Sunday, September 25, 2005

One Eulogy Read at the Memorial Service

To all the assembled vaishnavas: I sincerely wish I could physically be with you on this auspicious day. Please know that I am with you in spirit as we honor and celebrate the remarkable life of Mary Lou Sherwood/Sister Piety/Madhavi Shakti devi dasi. She touched many hearts and lives and left a positive impression on each of us. She had flair and a charismatic persona that was hard to miss. Her generous, outgoing personality effortlessly filled whatever space she occupied.

My earliest memories of Mrs. Sherwood are from the mid 1980’s when she became a teacher to the older children in the New Vrindaban Community. She taught English at the house across the street from the Palace. In gurukula, Mrs. Sherwood was undoubtedly the best academic teacher I ever had. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, she really was a good teacher. It was a talent she had perfected throughout her career. She knew how to encourage and motivate her students. She took a personal interest in each of her students and pushed us to do our very best. Second, she actually took her service as a teacher seriously. At that time in New Vrindaban other activities were given precedence over education. Often Kirtanananda Swami would take the older teenage boys out of school to work on various construction projects around the Community. When this happened it was generally understood that any classes we missed would be overlooked. Mrs. Sherwood, in her amiable yet firm way, told Kirtanananda Swami she would have none of that. She informed him that the students had to come to her class, participate in the lessons and turn in all assignments or she would not pass them. For the most part Kirtanananda Swami agreed. Her calm persuasion changed the educational dynamics in the Community for the better.

Mrs. Sherwood also encouraged me to continue my education and go to college. She did this during a time when the prevailing mood was that “worldly” education was considered “mundane,” “materialistic,” and so on. I took her words to heart. At times when my college studies got tough I would think back on her words and they would inspire me to keep moving forward. For this I am forever grateful to her. Please know that Mrs. Sherwood’s joyful spirit lives on through the lessons she shared with her students.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” - Henry Adams

In closing, I offer my love and prayers to Krpamaya, Krsna Bhava, Krsna Priya, Krsna Balarama and the rest of her wonderful extended family. Hare Krishna.

Seeking the essence,
Chaitanya Mangala dasa (aka Chaits)


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