“Let us live in such a way
That when we die
Our love will survive
And continue to grow.”
(Leunig, The Prayer Tree)
This last week, down by the river’s edge in our beautiful town park, I attended a touching annual memorial ceremony held by Karen, our Anglican minister and other members of the Denmark community. I was moved by how simple rituals of people gathering, reading poetry, lighting candles and placing flowers in the river can help us in some way to remember and honour dear ones in our lives. I was also surprised how few people were present when many of us have lost family, friends and beloved pets over the years. A few people have since remarked to me, ‘Oh I didn’t come as I have never lost anyone in my life.’ I think I was there to remember not just a father who has gone beyond but also a mother and others who are still here – life!
This honouring of life, alive or not, close or not, well known or not, reminds me of Ivor Bell’s east coast family who recently came to visit Denmark as part of their coming to terms with his dying and more, to discover a little about his life. I met with Ivor’s beautiful 86 yr old grandmother, aunt and cousin, and at our final meeting I was taken with their freely given comment: “We are so happy to have seen that Ivor was loved so much by Denmark. We can understand why Ivor loved Denmark. We want to come back to Denmark, not for Ivor, but to simply enjoy the beauty and grace of this town, its people and wonderful nature.” Somehow in spite of the most challenging circumstances, these three courageous family members came to a place of love. They openly understood, honoured and loved Ivor and as a part of an enduring family heritage of artistic expression, story-telling and a passion for conserving nature.
How remarkable for this grand old woman to come thousands of miles and to discover that she and her grandson had so much in common – artists of life, lovers of nature. This Love, a love that knows no bounds, judgements or confines of circumstances, is life’s greatest teaching and challenge. Let us not wait until we die to experience this unboundedness, this generosity of heart and the commonality we all share. Summer is the time for ‘making Love’ – so let’s do it!