Brother Wayne Teasdale (1945 - 2004)
Wayne’s beloved friend, Russill Paul, wrote the following eulogy for the Funeral Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.
I was a Benedictine monk at Bede Griffiths’ ashram, Shantivanam, in India when I first met Wayne. It was 1986, and Wayne had come to the ashram to discuss his dissertation with Fr. Bede. I first saw him on a hot summer morning, on the banks of the Cauvery, one of India’s most sacred rivers. He was standing under the shade of a large banyan tree, which is an extraordinary form of vegetation. Their shoots grow downward and then take deep root in the ground. Wayne was like that to his friends! He provided us with the shade and comfort of his large umbrella of love, and it was impossible to shake him off once he got his infectious love shoots into you.
That morning, at Shantivanam, I was struck by the spiritual presence of this man, dressed in saffron robes, the classic look of an Indian monk, with the sunlight filtering through the leaves of that great banyan tree and falling about him like liquid energy. His face was gaunt, almost ascetic looking, and with his thick beard and overgrown moustache I thought he must be a fakir, a holy man from the jungle. Later I learned that he was planning to become sannyasi, a person who has fully renounced the world, and I was invited to his initiation ceremony. But as I got to know him, I realized that the way this man renounced the world was by embracing it with all his heart. He was no ascetic either! The pallid face was the result of diarrhea, the cost of eating food from roadside vendors in India. Wayne lived in another world; dietary safety tips in third-world countries and other similar cautions were inconsequential to him.
What I also learned about Wayne was that he was a monk who knew how to party. Oh yes, this monk could really party! But he was also a very holy soul. In fact, Wayne defied our models of sanctity, confusing us with his mixture of holiness and indulgence, and baffling us with his brilliant intellect; yet I do think we all agree that he was a saint of sorts. He was definitely crazy and that’s usually a sign. And in case you’re wondering what sort of saint he’d be, well isn’t it quite obvious: “He’d be the patron saint of partygoers… of course.”
Wayne soon became my closest friend and spiritual brother, and we shared an amazing relationship for eighteen consecutive years. It was a pleasure to be with him (most of the time at least), and to talk with him, but he was constantly on the go. He called himself a monk but he rarely sat still. Even when he meditated, he checked his watch at least five times. I often said to him, “ Wayne, you’re not a monk in the world; you’re a monk in a whirl!” But, as we all know, the reason for Wayne’s hyperactivity was that he never knew how to say no to anybody: he just gave, and gave and gave of himself, and we shall remember him that way.
He was habitually funny, frequently outrageous in his humor, and often tiresomely so, but his good heartedness always won us over, and in the end he never failed to extract his laughs. He loved making us feel good. If we felt bad, he felt bad, and he did everything he could to make us happy again. His heart was so big that it embraced the karma of all his friends, even those he hardly knew. It isn’t surprising therefore that he underwent the ordeal of purification he did these past four months, notwithstanding the past few years, great suffering that he bore patiently and without complaint, a genuine inspiration for all of us.
When I heard the news of his passing, I looked out at the sky and I could sense the immensity of his spirit. I knew that this was a soul who would be going straight to heaven, be sitting at the feet of the Holy Trinity, basking in their glory, but only for a short while; because he’s sure to soon turn around and say: “I’ll be right back you guys. I have to go talk to Kofi Annan, and I need to make sure that Martha’s all right, and I have to tell Brian about this great idea I have, and, uh … I better be going, okay? Love you!” Wayne’s not going to leave us friends, and he’s not going to leave this planet that he cared so much about, and he’s not going to stop trying to influence the world situation, especially now that he knows people in high places…. And, given that his new mode of being allows him to bi-locate, possibly tri-locate, or even scarier – to be omnipresent, we should all be prepared for … well, Wayne’s world!
I love you Wayne. Thanks for loving me, and Asha and all the rest of us so much. You will always be an essential part of our lives, enshrined forever in the caves of our hearts.
- Russill PaulTop of page