I have been thinking a lot about Beatrice Bruteau lately. This began while I was going through files in preparation for my move to PA next spring. Among the papers to survive the purge are several of her treasured notes to me. While I didn’t keep every note she wrote, I am so grateful that I did keep a few of them. Through them and her published writing, I grew to love her, and I keenly grieve her loss. (She died in 2014.)
Getting to Know Her
My awareness of Beatrice dates to when one of my sisters gave me Beatrice’s “The Immaculate Conception, Our Original Face” (Cross Currents, 1989). This article filled a need I had at the time, and I subsequently read as much of her prolific writing as time allowed. Because my religious congregation (Society of the Holy Child Jesus) is especially devoted to the Incarnation, I lavishly highlighted and dog-eared books like her God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997). It led to our first contact.
In 2002 I was designing note cards with sayings that I felt deserved attention. A friend gave me her address, and I wrote a formal letter asking permission to use a quote from God’s Ecstasy. I enclosed samples of cards I had created using quotes from Thomas Berry and Mary Evelyn Tucker. (I duplicated the black lettering, and hand painted or stamped the rest.) Her hand-written reply left me speechless: “Dear Terri, Your cards are very good! Here’s a little something ($25) towards production. Love, Beatrice”
An additional note included her order for some of the cards I had sent her, an invitation to a conference she thought would interest me, an offer to arrange a ride if I decided to come, and the suggestion that I bring samples of my cards if I came. She added names and numbers of people she suggested I contact. I was overwhelmed! She later assured me that she was honored by what resulted, and she ordered many of these cards:
The Cosmos is an externalized and manifested expression of the
indescribable reality that is GOD.
May this GOD bless you always.
Although we never met in person, our written exchanges continued for years. She told me about her husband, Jim Summerville (also a prolific writer), their move, their TV interests, her family…. Beatrice was always affirming and supportive as my endeavors expanded into a DVD (Wake to Wonderment), music, poetry, and group reflections. She wanted to know all about Sisters of Earth and the SHCJ EcoSpirituality Group and to get them better known. She invariably humbled me with her gratitude.
I believe what Francois Mauriac wrote: “No love, no friendship can ever cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark upon it forever.” How blessed I am to have had Beatrice mark my life!
Getting to Know Her Writing
Beatrice was a luminary in the fields of theology, philosophy, contemplation, spiritual ecology, the writing of Teilhard de Chardin, Eastern faiths, developing and non-dual consciousness, feminism — and within each, exemplified her deep gift of opening up new lines of thought and praxis. Her writing demanded attentive reading and pondering.
I am currently reading a tribute to her that I highly recommend: Personal Transformation and a New Creation: The Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice Bruteau, edited by Ilia Delio, OSF (Orbis, 2017). The three sections of this book include A Dynamic Person; Philosopher and Theologian; and Teacher, Mentor, Friend. The list of Beatrice’s writings at the end of Ilia’s book exceeds 10 pages, so I won’t attempt to list them! Whether familiar with her writings or new to them, you will profit from the both warm and scholarly reflections in this book. I also encourage you to sample Beatrice’s own books and articles. For those interested in ecospirituality, Beatrice’s writings are a must!