Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pastor remembered

This morning's funeral at Thornhill was quite a big one, with around a hundred people present, and a good atmosphere was created by the tribute that was given and the poems that were read, all apt for the occasion, and making my role all that much easier to perform, for someone I didn't know personally. I had to leave all the mourners milling around the widow and make a prompt departure to be driven back in time for the midday Eucharist.

Walking home after the Eucharist, I was stopped in Queen Street by a woman who said she recognised me. I couldn't quite place her, but she explained that she came occasionally to services at St John's, and also used to attend St James' occasionally as well. She recalled me performing a Christening there five years ago. She'd been a friend of the family, and not unusually these were people who'd lived locally but moved out into the Valleys. They still had relations in the area and brought their children back for Christening to retain their sense of belonging and family identity.

It's the kind of thing I have been pretty tolerant about over the years, feeling that usually it's better to trust the instincts of those who ask, rather than take a hard parochial line. After all, such censure will do nothing to halt the dizzying progress of a mobile society, only make it harder for people to feel good about belonging somewhere special to them. Anyway, I must not go off the point.

The lady told me she was still in touch with the family and had recently received a message to say that the mother of the two children was seriously ill in hospital and not expected to live long. I promised to remember them all in my prayers, and went on my way, trying to recall names and faces.

After lunch I had a phone call from a man who'd been married in St James', one of the last couples I'd prepared. Sadly I'd had to hand the wedding over because 'flu intervened at the wrong moment. It was his sister who was seriously ill, and he was unaware that I had learned of this from a stranger in the street an hour before. He was commissioned by the couple to find out if I would conduct her funeral when the time came.

Unhesitatingly, I said 'yes' and asked if she was well enough to appreciate a visit. He said he'd ask. Half an hour later he was back in touch, saying she'd welcome this. My digital photo database of the St James' records in the meanwhile had delivered all their names, and given me some reminders of their earlier story. I'm glad I made the effort to compile this kind of information for ready access at home or office, thus eliminating the need to go hunting through register cupboards. I wonder what tomorrow's visit will bring?

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