When the PMC historian comes to write the Church history for the last hundred years, one of the defining moments of the Zoom hours in the Litchfield era will be hearing, morning mum and dad, on Sunday mornings. John Brookes greeting his parents has been a wonderful part of the consequences of Covid for PMC, and the way that people are able to join us in easily, if not in person, has been a true benefit from these very difficult times. It also strikes me that there has been someone missing from the children’s talks. We have had contributions from Nathanael, Anna-Joy and Roxanne, but where has John been?
The way a phrase takes on a special significance reminds me of something that happened when I was a headteacher in Scunthorpe. We were a small school and very sadly the deputy, Kevin Moloney, lost his wife after a long and difficult illness. She died just before the end of the summer term and her funeral was on the Tuesday before we broke up on the Friday.
Kevin was an extremely popular teacher who had been at the school for many years. He was also one of those people who seems to know everybody, not just in the area the school served but in the whole of Scunthorpe. So, it was to be a very large funeral and many staff and pupils, past and present, along with parents, wanted to attend.
Times were a little freer in 1997 and we used to take years 7 and 8, to Pleasure Island in Cleethorpes on the Tuesday of the last week and then years 9 and 10 to Alton Towers on the Wednesday. So, I arranged to close the school on the day of the funeral to allow people to attend, and staff swapped places so that the Pleasure Island trip would be supervised by newer staff who weren’t as close to Kevin.
At 9 am I was in the car park with the children waiting for the coaches to arrive. Emma came to me and asked what time Mr Moloney’s wife’s funeral was. I told her 11 am, and she said “right, I won’t enjoy myself then.” I found that simple phase incredibly moving and even today, 24 years later am still very moved. It was just a lovely simple action that she could take.
We’re bombarded today by advice about what we should do, and often feel that there are things we ought to be doing for others, our families and communities, but Emma showed that not everything has to be a big gesture. We can all do the little things and mustn’t forget that they can be more significant and relevant than some grand gesture.
Just remember the last verse of Christina Rossetti’s poem, In the bleak midwinter.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.