Celebrating a Life (Reverence Frances Deverell)
We are all here because in some way or another, all of our lives have
touched, and have been touched, by the life of Sylvia Sanders. By our presence
here, we are recognizing the strength of those links that connected us to Sylvia
and that connect us now to one another. While we cannot know what happens to us
in death, we do know how much the actions of others change us during our lives.
We can see the "golden threads" that weave us together through time, across the
generations, and through space, around this incredible world. We are taking time
now, to pause and reflect, to turn aside from our every day lives, to feel our
loss, to embrace our memories of Sylvia and to join together with others in the
community of those who were knew and loved her.
At the time of a death, we can experience many different feelings. We may feel despair for the gaping hole left in our lives. We feel gratitude for the special and unique person that Sylvia was, for all she achieved, for all she gave to the lives of others. We delight in fond memories of good times. We laugh at the memory of her quick wit. We feel pride and admiration when we remember her deep commitment to change the world and to make it a better place. We may feel pity for the indignities and losses suffered during the last stages of her life and anger at the failure of our government to provide timely and adequate care. We feel grateful for the many caring people, including many recent Canadians, who helped Roy to look after her during the last five years. Our memories may bring a laugh or a tear. The feelings may roll across us in waves as our awareness of many things is heightened. This is the way grief works.
Sylvia and Roy Sanders were attracted to the work of The Unitarian Service Committee and its founder, Lotta Hitchmanova. Sylvia joined the crew of knitters that sent bails of clothing to help European refugees displaced by the second world war. Then , they joined the Unitarian Church in 1953, when it was on Elgin St., and Sylvia was on the Board when it moved here to this location in 1967. Later, they became founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa.
They were attracted to Unitarian Universalism because of its seven basic principles, which are included in Sylvia's memorial program. They thrived in this community because of its focus on service to others; because they could make lifelong friendships with others who shared their beliefs about so many things and because Unitarians appreciate the diverse and fascinating reality of religious beliefs.
Over the years, Sylvia and Roy worked closely with people of many different faiths to organize a wide variety of peace events, including three interfaith services which each included about seven major religious traditions. They also shared their profound interest in exploring and learning about other cultures, with their children.
Sylvia understood that the meaning of our lives is found in the way that we live and the effect that we have upon the world and upon those around us. She understood that we can live on in the memories that we create in others. Sylvia knew that we live on in countless and unknown ways because we have influenced people by what we say and what we do during our lives. Sylvia understood that actions of compassion create a better world. We are here to acknowledge her contribution to our lives. We know that this world is a better place because of her.
Let us make this a time of exploration and discovery. Let us look at how this one woman lived her life; how she grew and unfolded; how she expressed herself; how she developed her gifts and inspired others; how she wove her individuality into the world around her.