Bright sadness

Originally uploaded by pasivirta.

I am going to put this on my own blog too, with a picture of Fr. John, but I want to write a bit for Him and for everyone, I guess not everyone here got to meet him.

I described him in the past as perhaps the most beautiful man I have ever come across,
many of us know the truth that beauty is not as shallow as our skin, but meeting Fr. John makes it impossible not to see the fire of God in his soul, through the love flowing from his eyes.
I asked him some questions about love, relationships, he told me about his wife who reposed a few years back, how he met her and knew right away that he was going to marry her, she was surprised when he told her, but they were married and it was beautiful. perfect. perfect in that they knew it wouldn't be without struggle.
He was an anglican minister until they became orthodox, and made a priest. at some point the ottowanians will have to help me with details, but

perhaps more striking is how I, an unknown shaggy kid showed up at the cathedral to meet whomever was there, and this solidly built but walking with fragility old monk with a big beard looks at me with such love in his eyes, touches my face and looks into the darker part of who I am and says 'its good you are here'

I have never met this man. he touched my face.

the next day he spent at least an hour with me, listening to me talk about love, life and church, the struggle involved with dating a girl who was anglican, the struggles involved with being single, the struggles involved with being orthodox and trying to communicate the beauty, and he so convincingly and empathetically said that all we can do is tell them to taste and see. I had heard it, but it was so good to hear it from him.

Too because I was in sudbury, away from pious people, it meant so much that this glowing man spent time with me.

not only that, but we went and drank a beer with his grandkids, who are so adorable, Perrin and Taice.

I wish I could go and see them now.

He spent the afternoon giving Zeke and I his books, just one after the other, here, this one, and this one, no, not that one, that is someone else's, here, take this one, one after the other. I have one that looks like it was the Bishop's.

He was a little Christ.

today was a bittersweet moment, when I went over to biss's to be told, I didn't really let it sink in. I mostly waited, waited until parts of the liturgy made it impossible to ignore, and then a tear or two prevented singing.

But I remember him talking about being reunited with his wife soon, and how he was looking forward to that, and how that was part of why he became a monk, because he is married to her forever. It is such a beautiful thing, to see him walking down the street, cheesy rays of sun and all, his white beard, uncreated light blindingly shining from everywhere, He walks slowly towards his wife, because he really does have all the time in the world, she smiles and says something like its really good to see you dear, they hold hands and he asks here where they are going and she laughs and says "church of course"

Of course we will miss him sadly, and I am sorry for you who did not meet him, but he will pray for us, and he is nearby too.

I don't know what I would do if the kingdom of heaven was not available. if I were not orthodox. It makes being sad okay and doable.

Fr. John, may angels sing you to your rest, may our Blessed heavenly Father have mercy on you, and pray to Christ for us.

I miss you.

Memory Eternal


RW said...

Thanks for posting this. I never had the opportunity to meet Fr. John. Thanks for sharing the little bit of Fr. John's love for his wife.

RW said...

Thanks for posting this. I never had the opportunity to meet Fr. John. Thanks for sharing the little bit of Fr. John's love for his wife.

Ed Doerksen said...

I never knew Fr. John, but when you visited you spoke so highly of him. Your thoughts have created a gentle giant of a man for me. At times it is sad when someone so honest in their faith moves on to the next step. Then again such a step gives others time to praise the life that celebrates in our hearts.

When someone this wonderful moves on, we tend to become saddened for we feel that we have missed more than we have gained. But these giants of saints leave more behind than what we really realise and understand.

Dave, you have his books that he gave you and his wisdom and thoughts. You have experienced a man who has been and is beautiful. Someone that God has put in your path to guide you, not just at the time you met him, but to guide you for ever.

Your posting of this man makes the rest of us who have never seen him, wish we had but just a few seconds to have met him.

kimberley said...

i thought of you immediately Dave, when I saw His name on the Diskos at Peter the Aleut, this weekend in Calgary. I added your name. For he was Igumen John, FrJohn, and also Dave's friend.

May you experience comfort, as as Mira said to me: Bright sadness, and a peace not of this world,


Graves said...

I'm glad I know you. Because of you I love this man I've never met, and I am sad that he will never touch my face. I am also at that place where I can't imagine life/death without the fellowship of the saints who have gone before us. People are so amazing. Much love friend, I'm glad you knew such a good man.

Simply Victoria said...

I met him oh so briefly when he came to St.Hermans years ago for his son Greg's wedding to Tacia.
A lovely simple wedding, and a lovely man.
May his memory be eternal.
You are so blessed, David, to have been able to know him and spend time with him.

Mira-cle said...

Dear Dave,

I cried when I read your post. I cried in Church when I heard of his death. And it truly is bright sadness. He passed away in his sleep, no doubt prayerfully awaiting to wake up the next morning to celebrate the Resurrection at Divine Liturgy...he probably went to Great Vespers, welcomed the new day, the day outside of time, which begins with the repose of sleep, and which, for him, this time, was an entrance into eternity, where the Light of Christ's countenance shines on him, and where true freedom and true love abound. I felt like he didn't skip a step though, in getting to the Liturgy. I felt like he was there with us on Sunday morning, celebrating the Resurrection, of which he is now an embodiment of. It is beautiful.

I never met the man, but from your stories, and those of others, I feel that I know him deeply and love him. He was a little Christ, and in God I know him.

Fr Deacon Kevin spoke briefly about him after his Pannakida service on Sunday. He said that once he was at the cathedral in Ottawa, and it was a quiet night. Only a few people were going to confession, and it looked like everyone was just heading home after Great Vespers finished. But then Fr John Scratch walked into the room, and his presence could be felt like a bolt of holiness in the room. He said that people started swarming around him, to see him, speak to him, to be touched by him. And one by one, they filed into a long line, to go to him for confession.

That is what holiness does. That is what a saint does to a room when he walks in. His mere presence called those around him to repent and to turn to God for healing.

May his memory be eternal.

Love in Christ,


Lydia said...

Thank you so much Dave. My dad would have blushed at all you are saying, but it is all true.

I love the picture of him on his bed going through books for you and Matthew (Zeke to you, I guess).

Thank you so much.

Peace and love.


Anonymous said...

Dear David,

I am Laurie, Mary-Teresa's life long friend and godmother to Parryn. I read your posting and was touched and moved. For someone who knew him so briefly you summed up his life and love beautifully. Suzanne would have laughed and cried.

Best Wishes and love,
Laurie Antonakos