To Javier Pagola. In memoriam

I celebrate your life, Javier, now that you have gone, now that you have stayed never to go away, now that you have once again become fully one with the Source of Being, now that you LIVE.

Sorrow weighs heavily upon us, of course, because the light of your eyes so full of clarity and tenderness will no longer be lighting up our poor eyes. Let them ask your beloved, inseparable Maribel; not so long ago while you were still able to babble some words, you used to tell her: “How wonderful you are, Maribel! How you look after me!” Both of you were fused in the same emotion, the same deep gratitude for life: the gratitude given by the one who is receiving, and the gratitude received by the one who is giving, the two-way, unique happiness that is only accessible through the death of the ego.

Let them ask your sons and daughters-in-law how much they loved and admired you, and vice versa, and who now are loath to believe they have lost you; like us, they will have to seek you out in the darkness of grieving. Let them ask your four adorable grandchildren who throughout the lockdown and afterwards nervously awaited the story you used to write for them every day and which transported them to the depths of true reality; and now they miss their grandfather and sage. Let them ask your countless colleagues in Christian communities, causes, projects, endless palaestras for a different, fairer society, who feel orphaned in these difficult times when they need you most. In some way, we are all orphans now.

Nevertheless, I celebrate your life, which was so generous, so prolific, so clearheadedly committed, and dedicated in such an uncomplicated way. Yours was such a human, companionable life. Your selfless collaboration with Alaiz, Medicus Mundi, your GOGOA Forum, with so many communities across Guatemala and the Peruvian Altiplano. I celebrate your huge personal and professional qualities: your simple lucidity, your sensible simplicity, your affability and approachability. Your clear, shining, precise, profound words. Your rebellious peace, your gentle rebelliousness. Your capacity for work, your mood always just right. Your intelligence and your goodness, your love of life. Your irrepressible commitment to truth and justice, reality and active hope

I celebrate your integrity and equanimity, your deep peace during the long final months. ALS emerged implacably at the best moment in your life, in the human and family plenitude you were crowned with. And with your inimitable naturalness you accepted it without further ado, neither denying it, nor running away, nor caving in. No one heard you utter a single complaint. “What a cruel disease this is, Javier!” Maribel said to you once, and you simply replied: “Yes, it is.” It wasn’t a complaint, it was life’s essential wisdom that prompts us to accept what is. And it is the only way to transform what comes. You comforted Maribel and your children.

I also celebrate your long, deep journey in theological renewal, the one we have been so fortunate to experience as a sign of the times. Your path from the dogmatic Christ to the itinerant, human Jesus. From the Catholic catechism to following Jesus. From one Church to another that has not yet taken off nor seems likely to do so, but no matter, the Spirit of Life needs neither churches nor religions. From that God to the God of Jesus (beyond any image of God, I would go as far as to say). It is true that you rebelled gently and firmly against certain ideas about Non-duality between God and the world, or against the cultural demise of theism that some of us declare to be close at hand with no turning back, but your life did not depend on that, on adopting some beliefs or ideas rather than others. You knew that.

I celebrate your love for humanity, this humanity that cries out within creation suffering labour pains. Your love of humanity on a par with your love of music. One morning recently when you could no longer speak but when everything spoke to you and everything in you spoke, you had spent an hour and a half listening to arias from operas chosen by your son, a music lover like you, with the volume turned down so as not to disturb the neighbours. And with your hand you indicated energetically and enthusiastically: “Louder, louder!” You lacked breath and were struggling for air, some water, and, at that precise moment, when time was up, the aria led you by the hand to the Sources of Being. I celebrate your Pascha, your Easter, Javier.

We still walk between light and shadow, between one pandemic and another, between despair and hope, in search of the New Heaven and the New Earth that you never ceased to dream of. Awake now, you accompany us as a prophet and witness, from the heart of the Presence that underpins all, with neither here nor there, neither before nor afterwards.

Aizarna (Basque Country), 18 October, 2020