One of the features of Fr Peter Maher’s funeral this week was (as in death so in life!) the powerful struggle within it between two forms of Catholicism - one in which I passionately share spiritually (with others of other labels); and the other still addicted to power rather than justice, law rather than grace, patriarchy rather than the dynamic mutuality (with appropriate recognition of charisms) of the priesthood of all believers...
Red Dragonflies - naturally - are my choice of earrings for Fr Peter Maher's funeral today (particularly, so close to the Trans Day of Remembrance, as I remember the solidarity and hope Peter offered myself and other dragonfly people).
Red dragonflies especially can be rare to view, and very special (like brilliant loving priests) when the opportunity comes along. Yet, interestingly, they often appear to people surrounding life episodes of loss and death. For the dragonfly is a symbol of go-between people, winged priests of transformation. Death is after all the polarity of Life, and dragonflies help hold together the paradoxes of death in life and life, and eternal love, in death.
In Japan the dragonfly is considered to be very sacred and symbols of transition. Red dragonflies appear most often there at the end of summer with the message that autumn is coming. A beautiful Haiku poem reads,” That the autumn season has begun is decided by the appearance of the red dragonfly.” The Japanese embrace the dragonfly as a symbol of courage, strength and happiness while some Native Americans speak of the dragonfly as bringing a time of rejuvenation after a long period of trials and hardship. Indeed they have traditionally perceived dragonflies as the “souls of the dead” - so a dragonfly visitation around a loved one’s death could well signify the loved one’s soul taking form in the spirit of dragonfly. It offers the assurance their soul is free.
Fly wonderfully Peter in perfect light - just as you helped we others find their wings and reflect that light
With great sadness today but with immense thanks for the friendship, strength and encouragement Peter gave to so many of us - and to a fellow priest who taught me what it was to live, as a priest, so humbly, honestly and hopefully, in the one holy catholic and apostolic community which transcends us all and calls us into the love, justice and joy of heaven. Deo Gratias.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.