Margaret Haines died on Wednesday December 7, 2011. She was 86 years old.

Having lived in Victoria for some years following a stroke, Margaret had always been determined to return to Salt Spring Island, to die in the home she cherished. On December 6, an ambulance carried her on to the ferry and she came back in time to die on the island she loved.

Throughout her life, Margaret sought boldly and tenaciously to live in response to the flow of that deep Divine movement she sensed at the heart of life. She faced  challenges and adventures with energy, enthusiasm, and determined commitment.

One of Margaret’s most significant legacies is “The Contemplative Society” (http://www.contemplative.org/) of which she was the founding president. The Society, in whose birth she was a driving force, continues to support the Christian contemplative tradition in which Margaret found both strength and inspiration.

On Friday December 16 sixty people gathered at All Saints-by-the-Sea Anglican Church on Salt Spring Island to honour Margaret and to acknowledge the deep faith that sustained her throughout her life. The Rev. Richard Stetson officiated at the service which included traditional parts of the Anglican funeral liturgy, hymns and prayers, all chosen by Margaret.

Margaret’s daughter Vivian Cox read words that Margaret herself had written, including the statement Margaret made late in her life that “As time goes on, I find there is so much less to fear.”

Margaret’s son, Michael Haines spoke beautifully about his mother.

As part of his address, Michael read a portion of the profound tribute Cynthia Bourgeault wrote “Remembering Margaret Haines.” Michael read,

It was through Margaret that I discovered what would become the cornerstone of my own work: the weaving together of classic contemplative prayer with the transformational practices of the Christian Inner Tradition. Margaret showed me how to do it. Under her tutelage, Benedictine spirituality began to emerge as a school for practical inner work, and transforming union began itself to transform into unitive Wisdom. In this, above all else, she changed my life forever.

But in more subtle ways, it was by the gift of her spirit that she changed me: her compassion, her toughmindedness, her loyalty, her courage, her spiritual force.  I have spoken of her as a mentor and a midwife, but in a much more personal way she was a mother—and not just a spiritual mother, but a flesh and blood mother, who wrapped her heart around me, loved and nagged me into life, and held me accountable to my own becoming. A huge dose of Margaret still lives inside me, and I feel her presence whenever I am called to courage and integrity. She was—and still is, I suspect—one of those hidden teachers whose lives, lived from the deepest wellsprings, flow out as grace upon us all.

The whole tribute can be read at: http://www.contemplative.org/blog/

Michael told the story of one of his last visits with his mother, just days before her death. It was near dinner time. She was laying in bed without speaking. Then, suddenly she began to ask “Why? Why? Why?” Upon listening more carefully, those in the room realized Margaret was not asking “Why?” She was ordering “Wine, Wine, Wine.” It had been her habit to enjoy a small glass of Cinzano with dinner each evening. She was not about to break a cherished habit just because she was dying.

On another visit, Margaret announced boldly “Nothing is important.” Michael explained that his mother had sought throughout her life to live in that place of deep freedom in which all of life could be welcomed  and warmly embraced. He testified to Margaret’s arrival at this place of freedom by telling us that, even at the end of her life, she continued to look at everything and exclaim with deep wonder, “Oh Wow! Oh Wow!” Even death could be faced with this open spirit of wonder and awe.

Eight of Margaret’s grandchildren were present at the service. They lit  thin golden beeswax tapers for the ten grandchildren who carry on Margaret’s legacy. Three of the grandchildren spoke about the deeply spiritual woman they knew as their granny and the gifts of strength, independence and character she left.

Helen Lindo paid moving tribute to her friend of many years.

She began by summing up Margaret’s life with a quote from St. Gregory who said, “Whoever plants kindness, will surely reap love.”  Helen also quoted Margaret saying in the last days of her life, “It’s all a mystery,” and announcing, “We have work to do.”

After all the words had been spoken about Margaret, Richard Stetson called the congregation to that place Margaret cherished most in her life and to which she gave so much of her time and energy. He called us to sit in silence in honour of the spirit that had animated Margaret’s life and in honour of the beauty she had brought into the world.

Margaret Haines was a strong woman. She made her way in the world with creativity and passion. She lived in response to the deep mystery of life and shared the gift of love she found in the silence of her inner being.

A poem Margaret wrote in 1990 was printed on the back panel of Friday’s service bulletin. It testifies to the faith and vision that sustained Maragaret throughout her life and carried her peacefully to death.

The poem ends:

He comes, in secret to our heart.
In deep humility.
We hold unholy hands to Him
That we, by some wild alchemy
May share Love with the world. 

Margaret shared love with the world. May she rest in the peace of that “wild alchemy” in which she is now transformed into that fullness of love that sustained her throughout the adventure of her life.