Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eulogy For The Living

At the weekend, my children asked to take photographs of the gravestones at the end of our road – including that of the wonderfully-named Fanny Waterfall, who, somewhat alarmingly, was buried alongside her husband when she fell asleep…

Yesterday I was writing a piece in honour of a friend who is about to reach a milestone birthday – if life was a round of golf, he’s played the nine holes out, and is about to play the nine holes back. It was a great exercise to reflect on what it is about this person that I admire, and would wish to imitate (1 Corinthians 4:16; Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 13:7). It is a practical application of the apostle Paul’s advice: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

Our culture tells us not to speak ill of the dead; and not to praise another publicly until they have died. Perhaps our culture needs turning on its head: perhaps we ought more often to speak well of the living, and say so before it is too late for them to hear. But that will require of us that we choose to look for the good – it comes far more naturally to see the bad – and to point out those areas where others are better than us – again, it comes more naturally to point out those areas where we [think that we] are better. That’s hard. But it just might be worth it.


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