Tribute to Beverley Webster from Myron Syms

She never stopped offering the dharma to anybody who was interested.


by Myron Syms

When Judy and I moved to Cape Breton in 1994, Beverley generously invited us to stay at her house while we searched for our new home. We arrived auspiciously on Midsummers Day and the weather was doing it’s Cape Breton magic with sun and clouds and rainbows and blue sky.

We spent a few weeks looking at houses in the Margaree area but most in our price range were too small. We ended up looking at an old schoolhouse that had been turned into apartments located in Plateau, just south and west of the Acadian Village of Cheticamp. The view included ocean, mountains, many trees and much open space. This ended up being where we’ve lived for the past 16 years. I took a year to work on the house and Judy got a summer job. All the while Beverley was helping us every way that she could.

More importantly, she was extending herself to the community in many ways. She started an annual Midsummer’s Day regatta for canoes on the Margaree River that still happens every year. For several years after we got to Cape Breton she planned very well attended Shambhala Day celebrations at her home. Each year highlighted different cuisine. One year Mexican food, another year Tibetan food, it was always the event to attend and bask in the glory of the Great Eastern Sun.

Originally I had planned to make windsor chairs to support us but I received very good advice from a genius woodworker in Sydney by the name of Leo Macneil. He advised me to start a bakery instead and fortunately I took his advice. A few years later my psoriasis became psoriatic arthritis and I could no longer do wood working. I could still bake, and when I needed a loan to start my bakery Beverley was once again there to help us out. In fact it is her generosity that most symbolized her connection to those around her. Through the years that we’ve lived in Cape Breton, I’ve never met anybody as generous as Beverley. When my mixer would break down (as they do) she would help out without my asking her for a favour.

If she only did this for us it could be seen as being good to your friends, but she was generous to everybody. It is also more than generosity. She tried to extend herself to all beings. If she could help, she was there.

She taught the first Shambhala Training in a B & B in Mabou before we moved here and she continued to teach levels throughout her time in Cape Breton. She was the one who started a practice situation for those interested in sitting meditation in the Margaree Harbour area. One summer she hosted a Shambhala Art convocation at her home along with Steve Brooks and several other artists. She never stopped offering the dharma to anybody who was interested.

In the last few years she would have a visit from Shibata Sesei and Carolyn when they would pass through Margaree Harbour, and many of us would be invited to take part. Last year Sensei did a ceremony for a larger group than usual. The dralas were the largest part of the audience, but that was where Beverley lived.

In other words, she manifested her guru’s world effortlessly and with amazing style. Everybody who knew her in Cape Breton is still in shock at our loss with her death.

Lady Beattie, dragon mistress of A Suite
So sweet yet still dangerous
Seated at your desk, lighting a cigarette
Gazing through the smoke
Answering the phone, smiling
It would be hard to forget you

-Myron Syms 24 November 2010