Yesterday was our final service at St Peter’s. We shall miss these few, fragile, faithful, friendly people. It is a special place where a great deal of healing takes place. Not a great deal of cure, but healing* - where the (for now) ‘weak’ and the (for now) ‘strong’ are made more whole by the patient and at times hard work of love. Like many others before us, we arrived hurting, and move on healed.
Then, in the afternoon, I attended the annual joint All Soul’s service, to which we invite all those families for whom we have taken funerals at (or through) St James’ and St Peter’s over the past year; as well as an open invitation to anyone else. We listened to a retired vicar who spent many years among the Zulu people speak about different cultural attitudes towards those who have died: how we focus on loss, but other cultures focus on the presence of those who have died – thoughts which tie-in with my previous post. The purpose of this service was not to return to the funeral, but to recognise that presence.
‘Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before; they are now wherever we are.’ St John Chrysostom.
We were invited to light a candle not only for them, but with them. A candle was lit for every person whose funeral we had taken, and many besides – tea lights arranged on tiles laid out in the shape of a cross.
Tomorrow we begin the three-day move from the North West to the North East, from Southport to Sunderland. I’m not sure when I’ll next be able to post anything on here, but the break falls in a particularly rich season of exploring memory and frailty. There is plenty archived on this blog: for a start, type bonfire night or armistice day into the ‘search’ box at the top-left…
For the past seven years, I have posted a daily Advent calendar throughout Advent, which this year (not always!) starts on the first of December. I’m hoping to do so again this year, but as I start my new post on Advent Sunday, circumstances might over-take me! The full archive can be found on my blog: under 'Writing About' on the side bar to the right.
*In the enabled life: Christianity in a disabling world, Roy McCloughry reminds us that it is possible to be cured without experiencing healing, and to be healed without experiencing cure; that those who long for cure can minister to others just as much as those who do not need cure; and that healing transforms the one who ministers as well as the one who is ministered to, and the community as well as the person.