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Gordon and Roxana Harper

GORDON HARPER

February 8, 2016

 

 

More reflections on Gordon’s life

ROXANA HARPER

May 1935 – October 2020

A Very Brief Collegium

September 3, 2015

Beloved Colleagues —

Few of us, as the end of life approaches, get the chance to speak directly to anything like our whole community.  It appears that I have that opportunity, and I’m taking advantage of it.

Last week, after two months of medical testing to find out what had suddenly landed on me and drained me of my strength and usual energy, Roxana and I got the diagnosis.  It’s a rare form of fairly fast moving (typically two months to two years) leukemia, called CMML.  There’s little to be done to treat it, especially in someone my age (about to be 79). I’m getting good medical care and have a fine local support community here in Seattle.

First of all, I want you all to know that I am at peace with this, as is Roxana.  My life–in good part because of you–has been rich, crazy, wonder-filled and a unique and unrepeatable journey with the Mystery. And no one knows better than you and I how to celebrate both our being here and the completion of our journeys.

I am taking this rare chance to express to all of you how much you’ve meant to me over the years–as the amazing collection of individual nobodies we are that rode out like the Man of La Mancha to throw our beings into the challenge of bending history.  More than that, you all contributed your own weird and special gifts, neuroses and idiosyncrasies to the makeup of our corporate life and community, all over the world.  Without you, there’d never have been such a community; so thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope to be able to chat with at least some of you individually or collectively over the time remaining to me, through one of the dizzying array of communication tools at hand today, and give you a little abuse. (What else would you expect from me? And please–do return the favor.) We’ll see how things work out.  In the meantime, this note will have to stand for my salute to all of you, my heartfelt gratitude for your having been and continuing to be who you are and for that remarkable webbing and mission that connects us.

The peace of God is yours this day —

Gordon

Thank you for your thoughtful witness about your health and end of life journey. At this age many of us are aware of the “end of life” station approaching. Perhaps you are more fortunate than some of us in having an idea of what path you are on. But your witness of the love, wisdom and strength of the community we have been privileged to know and love is the gift many of us experience.

I read Richard Rohr’s columns each morning…this Franciscan priest has been helpful on my journey. I thought of you, Gordon as I read his column this morning. He was quoting James Finley’s description of Buddha’s Eightfold Path—

 

“The first two steps of the Eightfold Path are Right Vision and Right Thinking (“right” meaning effective in evoking happiness and inner peace). These two are associated with the notion of wisdom. They help us ground ourselves in this wisdom of the Eightfold Path.

 

The next four of the eight steps are the paths of the moral precepts. Do not confuse this with being “moralistic.” The intuition of the Buddha is that one will not come to this inner peace unless one grounds one’s life in an inflowing and outflowing love. This is the core of what it means to be moral. Love is the outflowing way that we must relate to everything [read “God”] and the outflowing way we must relate to each individual person. [“On these two commandments hang the entire Law and the Prophets as well,” says Jesus (Matthew 22:40).]”

Thank you for all we have learned and enjoyed in knowing you and Roxana through so many years. I send peace, love and courage your way…may this journey be a deepening of your care.

          ~~  Priscilla Wilson

Gordon left his fingerprints in Sudtonggan, Mactan, at the HDTS.  That, and mostly in my mind.  I used to tell time late afternoon at the training school when he poured his gin-tonic and started a genial conversation.  I do not remember if we had one or two schools together but he helped launch Mactan 24.  But it was mostly Gordon whose demeanor would never be fazed, whatever fire was raging next door.Roxanna played the faithful Dulcinea when I saw them back at Centrum.

We said “goodbye” long time ago, but for the Internet, we would not even be footnotes in an autobiography were we ever inclined to write one. I am a Merlot guy when I get close to a bottle, but I shall go down the store (we just got our power today after five weeks) for gin-tonic that will last me a couple of years, mas o menus. Cheers, Gordon!

          ~~  Jaime Vergara

After witnessing the recent passage of my mom through the door that opens to receive one in the final arc of the circle on the journey of a completed life; we give thanks to our Creator for giving us the means to admit “the three strange angels”at that door. I did not know you well, Gordon but you left a lasting impression on me of a temperate spirit and compassionate soul which was manifest in your calm demeanor even unto deep intentionality for the overarching mission down to the mundane details that signified a good deed done. I find it a little unexpected that you are giving comfort and solace to your colleagues as you share your reflections at this juncture in your journey. May we all anticipate the celebration of transition with reverence, awe and joy.

 

“And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 1:6)

And I lift up this verse from “A Charge to Keep I Have”.

“To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will”.

And again, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”. (Philippians 2:13)

 

Thank you, Gordon for allowing us to accompany you on your journey while we respond to the Call of the Mystery creating History while abiding with us.

          ~~  Dawn Collins

 

 

 

Gordon, I have very fond memories of you and Roxana. You are an exemplar and a fine human-being. You were always courteous and kind to me when I frequented the Taipei House for fundraising. In 1983 during my usual visit to the Taipei House,  Roxana asked me if I could treat you all to a restaurant. Somehow you knew that the people in Development had more money than usual. Yes, I always had more money than my monthly stipend while I was on fundraising. I also got to keep that money too. The place you wanted to go was McDonald’s (the fast-food restaurant).  McDonald’s had  just opened its first store in Taipei. There was a long line at the restaurant with people waiting to get in. We waited quite a while. However, the long wait was worthwhile. I will never forget the look of contentment on your face, as you relished your hamburger at McDonald’s.

Joe says that you are one of the few fellow pipe men that he knows. Are you still getting your tobacco from that Minnesota pipe shop? He also says you were the only one to appreciate it when he would recite a verse by Robert Herrick. Joe is currently a full-time faculty member of English at Sacred Heart University. His favorite authors to teach are Shakespeare and Dante. He still quotes Robert Herrick, and still smokes a pipe.  And I am still traveling to Hong Kong on business.

I thank you for being an exemplary presence in my life. You are not alone. Fondly,

          ~~  Myung-Hee (and Joe too)

With such knowledge we stand in awe, because of your own and our own projected timelines—now at 75 for Lynda and soon-to-be 77 for John. Thank you for including us (the OE community) as part of your family. We salute  your wisdom and humor that has been a creative force in our corporate life. John and I  hold each other a little more tightly as we hold you all in our hearts, with deep gratitude for your journeys with us and our family.

We thought of you this morning on our walk after reading your epistle. The words from our walking ritual of “We are journeyed by grace: sustained, called, empowered, and fulfilled” rang more powerfully than usual as we think of our common journeys of purpose, community, and age. We celebrate more than ever your being here with being itself in history, together as part of the Earth community we have served through our common years together. Grace and peace is yours,

          ~~  Lynda and John

PS. We also sang the Mormon hymn “Come, Come Ye Saints … All is well, all is well”—that is, the parts we most affirm—with hearty affirmation of your/our common journeys.

I am in silence honoring the gifts you have brought to me through your being who you are in India, in America and of course in my now home Taiwan. Someone mentioned eloquent in an earlier message and this is my word for you and your spirit.  The way you speak and the manner in which you strive to articulate the moment, the consensus, the authentic articulation. I will never forget and often strive for in myself and others.

I am in deep appreciation for the invitation you gave me 24 years ago to come to Taiwan and work with you.  It has been a gift beyond measure both the time working and learning with you and the wonderful immersion in this place, culture and people that goes on to this day. With love and respect,

          ~~    Larry Philbrook

When Gordon went to what was our local Netflicks shop here in Taiwan to get a cassette tape to entertain us, he would ask… what kind of video would you like? Invariably someone would say, “comedy” and invariably we would not get a comedy, maybe a drama, an action, or I am sure something very entertaining, but not a comedy at all. Always a reality check… and so it goes Gordon and Roxanna… not a comedy, however, it did come as a mystery!

What do I remember when I came to Taiwan to find a job and see if we could all live in Taipei…I needed to find a job…and we would be here for three-five years?  I remember the first week I was in Taipei in 1991, April. Gordon was there and I hear the strange whine and buzz sound in the morning of what I found out was the internet connection. We had that sound in Manila, and KL too, but not so regularly heard each day at the same time marking the day. There was the faint smell of sweet pipe smoke lingering on everything in your office. There was later to be a scale which, when you join weight watchers, helps you figure out how much you can eat, which I still have today. Peter Hu would rise every morning and go to the roof and do his exercises like a military man, even though he was a a former journalist and knew who most all of the people in town were, or could find out and spoke clear English. He ate raw vegetables he cut and placed in a bag in the frig that he ate each morning. There was a radio newscast on ICRT, “Shape the Future” or something, where Gordon’s melodious voice could be heard daily with a quote for the day and a reflection on how business and leadership could relate to what was happening in the world and in their lives. There were books written by our famous author in residence, who would often on the street be asked for an autograph in a Chinese translated book.

Larry came to a Global ICA conference in 1990 to Taiwan.  It was held at the International Jiantan Youth Hostel across the street from the Grand Hotel and the multitude of morning exercising marshall artists on the mountain near the bridge and river. After that, Larry and Evelyn and Dick and Gail came to Taiwan in 1991… who knew how this set up a climate of new adventures…remember the 20th Anniversary of ICA video you created before you left?

Thank you Gordon. Fenton’s were still here. Vicky and Ben and a host of many others… A fleeting memory of things gone by which are still emerging…

          ~~  Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook

Oh, my, Gordon. You were supposed to live forever!  And I rather suspect you will, whatever anyone says to debunk the idea of something coming after. I expect to, myself, and I expect you to as well. What a gift you are to all of us, now and forever, to us and those who come after us. Having been through something the doctors thought to be terminal about thirteen years ago, I came to terms with surrender, and when it turned out not to be fatal after all, I remember this flash of disappointment—I had been so ready for the journey, the next adventure. After all, what hubris to think that we puny human beings, striving against that wind that blows so finely and so fiercely, are the sheer culmination of this strange thing called “life” and “spirit”.! I doubt not at all that there is something amazing waiting to happen when we shed these earthly bonds. Expecting to see you on the other side, dear friend, whenever either of us gets there. P.s. doctors don’t know everything or I wouldn’t still be here.

          ~~  Susan Fertig-Dykes