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Solace in old stones.

Somewhere else I mentioned that in times of trouble old stones provide comfort.

I spent this afternoon at a funeral of a farmer in a little village not far away. He was born over eighty years ago in the house next to the church and died in a house next to the church. The little church has seen hundred of years pass by and lives long forgotten have played their dramas out around it. And it is fitting for a farmers funeral that the hymns came from the Harvest Festival section of the hymnal. The Christian religion is an agrarian one - talk of Shepherds, gathering in, flocks and separating the sheep are not abstract concepts to a congregation who farm the Wiltshire Downs. Life and Death are the constant companions of farming. And this afternoon we replayed a scene that has happened for thousands of years in this ancient landscape. It is all natural and proper, and not modern at all. The old stones of the Church provide a constant backdrop and a permanence that reminds us that our troubles will soon pass and don't amount to very much in the sweep of time.

God Bless the Farmer.


Country Burial

Janet Lewis
(about 1927)

After the words of the magnificence and the doom,
After the vision of the splendor and the fear,
They go out slowly into the flowery meadow,
Carrying the casket, and lay it on the earth
By the grave's edge. The daisies bend and straighten
Under the trailing skirts, and serious faces
Look with faint relief, and briefly smile.
Into this earth the flesh and wood shall melt
And under these familiar common flowers
Flow through the earth they both have understood
By sight and touch and daily sustenance.
And this is comforting;
For Heaven is a blinding radiance where
Leaves are no longer green, nor water wet,
Milk white, soot black, nor winter weather cold.
And the eyeless vision of the Almighty Face
Brings numbness to the untranslatable heart.

Thanks for your comment on my blog about Old Stones, you are right, our history is not so much in the great events, but in the record of the daily lives and triumphs, the little events that make us who and what we are. As it says in Ecclesiasticus 44 "And some there be who have no memorial, they are perished as if they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born; and their children after them. But these were merciful men whose righteousness hath not been forgotten."

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