Thursday and Friday of last week were spent sorting out Dad’s care package. I have to say Social Services and my Father’s GP have been magnificent, it’s extraordinary the amount of time they have spent with him. I’m in Manchester for the next few days meeting doctors, carers and spending a bit of quality time with my father. Distance caring is something of an emotional roller coaster. You love so you care and want to do the very best. I have a saying at the moment ‘ I’m only ever going to do this once, so I’m going to get it right’ but of course you have your own life and work. How do you balance all of them without going under? The thought that I am sustained by so many prayers has been an immense help, as have Ian, my family and friends. Relationships sustain us, they define us, but when they end the loss can crush us, it is the nature of life. Andy preached a brilliant sermon on Sunday, it was Trinity Sunday and he spoke of the divine, eternal relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we contemplate our own relationships, our loves and losses we are very close to the heart and nature of a God.
The death of Charles Kennedy at the age of 55 was announced this morning at about 6.00am. Listening to the announcement in bed I felt a profound sense of shock and sadness. The atmosphere in the Radio Four Today studio was sad and melancoholic; the presenters – Jim Naughtie and John Humphries – would have interviewed Kennedy dozens of times over the years and knew him well. If you get the time, have a look at Alastair Campbells’ tribute to Charles Kennedy (http://www.alastaircampbell.org/). It is deeply moving and profound and shows that friendship can rise above party politics. Some of the most gifted and talented people are also the most flawed and Kennedy had no shortage of flaws – as we all have to different extents – but peoples’ flaws are part of who they are. I hope people remember Charles Kennedy as the only leader in the Commons prepared to take a principled stand against the Iraq war; a stance that was deeply unpopular at the time but he has subsequently been vindicated. That they remember him as the leader of the Lib Dems who returned the most MP’s ever in the 2005 election (Sixty two – a figure they can only dream of now) and above all that they remember him as a man who – despite his demons – strode as a giant on the British political stage and brought colour and fizz and integrity into a drab and monochrome world.
In the early church community in Ephesus which is now in Turkey, there were many wonderful vases and pots which were used by the community. There are several good examples preserved in the British Museum today, you may have seen them – huge great beautiful pots and vases – often covered in black lacquer and paint and with drawings and illustrations in gold leaf on them. But, and here’s the thing, there are estimated to have been over three million porcelain candle-lamp vases made in Ephesus and not a single one remains. They were fairly small and when they were made they deliberately had a few cracks put into them into order to let the light of the candles shine out more brightly. Without the cracks, without the flaws, we wouldn’t be able to see the light. Charles Kennedy I think was a bit like one of these candle-lamp vases….someone who let the light shine through.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and above all to his young ten year old son Donald who was doted on by his father. May he rest in peace and Rise in Glory.