Some of the following tributes were spoken at Toni’s memorial held October 12, 2013 at the Center, others are written submissions. The spoken tributes were edited by the speakers.
Bob Dattola – There will be time during lunch of course to continue these wonderful conversations that we’re all having with everyone that we haven’t seen in years. Most of us spent at least some time with Toni–at the Zen Center, here at Springwater, or as friends and family in her presence. Each in our own way, we are grateful for her life with us. Now we’ll have an opportunity to share anything about our life with Toni, our experiences, memories, anything, and we’ve talked briefly about how this will work. So we’ll just sit quietly and when somebody wants to say something, nobody has to give permission for anyone to talk. I think it would be best if people would just stand up and sing or talk or whatever you want to do. And then at the end, around one o’clock, Stew, who is here somewhere, Stew is going to lead us in “Let it Be.” Is that correct Stew? So can everybody just be quiet for a minute and feel free to stand up and say whatever you’d like. Thank you.
Elsebeth Holm – A couple of years ago I was on retreat here, and I think it was at the end of October or November and it was a miserable day. It was one of those days, it was cloudy and rainy and drizzling, and I went out for a walk in the meadow, and of course it was very still. I had never written a poem before in my life well maybe unless it was assigned in grade school or something like that and not at all good at it. But in this moment it kind of just flowed out of stillness. It never felt right to share it at the time, but it feels right now.
So it’s called “Presence.”
“Venturing down a path unknown, a gentle rain begins to fall, so easily absorbed by the Earth. I gaze up, overpowered by the ominous clouds gathering and gliding across the sky, Pausing, mesmerized by their myriad of shades and the vastness of the sky, simply embracing the earth and gracefully holding the space. A sudden shiver runs up my spine as the fury of the wind makes itself known. Wildly thrashing the blades of grasses in the meadow. The now fading leaves of autumn hurriedly making their escape while the majestic trees stand sturdy, waving their branches in unison. Then struck by the expanse of the rolling hills, with an eerie fog lingering in the valley slowly rising. This morning I thought, ‘What a miserable day,’ but now I can see the mystery reveal itself in the timeless presence of Oneness.”
I share this with deep gratitude, respect and love for Toni, who I only had the opportunity to meet three times by her bedside, but whom I love and feel like I know her through her tapes and her talks and the light in her eyes.