Category: Friends of the Brotherhood

Exodus: A Mourning Song

For Bishop Athanasios Amos Akunda (1971-1/4/2019) and read out at his grave.

Presvytera Elizabeth Tervo

What song shall I sing for your Exodus, my friend
since you went out from among us?
You went out from laughter to tears
and the wrinkles from smiling are all smoothed out now.
You left the tribes and the diocese and
the Library of Alexandria behind.
You took the flight of the alone to the Alone.
You went from silence to the Great Silence
because the voice of God is not in the thunder
and your very name in Greek means the one who listens
but not in the subject case.
You never put yourself in the subject case.
What song shall I sing for your Exodus?

You used to ask us for a blessing, and
You used to ask even tiny children for a blessing.
You never asked anything else for yourself.
What song shall I sing for your Exodus?
God only knows why there had to be pain in your smile
and you burned yourself up.
Your life went out like a candle.
Every human soul is a mystery.
What song shall I sing for your Exodus?
You knew the African diaspora and all its scholars,
the Middle Passage, slavery, and colonization,
the botched freedom, the movement of the people.
You tried to heal even the land, to bring water.
How shall I meet you now under the earth?
How can I know someone who is before God now?
What song shall I sing for your Exodus?

Our grief for you is undying and endless
and you can never be replaced
yet someday there may come others
who might grow to be almost equally as beloved
as we all rise up into the full measure of Christ,
shining like stars as we walk through the waters
holding out the word of eternal life.
What song shall I sing for your Exodus?
Shine on your way, Master!
Lead us on your path between the waters and the waters
and we will come out with dancing and singing,
with drumming and with rattles,
like the people out of Egypt long ago
to follow you down the years—
Send us your journey’s mercies from God.

Heaven is infinitely larger than the earth
but as small as a village where everyone is a friend
and no one is a stranger.

That is the song I sing for your Exodus.

Through the prayers of the Theotokos
Through the prayers of St. Athanasios the Great
Through the prayers of St. Moses the Black
And through the prayers of our holy master Athanasios
of blessed memory, hierarch of Kisumu
and all western Kenya
may the Lord God have mercy on us. Amen.

Poem originally published in The Basilian: A Journal of Orthodox Thought and Culture. Volume II. Issue 1.

Photos originally published with His Grace’s obituary at