When we first started attending, there was no Father Basil. There was a large group of clergy who had left the race track looking for a better route, and he was one of those. I don't know what he did or how he lived during that time, but I could see by those who had been running longer than I that a miracle had taken place when a few of the clergy discovered the "better route" had taken them on a wild goose chase and they set foot back on the official course. I saw a man dressed in black, small frame, long beard, prayer rope. He always bowed low in front of the icons, not with the quick movements we often see from those of us who are distracted as we "enter in to worship", but deliberate movements as if he were truly honoring a friend and was present, mind and body, with the saint or the Theotokos or Christ.
After some time he became a greeter on Sunday mornings. He didn't bat an eyelash when my sometimes irreverent son burst into the church with his internal engine on high. He would allow this little guy to stand with him as a greeter and praised him for his successful moments. He helped him to slow down and cross himself and, for a moment, be calm in the presence of Christ.
He had been a priest. When he left the Church he was unordained and no amount of wishful thinking or vestments worn in the fashion of a priest could change that fact. And when he returned he understood that he may never be allowed to run the race as a pace setter again. God had other plans. On December 12, 2010 (my birthday:) he was humbled in front of the Church and his sins laid on the altar. New shoes were placed on his feet for the race and, by the grace and mercy of Christ, he was given the name Father once again.
That last Sunday he had no idea his race was coming to an end. He had no idea the Liturgy he served would be his last. He didn't know his homily and the blood and body he served were his final contributions to the faithful. Father Basil met his Lord on July 24, 2011. He crossed the finish line redeemed, reinstated and...running with all his heart.
May his memory be eternal.