Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Dash

Since I've been officially sworn in as Church Warden at Holy Trinity Church in Salcombe I have pottered about a bit in the Church, attended a couple of meetings, sat and had informal meetings with Father Daniel our Vicar but not much else yet really, except sadly having to 'look after' two very large funerals for local people. The Verger is the person who does the hard work of getting the Church tidy and ready - tidying and sorting etc - but I had to be around as the 'face' of the Church.  The two funerals I've attended in that capacity were for people who were much loved in Salcombe and who made great contributions to Salcombe as a small town. 

The funeral this week was for a lady called Jean Furness. I only met Jean a handful of times and found her in some respects to be a quite formidable lady - she had a great sense of humour and she was polite to me, but I always felt she was also a little guarded with me.  I suspect that this guardedness was about us being outsiders coming into her beloved Salcombe, but the one thing I think we both had in common was our love of her home town - Salcombe!  As well as a wife and mother she had been a councillor for many years, Vice Mayor and Mayor of the town and was instrumental in homes for local people as well as other important town decision making.  

But until the tributes were read out I was unaware quite what part she'd played in the traditions of Salcombe and it's young peoples welfare. She'd been part of the Regatta committee ( a massive part of Salcombe tradition) since she was a very young girl, and played a huge role in making sure the event happened year in and year out as well as numerous other activities including the local swimming baths and the local Brownies etc.

It got me thinking about what small communities will do as the stalwarts of our communities start to disappear through age and death.  Who will take up the mantle of ensuring that traditions carry on for generations to come. Does anyone care enough to step up to the plate and take on the responsibilities??  My own Church is a very good example of this (as I expect it is up and down the land) the average age of the congregation can't be much under 55 and for tasks around the Church I seem to be calling upon the same people time and time again - for that, I guess we need to look at how we get younger people to attend the Church - but is there that spiritual draw for people? I don't know the answer - do you...??

Anyway, back to the funeral - of course a very sad affair but with a Church absolutely full of people eager to show their love and pay their respects to Jean and to support her grieving family.  I was reasonably detached through out the proceedings until a poem was read out called 'The Dash' by Linda Ellis, which moved me to tears with it's beautiful, simplistic message. 

For me personally, this poem has been a sure sign from God that He is watching over me, as in the last couple of weeks when I've been mulling (short hand for worrying/anxious/stressed!) over various financial, business and personal matters it has put my life completely into perspective - and I'm really grateful that I was able to be at Jeans funeral to hear this poem.    So there is no more in this blog post except for this short poem that I want to share with you, and I hope it moves you to reflect on what your life is and what you can do with your 'Dash'! 
The Dash
Linda Ellis 
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all was the Dash between those years.
For that Dash represents all the time that she spent alive on Earth,
And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash,
What matter is how we live and love and how we spend our Dash.
So think about this long and hard; Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your Dash?

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