29th June 2012 Friday
I’m sitting with my sisters in a huge, half empty, souless hall in the Pavilions conference centre in Plymouth. There is a giant screen in front of us - the words of a hymn scrolling down it. There’s a semi circle of unlit candles on a table on a raised platform. A man in a dog collar is conducting us with a mircophone.This is a thanksgiving service for the famiies of methodist ministers who have died in the last year. Our father is on the end of a list of sixty two people in the printed brochure. His half page obituary is in another brochure.
Apart from the dog collars you’d think you were attending a Labour Party Conference.
The lunch at the big round tables beforehand is terrible. The people are kind and friendly. Our father was a big fish in this Methodist world - a big controversial fish. I feel remote - like a fish out of water here. Just happy to sit between my sisters - a row of dragonflies in our bright summer jackets - hovering, batting our wings - here but not here - honouring our father in this place where he isn’t.
Echoing him where he lives - in our hearts.