When I went to Mass yesterday (I tend to go almost every day) there was a sign on the Church door saying that the pastor had passed away on Saturday. He was quite young and it was an unexpected shock. A very nice, gentle priest, I sat through the Mass feeling the emotions beginning to surface. He was not the priest who converted me to Catholicism, but he did head the parish where I converted (priests relocate every few years). So it’s pretty sad. But on the plus side, afterward it seemed like I could feel his presence a bit as I went about my day, like an angel with his personality stamp watching over me. That’s what it felt like, anyhow.
But what I really want to write about is the photographs I took a few days back. Turns out Father might have actually passed on Friday night (November 1). A friend told me that he was scheduled for a Saturday morning Mass but didn’t show. That’s when some other priests discovered him. He’d already left us by that time. So quite possibly Friday Nov. 1st was his last day on Earth.
Earlier on Nov. 1st I attended Mass at his parish and soon after went outdoors for the photo shoot. I was in super good spirits, just having been to Mass. It felt like God was with me big time during that shoot.
Now, I recall while posting my photos here, thinking it a bit strange that I was captioning one of them with a poem about dying (Joy Will Find a Way). I mean, as far as I know, I’m not ill and I wasn’t aware of anyone else being unwell either. I also called another photo “Ready to Fall.” That photo was of a red maple leaf about to fall off a branch. The red maple leaf is a strong Canadian symbol (central to our flag) and this priest was a very proud Canadian. He never failed to sing Canada’s praises on Canada day (some priests entirely overlook it).
So I’m wondering if on some intuitive, artistic level I was picking up that Father was about to leave us. (A similar mystery occurred when I wrote a rather foreboding poem about “death in the skies” a couple of years before 9/11.) Anyhow, I’m not sure, and quite possibly I was just thinking about Remembrance Day, which is coming soon. But I might also have been subconsciously sensing that these photos were taken on the last day of Father’s walk on Earth.
So I dedicate both of these photos to him. A very nice, intelligent but, above all, humble priest.