Memorial Tribute by
Thank you for bridging the distance, for your devotion and for reminding me without my smile the world cannot be saved.
Memorial Tribute by
I began reading A Course in Miracles when I was 21-years-old, and I began corresponding with Ken the following year. I'm now 38, which means he was a part of my life for a period spanning from nearly my teens until nearly middle age. During that time, he became one of, if not the, most important mentors I've ever had.
Ken was one of the main people to help me come to terms with the loss of my stepfather in 2001. I remember asking Ken, "What happens when we die?" He responded, "You know the answer to that. You just keep living ...." During one of our conversations, I said to Ken, "This is so difficult for me. How will I ever cope if you die?" His response was, "Well, we'll work on that when the time comes .... "He then told me that I really didn't have anything to worry about because he foresaw himself living into his 90's—"at least."
I remember talking to Ken about the loss of Helen's husband, Louis Schucman. Ken spoke very fondly of Louis, saying that they had spoken about Louis possibly moving to live in Roscoe, where he would "live out his final years .... " Ken said that it was decided it would be better for Louis to remain living where he had always lived. I remember being surprised by the tone in Ken's voice as he spoke about Louis's death, as though Ken accepted that this was just a part of life, not something shocking or "bad." It's just what happens, and it's okay.
I remember asking Ken at one point if he ever thought he'd see Helen again, and he said yes. In what way he meant that—symbolically or otherwise—I didn't ask, as it seemed a very personal question to begin with. In retrospect, I'm even a bit embarrassed by the invasiveness of such a question. But, as they say, "I was young ...."
The last letter I received from Ken, which I keep on my Buddhist altar, was mailed to me during the summer of 2013. It contained the cryptic line, "I will see you at the crossroads." I didn't know what he was talking about, and it scared me a little. In retrospect, it becomes apparent [to me] that he knew.
As for me, I'm not as evolved as Ken was. When I learned of his death, I became so upset that I became physically ill for an entire week. It's hard to consider that he's not "here" anymore. I feel pretty much the same way I felt when I lost my stepfather, and so I strive to remember the support Ken gave me during that time.
Memorial Tribute by
Ken was the epitome of kindness. He willingly listened to my history of "victimhood." He encouraged me to seek regular counseling to help me face childhood shame and adult phobias. His compassionate nature led him to put me in touch with Rosemarie. He even requested that I help her with the library; even though I was the one needing help to deal with my grief and guilt after Daniel's suicide. His gentle observations provided a soft landing for my ego faults and perceived slights. His example changed my perception of what the best of us can be.
Memorial Tribute by
What a friend I've had in Kenneth; the perfect model of what it is to live the message of A Course in Miracles, a message I would never have understood, let alone had hope of experiencing. He has helped me bridge the distance between myself and Jesus in much the same way Jesus speaks of helping us bridge the distance between us and God (T-l.II.4:3-5). I think of the two of them interchangeably now because they symbolize the same thing for me. When I call to mind the way Ken loved us all I can experience the love of God in a form I can understand and aspire to live.
With unspeakable gratitude,
Memorial Tribute by
Judith Skutch Whitson
For almost 40 years Ken Wapnick was the man who was appointed my brother. I use the word "appointed" as it was given me by Helen, Scribe of A Course in Miracles. It was May 29, 1975, after lunching at Columbia University Medical Center at the invitation of Drs. Helen Schucman and William Thetford, I was ushered into their office where I first met Ken. While they gave me their account of the birth of the Course, it was immediately apparent that Ken was a significant part of that story. I listened in fascination as both Helen and Bill related their impressions of the inner "Voice" that dictated this material. I remember asking Helen if the "Voice" had a name. She seemed quite reluctant to admit it, "He says He's Jesus." "Well, is it?", I asked. "Oh yes," she quietly affirmed.
In the days that followed, as we continued to meet, my impressions of Ken were of a shy, quiet, unassuming, gentle young man who was remarkably devoted to Helen. They both shared magnificent minds and, along with Bill, might be seen as intellectually snobbish. Ken's marked stutter at that time seemed to inhibit free exchanges with new people but when discussing the Course, it never appeared. Ken was Helen's support system, care giver and intellectual equal all at once. He laughed at her jokes, chided her when she chose ego over Spirit and reminded her to pray in difficult situations. His humility in her presence was not without deep respect; yet his eyes danced when he helped her through a situation she considered fearful. As Helen demonstrated both ego and Spirit with lightening changes of mind, I watched in awe at Ken's unique patience with this brilliant yet ambivalent woman. It was clear that Helen loved him deeply and relied upon him to keep her "on course."
As I became slowly absorbed into the group, Helen explained that Ken was to teach the Course and that I had the role of publishing and disseminating "her book." She acted as if she were introducing Ken and me to each other. "This is your older sister," she said to him. And to me she continued, "This is your younger brother." Having no children of her own, it seemed from the beginning that Helen was forging a family with a joint goal. She liked me to call her "Mama" and it was a good thing my own mother did not mind. Early in our relationship Bill had decided that it would be a good idea for Ken's and my Brooklyn Jewish parents to meet. So it was arranged and our mothers became excellent friends. Helen was very pleased at this. So were Ken and I.
Over the years I was aware of slow but profound changes in Ken's persona. He not only came to appreciate and understand the Course in a deeply cerebral way; his practice of the Course also inspired a more open and caring inclusiveness in his attitude towards the people we worked with. It was clear as Ken practiced the Course that he was becoming its message. I think his growing self confidence was reinforced by three abiding elements in his personal life: his commitment to Helen; his partnership with Gloria and the persistent challenge of his public teaching role, which he played with the confidence he had as one who knows Who is with him.
Now, with twenty/twenty hindsight, I realize that what I had been privileged to witness between Helen and Ken was indeed a holy relationship. There was no question in my mind that this duo shared God's purpose and was part of His plan. The faithfulness Ken exhibited to Helen, the selfless way that he served and honored her taught me the meaning of unconditional love. Helen trusted Ken to work with her on the final editing of the manuscript of the Course while being guided by its tribute-author. As they performed this assignment, they never seriously argued, they just asked for and received Higher Guidance. For eight years, Helen gifted Ken with the strong bond of not only teacher/student but also mother/son connection. He was constantly with Helen throughout her last days until she died.
Observing Ken's flowering, his commitment to Helen was an introduction to yet another equally if not greater love story that lasted many more years. I watched as Helen's passing gave way to an even stronger, more dynamic love in Ken's life; a love that supported and allowed him to be who he became for all of us. In 1981, Gloria stepped in to help fulfill Kenneth, the man, through their radiant husband/wife equal partnership connection. I watched and appreciated how the power of Gloria's love, guided by the principles of the Course, helped transform Ken's personal life and enabled him to step into a stronger leadership role to become the teacher we were all blessed to experience.
Without Helen, there would have been no Ken, the Teacher of God, as we now remember him. But without Gloria, there would have been no Foundation, either literally or figuratively for Ken to do the work he was given to do. She inspired and fueled the Foundation for A Course in Miracles. We all reaped the benefits of Ken's superb understanding and analysis of the Course's principles. And we all got to see Ken's steady evolution into the smiling and glowing light that he became. From the beginning I was privileged to witness first hand how the pairing and grounded-in-love partnering of Ken and Gloria made all that possible.
Ken was my dear brother, my partner in fidelity to the Course and my "assigned" brother on the path. In the ego world, like any siblings, at times we had our differences of opinion yet our commitment to healing and love pervaded. So, when I look back on our almost forty years of this focused journey without distance, what stands out the most is that there is nothing more sacred than when special relationships transform into holy relationships. As we are reminded, "The ark of peace is entered two by two, yet the beginning of another world goes with them."
Farewell, my dear Kenneth, First Graduate of A Course in Miracles. Your sister Judy thanks you.
Judith Skutch Whitson, Foundation for Inner Peace
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