Send Forth Your Spirit


This magnificent bird of prey flew over me and let out a cry. I looked up and wondered, Dad, are you gone? As I walked along the beach with the red rocks, I  thought, not yet. Intuitively, I suspected it would be soon. The call came shortly after midnight East Coast time last Thursday. It did not really surprise me.  Dad had slipped away in his sleep, with no one by his side. That was the kind of man he was. He did try to protect us from pain.

What I find interesting about this photo is that the right wing seems to have something wrong with it. It looks like it’s missing a part.  I did not notice it while the bird flew over me, but the picture captured it vividly.   Dad had had many surgeries on his hip. I do not know if this was a sign from above, but I do know that I was not shocked to learn that Dad was gone.  I like to believe the Holy Spirit was definitely trying to let me know gently.  Having said my goodbyes prior to leaving, I was pretty much at peace upon receiving the news. The full weight of it did arrive in the morning, when I tried to call my mother. I loved my dad very much.  Nothing can really prepare you for such a monumental loss.

This psalm for Pentecost Sunday was 104, which is a reminder that when God sends forth the Holy Spirit we are created,  then our breath is taken away, we die, and return to dust.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus suddenly appears, despite the locked doors, and stands among his friends: Peace be with you.  This is the great gift of Pentecost.  Jesus desires peace for us.

My dad was a farm boy through and through.  He might have left the land, but the land never left him. He was an avid gardener and a lover of pets. One of my very favourite memories of him is in the hospital when one of the therapy dogs stopped by.    He could not move much but his hand slipped down and found the head of the dog to pat it, and to allow the dog to lick his hand. A big boyish smile came over his face.  That is how I want to remember my father.

Dad was a good man who had worked hard all of his life, both in his family of origin and in the family that he grew. In his own family,  he was one of eight siblings. Because he was among the older grouping, he worked outside the farm and on the farm, to help provide for the family in whatever ways he could.  Watching him with his siblings was a great delight to me. I saw a side of Dad that helped me to understand why family was important to him and why roots were to be respected.  He hardly talked about his youth, but when he did, I listened intently, hoping to learn more about a man who was humble and often silent about his past.  I will never forget the time when I was out east visiting one of his brothers, who told me funny stories about Dad.  When I returned home, Dad was angry; he had not liked being talked about in his absence. I do not think he was really angry but he was not particularly happy either.  Dad probably did not want us to know how hard life was for him.

I pray that Dad is finally at rest. This was a man who had worked hard all of his life and now is his time to finally relax and be pain-free.  May Dad see God face-to-face and may perpetual light shine upon him. Amen. Alleluia!



Reflection Questions 

What memory do you have of a parent that brings you peace?

How important are your roots to you?


Peace-Bringer, let our hearts know your divine comfort as we mourn our losses in life. Send forth your Spirit and renew us. Amen.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
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8 Responses to Send Forth Your Spirit

  1. Karen Wheadon says:


    I had been waiting for your post as I anticipated one coming soon. Thank you for a glimpse in to the life of your dad. I understand what it means to have a father who worked very hard….I could very much relate to that as I am also the daughter of a father who worked very hard with no choice really as he had to survive and keep a roof over our heads. You are right…no one can prepare you for the lost of a father or mother. Like something has been severed, very hard to explain. Hardly 2 weeks ago when you and I were talking about other worldly experiences…well I think that bird of prey with the damaged wing was indeed a sign that the life force was leaving your dads body, a sign maybe that it was time for your dad to let go. I’ve been thinking about you these past few days, also your mom and rest of your family. I know it’s a painful sad time. I take comfort in knowing you are surrounded by the love of family and friends.

    Your friend, Karen xo

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Mary Beth says:

    Dear Suzanne,
    May your dear father rest in peace. What a beautiful way to write about his life – in context of someone who showed his love by deeds more than words. You sound very grounded and peace-full. And that soaring, scarred eagle is quite the gift from God! What a beautiful sign of your Dad’s soul. I love the 10 days “in between” Ascension and Pentecost when the disciples and Mary were waiting in hope and trepidation for what Jesus promised, although they did not know in what matter they would receive the Holy Spirit. So your dear Dad soared during that waiting time. I was moved also that you were able to be away from the pain of the hospital and get some replenishment for your own body and spirit, knowing that your Dad was ok.

    Keep praying and writing. The timeliness of your posts as they apply to my own life is an incredible gift. Pentecost was beautiful.
    Love and peace be with you.
    Mary Beth

    • sstyves says:

      Thank you as always, Mary Beth. You are wise and a surprise gift to me for which I am grateful. I love your insights.

      • Mary Beth says:

        Thank you, dear Suzanne! Continuing to rely on gifts you share here as amazingly, my brothers, sister and I prepare for my Mother’s funeral this Saturday. She died suddenly (SIRS) a few days after celebrating her 92 birthday birthday. She’d been fighting a cold but otherwise in good health. She had some dementia but it didn’t prevent her from enjoying her life. She was ready and at peace; received the last rites before she became unresponsive. She had prepared herself for this inevitable day by having her DNR documents in place so we didn’t have to agonize about what she wanted. She truly had a good death and for that I am only grateful. God is good and knows what is best for us.
        I had a chance to check your site just now and feel a peace from you. God’s timing is more wonderful than we can know. God bless you, and pray for us as we travel for her final farewell.
        Mary Beth

      • sstyves says:

        Ah, dear Mary Beth, I sense your deep, abiding peace too. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. She was sent off well thus far, having received the sacrament.

        Tomorrow you will celebrate a life well-lived right up until the end. What joy in your sorrow! Be assured of my prayers.

        Deep peace to each of you.



  3. Marianne Ostermann says:

    Suzanne, thanks for sharing a most profound experience in your life. Your trust & deep faith in God is inspiring to all who are privileged to know you. Loosing a parent is painful regardless of the circumstances, may you & your family be blessed with Our Lord’s love & consolation, Blessings, Marianne O.

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