A homily given at the Celebration of the Life of Jean McBride Streit (1925-2016) on February 12, 2016.
In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the melancholy and cynical Jacques is the one who says the famous words,
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. (Act II, Scene VII)
As many people have pointed out, this idea of the world as stage filled with actors did not originate with Shakespeare. The image was used as far back as Petronius, in the first century, and a version became the motto of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, “Totus mundus agit histrionem,” “the whole world is a playhouse.”
Though Jean and I never discussed it (I only knew her since November, when I came to Holy Trinity) I would have like to have known how Jean felt about that quotation, “the worlds’ a stage and all the men and women merely players.” I don’t think Jean would have entirely agreed, because more than most people, she seemed to know the difference between acting on stage, and stepping out of a role to be herself—a self that was loving, that was generous, that looked out for the other person, that even gave the other person his or her lines when they forgot them.
As many of you know, Jean had acted professionally since she was 16. When she was 18, she and her sister came to New York City—her sister Evelyn to pursue modelling, and Jean to be an actress. After doing a few small parts here and there, in 1951 Jean landed the role of Meg Dale in the CBS soap opera Love of Life. As she loved to tell people, as Meg Dale, Jean was the bad sister. She wasn’t faithful to her husband, she didn’t pay much attention to her son, and she managed to get entangled again and again with the wrong kind of men.
The real Jean, could not have been more different. In 1958, she chose not to renew her contract, and instead focused on being the leading lady in the life of her husband, Judge Saul Streit. They had a son, Saul, Jr. in 1966.
Jean supported and acted with the St. Bart’s Players and here at Holy Trinity’s Triangle Theatre. People remember her voice, her presence, her wit, and her generosity.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid…I’m going to prepare a place for you.” In other words, the set is ready, the cast assembled in a place where everyone is on the same script and no one forgets their lines. We miss Jean on this stage, this world. But we can be assured that she has rejoined another cast now, with Saul Sr. and Saul Jr. and friends, and family, and saints, martyrs, angels, and archangels. And just image the entrance she must have made!
And we give thanks for the life of Jean McBride Streit, whose life was one of lines remembered and graciously shared. May she rest in peace and may she rise in glory.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.