On Monday of this week I had to conduct a funeral at the Linn Crematorium. I wasn’t too sure of the way so I Googled an AA route plan and left early to give myself time to get lost, and then to find my way again, as I often do. I suppose I should get myself a Satnav but, as I have said before, I am a bit of a luddite and prefer to take my chances. I always think getting lost and finding the way again is a good metaphor for life. Despite the fact that part of the route suggested by the AA was now a new road layout, which confused me for a little while, I arrived at the Linn about fifty minutes too early. You may have read my Log a few weeks ago when I arrived early at St. Conval’s cemetery for a burial and unexpectedly came upon the grave of my godmother, well this time I was a man on a mission. The last time I was in the Linn was when I travelled home from Dublin in 2012 to conduct a service for my niece’s stillborn child. She now has two lovely boys but at the time she and her husband had been longing for a child and they were distraught when the baby died, and we all felt for them so much. With time to spare, and the sun shining, I crossed the road from the crematorium to the cemetery and went in search of the section that was reserved for babies and stillborn children. It didn’t seem to be signposted, and it’s a very big cemetery, but I felt that I would find the wee one’s grave if I was meant to, and so I did. I spent a while in prayer, feeling quite emotional, then made my way back to the crematorium, still in time for the task in hand.
Prior to leaving for the Linn, someone had suggested an alternative route, avoiding the motorway, and so, on the way back, when I spotted a sign for City Centre/Gorbals, I realised this was the way I could have taken, and so I decided to give it a homeward try. It turned out a much better route except that, at one point, when I came to a fork in the road, I veered left when I should have veered right. I quickly spotted a short section of road that linked the two sides of the V, and so I made a right turn to get back on track. Immediately I spotted that the arrows on the road were pointing towards me and that I was, in fact, driving the wrong way along a one-way street. In that moment I was grateful for quiet lock-down traffic and was able to take swift remedial action. It wouldn’t have happened if I had Satnav! Yet another metaphor for life, sometimes we are going in the wrong direction and need to turn around.
Father Justinian came home last Friday as expected, and seems to feel a wee bit better with every passing day, although he is very tired. The carers are coming in each day, as have family members who live within striking distance. The Ayrshire clan are just too far away, and of an age that makes it impossible for them to travel within the current restrictions. However, Father Justinian is a great man for Face-Time and other such means of communication, far better than I am, and so he keeps touch that way, not just with Ayrshire, but with his two sisters in America, and friends in other parts of the world. Fair play to him. Nothing new from Father Gareth, but Father Antony received a text message during the week, with a photograph attached, that has made us re-appraise his encounter with the cyclist on the Taff Trail. It seems that Merthyr Town FC, the local team for Merthyr Tydfil, nicknamed the Martyrs, or the Red and Greens, have just brought out a new away kit, which is in fact green and white horizontal stripes and, for all the world, unless you look very closely, it looks like a Celtic top. So, was this mystery cyclist on the Taff Trail, who called out Hail, Hail Father Gareth, while passing at great speed, really wearing a Celtic strip, or might he have been wearing the new Merthyr Town FC away strip? Will we ever know?
Meanwhile we have begun to take tentative steps towards a phased re-opening of churches, and are trying to plan ahead so as to have in place everything we need for when the time comes. Certainly, we won’t be getting back to normal, or even adopting the new normal, for a good while yet, but it may be that some limited opening up may happen soon. We are also trying to make sure we have the necessary number of volunteers in place to make it possible. So, as always, protect yourselves, protect others, and protect Christ in your life.