  At the end, Wendy appeared with a rack of deer antlers on her head.  So many of us had walked the land over and over again for years, but no one of us had seen the weathered antlers. It had had to be Wendy.  Wendy is of the natural world. The earth raised her in her great wisdom. And Wendy, in turn, allowed the earth to raise Noel so that she would grow up wise and compassionate, an advocate for the Earth that would give us hope.

When we, the older generation, think of all the wars we wage, the viciousness of the technology, the violence, alienation, the enormous suffering that combatants and non-combatants endure, the fact that the wars never end and come home to us again and again as they did on November 7th, we think of Noel as someone who knew and lived peace in every cell of her being.  Because Noel was intuitively, instinctively, spiritually, even stubbornly, devoted to peace, insisting on peaceful and heartful solutions to conflict, we had hope that she would set right what we failed to do.

When we think of all the Ian David Longs who went to war and suffered such moral injury that drives one mad, and when we admit that we failed to stop these wars,  failed to provide healing, then we had hope that Noel would know how to meet his ravaged soul, that she would have known to take such a one to the forest, to the desert, to rock climb, to be washed clean in the sea, to the healing of the natural world, that she would have listened to his unspeakable story, brought comfort, helped him make amends and heal before…  We had hope in Noel as a healer. 

And when we watch everything of value torn apart by injustice and hate, we had faith that Noel had the fierce and devoted love that could meet such circumstances and those who suffered them and could bring the peace that only a true, determined, intelligent, courageous, undaunted, entirely authentic love can bring.

And so now that she is gone, what hope?  

I reframe here a poem I wrote some years ago:

When a great body and soul 
is broken by catastrophe
We take the pieces into ourselves
And we are made whole thereby.

We have all heard who Noel was, what she lived by, what she embodied, the true, pure and spiritual nature of her being.  

Let us take a moment of silence, and take what we know of her deep. Deep into ourselves.  Let us breathe in the parts of her that are most important to each of us – whether it be 

her profound love and participation in beauty, music, dance, art, words,  
her indomitable healing spirit, 
her love and devotion to the natural world and all beings,
her insistence upon justice,
her lived conviction that violence is unnecessary and peace is necessary
and possible
and her loving nature, her determination to meet every situation in real
time with love, courageously and passionately.

Take these in.  Breathe her spirit into you.  Let it inscribe itself in you.

What is hope?  
Noel was hope.  
And now she is in you, is of us.  
She is not gone, she is dispersed within us.  
And so hope?  
You are hope.  
You are now the hope that will bring peace and restore life to this ravaged planet.  

Bless you all.

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