The circle of life

Today as the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, my family welcomes the next generation. Baby Boy Sewell was born today, a big cuddly 4.2kgs following an arduous three days. Last I heard he was still not officially named. I imagine his parents are still a bit overwhelmed. It was definitely labour!

He is my great-nephew. His proud great-grandmother rang us from a different hospital just after 9pm with the news. Her life is also waning. At 86 years of age things are beginning to fail at an alarming rate. And each malfunction triggers another event. At present she is in hospital on almost total bedrest to heal a fracture in her pubis bone.

The circle of life.

There is a lot of death in the world today. And much of it seems to be the result of people’s actions The Israel-Gaza conflict, Syria, planes being shot out of the sky.

And then then are people who decide to end their lives by their own actions. Like Robin Williams. Everyone is talking about Robin. About his depression. His addictions. And so I won’t.

I am going to hope Baby Boy Sewell gets the chance to grow old. I hope he never feels the need to take another person’s life. I hope he never feels the need to take his own. For all those jihadists, terroists, Isis-ists were once newborn babies filled with hope and promise. Robin Williams was once a newborn baby whose only worry or fear concerned food.

The circle of life. Let nature take its course.


The Lord is my shepherd

Goodbye. Haere ra. God bless. Peace be with you.

I and a whole host of others said these words today in a packed to standing room only Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.

It was the Christchurch funeral service for Lynda, our Dean. A vibrant young woman who had come to Christchurch from Ireland and decided to make our city her home, to make our cathedral and its people her people. She is actually going back to be buried amongst family in Northern Ireland.

It was a really grand service. All the pomp and ceremony. Two hundred robed clergy formed a guard of honour as her coffin was carried out by friends and colleagues who struggled with Lynda’s deadweight. For it was true that she was larger than life. And perhaps that contributed to her early death. She was 40 years old.

Funerals bring out more than just hankies. Cliches abound. “Gone too soon.” “Too good to die.” “Such a lovely person, God wanted her for his own.” Somehow I think that although these may be true, Lynda would have scoffed at them. Lynda had more than God’s spirit with her, she had her own spirit.

Lynda had planned her service back in 2010, possibly after our first earthquake when many of us wondered if this was the end. For those earthquakes struck everyone – even those with the purest of hearts.

The first reading, which I admit was so obscure I had never heard reference to it, was Lynda’s joke. Apparently when clergy would ring and ask advice on what to talk about when the bishop visited, Lynda would point them to these passages and suggest they discussed what they meant to them.

The Bishop, also an immigrant to our country and also Lynda’s flatmate, spoke. I thought it a lovely tribute to a warm and generous soul, a woman who might live, breathe, and be all things religious, theological, Christian, but who also had a wicked sense of humour and fun. My children Juliet and Robert, who were both serving at the service, said it was a long list of things which may have killed her. For Lynda had not been well for some time. For many her death was not unexpected. But it still came too soon.

So more than 500 people gathered this afternoon to pay their last respects to someone who will be missed. Her sermons always began with a joke or anecdote and then segued into the more serious stuff. But by then you were so interested you carried on listening.

We sang heartily to the hymns Lynda had picked four years earlier for whatever reason. They were happy hymns. And the thing about a congregation at ease with church protocol, people sing with gusto, supported brilliantly by the Choir. It was a pleasant way to give tribute.

And when her coffin had been farewelled with a karakia, and the congregation filed out to an organ voluntary normally heard at weddings (another joke, Lynda?), there were many high clergy and sombre business stalwarts scratching at things in their eyes.

Lynda, kia tau te rangimārie. You will be missed.