I wonder if I could trouble you to pray for the departed soul of an old friend of mine, who died this morning after a struggle with cancer, in Edmonton, Alberta.
Heiko (the name being a contraction of Heinrich Conrad) was a colourful man who was (as far as I know) one of North America's first full-time non-monastic icon painters. A professor of eastern European and Islamic history at McGill University in Montreal, he began painting icons because of a fascination he gained for them through his studies in the 1970's. In 1977, he quit his university position to concentrate solely on icon painting. In 1984, he joined the Church, having been part of the Lutheran faith.
Heiko was irreverent and opinionated (and very funny)! I don't know if any of you are familiar with the anglophone intelligentsia that flourished in Montreal in the !950's, but this was the crucible from which his sharp wit emerged. Underneath it all, I think he was a very spiritual man who struggled to bring these qualities to his work. He was an intensely private man for whom it was not easy to express feelings, and yet he felt deeply.
His baptismal name was John, but he was always Heiko to us.
Personally, I feel quite bad that I was not able to be near him this last little period of time. I should have made more of an effort to talk with him too. In his own particular fashion, he was a mentor to me, though I seldom followed his counsel!
If you could spare a prayer for Heiko John, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.