Helen Eberle Daly, in the presence of loved ones, died peacefully at home on Nov. 15, 2012.
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Helen developed back pain on Memorial Day and during spinal surgery in June a very rare malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor was discovered. Despite excellent treatment over the summer, the cancer spread. Helen, beloved by so many, confronted her diagnosis with her typical "grace and grit." On Oct. 18 Helen chose hospice care. During her dying process Helen's desire was to continue to be fully conscious, deliberately and joyfully engaged with her life and community, which she did until the moment of her death. She faced her sorrow with clarity and courage, teaching us about the grace found in living and in dying.
Helen was born on Apr. 21, 1952 to Joseph Frank Eberle and Sara Jo Forward, of Westfield. The family tannery business of many generations was the primary employer of this rural town. Growing up in a patriarchal family with material privilege and living in "the mansion" was deeply conflictual for Helen, who desired to be wonderfully ordinary, to be part of, rather than set apart. This experience sensitized Helen to the depth of division and injustice in our society. She developed an abiding value for human equality and for each person to be compassionately recognized and acknowledged for their character and gifts.
Helen attended St. John's Episcopal Church as a child and early discovered her love of singing. Over the years she struggled with traditional church teachings that conveyed division through patriarchal language and was led to explore various spiritual practices. Her life-long spiritual search was drawn toward a feminine and unifying perspective. Eventually, she found her spiritual home in the contemplative practices and Wisdom Christianity.
Helen attended St. Agnes Episcopal High School. When nominated as May Queen, she turned down the honor because it conflicted with her feminist values. She graduated from Boston University in 1974 and received her bachelor degree in Elementary Education. At BU Helen deepened her passion for the arts, participating in music and drama. After graduation Helen moved to Berkeley to a communal house and worked at the International Center. Following her love of music, Helen then moved to Texas to work for the Houston Symphony as an administrator, singing in the Symphony Chorus.
In the late 70's, Helen moved back East to join the family business, settling in Boston and "selling truckloads of leather throughout New England," strengthening her organizational and business skills. Soon Helen was singing again, working at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts and singing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. It was at this time that she met her deepest love and best friend, Dr. John Daly. Helen met John at a moment of significant distress: over a clogged toilet! He came to the rescue plunger in hand and was instantly smitten with her. Their first date was delayed for close to a year, but once it occurred they became inseparable. Helen and John married in the historic Christ Church in Cambridge on Sept. 29, 1984 and had a garden reception at the house where they met.
Helen and John began a Cancer Support Group in Cambridge, where Helen discovered her natural gifts for meditation and healing relationships. In 1988 she received a master's degree in Creative Arts and Learning from Lesley College. Looking to simplify and quiet their life together, the Dalys moved from Cambridge to "Hallelujah Farm" in Chesterfield, N.H. Helen taught music and movement to children and adults while developing early childhood music programs and trainings for educators.
A perennial student, scholar, practitioner, and visionary, Helen studied Counseling Psychology at Antioch New England Graduate School, receiving her second master's degree in 1993. A gifted psychotherapist, she decided to pursue doctoral studies and proudly received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Antioch in 1999. She began post-doctoral work at the Anna Marsh Clinic of the Brattleboro Retreat, and continued her work as a psychologist there for the remainder of her life. Helen believed deeply in the connection of mind, body and spirit both in healing and in life. She was a gifted healer and beloved by her colleagues. Helen will always be remembered for her constant curiosity, fabulous sense of wit, her understanding of human suffering and the potential for healing. Helen felt honored to do this work and grateful to her patients, from whom she learned so much.
In the last decade Helen became a dedicated student and gifted teacher of Wisdom Christianity, studying with the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault. Helen's special gift and accomplishment was the integration of ancient spiritual practices with advances in modern neuroscience and psychology. With her pure voice and radiant heart Helen shared herself generously. Helen deeply lived what she taught. She continued until the moment she died to be present to the depth of loving relationships, and to embrace the spirit which transcends all separation.
Six years ago, Helen founded The Narthex Project, which she envisioned as her life's calling, now her legacy. A narthex is the entryway to the church sanctuary, for Helen the symbolic threshold between traditional Christianity and new and reclaimed expressions of the faith. Through this project Helen's estate will continue to bring her core belief in Christianity toward a more inclusive practice, embracing contemplative prayer and the teachings of Wisdom Christianity.
At the end of Helen's life she funded the building of a new chapel at St. Michael's Episcopal Church. "The Chapel of Mary, The First Apostle" honors the gift of conscious love between Jesus and his first apostle, Mary Magdalene. Helen's generosity of spirit and resources also supports many community arts efforts and her gift to the Brattleboro Retreat was the most generous individual gift in their history. The seeds planted by her passions will continue to grow. Helen's love of life, her gratitude for all things, her humility, sense of humor, and her generosity are legendary. She will be deeply missed.
Helen was predeceased by her parents, Joseph and Sara Jo Eberle, and her older brother, Jeff Eberle.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. John Daly; her step daughters, Sage Wirth and Aeron Cox; her four grandsons; her brothers, Mark Eberle (Emily Norton), Tom Eberle (Jan Rhodes); her nieces and nephews, Kathryn, Jeff, Joseph, Anna Bliss, and Elle; and Roger and Sandy Daly, Hallelujah Farm.
All are invited to Helen's memorial service, to be held at St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Jan. 6, at 5 p.m. Epiphany, the season of illuminations.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to St. Michael's Episcopal Church or The Brattleboro Retreat.
To celebrate Helen's life we invite you to send your memories, thoughts, or messages about Helen to be gathered and created into a Memory Book, which will be shared with her loved ones and future generations. Please send any contributions for the Memory Book to Rev. Sandy Daly, PO Box 189, Chesterfield, N.H. 03443 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Wellsboro Gazette from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27, 2012