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Dick and Nora earlier this year, in May…
Reader John Richard Daeuenhauer wasn’t only a scholar and preserver of Tlingit language and literacy. He was a faithful Orthodox Christian and Church Reader who attended services, received sacraments, served on his parish council, and was on the St Herman Seminary Board. One of his many legacies is his poetry, which fuses Orthodox theology with creative expression and interactions with the Alaskan landscape and people. Daeunhauer’s writings and poetry are full of the themes of personal transfiguration, death, and resurrection in Christ. The Orthodox faith helped shape his worldview; his essay The Spiritual Epiphany of Aleut clearly expressed that. Reader John showed an abiding interest in the Orthodox teaching of theosis, the gradual process of human beings becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (1 Peter 1.4) and growing in the likeness of God. He wrote:
The potential for divinity is inseparable from the potential for humanity, because, as Jesus teaches in the Gospel according to St Luke (17.21) that the Kingdom of God is within us and doesn’t come visibly in the form of a geographic place. Likewise, St John the Theologian repeats a theme throughout the Fourth Gospel that we all have the potential of being born as children of God (1.12-13) and that unless we undergo a spiritual rebirth or enlightenment… a spiritual coming alive… we can’t see the Kingdom of God (3.3-8). Conversely, the act or experience of enlightenment reveals the Kingdom of God.
January 1979, p. 35
This quest for spiritual rebirth and regeneration certainly was a major theme in Dauenhauer’s life and work. As a faithful Orthodox Christian, Reader John sought to be personally transformed and transfigured by Jesus Christ and the life of the Church. Through personal rebirth, not only do we see the Kingdom of God (even in this life), but we become truly human. It’s only in relationship to God that we can become human beings. Reader John’s love, humour, and kindness show that he had truly become a new creature in Christ.
Reader John often meditated and wrote on death and mortality in the Light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. Now, he’s personally made that passage from death to life that he prayed about for many years. His unpublished poetry collection Doxologies has two beautiful poems on Pascha, which express his belief in life after death and the unique way in which Orthodox services link the Church on earth with the Church in heaven. In these poems, the liturgical worship of the Church mirrors and reflects cosmic worship and transformation of all of God’s Creation. As we pray for Reader John, Norah, and family, his poetry can help us experience the Empty Tomb and the Light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. They form a lasting legacy to Reader John’s abiding faith and hope in Christ. We believe that Reader John is now experiencing the heavenly cosmic Liturgy of which he wrote so convincingly. May His memory be eternal!
Вечная ему память
undated (after 19 August 2014)
The Diocese of Alaska