I watched the sun setting tonight, deep and red, a sign of things passing and the long quiet road to the West. We look to the Sun as a guidepost: the morning Sun is new and hopeful; the evening Sun is mournful and passing. I felt that passing tonight.
As I looked to the West, I recalled that my path tomorrow is to the East and Pittsburgh for the memorial service for a man I called a friend and a teacher, Earrach of Pittsburgh. Earrach passed into the realm of the Ancestors on the 31 of August. He was 63.
Earrach was one of what I called ADF Legacy Priests. He was Ordained, along with five other priests, in 2002. In the early days when there was a dearth of priests in ADF, Earrach took up the mantle and wore it like dignity. It always fit him perfectly in my eyes. I found Earrach to be an amazing priest full of wisdom and patience and most of all grace. I think that Earrach was sometimes uncomfortable with his mantle of priest, but he was a damn good priest. I listened to Earrach talk about the Sun, a lot – it was a topic that he was passionate about. Really, without the Sun, where would we be?
Like the rest of us, Earrach had good times and bad. The good times are easy. He was awarded recognition at Wellspring when I was Vice Arch Druid for Excellence in Blogging. His blogging was insightful and he had a large body of work to his credit: the Book of Sassafras is a masterwork, almost a Druidic Proustian offering. It is a collection of Earrach through and through. His marriage to Diana Paar was also what I consider good time. He also had loss and you can often judge a person by how they deal with loss. When Earrach experienced loss, he persevered. I was always amazed at his poise . Regardless of the situation, Earrach kept to the plan. He continued to do the work as though it was the first day of that work and the end of that work was never the issue. He had a keen and Capricornian understanding and appreciation of duty and that-which-must-be-done.
I sat with him as he discussed his “Heresies”, his Druidic ideas that weren’t necessarily orthodox, but which were nevertheless representative of his belief and his practice. He thought about things, he wrote about things, and he did those things. Earrach did not pose or pretend; he was the real deal. When he read an invocation to the Earth Mother, he wasn’t performing a part, he was expressing a prayer, a belief, an understanding. If Earrach said it, he meant it and he believed it. I honour the genuine nature of his presentation and his soul.
I spent a weekend with Earrach helping him with some study matters. It was an interesting combination of learning and detailed discussion around certain topics, mixed with feline matters and numerous trips to his library. He was a man in motion. He looked to the stars and taught others about the wonders of the heavens. He touched a lot of people. He touched my life.
When I was told that he had passed, I could only think of a photo I had seen of him looking up at the eclipse. I wrote this poem for him:
Oh the Journeys through Space!
Not that long ago,
You looked up at the Sun
And the Moon,
As they neared
The vibrant glow of the Sun
Visible to all
As the Moon absorbed all of the light.
Oh the journeys in space!
How much time did you spend
And speaking about the stars?
And the heavens?
And the Shining Ones above?
You used Sun
To make fire
From the heavens
Descend to the Earth.
Oh the journeys through space!
And now, unfettered,
You are free to soar
Among the cosmos,
Between the stars,
Behind the moon on any given night.
Where you once looked up from this little place
Wondering what the heavens did hold,
You now have a panoply of worlds
As you look down onto this little place.
Share them with us now,
As an Ancestor and a friend.
Oh the journeys through space!
Tomorrow, my friend, we honour your work, your person, and most of all your legacy at your memorial service. It will be a time of celebration, recollection, and most of all remembrance with an eye to the most important thing of all right now: the Work Continues. A life is a collection of events that stretch from birth to death and all points in between. A legacy, a living legacy, is that work continuing through others, like a planted field full of wonder and hope. We will bring water to nourish that field; we will bring blessings to praise that memory; we will bring our desire to continue that dream.
Earrach, my friend, the Work Continues. Let’s do it together.