Ruby Tuesday, also known as Stacie Pearce, had a beautiful and heartfelt send-off yesterday. Here are some highlights from the Memorial Service for Ruby Tuesday yesterday afternoon-Tuesday April 10 from about 4-6 PM on the river front in Fort Myers, Florida.
I started the Service off with the help of four of the members of Good Shepherd Ministry, Harry Lee Gary, Brenda Cummings, Kathy Roddy,and Judy Alves and Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez leading the singing: This is the day, the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it” and This is Holy Ground. Then Rev. Ron Willis of Love and Compassion Ministries opened the Service with prayer and shared his reflections of Ruby’s road and closeness to Jesus. He, and all of the others who shared their memories also noted that Ruby could stretch our abilities to help. He told, with humor, a story of taking her to breakfast before an important meeting with all the difficulties of managing Ruby’s large cart of personal items.
Janet Bartos, Director of the Coalition shared how Ruby taught her how to relate to homeless people by commenting with dry humor on her very nice and very proper suit. She emphasized how Ruby attended every Coalition meeting and was a great Advocate for the homeless.
Portia Wright had created a beautiful large portrait of Ruby that we all admired as we remembered Ruby.
We remembered Ruby as an artist and jewelry maker and several commented on her generosity in sharing her work with others. A painting of lovely houses on a hill that Ruby made has been donated to the Coalition for fund raising by Ruby’s Case Manager who had been gifted with it. We also recalled how she constantly tried to help others, giving much away.
Kathy Sager and others shared how working with Ruby helped them to learn how to be helpful to others who experience the pain and sorrow of physical and mental illnesses and yet demonstrated the unusual strengths that Ruby did.
Kathy Roddy shared how she and Ruby became acquainted at Goodwill Housing in North Fort Myers. While I asked Kathy to reach out to Ruby, Ruby made herself known by appearing every day at dinner time. Kathy was also helpful in getting Ruby’s cat Gouda ready for adoption when Ruby went into Assisted Living Care. Kathy Roddy was moved by the Service and shared how much Ruby had taught her about helping.
Portia Wright then shared the story of fourteen years of knowing Ruby and accompanying her through many moves and changes, sometimes with exasperation but always with patience and love. She reflected on how much Ruby meant to her and her family including her grandson who was present at the Service.She played two beautiful songs on the CD player before the weather suddenly changed and a storm quickly brewed.
I quickly moved to wind it up and after a brief commendation of Ruby to our loving God, and the summing up that Ruby taught many of us here how to serve and we are thankful to her for that and for her courageous life the wind gained tropical storm force. I enjoined the group to join hands in Jesus’ prayer and as just we concluded all that was beautifully laid on tables, food, flowers, and art objects from Ruby began to fly across the area. I said, “well, go in peace but this is either a bad early summer storm or Ruby trying to tell us something”. Many answered definitively as they hastily departed: “It’s Ruby!”
Some aspects of Ruby’s life were like the Tropical storm force winds-capricious, unpredictable and causing chaos. She was one,like some of the other homeless people, who refused to accept that she needed medication for her mental health to be balanced and so it wasn’t. And her physical ills and pain would be equally strong and unpredictable. As she endured chemotherapy for her illness and also endured an unexpected move up to a facility in Punta Gorda she held on tight to her friends and to our loving God. And she kept on caring about and trying to help others. We also reflected on how Ruby is now with God, healed and whole and that was our comfort.
Then we were blown away and drenched to the bone- a new baptism of the Spirit for those who serve ?
In the words of the chorus of the song by the Rolling Stones that bears her chosen name:
“Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you….”
Let us follow Ruby’s teaching and serve one another,
Love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries of Southwest Florida
On Tuesday April 10th, 2018 a Memorial Service will be held for Ruby Tuesday, a dedicated Homeless Advocate in Fort Myers ,Florida. It will be held at 3:30 PM in Centennial Park on the river front in Fort Myers. Rev. Ron Willis of Love and Compassion Ministries will preside assisted by Rev.Dr.Judy Lee,RCWP of Good Shepherd Ministries and Mrs.Portia Wright, Ruby’s beloved and Christ-like dedicated best friend of many years.
Ruby Tuesday, whose name was Stacie Joy Pearce,nee Stacie Joy Shapiro,was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved to Fort Myers several years ago. She was born on December 15, 1957 and died on February 4,2018. After many rounds of chemotherapy her heart was weakened and she was admitted to the Lee Memorial Hospital ER where was admitted to the hospital then died of heart failure. Yet, Ruby’s was a heart full of concern for others. After putting her own battle with homelessness behind her she became an Advocate for the area homeless, serving on the Board of the Fort Myers Coalition to End Homelessness. Janet Bartos, the head of the Coalition, Kathy Sager and several others from the Coalition will attend the Memorial Service.
Ruby Tuesday is her chosen name and the one everyone knew. She loved the out of doors, especially the river front and the parks. She loved color and turquoise stones and natural things. She wore colorful long cotton skirts and cotton tops with a Native American or arty motif and high topped boots. She liked to carry many of her possessions with her and sometimes used a cart or a rolling walker with a seat and basket to do so. She liked to call herself “an old hippie”. Yet, every moment she lived expressed her care for others, including her orange and white cat Gouda whom she reluctantly had to give up for adoption when she moved into an Assisted Living Facility four years ago. I would send her pictures of Gouda in his new home and this brought her great joy. Ruby made wonderful jewelry from semi-precious stones. She sold it and often gave her money to people who were currently homeless. And she sometimes also gave it away to her friends.
We met Ruby first in Lion’s Park in 2007 as we ministered to and with homeless people in the park. She often brought the needs of others to my attention. I called her my assistant and case finder. She also liked to help plan the menu for the regular meal favoring fresh vegetables and fruits. She was, then, a vegetarian and she helped me as I slowly became one. She believed that poor and hungry people needed a healthy and not starchy meal. Once she asked me to bring a green pea salad for her, which I did and she was so pleased. We slowly built trust and became friends. She liked to sit two or three seats behind me-near, but not too close. At the time she was homeless but she was then able to get apartments, then a trailer, then she was accepted into Goodwill Housing for the physically disabled. The picture below was taken on the day she went for her interview with Goodwill. She enjoyed living in her little Goodwill townhouse in North Fort Myers until she faced more difficult physical problems and moved on to Assisted Living. In the last year Pastor Judy Beaumont and I met Ruby at the Cancer Center several times as both were receiving their medications. We were able to embrace and pray together at those times. While Ruby battled difficult physical and mental illness she remained a beacon of light to others, leading them to assistance and homes.
All are welcome to attend as we pay our respects and say good-bye to a dear friend and colleague in the service of the homeless. the words of the 23rd Psalm are right for her:
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
Love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries of Southwest Florida
This Sunday, April 8, 2018, is called Divine Mercy Sunday. And we realize that God’s mercy and grace and just plain powerful love for us is available every moment of every day. We have followed Jesus through his betrayals, his passion and resurrection and this week through his appearances to the disciples after his resurrection. We are amazed with God’s love for us in sharing our humanity at its best and at its worst. We are amazed that death is not final and life after death is real. We are firmly impressed that Jesus the Christ is real and God is real.Our faith is not ethereal but substantial. Therefore it has real consequences in who we are and what we do with ourselves and with what we have.
This week the Gospel readings are of Jesus appearing physically and spiritually to Mary of Magdala and to the other disciples. we see Jesus imparting his spirit to the disciples and empowering them with life and love and power itself. His patience with Thomas is the Gospel reading for today( John 20:19-31). Thomas had to see for himself- so Jesus showed him that he was indeed real asking Thomas to see and to feel his actual body for himself. Thomas reaches out to touch Jesus and is blessed then with belief. Jesus says: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 19:29). And we are assured (v. 31)that through this belief we have life. We have life, glorious life, now and forever. Now that is Divine Mercy -that is the love of God for us.No matter our individual sins and faults and weaknesses, we can leave them behind, we can be and live forgiveness and have life. No matter the sins of the world that we collude with and make possible-famine, war,terror,starvation,homelessness,oppression of women and minorities,discrimination and poverty. We are offered life for our belief in God’s love and mercy through Christ.That is liberating and it opens a world of possibilities for what we can be and do. Yet, we know that to believe in Jesus is not simply to utter a belief, to say words or even feel them in our hearts- but to believe in Jesus is to follow him in keeping the commandments and in loving our God and our neighbors with all of our hearts, minds and beings. That means to join Jesus in becoming Christ to the world. That is in actively including everyone in the love of God.( First John 5:1-6-to believe is to love-God, Christ and all of God’s children. We have to be responsive to the Spirit of God. )
How do we do that? How do we respond to the Spirit, to live a life of love and how do we carry Christ forth in today’s world? The first readings this week are from the book of ACTS, the Acts of the Apostles. Through them we see the apostles in action and witness the development of the early church. We see that because of knowing that Christ lives and having
new life we create community that includes and serves all. Specifically we see that “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection….There was no needy person among them….for they sold (what they had) and the apostles would distribute to each according to their need”. Acts 4:32-35). To believe is to live a life of love and as we do that we share what we have with those who do not have so that need is obliterated.
Clearly something has happened between the time of that early church and today for need is all around us. Even here in the wealthy USA we have not wiped out poverty or homelessness or hunger or prejudice and discrimination and its ugly fruits. For one thing, we have lost the fire of knowing that he did rise from the dead and listening to the Spirit speaking. When one reads and hears the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we learn that most of all, and faults and warts and all, he lived (and died) to be responsive to the Spirit. In a Civil rights era Movement song from a well known Spiritual we hear: “If the Spirit says march, we march, if the Spirit say jail, we are jailed, if the Spirit says speak, we speak” And so on. If the Spirit says “share” we are to share- or “give it all away” then that is what we need to do. We can do it in our actual communities, we can do it with our money in supporting world-wide giving to alleviate misery, we can do it by breaking the silence, as so many women are doing now regarding sexual harassment and worse,and by truly knowing that all lives matter especially black and brown and poor lives and those so easily taken by powerful authority and violence. We can take political stands that may be unpopular to make sure that no one is left behind while others are affluent. we can live lives of fairness, action and risking for what is right. It will take that and more for there to be “no needy among us”.
We have somehow turned this Gospel into a “Gospel of personal salvation” and even a “gospel of prosperity”. Somehow over the years since the early church was on fire with the Spirit of the risen Christ, we have perverted it to mean if we believe we shall individually prosper, and the only sins we are to worry about are our own. We have become focused on “going to heaven” and forgotten the hell we have been a part of creating on earth-even by our silence and complicity. We have forgotten “the sins of the world” and the very real and basic needs of our neighbors. We have perverted the gospel to ME,Me Me. Only as we learn that to believe is to love our neighbors and to change the world will we do so.
My prayer on this Sunday when God’s mercy is celebrated that we receive mercy and forgiveness and then extend that mercy to the whole world by our actions.
Love and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community,
Fort Myers, Florida
Happy, Blessed Easter to all!
Some of you worried that I may not make it to Easter with Jesus because Good Friday and Holy Saturday can be so difficult to get through but Jesus broke the bonds of death and I know in every fiber of my being:
He is risen!
El es resucitado!
Because He lives
The scriptures in the Gospel of John (John 20) shows Mary of Magdala running from the empty tomb to alert the other disciples that Jesus is not in the tomb. They run to the tomb and discover this for themselves. Mary of Magdala remains crying when they leave. Jesus appears to her and calls her name. She turns to him, “Teacher” and grabs hold of him. He says
“…Don’t hold on to me…Go instead to my brothers and sisters and tell them…”
She went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!…”(John 20:26-180
ALLELUIA! May we each see the living Christ this Easter!
This Easter more than any other
we pray (With The People’s Companion to the Breviary Vol.2 193;199)
“You broke the reign of death, O Christ and we are free! With joyful voice we proclaim: Glory and Praise to you
Redeemer of all, enlighten us who still walk in the shadow of death;
-that with your new life we may conquerour addictions and prejudices.
Risen Savior, you appeared first to women,and sent them with the glad tidings;
You sent your holy women, Christ Jesus, to be apostles to the apostles,
-free all women bound by traditions and cultures that inhibit their human development. Free them to be good news for the world.
You rewarded the undaunted search of Mary Magdalen with your glorified presence;
-grant that we may be persevering in our efforts to find you in the ordinary events of our lives.
Hallowed Stranger,you appeared this evening to the disillusioned disciples on the road to Emmaus;
-enkindle our hearts to recognize you in the unlikely
circumstances of our lives.
Savior of the world, your message is peace in a world racked with violence;
-teach us the way of non-violence toward all creation.
Your resurrection, O Christ,has transformed our universe.
-sensitize us to a new all embracing concern for …all creatures and all creation.
Most merciful, loving God, you have been revealed in Christ Jesus as he rises to bring us the message of forgiveness and all-embracing love. May we who have passed with him from death into life in the mysteries we have celebrated,be signs of your life among us. We ask this through Jesus, our risen Savior. Amen!
WE ARE AN EASTER PEOPLE
Love and Easter Blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Below are some Easter faces-Smile with them as you live Easter with Jesus