Saturday, January 02, 2010
So it's been a busy start to my time in Wengen this year. Come, I said to Gill, bring Ben - the first couple of days are always quiet. It will be great to show you the resort, I'll teach Ben a bit of skiing, we'll enjoy the snow - it'll be fantastic.
To Andy & Esther I said - come help me with the chaplaincy. The first few days are always quiet, so come for the weekend, and then we'll see what there is to do! We'll meet people, ski, share faith, you'll see what I do here.
And to be sure, I have taken Ben out; we did carve some time for me to get him up to the beginners bowl on Scheidegg, and he really enjoyed himself in the blizzard conditions up there. He even skied without falling over (much) on the second day! (Though I have never seen anyone take my instruction to lean forwards so much to heart that his head hit the ground... I took it for granted he'd look where he was going!)
But by the time A&E arrived, I had spent the best part of two days preparing for and then taking the memorial service for Myles Robinson, the unfortunate young man who tragically died here in Wengen just before Christmas. His family have been amazing, and with the help of good friends of theirs we put on a two-hour service, allowing people to come into church, pray, light a candle and write in a condolences book. At the end of the time, I said a few words, and also invited the local Swiss Pastor Jan Madjar to do the same. And we prayed.
It was an amazing and beautiful event. Over 300 people came through the church. It had been our intent that folk would take their candles with them as a memory of Myles, but quite quickly they started to plant them in the snow outside the church, and the unplanned thing was a thing of rare wonder and heart-rending glory.
Some kind people commented that my words were perfect for the day. But the day was perfect to itself. And now the family have left for England, and for the rest of their lives still stretching out so enormously altered.
I closed the church up, and allowed myself to break for a while. It is the nature of the job that we are required to be strong for all around, but at times that strength, given by God as it is, comes at a cost. And then I was glad to be able to walk down to the Bellevue, to Gill & Ben, to Andy & Esther, to friends and family and to a good meal and the least introspective year-turning I have allowed myself for some good time. On some occasions, reflection is overrated.