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Jenny Zenner


Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai! Our darling Jenny, Baba’s “Laughing Bird” (the nickname Mani gave her), took flight at 1:22 pm this afternoon [Saturday, May 10, 2014] to embrace her true Beloved. Her longing to serve Meher Baba inspired her daily efforts to love Him as He should be loved and to please Him as He should pleased.


Jenny’s other true beloved was at his job during Jenny’s final moments—we held the phone up to her ear so that he could hear her and in the silence of her breathing. As soon as Jenny heard Craig’s voice, she gave two loud moans—a clear and remarkable expression of her love and recognition. Craig left work immediately, arriving shortly after Jenny’s passing. Those of us who were blessed to be in the room (Sherri, Barbara Plews, Oliver Morris and myself), stood with Craig to recite the Master’s Prayer.


Two weeks ago, Jenny began composing a new song.* These two lines came to her: “There’s a song in my heart waiting to be sung. Don’t strive for perfection, let it all run.” The day before Jenny’s brother left town, he was reminding Jenny of the song and trying to get the words just right. Struggling a bit, he said, “She’s still working on it”— at that moment, with eyes closed, Jenny smiled for him and began saying the words aloud. And what a perfect Beloved is our Beloved to give this precious soul an inner message—a final gift in this most blessed of lifetimes—to let her know that He understood all.


In the eternal love of the One who now holds Jenny in His eternal embrace.


Wendy Haynes Connor


*Many of you will remember the song Jenny wrote in 1968 soon after she first heard Baba’s name through Charles (Haynes) at Emory University:


Don’t worry, be happy,

Meher Baba loves us all.

Illusions are many,

but underneath them all

is one Reality,

that you and I are one,

and God is Love and Love is God

and God and man are one.



by Charles Haynes, delivered May 15, 2014

Let me begin with words that came to Jenny in the hospital — during one of her frequent colloquies with her Beloved Meher Baba:

“What does it matter if I shed this coat in one day or in one decade — for my being exists eternally in you.”

It’s tempting to call Jenny’s passing “untimely” — because I’m sure that for Craig and for all of us it feels all too soon to lose our wonderful Jenny.

But Meher Baba assures us that everything happens at precisely the moment it must happen.

What seems “untimely” to us is actually perfect timing for the Real Work of awakening that is the true purpose and meaning of our life.

Jenny’s expression — “Shed this coat,” like “drop the body” — is a way of capturing the conviction that what is Real never dies… and all of the many forms we take are merely passageways to Self-discovery.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Jennyisms.

It was not long after Jenny first heard about Baba at Emory University — where we were both in school. Over the period of a few months that year several of Baba’s close disciples died — or, as I kept saying, they “dropped the body.”

The third time Jenny heard this, she looked up and said with a wistful expression on her face: “There sure have been a lot of droppings lately.”

As much or more than anyone I have ever known, Jenny had a profound awareness that in our life with Meher Baba, time is not real — but His timing is everything.

What may seem coincidental or random is — if we are open to it — a tiny glimpse into the pattern of our journey — what is really happening beneath the surface of our lives.

Today, for example, is May 15 — Jenny and Craig’s 17th wedding anniversary. It is also the anniversary of the day — also 17 years ago — when Craig lost his father.

Baba tells us that each and every event in our lives — each moment of our existence — is part of that perfect pattern that we only dimly glimpse — a divine tapestry that tells the story of our inner journey to discover who we really are.

Consider the perfect timing on that day more than 45 years ago when Jenny just happened to be walking by the cafeteria building at Emory University as I got up to speak about Meher Baba.

Some students had created a “Speaker’s Corner” — modeled on Hyde Park — and somehow persuaded me to inaugurate it…

When I got up on the soapbox, I couldn’t think of anything to say — so I started talking about Meher Baba — something I had never done in public before.

People were walking by… few stopped to listen. But Jenny stopped and listened. She had an immediate spark of recognition — and her life with Baba began.

Soon Jenny was coming to the small gatherings we held in the music room of the student center. She later confessed that at first she would sneak up the stairs to the meetings, taking care that no one saw her entering the room.

She was afraid, I think, that her friends would think she had gone off the deep end. And, of course, they would have been right to worry.

Swimming with Baba in the deep end can be scary — but somehow He keeps us afloat!

On May 21st of that year — the day Jenny marked as her anniversary with Meher Baba — Jenny arrived at Meher Center for the first time — and knew she had come home.

Twenty years later, when she was given the privilege of working for Him at His Home, she felt it was a dream come true — and, as Barbara and all of her co-workers will attest, Jenny put her whole heart into her work at the Center for Baba.

Every May 21st Jenny would lovingly recall that we share that date as our anniversary with Baba: my first meeting with Baba and Christopher’s first visit to the Center, all of which, we three agreed, is no coincidence.

If we could see the world as the Beloved sees it, Jenny’s life, like each and every life, is a beautiful pattern of people, events, times, and places that made Jenny who she was, who she is — and who she will be.

Of course, just because we can glimpse the pattern doesn’t always make it easy to live in the chaos and confusion of daily life.

No one I have ever known worked harder at negotiating the challenges she was given in life than Jenny — no one.

She faced many trials and tribulations in this lifetime. But she held on to Him, trusting completely that all this we experience each day is ultimately a gift to draw us ever closer in His embrace.

Not only did Jenny persevere, she resisted self-pity and selfishness — even during her final illness. And she always found ways to love others, serve others, even at the cost of her own happiness — which, as Baba says, is what it means to love God.

Was there ever a more loyal friend — a more giving heart?

And how Meher Baba loved Jenny. See how He brought Craig into her life at just the right moment, giving her the precious gifts of companionship, friendship, and deep love. See how He gave her Blueberry and Huckleberry — she would be very upset if I didn’t mention them — two animal companions that brought her so much joy.

See how He gave her all of you… a family of so many close ones that I can’t list them all without the risk of leaving out someone very special to Jenny.

Let me end with a song — actually two songs — and, don’t worry, I’m not going to sing them.

Wendy reminded me that Jenny’s life with Meher Baba began with a song, and her life as Jenny ended with a song.

In the beginning was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (long before Bobby McFerrin). She wrote it to keep awake during the long drive in Happy — her legendary white car — from Atlanta to Detroit to hear me speak at the Spiritual Unity of Nation’s Conference in that fateful year of 1969. Kitty and I were already there, and Jenny decided to bring a carload of people to offer support.

If she hadn’t written this song — which we will all sing in a few minutes — she and everyone else in that car might not have lived to tell the tale.

In just a few lines and a catchy tune, Jenny sums up the deep convictions that shaped her life:

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Meher Baba Loves Us All

Illusions are many

But underneath them all

There’s one Reality 

That you and I are one

And God is Love and Love is God

and God and man are one.

In her last days, she began to compose another song with these opening lines:

There’s a song in my heart waiting to be sung.

Don’t strive for perfection, let it all run.

Jenny, your wait is over. Sing out your song for Him.

You struggled; you strove — always trying to be better, not fully knowing how wonderful you were.

With every fiber of your being, you longed only to please Him. And please Him you did with your deep love for Him, your abiding trust in His will, your cheerful spirit — and, of course, your world famous laugh.

You were, as Mani said, Baba’s laughing bird. With a smile on your lips, with a song in your heart, you brought joy to all around you.

Now you are released into His arms where you belong.

Now you are free to sing to Him what is deepest in your heart — and become perfect in His love.

“What does it matter if I shed this coat in one day or in one decade — for my being exists eternally in you.”



Care to share?

14 Responses to Jenny Zenner

  • Dear Jenny has left me at least two wonderful ways to connect with her in spirit. The first anyone can enjoy: She loved The Fresh Market! Only a short while ago, we had one of our special outings to celebrate, belatedly a birthday, or perhaps last year’s Christmas. Her chosen itinerary, which was in Myrtle Beach, included The Fresh Market, the Tuesday Morning store where Craig was working at the time, and Starbucks on Ocean Boulevard. Jenny introduced me to a couple of the Fresh Market staff members and and proudly told them she was giving her friend a tour. She certainly did, bringing me up and down every single aisle,and around every display, to make sure I was totally familiar with all the wonderful varieties of delicacies available at the market! Needless to say, I ended up with a cornucopia of products in my cart that day. Now, The Fresh Market and Jenny Zenner are forever and ever connected in my mind!

    The second way is through a song. During her last days, I wanted so much to connect with this long standing dear friend, to help, to contribute something else, my not being either a respectable cook or caregiver. I sat down at my piano one morning and just opened up to Jenny’s beautiful spirit. The song started to flow, and on Saturday the 10th, as I was working on it late morning, I was overcome, only to hear later that Jenny went to Baba a short time afterwards. It was a leap of faith to offer to play this song at her memorial celebration, since instrumentals usually take weeks or months to come together. But Jenny’s words, “There’s a song in my heart waiting to be sung – Don’t strive for perfection. Let it all run” gave me the courage to play the song and “let it all run.” Her joyful spirit and unconditional love continue to inspire me. Now I have a song to keep her close in my heart, and am happy to play it anywhere there is a piano. Thank you, Beloved Baba for Jenny, whose loving ways touched so many hearts.

  • I just received word of Jenny’s passing, so naturally I feel sad for I shall miss this very dear soul. Jenny was perhaps the second of Baba’s followers I ever met, for I came to Baba through meeting Charles Haynes when I was a freshman at Emory University. That the people I met through Charles were so loving is one of the main reasons that I thought Baba might indeed be Who he said He is, and certainly Jenny’s role in making me feel loved was a key part of that experience for me. In my whole life I never heard Jenny say a mean word about anyone; indeed, I’m not sure I ever heard her say anything critical about anyone. And she was the first person I ever told that I am gay. I remember the moment well, sitting in her car one night at Emory in 1971 and having great difficulty in working up the courage to tell her that. After I did, she seemed very puzzled and hesitatingly said, “. . . and so?” She just couldn’t understand how it could be a problem. And so her kind heart at that moment did a lot to bolster a young man’s self-confidence about himself in light of his minority status sexual orientation. I especially remember how very much Jenny loved Wendy Haynes. And Jenny seemed to have the love for her car that most people reserve for dear pets: her little white car that she drove so many miles in to serve Baba that she had christened Happy, which is so appropriate when one considers Jenny’s personality. She would actually stroke the car when it seemed to be struggling to work properly and speak to it encouragingly: Poor Happy. We’ll get there, Happy. Surely Jenny must have been one of the young lovers Baba spoke to His mandali about with such pride when He added that “And some of them will be jewels!”

  • My dearest Jen-Jen, I will miss you so much. You are such a dear friend and I love you. I am comforted only by the thought that you are peacefully and joyfully resting in Beloved Meher Baba’s arms.

  • 😎 I first met Jenny when she first started at the gateway. Showed how to work the computer program & we became friends. Her beautiful smile & her welcome was always there when we would meet from time to time. A wonderful spirit, I’m sure she will be with Meher Baba now. Jai Meher Baba

  • I never got to know Jenny as well as I wanted to, even though we both served together for a time on the Board of Avatar Meher Baba’s Circle of Friends.

    But in my fleeting moments with her, I learned one true thing: With the arguable exception of Mani Irani, she was the most naturally sweet person I’ve ever known. How could God not take her to Him, when her heart is of the very substance of the Divine?

  • Dearest Jenny. I met you in 1968 on a visit to Emory. I was nervous about meeting the new Baba lovers, but you were the first one I met and you grabbed me in a big bear hug. I knew immediately that you were His. Later that night we went to a Baba meeting and Charles showed the 1958 film of Baba at the Meher Center. I sat in front of you and every time the camera focused on Baba, I could hear your little intake of breath followed by a deep sigh. You were so in love with Baba and, for you, the honeymoon never ended. I never heard a unkind word from you or ever felt anything less than His love beaming from you. May Baba bless you, Craig, as He already has with the gift of His sweet Jenny. Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!

  • Jenny… Baba… My heart aches a bit, and rejoices more. You are a true and brilliant friend. If I had “the sight” I would see you now, but as it is, I will see you soon. The Beloved is all in all…! My loving regards and thanks to sister Wendy for being here to share her experience with us. Jai Baba!

  • remember some lovely visits with Jenny well, and felt so happy she and Craig found each other, in Baba’s love. How comforting that Jenny passes away with loving friends around her, including dearest Wendy!!! Thank you Wendy, for writing about Jenny. Sending love to all. In Beloved Baba’s love – Jill

  • Jenny was an inspiration for me of wholehearted service to Him.
    Her sincerity touched me in every greeting from her.
    Craig I pray His love and support surround you and give you strength and courage in your life. her love for you was pure.
    I am happy for Jenny that her dearest friends were by her side in this last journey … She was blessed with His love through them.

  • Fly free sweet Jenny! Your smile and sweet presence will be missed! Evolve on sweet soul…Baba has wonderful plans for you.

  • I’ve been singing that song for so long, wondering who wrote it. If I didn’t know that we live on, and that our thoughts and love reach anyone, anywhere, I would be so sad with this news of dear Jenny’s flight. Since the Emory University days, long ago, she’s been a bright light, a sweet flower in all our lives. I can hear her unique laugh. So many will miss her, and my heart goes out especially to you, Craig..So glad you and she found each other.

    • Jai Meher Baba, Jenny! Rest in Baba!
      Vicki and Annette (2 dancers) taught me this song after introducing me to Meher Baba at Queens College. Thank you, Baba, for your singers, lovers and all!

  • I didn’t know she wrote the original “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” I grew up singing that song at the LA Sahavas and passed it on to my kids.

    Jenny always had a bright and genuine smile. I didn’t know she was ill and know she’ll be missed. It’s hard to always be cheerful, even just in public. Yet she uplifted so many around her.

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