Jon Harris came early to my birthday party last February. He was the first guest and was all smiles, a bomber jacket, an enormous warm hug. I was awkward and nervous, no one had arrived yet. There was a piano in the corner and Jon offered to play.

Soon there was a steady stream of jazz filling the corners of the vast space at Deon’s as the guests finally arrived. A few times throughout the night I wandered up to the piano. “Jon, you know you don’t have to keep playing, you can join the party.”

He shooed me away and kept playing without interruption for hours. What I realized, as the night went on, was that Jon was the party.

That night Jon taught me about presence, about showing up, about filling a room with the contents of your heart.

I met Jon Harris, formally, the summer of 2016. Some guests were unexpectedly invited by my family for the weekend leaving me without a bed and Nancy Aronie gave me Jon’s number. That was the chain reaction that embedded me in a web of Jon. I called him “about a room” and he answered the phone as if he knew me his entire life. I got louder, he got louder, jabbing and laughing as if we both grew up on the same Brooklyn playground (we didn’t) and within an hour he had me over to rent a gorgeous private room in his house.

He became, that day, without warning or precedence, my wacky mentor, insisting I come by to visit whenever I liked. And I did.

“Tell yourself,” he would say, “I am whole, I am complete, I am worthy of love.”

He made me laugh, pushed me to assert stringent boundaries, and he helped me deepen my engagement with being alive.

“It doesn’t matter,” he often said, “it’s just life. So live it.”

I complained and complained and complained and he reframed and reframed and reframed until I saw things with a silver lining, and a deeper dose of realism, smacked with a wicked and witty sense of humor, all at the same time.

Jon was a wild, beat-your-own-drum farmer, a spiritualist, a teacher, a man of many glorious hats — and secretly, he was a shepherd. I can count the good souls he housed on his property over the years. Powerful healers, devoted urban gardeners, chicken slaughterers and yogis adored him, and at times were driven up the wall by him, in equal and wonderful measure. And then the added bonus: his deep love of his daughter Nina, and her presence in everyone’s lives either in person on the farm, or through hearing him tell of her with awe and wonder.

It came to pass, slowly, that everyone I knew and everyone I loved had an intimate connection with the man: my chiropractor, my barn rental landlord, my meditation teacher.

Today, when I gasped at the West Tisbury Library, learning of the news of his passing, everyone, I mean everyone in the room knew him, loved him and either once learned from him or most certainly needed him. One person was waiting for his help with her piano, another learned to play from him when she was younger, and a third said he was due to overhaul her computer operating system.

I sat in the sun in front of the library for a long time after I heard the news. Everything was beautiful and still. It was cold but not too cold, the sun was there, a slight breeze came and went. I felt so quiet inside in a way I don’t often feel quiet, and rested for a moment in this one thought: this is my community, this is my home, these are my people.

I rarely can admit that but Jon Harris, in that moment, illuminated a network of hearts and minds and bodies and souls that in their love of him and in echo of his ethos, were a unified community. For a moment today, thinking of Jon, I was home.