Remembering Joan Levy Earle
Remembering Joan Levy Earle
A frequent and popular contributor to igNation, Joan Levy Earle author and artist, died on November 28 in the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
She wrote a regular column for the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart Magazine for over 20 years and worked as the publication’s Associate Editor from 2007 to 2014 when the magazine ceased publication.
A brief biography can be found on line – https://www.joanlevyearle.com/biography.
The more than 60 articles and poems which she wrote for igNation reflected her deep faith and love of people. She had so much to share and she loved sharing through her articles.
To access Joan”s igNation articles, click on her name on the left hand side under the photo of the church near the top banner of this article.
When she was asked to write a Christmas piece, she replied: “Of course. I loved being asked. Lucky me to be able to write for this blog.” And lucky us to have had Joan writing for igNation.
In memory of Joan, we have two posts. The first are reflections on Joan by Father Philip Shano, SJ – a good friend of Joan.
Following Fr. Shano’s post is a reprint of one of Joan’s posts for igNation. – “So Many Goodbyes” – an article that speaks to us especially at this time.
Reflections on Joan Levy Earle
by Philip Shano, SJ
I’m sitting in my usual chair, reading and glancing over at a painting across the room. The afghan draped across the chair and the painting were both produced by Joan Levy Earle. She was also a gifted and prolific writer. Joan died on November 28, 2020. She had surgery a few weeks before and all went well, but there were complications afterwards.
I first met Joan many years ago. She worked with Fr Fred Power, SJ, as Assistant Editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger. A couple of years before the periodical ceased publication, I was assigned to work alongside Fr Power and Joan. That was the beginning of a friendship with Joan and the cast of characters who were associated with the Messenger.
There’s a long story about the decision to end publication and the intermediate step of preparing to go digital. That can be told some other time. Joan was a tremendous help in easing the difficulties faced by Fr Power. While working on the Messenger, she probably wrote hundreds of articles and edited the many articles from regular writers that Fr Power had agreed to publish.
As far as I know, the last major writing project that Joan was working on was a book about an obscure Canadian poet whom she admired. There had been other books, her visual art, her many blog posts for igNation and the other creative work she produced.
Joan had a strong faith. She was devout and befriended bishops. I believe that Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ in Ottawa offered a blessing at the opening of one of her art shows. She was generous with her time and resources, especially for matters involving her faith. She was not afraid to challenge the leadership of the Church if she had a sense that it was veering from the right path. She was prepared to intervene with the Pope and Jesuit leadership in her efforts to keep the Messenger alive.
Joan’s now-deceased husband had worked for the train. She had inherited his pass. Joan made ample use of it in travels wherever the train would take her. My last visit with her was in Kingston just over a year ago. I had been invited to offer a weekend retreat. I mentioned it to Joan in one of our email exchanges.
She arranged to travel to Kingston from her home. While I gave the retreat, she did research at Queen’s on the book she was writing. We had a great visit and reminisced about Fr Power and the Messenger. I had no idea that it would be our final in-person visit, though I was aware of certain health concerns.
Joan’s faith had prepared her for the day she would face God. I’m sure that she is enjoying her heavenly interactions with all she loved in life. I suspect that she is telling God a few things about his own writing, suggesting edits and additions to clarify what he meant. Well done, good and faithful servant!
So Many Goodbyes.
by Joan Levy Earle
Each morning, I open our local daily paper to the inside back page; that is where the obituaries are published. This morning, another familiar face was there. A Victorian Order Nurse who was a member of my church community and a woman of deep faith. Lois O’Reilly and I had been casually acquainted for many years and I knew her health had been failing, but every encounter was treasured. It had been quite a few months since I had last seen her, and now, I would be attending her wake and funeral.
Lois was a woman who encouraged many people in her quiet, steadfast way. How fortunate for me that I was one of those who received the gift of her friendship. That is one of the gifts we receive by being a regular member of a parish; support and encouragement from other parishioners.
As we age, we will naturally have to attend many wakes and funerals. Most of us who have reached the seventh decade have already said our good-byes to grandparents, parents and even, some of our siblings. Now we are losing many of our close friends.
For believers, we trust that those who are graduating to a new life on the “other side” will be gifted by reunions with other family members and friends in spirit. We are happy to pray for them as they transition from this life through to eternity; prayer is the final gift we can give to them.
Let us be grateful for our parish community. In smaller cities, we can more easily become acquainted with our neighbours, and the list of people we know can be extensive. How wonderful for their grieving families when people take the time to visit the funeral home as well as attend the funeral. One of the blessings of retirement is the availability of time to make this important gesture of friendship.
I did not know the children of Lois, but I am looking forward to telling them what a wonderful friend she was to my life. No doubt they will hear this from many friends, and it will help to heal their grieving hearts.
One way that God provides His love for us is through the people who brighten our days, encourage our dreams and offer their friendship. Let us all try harder to take the time to thank them while they are still with us, and especially, make the effort for that final farewell through the prayers that we will say on their behalf once they have passed.
May Joan and all the faithful departed rest in peace!