This evening, for the 4th year running, St M's opened its doors to the families of those for whom we've conducted funerals over the past 2 years (who all received a personal invitation) and anyone else who wanted to come. They met for "A service of thanksgiving and remembrance" - something quite different from the traditional All Souls Requiem, with its list of names and general air of heavy solemnity.
People cry at this service, but they sometimes laugh too. Afterwards they share a glass of wine and talk about how they are making their way through their own particular valley of shadow. It's a huge privilege to see the courage and fidelity that keeps so many struggling onward - and the small miracles of hope that each person there represents.
It's a short service...barely half an hour of liturgy and at its climax comes an invitation to light a candle not only for the obvious losses that have brought them there, but also for any other experience of loss or disappointment, a baby never born, a friendship lost or broken...
This year I also offered the option of taking a seed away as a sign of hope - and to my amazed delight it seemed that everyone chose to do so.
We use words so much in the church. I love them - and they work for me - but tonight though my reflection seemed to hit the right note, it was the rituals and the music that spoke the greater truth.
All in the end is harvest.