We've been away for a few days with family and friends. It was meant to be a relaxing visit to the Peak District but turned into a few days in the Central Belt instead. Good to catch up with so many of the family and some good friends too.
An old family friend died and I was asked to take his funeral. It was the first I've taken of someone I knew fairly well and I was more that usually concerned to get just the right balance of ritual and informality. During the service there is always mention of there being no grief without love and, for Christians, grief is tempered by both thankfulness to God for the life of the deceased and the assurance of hope for the future because of faith. There was grief for J was a well loved man, thankfulness too for all he meant to us and will mean in the future (you can't wipe out the memories) and a hope that we will be reunited one day. The grief was dignified as suited an older gentleman and, at a meal later, there was much laughter as we shared memories. Rest in peace J, we'll miss you.
It may have been a blessing we didn't end up in the Peak District as the hotel we were due to stay at went bust and didn't let anyone know! How can people sleep knowing that guests are arriving for holidays and weddings to be greeted by a closed door! Thankfully the vast majority of people involved in the hospitality business actually practice hospitality too!
So, back to normal now. Fired up the computer and checked emails. I find it too easy to get so involved in the details of parish life that I forget the wider world - short breaks help keep the perspective right.