Where's the place we're most likely to meet as we get older? (Okay - much older). Maybe it's the sunshine of baptisms, more likely the twilight of funerals. Here, somewhere between the eternity represented by that coffin and the Now, we gather and listen. If there's one redeeming feature about funerals then it's the way they ensure we relish the present.
Death knows no seasons, though my expectation at least is that they're for winter. But there we were once more, this time sheltering from the summer sun under the shade of a spruce tree. One more death, personal and collective farewells. But if funerals urge us to appreciate life more, they can also teach us about the very qualities which draw us to them to pay our last respects. And so, two recent funerals, two lessons. These two deceased were separated by nearly 30 years in age, by gender, continents, culture and religions. And yet these two people who had passed away were linked.
One had spent most of his life as a plumber, but I never knew that until the funeral. What I knew about him was that he gave and never bothered much about taking. He was expansive, generous, overflowing with goodwill - and deeply attached to his growing family. He'd experienced hardships in his long life, but you'd never guess it. Above all he was unfailingly kind, his relationships characterised by courtesies which have long vanished from this age.
On the surface he was not just miles, but worlds apart from another friend who died in the same month. But like him she was kind, sharing whatever she had. She spread joy even when she was pained. Like him too, she had a self-effacing humility and a generosity of character.
You could look at their lives and if you were panning for the nuggets of grand achievements, high profile postings, you'd be working the wrong stream. You'd find them though by looking around in the Church at the diversity of people who wanted to remember him. You'd discover just as many by reading the tributes from those who remembered her. Despite their vast differences they were joined by their humanity. That's why we will always remember them.