Sunday, February 26, 2017

...blessings in sorrow...

After church liturgy and forgiveness vespers
for the beginning of Great Lent,
we saw pictures from years past, many of them
from before my time in NJ, of various ones
of our church and some really lovely ones of Patrick...
It will be 2 weeks tomorrow night that he 
departed this earth...
afterwards we needed to pick some things up
regarding Patrick as my Husband is involved
in his final affairs on this earth
and I saw his home for the first time since he
has passed on... 
by the time I knew Patrick and was visiting him,
he was already in his 80s and was losing a lot of his
strength and such... 
so today was the first time that I saw his house on a more
detailed level... it's such a beautiful home, with furniture
that is is from a more refined era and lots of beautiful icons and 
pictures of various historical things.
And of course I took pictures... the one above
is one I quickly took of some of his blessed candles from
a few years ago... and by it, I did not even realize,
was a postcard from Ottawa... that I am sure that we sent him...
I know we had some sent from my Husband and I... 
probably when we were on our honeymoon 
and I would know that postcard anywhere,
but I did not realize it was there so I will have to go 
back later and see it... but it was so beautiful to realize it was there...
While I was looking at Patrick's home, in such
warm sunlight,
I was called back down and was given a very special icon 
of St Herman... my first Orthodox church that I ever went to 
was dedicated to St. Herman and I went to a small church
in London Ontario that had this icon of St Herman
in the back of their church,
and I would always stand by it...
It was so special to me as St Herman was my first Saint
and very much my Father-Daddy-Saint, if I can say it that way.
I really felt his care like a father for me, a young woman of 
27 who still had so much growing to do, young despite her years,
and I was a student back then and I don't believe I had an icon of St Herman 
until I was living in Ottawa, after I left London Ontario.... I was at 
a church dedicated to St Nicholas after my time at St Herman's and their
iconography was still progressing and they did not, at the time,
have an icon at all in the church of St. Herman,
and I missed seeing his icon so much... I had a small
paper drawing icon of him at home, but that was all....
so having the icon at church in London Ontario was deeply meaningful to me.
I knew St Herman to be my protector, even though there was so much I did
not understand yet, at that point....
I would just stand by this icon of St Herman and be aware of him,
as if I was standing right next to him... 
when I would walk back from the bus after 10 at night
in the wintertime in London Ontario, in 
the dark snow filled night, I would have to walk by
a more unlit dodgy feeling street, I think it had a bar and I always
felt a bit unsafe, but I would do 2 things, since I really had to walk that way home
and I used the computers at school for my work...
first I would have my keys out as the only thing I knew
to tangibly protect myself, but the other thing was that I would
think of St Herman and would just think about him and think about
him walking right next to me, that I would hold his hand all the way home...
not that I would think or imagine this in detail, but that somehow I was doing this,
just thinking about him as my protector and that I would get home safe.
Well, today this icon came home with me,
13 years later... it was one that Patrick had on the inside wall
of his breezeway and it was given to
unexpectedly, I nearly started bawling...
(I had already had a few tears when seeing Patrick's house,
I learned to cry, really, when I lived in Ottawa,
but that's another story)...
and so it is here by my lampada on my buffet,
by the lampada that I started having lit all the time there
for Patrick when he suddenly took to being very ill... 

This icon is such a deep treasure for me,
something that is a deep blessing and I feel that
it is a great blessing to have this at the beginning of 
Great Lent this year...
it gives me hope, it gives me courage
and so Lent begins and for this,
I join others in thanking God.... 


ann lynagh said...

Don't underestimate how harrowing it can be following a person's death,it's good to do something light and joyful afterwards.
I lived in London,Ontario in the 1980's,memories of the Stratford festival!
Be well,warm wishes,
Ann Marie

Jennifer Hays said...

As you know, I'm working through a loved one's death right now too and it's just not easy. It seems like you have a lot of very good but also very formative memories of your experiences with him and that you are taking your time sorting through your feelings. I wish you peace and strength over the next weeks as your grieving process continues. Take care and be well, Elizabeth.

Lisa said...

That image looks very comforting to me, too. I pray you have a blessed Lent! Ours begins soon.