freedom of expression
IN MEMORIAM: HENNY LEE GERSHUNY (Srivani Ishaya)
9th May 1939-30th June 2018
Poet and playwright, Lee Gershuny, was one of the people I interviewed in 2017 for the book Autumn Voices: Scottish Writers Over 70 talk about creativity in later life. She gave a wonderful interview, full of insights into the nature of creativity and into finding true happiness. On 30th June she fainted in a street in Edinburgh and died within minutes. Her funeral was held on 10th July at Binning Memorial Wood, North Berwick, where she was buried as a white monk.
Lee described herself to me as a wanderer. ‘I don’t identify with labels,’ she told me, ‘even though I acknowledge I am a woman, American, a New Yorker, Scottish, Jewish, a teacher, an artist and everyone who crosses my path.’
Lee left New York, abandoning a successful academic career, and came to live in Edinburgh in 1988, at the age of 49, in order to focus on her creative work. Accompanying her was her life partner, Rodney Stares.
Lee founded The Elements World Theatre, for which she wrote innovative and experimental plays combining storytelling, poetry and original music. Lee taught a form of meditation known as The Bright Path Ascension, in which praise, gratitude and love are of central importance. Her name as a meditation teacher was Srivani Ishaya. ‘Teaching meditation,’ she said, ‘has been a tremendous gentle, humbling opening of my heart.’
Lee also taught conflict resolution skills and was a tireless campaigner for world peace, demonstrating in the street, running workshops and speaking at conferences. She was, amongst other things, an active member of Dove Tales, the Association of Scottish Artists for Peace.
In 2016 Rodney and Lee decided to marry. On the back of the card announcing their marriage in Edinburgh on US Thanksgiving Day, was a poem, written by Lee:
MAP TO ETERNITY
We found a map to eternity
with no lines connecting the dots,
no signs pointing the way,
no reason to go and
no reason to stay.
We dress for the trip
with no change of clothes,
nothing to find and
nothing to hold,
Only the map and
the light on the road.
Henny Lee Gershuny, we give praise, gratitude and love for your warm, caring and open-hearted life.
You will be missed.
Letting go, not holding on, is something I practise regularly in meditation. Whatever emerges is what I deal with. Through Ascension meditation I feel I am able to rest in Nothingness and Silence without fear.