I shed a tear this morning in London as I read the news. This gentle giant, kindness, clarity, strength. What a wonderful companion he was for me and many of us when we faced uncharted waters in the Order. I only spoke to him once or twice these last 30 years, but he was still always there somehow, guiding us, encouraging us, giving us permission to go forward in our lives. I am deeply saddened about his death, and remember his life with warmth and gratitude.
Dear Rhonda, a big hug for you on this moment. I wish I could be there with you. And we say: Grace and Peace. Or, as Brian, once in a while would say to us: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
~~ Paul Schrijnen
It is never easy to hear the news of the passing of a colleague. Your mind immediately goes to images of your relationship and experience of that person. I spent a tiny piece of his incredible journey in personal contact, but I find myself drawn to the profound understanding of Presence. Presence changes you, it deposits something permanently into your Being. That is why that seeing a colleague after decades brings immediate bonding. Part of me passed with Brian, as it does with so many others. I guess the other dimension I would add is that I personally found the Australian colleagues to be such a mighty force. You could “rest easy” when you knew they were on the front line. I saw it again and again in India, they could do the impossible, embrace the unknown and fill you with the joy of knowing “mission accomplished”.
I know in Reality we are bound with all, with but one task, to bring Life to situations that have no sense of possibility. And there has always been and will always be such a body of people who operate in this universal truth, and their lives are sustained by such awareness. And so I salute my dear, unique colleague. Thank you for your steadfastness, thank you for your part of the world that has been sustained by your Being. My thoughts and prayers are with your family and fellow Aussies. God bless! Grace and Peace, and Love
~~ Jack Gilles
I remember Brian as a man with a gentle reassuring presence and am sorry that we will no longer have his company.
~~ Dharmalingam Vinasithamby
Dear Jonathan and Janeen; Rhonda, Peter, Geoff, Robert and Jenny; and all our OE/ICA colleagues, When I shared this sad news of Brian’s completed life with Joe, he said “Brian was one of the great statesmen of the Church and our Order.”
And we began remembering our time in the Sydney House in the 70s with Brian and Rhonda and their lovely young children; and then times later on in the US and elsewhere when Brian and Rhonda were priors in various locations and always brought maturity and deep spirituality to the work they undertook in support of our mission.
More recently we learned (thanks to Jeanette) of the research into the “role of the elder” that the Stanfields, Robins and Oakleys undertook in Australia before Brian Stanfield died. And in reflecting on that work, in relationship to Fr. Richard Rohr’s work in his book Falling Upward, a spirituality for the two halves of life, we are convinced that very early on Brian was a “second half of life” person ministering to “soul needs” not “ego needs”.
We celebrate the wisdom, steadiness, welcoming smile, fine mind and deep faith this dear colleague shared with us and we will surely miss him, as do those many who have loved him. Grace and peace,
~~ Marilyn and Joe Crocker
Dear Rhonda and family and colleagues in Australia, Our care to each of you as we bid another farewell to a dear Australian colleague on The Way. We remember the Robbins gratefully for their leadership when we were assigned to work with the Area from the Canberra location and again when we were assigned to the Area Bombay. Although we were “on the road” much of the time, we were frequently at the Nexus on Sankli Street with Brian and Rhonda.
Jack’s sharing earlier today triggered a special memory when he spoke of Brian as an embodiment of one whose mission was “to bring Life to situations that have no sense of possibility.” As you recall we were experimenting with various rituals that spoke in universal spirit wisdom in our interfaith setting there. It was Easter season and I wondered how we would handle that high holy day with our Buddhist and Hindu colleagues. Brian’s witness that day was about Jesus, the man of possibility. No doctrines or creeds, just story after story of bringing hope and possibility wherever he went. And Brian was beckoning all of us to be about that stance in our work in the villages of Nava Gram Prayas. A great Easter message!!! Our gratitude for a shared journey with this gentle giant and love and care to his family,
~~ Lynda Cock
We join the tears of sadness and chorus of prayers of colleagues for you and all your family as we remember you and Brian with whom we worked in Canada: Toronto, Lorne/New Brunswick and later the Ottawa House with Jenny, commuting to Montreal on weekends. We always appreciated Brian’s steady, kind, Gentle Giant Area and House Priorship presence and nonchalant, encouraging but resolute leadership, humor and laughter which often reminded us of Abraham Lincoln. He was a still point during the oftentimes chaotic, swirling winds of the Community Forum Golding of the Provinces Campaign. We give thanks for and celebrate Brian’s life–the gift he was to your family and to so many friends and colleagues, as well as the larger world. And, now, he, too, belongs to the ages, and his legacy of love and care, courage and creativity continues to live through those who knew him–into future generations. Grace and peace,
~~ Carleton and Ellie Stock
Jim and I are grieving the death of Brian, as so many of you have expressed. I first met Brian in 1968 when Don Clark and I went out to Broken HIll to teach an RS1. There we also met Rob Duffy and Barry Oakley and Rusty Nicholls. Rob was the Presbyterian Minister there, and the other three were part of a team, as Ministers of the then Methodist Church. (In 1977 some of the Presbyterians, most of the Congregationalists and all of the Methodist Church in Australia, joined together to become The Uniting Church in Australia.) The Methodist Church was very strong in Broken HIll, as there were many miners there, who all came from a Methodist background. I witnessed a wonderful spirit amongst the team of ministers and their wives, a most moving experience for me. Later the Robins family came to join us in the Sydney House, and the rest, as ‘ they’ say, is history. The last time we worked alongside Rhonda and Brian was at the Consult in Lorne de L’Acadie, New Brunswick.
Brian had a laugh like no other, and a deep voice, beautiful to hear as he sang. We miss his humour, and gentle ways of being himself. At this time, we send our special sympathy and sad feelings to dear Rhonda, and Peter, Geoff, Rob and Jenny. Vale, Brian. In peace and love,
~~ Isobel, for the while Bishop family
My heart is with the family and colleagues as we experience the sorrow of Brian’s death, and the steadfastness to celebrate the great gift of Brian’s life to us all and to history. Grace and Peace
~~ Wanda Holcombe