RIP dear Eric

RIP dear Eric

It was on the first anniversary of the start of the present Ukraine war, a day when Jupiter and Venus – Joy and Love – were conjunct, that a small gathering of family and friends laid the body of Eric Franklin in the earth. His death had been sudden after a life lived with aspiration and generosity, yet which sometimes found itself blocked, at loggerheads with someone or something. At such moments, Eric would announce his surrender to the mystery he called the Great Being, and the Intention he trusted to work its way towards the most beneficial outcome. Ericʼs grave is in a birchwood. Slender trunks stand all around reaching up their bare branches, living beings that remain, holding the space, after the mourners are gone. Ubi caritas we chanted, tossing flowers into the grave, Deus ibi est. Where there is love, there is God.

Pictures were displayed at the wake that followed, of and by Eric. At funerals we often draw closer to a person: see, in this instance, the sensitive face of the boy, the expressive face of the young man, full of pent-up life, or caught up in a game with his three sons. See all this hope and promise mellow into the softness of older years, when lifeʼs achievements and disappointments are gathered together, and the face that looks out of the picture knows them all. Some of Ericʼs achievements lay before us: paintings of engines, some done while still a boy, one of which at least could have been sketched by a professional. Two more mature works, billowing with steam, would not have been out of place in a corner of an Impressionist gallery.

The last time I saw Eric he was in hospital bed, reading a chapter he had contributed to The Subtle Energy Body, an academic book on an esoteric subject written by Maureen Lockhart, the partner of his later years. Maureen examines the ideas of the energy body in occidental and oriental traditions and Eric contributed his understanding of physics where needed. We knew he was proud of this, and that the book sold out.

I could not follow Eric in physics, but I could admire his paintings. He was a highly intelligent man with a singular vision. But, at the end of his life, the achievement closest to his heart was his guardianship of Erw Fach, nine wild acres in West Wales where, from the hollowed out shells of hazelnuts he found scattered there, he believed dormice still found a home.

There was something so singular about Eric that it seemed characteristic of ʻhis dayʼ that it was that same evening we decided at Pantolwen Press to postpone publication of the second book of A G Rivettʼs Seaborne trilogy,  The Priestʼs Wife. We discussed the book with Eric at our last meeting, and I was later struck how, only the day before he died, he could still take an interest in matters beyond his own immediate concerns. Having been set on publishing in the spring, the decision was an unexpected turn-around. But as the proposed launch date drew near, a long conversation with an experienced publisher convinced me of the long lead-time needed to bring a book out into the world. So The Priestʼs Wife will soon be printed, and weʼll honour the events weʼve already arranged. But these will now be preview events. And the books wonʼt be on sale until later in the year. Treaders of The Seaborne who have been looking forward to reading the second book of the trilogy, I apologise that the wait will be six months longer than first thought.

A final word from Eric comes from his chapter in The Subtle Energy BodyHe faces the difficulty of expressing reality in words; of saying anything and being clearly heard. Linguistic barriers to mutual understanding are among the most obstinate of all difficulties, he writesThe problem is simply this: experts from different fields use words in different ways, and therefore fail to communicate with each otherAlways, thereʼs a need to look beyond words to the realities that lie behind themListen to my heart; listen to your heart is translation of an old Gaelic chant of the Ceile DeAn invitation to take the time and space to look, ever more deeply, within and without. Itʼs the work of love and the road to joy, which I read as the symbolic meaning of Jupiter and Venus conjunct.

Rest in peace, dear Eric. Thank you for the privilege of knowing you.


Gillian PB



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