27 October 2020


I am heartbroken today. My priest died early this morning.

If you know me, you know that I’m a dyed in the wool atheist. But once upon a time, I worked at a non-profit organization that was housed in an Episcopal church. Lewis arrived one day as the assistant rector, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Lewis’s sister asked that we send our “favorite Lewis memories out into the universe to do good and to ease his passage as he becomes one with cosmos”. Lewis, this one’s for you.

Lewis was smart as hell, and foul-mouthed in a way you don’t expect from a priest. He’s the person I called when I needed to figure out if I was a heathen-atheist, or a pagan-atheist. I think we settled on heathen, but I do like the prosody of heathenpaganatheist. Lewis had a huge appetite for life, and was full of stories. Did you know that Saabs once came with two engines? I learned that from Lewis, who had one once.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we scratched our heads about who was going to perform the ceremony. I had the whimsical idea that we could call in three of the wise men from the neighborhood: the Methodist minister from across the street, the rabbi from next door, and the Joyce scholar from down the hill – but instead I asked Lewis, with a smidgeon of trepidation because of the whole atheist business. He agreed in a heartbeat– and married us, using a secular edit of the ceremony out of the Book of Common Prayer. I had a moment of horror when he wrapped his stole around our hands, but whatever prayer he sent up, he kept to himself.

Years later, after my daughter was born, Lewis came to visit. She was tiny – a month or so old – and he brought her a huge-looking toddler-sized pair of red glitter-encrusted Mary Janes, merrily decreeing that “every little girl needs a pair of ruby slippers from an old queen!”

A few weeks after my mother died, we had a memorial celebration at her house. Lewis came, carrying a shovel because I told him to, and dug up bits of her plants to take to his new garden. I love knowing that my mother’s garden extends to a churchyard on Staten Island

Lewis, my friend, my life is richer for having known you.