We all have moments when our hearts our troubled, the kind that makes our guts churn, saps our resolve, and makes us turn inward.
We mess up. We fail. Like Peter, in the passage before today’s Gospel, we make lofty promises—“Lord, I will lay down my life for you”—only to fall short.
Or we look at what is going on around us—in our community, in our country, in the world—and we despair. We despair at our helplessness and powerlessness, at all that we know to be wrong but that is beyond us to rectify.
We are here today to give thanks to Almighty God for the life of our dear brother Bernard. Bernie has been part of our community, part of our life for so many years, that it seems hard to believe he is no longer with us. When we brothers make our vows, we don’t make a specific vow of stability, like the Benedictines, but if we did, Bernie would have modeled it to perfection. He fully inhabited the place where he lived – and the place he loved most of all, of course, was Emery House. “This is my home” he would say, as he sat quietly in the refectory, mug of black coffee in his hand, gazing out of the window at the meadow. He made our community his home over 50 years ago.
He was born in 1922 in Alexandria, Virginia. As a young man he worshipped at the Episcopal parish of the Ascension and St. Agnes, and graduated from Central High School, Washington, D.C. He then served for two years in the U.S. Air Force as a bombardier navigator during the Second World War. Following the war, he worked first as a reservation clerk for Colonial Airlines, New York City, and then for Peterson Travel Agency in Garden City, Long Island. He’d often take his passport to work with him, as he would never know if he’d need to fill in as a flight attendant, or assist with a tour group.