Trinity is very grateful to have Jane Beebe here at Trinity as she furthers her education at Andover Newton Theological Seminary.
How Can I Keep from Singing: Autobiographical Statement, Jane Beebe, September 2015
This past summer I took an intensive course called “Preaching Boot Camp.” One of the exercises we did was to imagine what the title of our autobiography would be, and then tell why. My title is: “How Can I Keep from Singing,” from one of my favorite hymns:
“My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Thro’ all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
What tho’ my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?”
I grew up in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. (I also love rugged coastlines). I was baptized in a Congregational Church in Asheville, NC. I joined the Presbyterian Church in middle school. (I grew up at Warren Wilson College that was Presbyterian-related at the time). From my childhood and well into my twenties I was strongly influenced by the Society of Friends: both the spirituality of silent worship and the social witness. I spent many summers at Camp Celo (part of a Quaker community in the mountains north of Asheville, NC) as a camper and later as a cook. I attended Westtown School for high school, a Friends secondary school in Pennsylvania. While it was my assumption that I would join a Meeting someday, my seeking led me to the Episcopal Church. I began attending St. Paul’s Episcopal in Grinnell, IA soon after beginning my first job in the library at Grinnell College. My inner yearning for and direct experience of the presence of God was supported by the liturgy and sacraments. At the same time I was beginning to discover my singing voice – probably not a coincidence! I also began to be drawn to the religious (monastic) life having found there were a number of religious communities in the Episcopal Church. I explored that calling in my early thirties, and again in my forties. By that time I had moved from Iowa to Western Massachusetts. I currently work at Amherst College as the head of the cataloging unit and as music librarian. My main avocation is singing, mainly classical, but I also enjoy traditional folk music. I love walking: all terrains, all weather.
I am currently an Associate of the Order of St. Helena that used to have its mother house near Newburgh, NY. (I like to spend time in retreat at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge). I spent about five years (2005-2010) as an Oblate with the Benedictine Community, the Companions of St. Luke. During that time I began to recognize a call to the priesthood as well. While I have long seen myself as a contemplative, I now feel impelled outward. It is my hope that my experience of daily prayer can give me the strength and vision to fulfill my vows as a priest. In May of this year I became a Candidate for the Transitional Diaconate. I have been working on my M.Div. at Andover Newton Theological School part-time since 2011. I hope to graduate in 2017.
As someone influenced by the Benedictine Rule, I am constantly seeking balance. As someone in grateful recovery from debt (more than $50,000), balance is essential. On June 21, 2001 I admitted to myself that I was powerless over money. Surrendering seemed so hard at the time. I had to learn to rely on God alone. With God’ help and constant, loving presence, I am now solvent. At its best, the Episcopal Church embodies Benedictine balance. Embracing tradition and scripture, liturgy and sacraments – together with a willingness to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit – can be transformative. I have learned much about how God can act in my life through my struggles with money. Though much recovered, only practicing humility – and gratitude – keeps me centered in today. But if I stay there, today has great potential! So I have empathy for those who struggle in certain ways. You may have noticed, too, that I have a tendency to come to certain realizations late in life… I am grateful more than I can say for being able to be part of the Trinity, Ware family in the coming year. “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3: 20-21)