January 5, 2016 – Funeral homily for Janet Gihl
No one is more important than anyone else. Everyone is beloved.
Janet taught English, among the other things she did–she was a well-read, literate person– and though we never talked about it, I think she must have known George Eliot’s great nineteenth century novel, Middlemarch, and its famous last sentence, one of the great sentences in all of literature. It’s about the heroine of the novel:
“The effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.“
Janet could give the appearance of meekness, and she was a quiet woman, with a quiet, halting voice, and like George Eliot and her heroine she was a woman in a man’s world—George Eliot was the pseudonym of a woman named Mary Evans. But like Mary Evans Janet was fiercely intelligent, and she had a generosity of spirit, and an open-mindedness. She was deeply grounded in theology and in Vatican II especially, and she brought the spirit and the mission of Vatican II to all of her teaching and her ministry over the years, and in her work as the director of religious education at St. Mary’s and in her work with RCIA and in all her relationships with people, she had this diffusive effect on those around her.