It is sunny here.
By the end of the panihida my heart felt light. It is so wonderful to be in Church.
Like many I have a long blog roll in bloglines. One of the blogs I read is Christ is in our Midst by Handmaiden Leah. She has a great post about this Soul Saturday and how Koliva came to the Orthodox church.
My spiritual father spoke afterwards about how Lent is coming, how those who have died and are in Christ know that Lent is coming. They live already in the light of Pasca, but they know spiritually what is going on for us. He reminded us that we are in one Church with them, that they are with us as we journey to Pasca. I know many priests have sensed those priests who have departed this earth still with them in the Altar. It is such a comfort to know also that my loved ones who loved the Lord, including my spiritual mother, are with me in Church.
My spiritual mother was not Orthodox, but now that she is in heaven, she understands. And she loved God on earth and was a strong example of what a Christian woman can be - she prayed for many people, she helped many, she provided a refuge for many to begin deep process of healing through Christ. When she died is when God taught me that the early Church (I was not Orthodox yet) prayed for the dead.
The grief I felt when she died was the most intense I have ever consciously felt. It was like living for three days in an eclipse. I remember being shocked that the sun was shining outside. I felt like my Mother had died. I lived in BC then and she lived in New England. I had no money to go to her funeral. It was months before I went back to New England where she lived. For the first three weeks I kept thinking I saw her coming. I could not imagine that she was not coming down the stairs from her apartment for morning prayers. I could not imagine growing up without her.
Thank God that I now know that, while I cannot call her on the phone, cannot visit or email her, I can still ask for her prayers. Nothing can separate us from the love of God and Christ has trampled down death by death. My spiritual father taught us, some years ago, that in the Holy Spirit we can ask God to tell our Mothers, Fathers and other loved ones that we still love them, that we miss them. They know when we are praying for them. At times I ask a Saint that I am especially close with to relay my love to my spiritual mother.
A very special Orthodox friend, whose spiritual father is departed, still can tell spiritual father things in prayer.
My spiritual father has reminded us that the line between earthly life and the life of those departed is not that great, especially when we are in Church.
I am so thankful for my life here - that I can go to the panihida - that I can DV go back for vespers. Thank God for His Church and His great mercy.