Somewhat unusually this week I attended a Funeral in which I had no role to play, except that of being part of a large congregation paying their respects to a lady who had touched all of our lives in a variety of different ways but which also overlapped as we celebrated her giftedness as a human being. For myself she was a life-long neighbour, one of the first, my mother always said, to visit our home after my birth. Our homes were separated by a main road which, until our family home was sold last year, was frequently crossed in both directions. Neighbours who did not live in each others’ pockets, but were always there for each other.
The Funeral took place at the Bridge (United Reformed) Church in Otley. It stands directly opposite the Catholic Church – separated by the main road leading to the river Wharfe. A former Minister of the church described the town’s Catholics affectionately as “Our friends across the road.” At prayer in the church, I was grateful for two friendships: that of our neighbour, and the friendship of God expressed in a place of worship familiar to her. For both – that day – a road had to be crossed.
Our beautiful churches are the spiritual homes of so many. Let us not hesitate to cross the road to delight in the friends we meet there and in the unconditional friendship of a God made real in what is shared in conversation and food around the tables of both Word and Eucharist.
With an assurance of prayerful remembrance, kindest thought and affection.
As ever, Fr. Nicholas