Two important people died this week. Our own Margaret Megwyn died naturally, in her sleep. Judith McKinlay, a former Old Testament teacher of mine died a few days earlier. Both women suffered chronic conditions. In dying when they did, they’ve been spared more pain and agony. It is we who remain who now have gaps in our lives which won’t quite ever be filled by anyone else.
Death makes you reflect on life. I was struck, this week, about how important people just are. They don’t have to have special qualities to carve out a niche in life which enriches others’ lives if they are people of good will. (Others who bear us ill will also influences us – but not in an enriching way.)
Both Meg and Judith did have special qualities. They contributed to the causes of thought and theology and feminism and honesty in this world, and to other aspects of life beyond my knowledge. Teachers influence many lives in subtly and not so subtly, beyond what the teacher might guess at.
People in general however are never perfect. Sometimes they can be downright difficult or make relatively innocent mistakes and purposefully or accidently cause hurt. Sometimes they are stubborn and blinkered. We blush with shame at our own faults, but often we expect more of others than we do of ourselves. We can be disappointed when they ‘let us down’, even though they actually were just being their human selves and it may be our expectations were unrealistic.
When people die, it is good to remember them honestly, warts and all. There may be some need to allow leeway, maybe to forgive (though that can take time, many years, and perhaps even never in some cases). Holding a person’s good qualities and their faults together in loving, creative tension acknowledges the light and dark sides of human nature. It reminds us of the necessary integration of our own shadow selves which is the lifework of us all.
These comments are not particularly only true of these two women who have left us this week, but true in general about even those whom we most love or admire. They’re true about ourselves too! I don’t anticipate dying very soon, but you have my apologies in advance for the various ways I have disappointed, irritated and frustrated you all!
This Sunday we think about hope, the last of the great three qualities we aspire to: faith, hope and love. We’ll follow the Gathering with the first meeting of the Exploring Faith study group for 2019, then a meeting run by Margaret Rushbrook to begin organising the March 9 Harvest Cafe. There will be a private cremation service held for Margaret Megwyn on Saturday morning (February 16). A memorial service will be held for her on Monday 25 February at 10am in St Andrew’s. All are welcome to come then, to celebrate her life and support one another and her family.
To view the full e-news click here: https://mailchi.mp/33f9a8a63213/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-1455797