Affirming The Soul of Dementia: Mystical Completion of the Journey

by cari

BruteauNo sooner had I finished and published my reflection on The Soul of Dementia, when I read a piece in the National Catholic Reporter about Beatrice Bruteau, a 21st century mystic and interspiritual teacher, who recently died of Alzheimer’s disease.  I was drawn to the reflection on her life and death, recalling that I had discovered her when I was writing my Masters Thesis in theology on evolutionary faith.  Beatrice followed, among others, the great Jesuit mystic, Teilhard de Chardin, expanding on the radical concepts of evolutionary consciousness, “universal inclusiveness and the unique value of each individual.”   She wrote about, taught and lived her spirituality until her death when, after a sharp decline, she suddenly and with full psycho-spiritual and cognitive presence, returned for a last hurrah to manifest the wholeness and completeness of her life’s journey.  In an article entitled, Interspiritual Pioneer Beatrice Bruteau Loomed Large in the Contemplative Universe, Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, describes her experience:

In late July, she suffered a fall and was hospitalized and in nursing care for several weeks thereafter. During this time, it seemed she was very much on the decline and “in transition.” She ceased eating, and her already-slight frame shrank to 50 pounds. By October, a hospice worker had been called in, and Beatrice was seemingly hanging between the worlds.

Nine days before her death, she sat up, got up, resumed eating enough to sustain the physical body a bit longer, and began to teach and transmit in a luminous burst of continuing insight. It was as if the Alzheimer’s had been left behind — or perhaps, if truth be told, she had already “died” to this world and was returning, her own risen and christed self in her imaginal body, to complete what was needed vis-à-vis this earth plane. While others were astonished at her sudden “improvement,” she had already been extremely clear with Josh that this wasn’t what it was about; it would be an entirely different dimension manifest and operating in her. Teacher to the end, she left us with a luminous, stunningly hopeful demonstration of how a conscious death is already a risen life; the two are joined at the hip. With her final magnificent fusion of clarity, will and freedom — all those qualities her spiritual practice had been about for more than half a century — she went out like a bright candle, filling the whole room with the perfume of her realized being.

That being accomplished, she slipped away quietly into the night at just after midnight. Her last gift to us was a brilliant, living testimony to the triumphant reality of her two deepest convictions — radical optimism and God’s ecstasy — carved in the final sacrament of her life.

For the full article, go to

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