In Memory of Margaret O’Gara, 1947-2012

Margaret O’Gara entered the realm of eternal life on August 16, 2012. For her ecumenical involvements, words subsequently spoken and written about her in various settings, and her publications and curriculum vitae, click on the following headings and links.

The Margaret O’Gara Scholarship »

Summary of Ecumenical Involvements

The characteristic aim of Margaret O’Gara’s 37 years of work as a theologian was to foster dialogue among Christians for the sake of overcoming divisions between the churches. Besides her teaching, research, writing, and extensive public lecturing, she was a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (1976-93); the Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic International Commission for Dialogue (since 1983); the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue (since 1994); the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission for Unity (1995-2006); the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (since 2008); and Bridgefolk, a North American organization for dialogue between Roman Catholics and Mennonites (since 2002). She served as president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists (1987-89) and the Catholic Theological Society of America (2007-2008). She was a member of the Toronto Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission (since 1988). She was a board member of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research (since 1990). She served as the anglophone theological advisor to the delegation from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at the World Synod of Bishops (2001). And she was the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Chair in Systematic Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College (since 2007).

Margaret’s effectiveness in these professional arenas came from a combination of her scholarly rigor, her ability to listen sympathetically, her uncommon energy, and her contagious delight at the growth of mutual understanding and friendship. The same traits marked her strong personal relationships with her students and colleagues, the members of her extended family, and her many longstanding friends. Beneath everything else, the fundamental driving force of her life was her deep and abiding Christian faith.

Prayer Service at the Visitation, August 22, 2012

Opening Prayer

Mario O. D’Souza CSB, Dean of Theology

Almighty and ever living God we gather this evening comforted by your love and your presence. We gather to pray for and remember our sister Margaret. We give her back to you, O God, whom you gave to us. As you did not lose her in your giving, so we do not lose her in her returning to you.

We remember Margaret and pray for her. Her faith and confidence in your word, in your promises, in the hope of the Church is what gave her strength and courage. She touched the hearts and minds of so many, and she did so from the faith and conviction that there is a great plan for the world and the created order, and that the Christian journey to you, O God, is truly dignified when heart and mind, intellect and spirit are served as one.

We remember Margaret’s great love for learning and knowledge and her enduring legacy and enthusiasm for theological education, and she did so in recognition of the magnificence of your great plan of salvation and your perennial invitation of redemption.

It was the prayer of your Son that we might all be one, and your daughter Margaret never tired of praying and working for the unity of your sons and daughters divided by history but united in the belief in your Son.

As we bid farewell to our sister Margaret, we turn to her in intercession, and ask her, through you and in your holy name, to pray for us that we too might make our journey to you with the conviction and faith in your promises that shone so brightly in her life. We ask her to intercede in a special way for the Faculty of Theology that she loved so dearly and served so well. For us who continue our earthly pilgrimage, may we, through her intercession, be as zealous and tireless in proclaiming the holiness of your name and living generously in the world, as she did. Comfort us who mourn our lives without her, especially Michael. Your Son taught us that life is eternal and love cannot ever die. May we live our lives in the hope and conviction of that promise. Amen.

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us

St. Joseph, pray for us

St. Michael, pray for us

St. Basil, pray for us,

St. Augustine, pray for us

St. Benedict, pray for us

St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us

St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us

St. Marguerite Bourgeyous, pray for us

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us

St. Marguerite d’Youville, pray for us

All holy women and men, pray for us

Let us pray together the Longer Form of The Lord’s Prayer:

Final Prayer

Prof. Colleen Shantz

May Margaret’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Reminiscences of Margaret O’Gara

One of Margaret’s favourite images for her work is the idea of the Gift Exchange. As we enter this time of prayer, I invite you to think about the gifts that Margaret has brought to us, who mourn, and to the world. I invite you to join in giving thanks for the enormous and lovely generosity of her life and to intercede for the continuation of the good that she worked for so faithfully.

Sung response:“Come Lord Jesus, send forth your spirit, renew the face of the earth.”

Let Us Pray . . .

For the churches, the Body of Christ

We give thanks for the self-giving love that has transformed us into sisters and brothers. For our sister Margaret; her generous vision, for her valuing the common ground and what unites us, for receiving with joy the insights of others; for articulating with precision the best intentions of the Church.

We pray for all those in authority, for the generous use of power, for the reconciliation of those who are at enmity and for a greater thirst for unity. May we bear witness to the mystery of God’s love.

For Theological Education

We give thanks for teaching ministries; for Margaret’s care for students in mind, body, and spirit; for her rigor, seasoned with delight; for her optimism that faith is made stronger when informed by reason; for the way in which she embodied the values that she taught.

We pray for all those who teach: that we may live what we know, that we may never cease to learn;

for all those who learn: for perseverance in our questions, for humility in seeking answers; for theological schools: for the courage to respond to the times; for guidance to do so with wisdom and insight.

For Love

We give thanks for the love that shaped and strengthened Margaret: for the embrace of her parents, Joan and James; the life-long companionship of Monica; for the joyful surprise of the Vertin family; and for the deep, wide, and enduring intimacy of her partnership with Michael.

And for the love that Margaret has shared with so many of us: for Home-baked cookies at faculty meetings, for her bad handwriting on beautiful cards expressing support, for a hospitable table, for an open heart.

Open us God, to you, who are love. Console Michael and all who mourn. Strengthen us by the example and intercessions of your child, Margaret, that we may live such love into the world that it will be transformed by your grace.

Amen. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

The Funeral, August 23, 2012

Greeting by Father Daniel Donovan

In the name of both the University of St. Michael’s College and St. Basil’s parish, I welcome all of you to this Mass of Christian burial for Professor Margaret O’Gara. A special welcome to Margaret’s many friends and colleagues in the Toronto School of Theology and its member colleges.

To begin I would like to express my sympathy and that of everyone present to Michael Vertin, Margaret’s beloved and loving husband of 36 years. Their life together has been for those of us who have witnessed it a model and inspiration. Michael’s supportive care of Margaret at every stage of her final illness bears eloquent testimony to the quality of the life they shared.

I would like also to extend our sympathy to Margaret’s sister Monica and her husband Jim, and to Margaret’s niece and nephew, Rachel and Christopher. Margaret was welcomed warmly from the beginning of her relationship with Michael into his family. To them also we extend our deepest sympathy. I welcome Margaret’s cousin, Father James O’Gara, a Paulist priest from Chicago, as concelebrant at the Mass.

Margaret’s death has filled us at St. Michael’s with a sense of loss and of heartfelt sorrow. Her cancer was first diagnosed two years ago at a time when she still felt very much alive and was full of ideas and plans in regard to all the things that for so long had been a part of her life.

Margaret and I both arrived at St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology 41 years ago, I to teach and she to begin her doctoral studies. During the course of them, she became a teaching assistant, then a lecturer and later a tenured member of the Faculty.

Margaret was a much loved and highly respected teacher. She was passionate about theology and totally committed to communicating what he could of her knowledge and her passion to her students. Her courses were always well prepared, clearly structured, and, while demanding, for those willing to make the effort, enormously enriching.

Margaret’s graduate students were in awe at her commitment to them and to their research. She was always there, always available, challenging but also supportive and encouraging. In committee meetings in the Faculty and in the Toronto School of Theology, one could count on Margaret to be among the first to speak up for students and for their concerns.

Margaret’s work in ecumenism is well known. To it she brought her great openness and respect for others as well as her sheer joy in good conversation and in doing whatever possible to foster understanding and collaboration among people. Her work on various national and international ecumenical dialogues stimulated her own research and made of her one of the Catholic Church’s premier ecumenical theologians. Her work and experiences in this area flowed back into her teaching and into her multiple contributions to the Faculty of Theology and to the Toronto School of Theology. Margaret broadened the horizons of all of us and reminded us of something which over the years has sometimes been neglected—the solemn commitment of the Catholic Church at Vatican II to the pursuit and service of Christian unity.

Even while we at St. Michael’s mourn the loss of Margaret we give thanks for all that she was and all that has done for and with us. She was our colleague and friend, a scholar and teacher, a theologian and ecumenist, a person of faith and utter goodness. She was totally committed to the well-being and flourishing of St. Michael’s and especially of its Faculty of Theology and of its role in the broader theological community that is the Toronto School of Theology.

Homily by Father Daniel Donovan

The Scripture readings for today’s Mass as well as the hymns we have sung and will sing were chosen by Margaret. Although they suggest various things about her life as a whole, they reflect most directly her thoughts and feelings as she confronted the reality of her death. We all know that someday we will die and from time to time we think about that fact and wonder how we will react when our time comes. For Margaret, in the last few weeks, such thoughts became much more real and pressing.

What comes through all the readings is a sense of trust and hope and peace and of all that as rooted in a profound faith in the ultimate fulfillment of her life and of our lives in the eternal mystery of God. Margaret died as she lived—a teacher and a witness to the truth of the gospel.

The wonderful image in what Cathy read from Isaiah of a great banquet, a feast of rich food and well-aged wines, evokes the end times. It is echoed in a number of the parables of Jesus and has been often understood in the Christian tradition as pointing both to the eternal banquet of the Lamb and to the foretaste granted to us of it in the eucharist.

The eucharist was a central feature of Margaret’s life. She and Michael regularly participated in it in this church. For her as for many of us, its celebration marked not only the weekly rhythm of her life but also special moments in it. And so it is more than fitting that we have come together to celebrate this Mass of Christian burial and in doing so to honour her, to pray for her, and to remember and give thanks for all that she has meant to us.

At the heart of the eucharist is a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving in which we make memory of, celebrate and render present among us the power for forgiveness and life of the paschal mystery, the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Margaret, like all of us, was first brought into contact with that mystery and became a member of the community of faith, the church, through the gift of the Spirit in baptism. Her life was marked by the unfolding and development of that gift within the context of the special vocation and mission that was hers as a theologian and ecumenist.

Growth in the Christian life involves an ongoing process of dying and rising, of dying to selfishness and self-centredness and of rising to an ever greater openness to God and Christ and, under the impulse of their Spirit, to a life of faith and love, of justice and service. The eucharist has been given to us to nurture and nourish that process, to strengthen us for that life and, in the end, to prepare us for that final and definitive act of dying and rising that will bring us to eternal life with Christ in God.

Our reading from John speaks of that hope with the image of the Father’s house and of the many dwelling places in it. The risen Christ, as Paul once put it, is the first born of many sisters and brothers. Where he has gone we hope to follow. In the language of today’s gospel, he has gone to prepare a place for us so that when our time comes, we will be with him.

In choosing this reading from John, Margaret wanted us to focus in a special way on its closing verses. There Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” In him the light of faith and of love, the divine light, has broken into our darkness revealing the face of God and the true nature and destiny of human life. The teaching and example of Jesus, especially the example of his compassion and mercy for the poor and the suffering, and his self-giving love unto death in fidelity to his mission, light the way on which we are to journey into the fulness of truth.

In the eucharist, the risen Christ comes among us as the bread of life. He gives himself to us in word and sacrament as food for our journey, as a source of strength and courage, of faith and love.

This focusing on Christ was not only central to Margaret’s spiritual life, it became a key to her approach to Christian ecumenism. The document on the church at Vatican II is known by its first two Latin words as Lumen gentium, the light of nations. When it first appeared, many assumed that the opening sentence went on to identify the church as that light. In fact the text reads: Lumen gentium Christus est. “Christ is the light of nations.”

Ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and other Christian churches inevitably involves a focusing on the church and church authority, on papal and episcopal magisterium, and on the nature and function of ecclesially defined doctrine. Margaret studied and engaged in dialogue about all these themes and did so with great acuity and integrity, but even as she did, she knew that they were not ultimate realities. They are all intended to serve and to point to the person of Christ and to the meaning of his life and destiny for the whole of humanity. Agreement among Christians about Christ is agreement about what is most important. This is the source both of the unity that we already share and of the inspiration that impelled Margaret and impels us to want to deepen and broaden it in any way we can.

The brief passage that Michael read from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians sums up, I believe, Margaret’s parting message to us. “Do not grieve as others do who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring us with him. … Encourage one another with these words.”

Reflection by Michael Vertin

36 years, 3 months, and 30 days ago, Margaret O’Gara and I exchanged marriage vows in this church, standing in front of this very altar. We had first met one another some three and a half years earlier, as members of a discussion group for graduate students and faculty members that was sponsored by the Institute of Christian Thought at St. Michael’s. Margaret was a doctoral student in theology and I was a newly-appointed assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies.

Our first significant encounter, however, occurred a year and a half later, when we collaborated as two of the weekly speakers in a month-long Lenten lecture series. The series was sponsored by the St. Michael’s College Student Union, and it was entitled “The Problem of Evil.” After our collaboration had blossomed into marriage, Margaret and I often joked that this development was an excellent example of St. Augustine’s saying that good can come out of evil.

The substance of my brief reflection is divided into four main parts. The first is the longest.

Part I

All of us are yearners by nature. All of us are inherently eager for answers to our questions. What is making this noiseWhat does Sally’s gesture meanIs Jack’s statement correctIs Jill’s proposal good? Moreover, all of us are inherently eager for fulfillment of our desires. That’s obviously true for bodily desires. A hungry person innately craves something to eat; a thirsty person innately craves something to drink. But it’s also true for desires of the heart. I innately desire to grasp, possess, become united with whatever will satisfy my deepest longings.

Next, there are three things to notice about this inherent yearning for answers to questions and fulfillment of desires. The first is that it is basically something very personal. At root it is not something that we attribute to other people or deny about them. Rather, at root it is something that we discover in ourselves. It is the fundamental curiosity and radical restlessness that I experience in myself, and that I strongly suspect you also experience in yourself, whether or not either of us has ever thought much about it or even if we are inclined to deny it.

The second thing to notice is that our inherent striving for answers to our questions and fulfillment of our desires is at best the basic norm, the fundamental standard, the primary criterion for the kind of living that we call “intelligent,” “reasonable,” “responsible,” and “loving.” In the words of Karl Rahner, “Properly human living is a matter of fidelity to our best selves.” Or, in the words of Bernard Lonergan, “Genuine objectivity is the result of authentic subjectivity.”

The third thing to notice is that insofar as we reflect upon our own inherent yearning for answers to our questions and fulfillment of our desires, we can arrive at something of the character of the ultimate. Studying the notches in the shank of any door-key can bring to light certain features of any lock which that key can open, namely, the arrangement of the tumblers inside that lock. Similarly, studying the character of our intelligent, reasonable, responsible, and loving yearning can bring to light the features of ultimate intelligibility, ultimate reality, ultimate goodness, ultimate lovability, as whatever would totally satisfy our wondering minds and restless hearts.

It is this dynamic orientation to the ultimate that provides the fundamental meaning of the word “spiritual.” And it is whatever would completely, entirely, exhaustively satisfy that orientation that provides the fundamental meaning of what some spiritual people label “God.” Or, from the other side, spiritual living is essentially nothing other than fully human living. I suggest that to overlook or deny this is to overlook or deny something utterly basic about ourselves. The fact that such denials are quite common in present-day culture cannot save them from being at least implicitly self-contradictory.

Part II

To live not just as a spiritual person but as a religious person is to have taken a further step. It is to have supplemented one’s interior orientation to the ultimate with the judgment that this or that event or person is an appearance of the ultimate in human history, and with the decision to live in accord with what that appearance entails. Of course there are many distinct religions in the world, many distinct communal judgments and communal decisions about the ultimacy of various events or persons.

In the context of what I have just maintained, to be a Christian is to judge that Jesus of Nazareth is the concrete historical self-manifestation of the ultimate, and to strive to live in accord with that judgment. Or, in language more familiar to some of us, Jesus is God’s unique historical self-gift to humankind. We Christians think we have definitive evidence (not in the data of sense but in the data of our consciousness) that, in the life of Jesus, God both shows us concretely what fully human living really is and invites us concretely to live in that way. The Christian stance is far from a blind leap. Rather, it is a response to a gift of knowledge and love that we cannot reject without rejecting what is best in ourselves.

The Bible recounts this divine lesson and invitation in some detail. It is basically an account of and a call to wholly self-transcending love. Think of Isaiah’s story of the servant who suffers willingly on behalf of everyone, a story that Christians interpret as foreshadowing what Jesus himself did. Think of Jesus’ many stories, such as the parables of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Pharisee and the Publican. Think of the embodied parable that is Jesus’ own life, a life spent entirely in teaching others, encouraging others, healing others, and ultimately dying willingly for others.

The Bible passages read earlier by Cathy, myself, and Father Dan are about one key element of God’s lesson and invitation to us, an element that is especially important as we gather today for Margaret’s funeral. Death is not the greatest evil. The greatest evil is nothing other than the failure to love. Conversely, if we love as Jesus did, God will raise us from the dead and bring us to eternal life with Godself, just as God did with Jesus.

Part III

Margaret’s vigorous Christian commitment owed much to her parents. Joan Smith and James O’Gara first met in a discussion group that was organized by the Catholic Worker movement. For ten years Joan had worked as an administrative assistant in the local Catholic Action movement. And after marrying Joan and producing two baby girls with her, James eventually served as managing editor and then editor ofCommonweal magazine for more than three decades. This familial milieu oriented Margaret quite early not just to devout Christian living but also to thoughtful reflection on that living. That is to say, it oriented her toward doing theology.

Margaret’s personal and then professional interest in specifically ecumenical theology was sparked by many factors, including her enjoyment of serious discussion, her delight in problem-solving, and her temperamental disposition toward overcoming disagreements. But she was fond of recounting the particular event that triggered her decision to become an ecumenist. She happened to be the only Catholic in a large class during the first of her two years at Yale Divinity School. The professor spent a long time elaborating what he judged to be the severe theological problems of Catholic spiritual practices in the late medieval period. Then, suddenly and without warning, he turned to her and said, “Margaret, perhaps you would like to offer a word in defense of indulgences!”

Part IV

Let me conclude by highlighting three of the many features that stand out for me as I think about Margaret’s 37 years of professional work as an ecumenical theologian. Although she did not ordinarily express these features quite in the way that I will now do, I have reason to believe my interpretation is an accurate one.

First, Margaret was a thoroughly spiritual person in the sense I discussed earlier. She had a lifelong commitment to live in fidelity to what was best in herself. She had a lifelong dedication to make each of her particular judgments and decisions accord with her inherent striving for the ultimate answer to her many questions and the ultimate fulfillment of her deepest desires—a striving that she (like many other Christian theologians today) interpret concretely as the action within her of the Holy Spirit.

Second, Margaret was a thoroughly religious person in the sense that she supplemented her interior orientation to the ultimate with herevidencebased judgment that the ultimate has entered human history. More specifically, she was a thoroughly Christian religious person in the sense that her evidence-based judgment was that Jesus of Nazareth is the entry of the ultimate into human history, and in the sense that she strived to live the life of totally self-transcending love which that judgment implies.

Third and finally, Margaret was fervently committed to overcoming divisions within the community of Christians not just because serious disagreements made her uncomfortable—though they did. The basic motivation for her ecumenical passion was her recognition that serious disagreements between Christians are a counter-sign to others, an obstacle that tends to prevent others from grasping the truth about what God intends in Jesus. Margaret was radically eager that Christians overcome their serious disagreements in order that the Christian community as a whole can more effectively display Jesus as God’s lesson to everyone all that fully human living is totally self-transcending loving, and as God’s invitation to everyone to live in just that way.

This radical motivation of Margaret’s ecumenical commitment is captured neatly in the prayer that she herself selected for the back of the card that was available at yesterday’s visitation and again here this morning, a prayer she invites all of us Christians (in our own ways and at our own times) to offer as well:

Father of all, you call us to be one flock in our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. In following
him, may we so care for others that all see in us the love of the one true Shepherd, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

The Mass of the Resurrection (Minnesota), August 25, 2012

Homily by Father Rene McGraw

The picture that remains the strongest for me in the eight years in which I was privileged to be part of consultations at the Ecumenical Institute was Margaret, and Richard Mouw of the Dutch Reformed Evangelical tradition, as co-chairs getting the Sunday night hymn-sing going. We would gather at Patrick Henry’s house or at the Ecumenical Institute itself, and after supper the hymn singing would start. Paul Bassett of the Church of the Nazarene was there with his keyboard. Long after everyone else had decided “enough already,” Margaret was still calling out a number for another hymn. Maybe a rich harmonious Lutheran hymn. But more likely she would call for one or two or three or ten of the good old Wesleyan hymns, “Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “And Can It Be that I Should Gain.” A revivalist hymn, a Baptist song, an Eastern Orthodox chant, the hymns popular in Catholic churcheswhatever it was, Margaret believed that the holy mountain of Isaiah’s prophecy would resound and reverberate with the song of hymns, not just Catholic hymns surely, but hymns where all God’s people would process to the top of that holy mountain and all would harmonize, not all singing the melody line, but all in perfect pitch, in perfect harmony. Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, Evangelicals of one sort or another, and in these latter years, especially the Mennonites. All in perfect harmony. All enriching the sound of the music. All coming to the holy mountain. All together.

All the Christian people. But the Lord does not invite just the Christians to come to the mountain. To see that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life did not mean for Margaret that all those other people beyond the Christian contingent walking to the holy mountain were unimportantthe Jewish people, the Muslims, the Hindus and the Sikhs and all those others walking to the holy mountainMargaret welcomed them to the holy mountain, but her mission in life was to get the Christians singing in harmony, the high sopranos of one group of Christians, the rich bass of another group, all these must be coordinated and brought to sing together. The Christians could not welcome those other groups until they had learned themselves to sing in harmony.

But each sectionthe tenors and sopranos, the altos and the bassesmust learn their own part perfectly. For no harmony can occur until each group sings perfectly its own song. The basses can’t sing soprano. To have altos singing baritone does not result in the best harmony. Thetruth that Jesus is, demands that those who come to him must know their music: the music of their theology, the pitch of their prayer life, the rhythm of their moral life. They will all touch the melody from time to time, a melody rooted in the Incarnation and Resurrection. But then their voices will explode into the richness of harmony. Different voices, different timbres, different shading. And to do that each section must know perfectly what its voice is. Ecumenical work demands that each voice be true to its own tradition, until it sees where it has gone astray from the message of Jesus or over-emphasized one part of the harmonysinging too loudly, so that a perfect harmony is not possible. The Way up the mountain does not come about because a particular melody line dominates. The way up the mountain demands that the voices blend.

All of that is what Margaret’s work meant to me. But that left for me another side of Margaret. Her parents and the struggle they had as they grew older and she at long distance traveling down to the States to be involved in their care with her sister. There were the times that Margaret and Mike would be here on campus, teaching, spending a year at the Ecumenical Institute, visiting, inviting people for a meal in their apartment. And times when unaccountably Margaret would agonize a bit over whether she was coming across too strongly at one or another time in the consultations. She was one with whom it was possible to talk about the status of women in the church, but also to feel her strong love for the Catholic church and her equal love for the ecumenical movement and all the people she met who were singing another line of the Christian melody. And then there were the postcards from wherever she was. These postcards always gave me comfort because they made clear that there was someone in this world with handwriting that was as difficult to read as mine.

There is an old commercial for Coke that became popular back in the seventies and turned into a hit song. I think that song characterizes for me what Margaret longed for in her teaching, in her ecumenical work, in her friendships, in her church: “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” I like to think that in family, in friends, in Toronto, at St. John’s and St. Ben’s, there is a bit more harmony because of who she was. As we all struggle to leave aside our prejudices and walk toward the top of the holy mountain, I think I can imagine Margaret standing there directing everyone to sing, “Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing.” All in harmony. All in beauty. All walking the holy mountain where Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

I want to end with two stanzas of a poem by Emily Dickinson.

GOING to heaven!
I don’t know when,
Pray do not ask me how,
Indeed, I’m too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to heaven!
How dim [and far away] it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the shepherd’s arm!

Perhaps you’re going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first,
Save just a little place for me
Close to those I lost!
The smallest “robe” will fit me,
And just a bit of “crown”;
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home.

Margaret, you are home. Help us all to find Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to sing in perfect pitch all the way up the Holy Mountain.