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Eulogies to Life

Today I heard another eulogy at a memorial service. With time you pick up certain patterns. Firstly there is a broad outline of the life celebrated. Then we hear  the funny stories – the little events that bring smiles of remembrance and love. But there is always mention of the trials and tribulations faced and usually conquered. The whole story of each life then is a mixture, an amalgam and a pastiche that is bitter sweet.

Well this afternoon’s service included the playing of the theme from Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse – a British detective series based around Oxford. And for the first time I noticed the depth of this music. It was a bitter-sweet tune which seemed to encapsulate not just the funny and the sad but the mystery, contradiction and enigma which is  life. I was going to comment of this fact. But left it, for the music had spoken the better for me.

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The Place of Love

img_16021_356x197_1 A long time ago I heard a comment that froze me to the marrow. It came from a neighbour after the deaths of family members in a car accident. She said – we have had so many good times together that now we must pay for them. The implication was that there was some celestial bank book of happiness and misery. Have too much of one and you were bound to have a dollop of the other in some mystical accounts balancing act.

Well, whether you think that way is up to you. However, there may be a grain of truth in this pessimism. And it is this. If life is to enjoyable and fun and fulfilling then we need to love someone. When the time of parting comes – a fact made inevitable by our biology – then the result is loss and bereavement. From that stark viewpoint there is an natural reckoning. Yet, surely, there must be more? For if we are more than molecules and human life more than a pre-programmed struggle to survive then there is a higher plane; a place where personality and creativity and love have a very real existence, a place where these humanities lie beyond the mortality of the material world and a place we might call by a very ancient name – Heaven.

 

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The dream at end of the road

260px-Music_album When I was a wee boy, my granddad had one cherished record – it was the songs of Harry Lauder. In fact, when we had our morning break together – which he called ‘elevens’ – this LP would be put on and we would both sing along. One of my favourites was ‘Keep right on to the end of the road’.

Well yesterday I heard it sung for the first time in many a long year. But then I learned something about it for the first time. For, despite its rousing marching rhythm, it was written in bereavement. Because it was penned by Sir Harry Lauder, as he would become, in memory of his son killed in the First World War.

Maybe that was the reason that it became so popular for it had a message to all of us who miss someone special. It’s last lines are:

Keep right on to the end of the road,

Keep right on to the end,

Tho’ the way be long,

let your heart be strong,

Keep right on round the bend.

Tho’ you’re tired and weary

still journey on,

Till you come to your happy abode,

Where all the love you’ve been dreaming of

Will be there at the end of the road.



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