Your vitality will continue to guide us
Lorna, you quoted this line when you spoke of a friend of yours and I’m repeating it: ‘The power beneath a community’s wings.’ I am quoting it in reference to you as your vitality always amazed me whenever or wherever we worked together.
The energy that fuelled Lorna’s programmes was, I am certain, inspirational to those around her. Lying in one of her favourite blue dresses cut on the classic simple lines that she usually wore, I had to give into the thought that she has gone to her rest. God makes the decision, and her job was done but the energy was still around us transformed into a gentle peace that wrapped her in eternal repose.
When I met her in the early years, she was back from Australia very definite about her plans to stay here and contribute her knowledge, skills and attitudes to education, both formal and non-formal. To me it was the greatest delight to see a member of the Burgher community, a community that added richly to our pluralistic Sri Lanka among us. With our misguided policies on language, we lost this community and Lorna’s presence brought back memories of the rich contribution of the community to the mosaic that is Sri Lanka.
Lorna was dynamic- just bursting with energy and enthusiasm. From her ‘Kola Kandhe’ project to her absolute transformation of a slum in Mutuwal into a beautiful community centre, her deep commitment to service was visible. On the sands of the beach and the stones of the rocks, the flowers just bloomed at her command. Her vitality just brimmed over and from her belly her loud rich laughter rolled out, sometimes punctuated by angry exclamations at the injustice and inequities she saw around her.
This is the image of Lorna that appears before me and will be with me constantly.
She was born to give- she gave up her life in Australia for a life in Sri Lanka, not to enjoy the country’s beauty and quality of life but to give of herself and her time. Her work with people, the deprived, the needy, and the troubled calls to mind figures like Mother Theresa. Her badge was that of service unstinted offered in simplicity, sincerity built on a foundation of faith inspired by her deep belief in God.
All her friends were proud of her and she had stamped on her, dignity laced with compassion that produced the long and untiring efforts spent on building communities. Utterly proud of her Sri Lankan heritage, she combined her identities in a manner worthy of emulation. Her adopted Australian identity, coupled with her Sri Lankan identity, produced a personality that was positive towards challenges, and met them face on and brought in changes so important for life and living.
Lorna, your voice is silenced but the work you have done will last forever. I do not offer you flowers, instead dedicate my efforts to promote what you believed in- people and their right to a life of quality, peace and harmony.
You will live on in my life not as a memory but as a light, like the mellow glow of a candle warming me and guiding me to the path we traversed together building bridges all the time.
May God be with you, blessing you with His mercy and beneficence and comforting your family who love and value you as a glorious human being.