Dear Friends, My parents bought some books of monologues when I was young and I used to love reading stories of Albert and the Lion and Sam Small, all told in rhyme and no doubt long since forgotten by most. They were harmless, funny little tales many made famous by Stanley Holloway the comic actor who was popular during the middle of the last century and particularly well known during the war years. Looking back, I’d stand in front of the mirror at home quoting verbatim these little poems, that I thought were hilarious, while no doubt my contemporaries were singing the popular songs of the day. One of my favourite little poems was “Aggie the elephant” by Marriott Edgar, a tale of Dove, who would take his fifteen elephants out on the road walking from town to town each one holding on to the tail of the one in front with their trunk. Aggie the smallest one, always walked at the back until one day there was an accident at an unmarked railway crossing between Blackpool and Crewe, which left poor Aggie feet in the air. Thankfully she survived the encounter, however from then on Aggie walked at the front, because an Elephant never forgets.
I think that one of the greatest gifts God gives to human beings is the gift of memory, I frequently visit a place, or meet somebody I haven’t seen for a while and memories come flooding back. One of the great joys of my work is sitting and listening to the memories others have, particularly when I visit families to arrange funerals. I feel incredibly privileged to sit with people and hear them tell their stories of fascinating people, who would normally see themselves as being “ordinary” and particularly on those occasions, our memories are very precious to us.
November is very much a month of remembering. The Month starts with All Saints’ Day, so often overlooked today by increasingly popular events of Halloween. The first of November is a day of remembering the saints, not only the big name saints who have days, Cathedrals, Churches, Cities and even train stations named after them, but perhaps more importantly, the saints we have met in our lives, people who have shown us a glimpse of God through their words and acts of kindness.
I think that maybe the most important saints are those who would never see themselves in that way, ordinary folk, struggling with all the stresses and strains of life and doing the best they can.
It is good for us to remember, them, to give thanks for them and, like Aggie the Elephant, to never forget. Enjoy remembering during November, appreciate those you have loved but see no longer and treasure the fact that they are with God in eternity.