Thursday, 23 December 2010

Funerals, Poems, Hymns, Jokes, Star Trek and Books

The funeral last week was a sad … moving time … but not without hope. At the beginning the 10cc song Rubber Bullets was played. The vicar is a lady … Sally knows her fairly well. Michael was well known for his love of animals … the first hymn was All things bright and beautiful. Louise, the vicar, read words from Michael’s dad, mum and sister. This was, for me, the most moving part of the day. In amongst the sadness, many happy memories were shared.
Louise spoke about Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus. And especially of the words if only and Jesus wept. The futility of the if only and the specialness of the weeping. She even gave the outline of a Vicar of Dibley joke … just the outline because the whole thing wasn’t quite suited to the occasion … the one about the nun and the blind man. She said it was the only one she could remember … something that we have in common. It's really worth watching ... even if you've seen it before:

There was a poem … the text is is:
He is Gone
You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
I think that these words capture something special and positive that can be taken from death … by focusing more on life.
And the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind … which is one that would make me cry at times - even on happy occasions. I remember the first time I heard it … in a music lesson at school when I was aged … perhaps 14 … selected by Janet Taylor as her favourite hymn when the music teacher was asking people for favourites. Janet Taylor, has, I think, had a previous mention elsewhere in this blog … she wore the shortest skirt in the class.
I still find the hymn very moving.
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways.
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love.
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm.
There was also The Lord is my Shepherd.
At the end, The Eagles with Hotel California.
And then the drive to the crematorium. And back to the church for a while.
A few days ago I was watching an old episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation. It had to be an old one, I guess, since there aren’t any new ones. The title is The Bonding.and a big part of it is about coping with bereavement. This scene, in particular, is – to me at any rate – quite thought provoking:

The dialog between Data and Ryker is:
D: Excuse me sir, am I intruding?
R: No, sit down.
D: How well did you know Lieutenant Aster?
R: We spent some time together. Not very well. How well did you know her?
D: Why do you ask?
R: Well you just asked me.
D: But, why do you ask the question? Since her death I have been asked several times to define “How well” I knew Lieutenant Aster. And I heard you ask Wesley on the bridge “How well” he knew Jeremy. Does the question of familiarity have some bearing on death?
R: Do you remember how we all felt when Tasha died?
D: I do not sense the same feelings of absence that I associate with Lieutenant Yarr. Although I cannot say precisely why.
R: It’s just human nature, Data.
D: Human nature sir?
R: We feel a loss more intensely when it’s a friend
D: But should not the feelings run just as deep regardless of who has died?
R: Maybe they should, Data. Maybe if we felt any loss as keenly as we felt the death of one close to us human history would be a lot less bloody.
How right they are.
Today the book that Dani recommended arrived A New Kind of Christianity so I’m looking forwards to reading that over the coming days … though I think it might be a struggle to keep it away from Sally who has expressed an interest in reading it.


Pretty Sissy Dani said...

Definitely, both of you should read it.

Isn't the Vicar of Dibley a great show? I once said on an Anglican website that the program had probably done more to foster the acceptance of women priests in the UK than anything said or done by the church.

Andrea said...

Thanks Dani ... and we are ... it's providing us with a lot to think, talk and feel about. And I know what you mean about the Vicar of Dibley :)