Today was the first Divine Liturgy our mission parish celebrated since we learned we were losing our priest. Things were subdued, to say the least. I found myself paying much closer attention than usual, aware as I never have been of the preciousness of what I was seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and, receiving the Eucharist from Father Matthew’s hands, tasting.
The pain of loss is strongly felt among us. But last night in vespers, and today during the liturgy, I felt a strange and most welcome sense of calm. To be honest, it was the same feeling I had in the final days of my father’s life, even at the moment he drew his last breath. It was a strong intuition that this must be, and that all will be well.
Last night, I e-mailed my friend Evgeny Vodolazkin, the Laurusauthor, to share with him the sad news. When I came home from church today, he had responded:
Yes, dear Rod, it is sad news indeed. But you know, a great Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky wrote once, that about good friends one should not say with pity: they are no more with us, but should say with gratitude: they were.