Monday, December 17, 2012

When heaven makes someone sad ...

After the vigil service on Saturday, I noticed a little girl wearing a brown hat that looked like a bear's head, with button eyes and sticking up ears (the hat, not the child!). I thought she didn't look too happy & I presumed it was because it was getting late.

'Is someone a little tired?' I asked.
'Oh, she's just a bit sad,' said her gran.
'I hope it wasn't something I said,' I said, jokingly. 
'Actually, it was, ' said her granny.

Oh ... 

My sermon had been about heaven & it had made the little girl think of her granddad who had died three years ago.

'I miss him so much,' she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. I knelt down in front of her, trying not to trip over my rose stole.

'It's good that you miss him,' I said. 'It shows how much you loved him. It's not easy when some one dies, knowing that you won't be able to talk to them, or hug them, or kiss them again. But where is your granddad is now?'
'In heaven,' she said.
'And what's heaven like?'
'It's a nice place.'
'That's right. It's a place where no one is sad, or sick, or in any kind of pain. And they are waiting for us there for when we go there, so you will see your granddad again.'
'I know, but I still miss him.' Another tear rolled down her cheek.

'And that's OK. It's OK to cry too. You want to know something funny? Because I'm a priest, I have to go to a lot of funerals, which can be sad ... and do you know what always makes me feel a little better at funerals?'
'What?'
'When I see a few tears ... I know that sounds a little strange, but I always think it shows how much the people there loved the person. The tears are little hugs and kisses for the person who is gone ... signs of love that really come from the heart. Tears can be a beautiful thing.'

She didn't exactly look happier, but she had stopped crying. She stared at me solemnly. Then she reached up and whipped the hat off her head.
'See my hat?'
'Well, yes,' I said, a little surprised.
'It's a wolf.'
'I see,' I said, still thinking it was more like a bear.
'See the eyes and ears? And the nose? And with these ...' she pulled on the brown lengths that hung down from the sides '... I can tie it on so it doesn't fall off.'
'Are you like a wolf when you wear it?'
'Yes ... I don't have to worry about any wolves chasing me, 'cause they'll think I am one.'

She and her gran helped me close up the church. I let her blow out the candles on the altar, carefully holding my hand behind the flames so that the wax didn't splash onto the linen coverings. She looked at my stole.
'Why are you wearing pink tonight?'
'It's rose. It's the colour we use today in church.'
'It looks pink.'
Her gran laughed.

We emerged from the church into a starlit night. I closed the door to the vestry behind us. The door sticks & I had to bang it a few times. When I turned around the little girl and her gran were no longer by my side. By the light of the amber streetlight shining from the road I could see her skipping away between the headstones down the gravel path to the gate, her gran hurrying after her.

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