I took notes at John Huebsch’s memorial service yesterday, hosted by Common Hope. There were several who shared their memories, his sister and brother and four friends. The first to speak was his sister. I wish I’d taken notes of her sharing stories of growing up with John. I only remember one story of when she was harassing him as he was building a small house. He “tapped” her on the shoulder with his hammer and she went of wailing to her parents that he had slammed him with the hammer. Her dad intervened…he said, this is what we do to those we love when we hurt them, and he smashed the little house. She was stunned as was John…but what a lesson for both of them! I am not sure I got that story right, but it is how I remember it. She told other stories that were humorous and dear and showed that the mystic was in him even when he was young.
Here are my actual notes.
(His brother Dave)
John’s core values: Truth, Integrity, and Social Justice. He sought the divine will which he called “Our Higher Power” which he said could not be contained in one religion any more than the ocean can be contained in a zip-lock bag.
After college (St. John’s Univ in St. Joseph MN) he worked at a Catholic Worker House, later with the mentally ill.
He never let sanity or cultural expectations stifle him…also known as stubbornness (their father taught them this)
He believed in saving the world.
He wrote a book (Beyond Silence…his Uncle Bill Huebsch told me later it was never published) and several plays.
He was engaged in a no-bars quest to find enlightenment, trying to transcend his own ego, to raise his consciousness of the world.
Through his spiritual work, he sought the divine presence, to let the divine presence breathe through one into the world. He contemplated for the last 8 years of his life.
(Jay, his friend who owned the cabin where John died.)
He is the most authentic person I have ever known. He was a meticulous organizer. He considered this this a spiritual discipline, a way to practice stewardship, desired never to have more than he actually needed an put to use (He shared a story of when John searched out a pencil someone [Jay] had taken from his desk.) He was driven by passion to help the poor and there was something inside him that pushed him to go forward and get things done.
In 2006, he moved on from Common Hope.
(Elena [Pat]friend and coworker)
She met John in Guatemala. Could see that at 34 he was wise beyond his years, humble, glowing, had a quiet leadership, funny even silly. When she told him there was a small voice inside her that she should do something to serve the poor, he told her, “Maybe that is the voice of God.” The rest of her visit there, Charlie (one of the workers) would sneak up behind her and whisper, “Pat, this is God.”
John created programs so people could drop in for a week or a month to help people. He had a generosity of spirit…to delegate and share responsibility. He trusted people and was willing to give them a second chance. He was open to new ideas even when he wasn’t sure of them.
He carried a heavy burden that the volunteers always remain safe. Whenever anything would happen to one on his watch, he would jump right in to help, to be present to them.
He was a visionary, creative, exact, had high standards and immense courage to do the impossible, to take on the most challenging thing.
(Chris – friend)
John’s years after Common Hope were deeply internal. He developed a deep relationship with God. He moved to Sedona AZ for a while, then Osseo Wis.
He wanted to have a constant awareness of God, every minute of every day. To know the will of God and to be in total alignment with that will. He moved around a lot, took on a few jobs. Followed throughout the 8 years his spiritual practice.
John was his best friend…acknowledged the friendship he had with those present…he was always fully present to whomever he was with.
His favorite musician was James Taylor…his favorite song was played and sung: “When you are down and troubled…call out my name…I’ll come runnin’…You’ve got a friend.”
Closing words were read by the director of Common Hope…she said these words demonstrated that to which John aspired. She read the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, John’s favorite:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
Here there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I met John’s godson there. I am guessing he was 10-12. I said to him, “You will never forget him. He will always be with you as long as you live.” It is not until this moment that I realize that Jesus said the same before he died.