Yesterday we held a celebration funeral service in London for my father Jack Bernard Blair (1922-2010).
I had stayed overnight at the old family home and I was awake well before dawn. I put on the kettle, made some Earl Gray tea and instant oatmeal, and then went out onto the back steps to watch the morning happen, and to finish the preparation of my comments for the funeral service.
I heard the echoing wake-up chorus of robins, cardinals and finches in the mature trees, and I delighted in the fact that we were going to have a sunny, mild Monday.
Suddenly my attention was arrested by a small flashing light in bold contrast to the dark tree-line behind. It flashed, and then a hiatus and movement. It flashed again and another gap, and so on. It came in my direction. A single firefly. It rose above and then disappeared over the top of my parents' home and proceeded northward.
I knew with a certainty that it continued to flash and travel beyond my view, and would do so until overtaken by the fullness and brilliance of Day.
I thought again of my beloved Dad. This snapshot of nature and of beauty and of hope beyond our view would be used to commence the tribute which I would give later before gathered friends and neighbours. With all their smiling faces and tangible support, I was able to say the good things which needed to be said about my Father and about his departure.
Toward the end of comments I would also make use of the message of his very name:
Jack or John (Grace of God)...Blair (field or battlefield)
God's grace has come, is coming, will come to all our battles for the simple asking. The finished work of Jesus is our hope, as it was for my Dad. Not the accomplishments of self, however noteworthy.
Reverend Keith Rameshwar gave some very fitting comments and prayers to bring to remembrance the shortness of this life in comparison to the glory and vitality of our futures, if only we have trusted in the work of that cross of agony and that empty tomb of wonder. Snapshots of the glorious achievements of our Saviour. Keith also had caught very quickly some warming images of my Father.
A Scottish piper, an old friend from school days Sterling Gray, played us out with "Amazing Grace".