Jean Westcott

Jean Westcott

From Jean to Kate:

Dear Kate,

Singing at a bedside – almost. I remember an evening with EBTC when Shirley asked if we could sing for her friend in Alameda who was under hospice care. Shirley placed a cell phone call to her friend and we sang. It’s hard to imagine that I could feel more present had I been physically at this woman’s bedside. To be sung for and to sing feel to me like sacred things.

What this work means for me — I appreciate your words (and no doubt you will quote yourself more accurately than I can) about women being the creators/ present at the moment of creation and that it seems right and important that women be present as guardians as life ends. 

One of my teachers, Angeles Arrien, talks about four universal healing salves, Singing, Dancing, Story-telling and Silence. I’ve had previous personal experiences of knowing the healing power of singing – I comforted myself (and perhaps my mother) as I drove home from her hospital room the night she died. All the way home I sang, “Sleep dear Mom and peace attend thee all through the night …..”

In the midst of living with cancer, I was blessed to have a friend (Liz Williams, who you drummed with) tell me about the Threshold Choirs. I am grateful for your clarity about what it means to be a member of a choir, i.e., that I am a member even before I sing at a bedside. Knowing that is important to me lest I feel entirely selfish as I sing for my own healing. A simple example – I am often tired when I arrive at 6:45 for a rehearsal; I am never tired when I leave. I have also felt the power of having choir members sing for me. In my experience, to be sung for is to be filled with peace and to become more present and open to what is.  

With gratitude, appreciation and love,

Jean’s Prayer

God (Great Spirit) please help me to know and to trust that your life force blesses me perfectly, that everything I need to heal has already been given.  Let me be open to all possibilities, living the full circle of my life in gratitude no matter when that circle is complete.

From Kate:  


Jean Westcott died early yesterday morning. She was surrounded by friends and loved ones, apparently had a few moments of lucidity, then slipped into a coma. Her bravery and vision have been very inspiring for me. Thanks to all of you who have sung to her these past weeks.

Today at Lama I taught the song I had been singing for her, a traditional Appalachian song sung by the Wailin’ Jennys. I include (below) the link to them singing that song on YouTube and the lyrics so you can sing it too.   

Her family have asked that the choir join them at Jean’s Memorial on Sunday, August 30 at 3 pm.  I cannot be there but at our rehearsal on the 28th I will see that we can field a team. They want to hear “Kinder” and “All Through the Night.” Possibly one more.  

Jean, bless your heart, thank you for letting so many of us share your journey, your courage and your life.  

Blessings to you all from Lama.  Kate

Long Time Traveller

YouTube of Wailin’ Jennys singing

These fleeting charms of earth
Farewell, your springs of joy are dry
My soul now seeks another home
A brighter world on high

I’m a long time travelling here below
I’m a long time travelling away from home
I’m a long time travelling here below
To lay this body down

Farewell kind friends whose tender care
Has long engaged my love
Your fond embrace I now exchange
For better friends above

I’m a long time travelling here below
I’m a long time travelling away from home
I’m a long time travelling here below
To lay this body down…