Kath left soon after breakfast, with a weekend of performances ahead of her. Rhiannon had a long lie-in, so I got on with preparing a Sunday sermon, and a funeral service for next Thursday, before having lunch and being driven to Thornhill for this afternoon's funeral. Despite the high winds of yesterday, the grounds looked immaculate. No fallen branches or other detritus. This service was unusual in that the next of kin booked a double time slot in the big chapel. There were a couple of extra pieces of music, but also quite a lengthy eulogy delivered by the son of the deceased, telling his father's life story, plus a poem written by a grandson, and a video slide show of photos from the last seventy years, so we were in chapel for longer than the usual assigned half hour. Much thought went into the family's preparation, and this made it easier for me to officiate.
I returned to an early evening meal, as Clare and Rhiannon had tickets booked for a performance of 'Pride and Prejudice' at the Wales Millennium Centre. I decided not to accompany them, when Clare booked last week, as I've come to appreciate having 'down time' after funerals, which require a lot of energy and attention to perform well and make it meaningful, as every event is different. Celebrating the Eucharist with an assortment of church congregations I know quite well now is quite different, as each setting and each group is more familiar, and I can receive as much energy as I put into a service, simply because the congregations are 'friends not strangers' (John 15:15).
Congregations for a funeral or other occasional office are generally strangers to me, if not each other, and that demands a lot more energy to work with. As I get older, I'm more aware of this, and simply need to take time before and after, so that I'm satisfied I've done the best I can to minister to others in public. How hard this can be for working clergy with half a dozen funerals a month, if not more, plus all the other demands, both pastoral and organisational, involved in serving a Parish.
There wasn't much on telly to relax with, after sitting through a couple of repeat episodes of NCIS, I switched off and continued reading the biography of Hewlett Johnston, the 'Red Dean' of Canterbury, which I received for Christmas. I don't read nearly as much as I could, and didn't have much energy for reading when I was occupied with running CBS, and spent much time working on the computer. Now slowly, I'm finding I can read undistractedly and enjoy it. With so much rubbish on TV, I'm glad of a relaxing alternative which feeds my mind in a different way.