A LIVING, UNCANONIZED SAINT

Who is this living, uncanonized saint? Her name is Reverend Berthi. She was born in Holland. Both of her parents were also saintly. They were fervent members of the Dutch Reformed Church. During World War II, Berthi sufffered physically from lack of proper nutrition. She married and gave birth to a son and a daughter. She lived in the United States and became a registered nurse.
Her parent immigrated to the U.S. and helped to establish a retreat center in the mountains in Pennsylvania. She entered the ph.d program in theology at Princeton University and became a Presbyterian minister.
I met Berthi in Bennington, Vermont, at an ecumenical symposium which featured teachers from the religions of the world. I invited her to the Abode of the Message in Upstate New York in order to meet Pir Vilayat Khan. They were introduced and Berthi eventually took initiation into the Sufi Order of the West. We both joined Pir on one of his annual pilgrimages to India to celebrate the urz, (death anniversary), of his father, Hazrat Inayat Khan). We met again in Suresness, France, outside Paris.
During a visit across the street from Fazil Manzel, the home of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Berthi met the head of the foundation that held the archives of all the original teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. A profound link was made between Berthi and the head of the archives. Arrangements were established whereby Rev. Berthi became an employee of the foundation. Maintaining her residency in Pennsylvania, she began to live in Suresnes part-time in order to translate the words of Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan that had been recorded in shorthand Dutch during his talks in the 1920’s. Eventually, a series of volumes of his talks were published with multiple footnotes documenting various translations of his words. Each year, Rev. Berthi would travel to France to continue this task. Now, finally, her work at the foundation has been completed and she has retired.
Through these years, beginning in perhaps the late ’70’s, I have considered Berthi as my most beloved friend. I met her holy parents in their little cottage in the woods in the Pocano Mountains. Her father was born on my birthday. He fed the birds outside their cottage and sang hymns. Berthi’s mother was very gentle and sweet. Berthi took care of her until the end of her life on earth. On the walls of the little cabin hung a beautiful oil painting by a family member.
One February, after returning from India on a buying trip for my Oriental art and antique shop in Nevada City, California, I met Berthi in New York City where we attended a science and spirituality conference with Pir vilayat and other teachers and scientists. Berthi rescued me from an unholy relationship and offered me hospitality at her home. Later, she met me in New York City when I returned from India very sick with Guillian Barre Syndrome, caring for me until I was strong enough to fly home to Iowa and eventually to San Francisoc.
She had an icon waiting for me at the church the day I married James, my beloved husband, on the south shore of Clear Lake, Iowa. She never misses calling me for my birthday which I share with her beloved father.
May God, in His great mercy, continue to anoint, bless, protect, and heal my most beloved friend, Reverend Berthi.

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