In love we disappear ...
I'm just back from choir practice, where among other things we were singing Leonard Cohen's Back on Boogie Street, in which are some of my favourite lines: "It is in love that we are made, in love we disappear." I can't help thinking how appropriate they are today, when I attended the funeral of one friend and heard, just before I left to go to the church, of the death of my friend and mentor, Sister Clare. It wasn't a surprise; we've known, as she did, that she was in her last days, but the feeling of loss is there nevertheless.
Clare was really the only nun I've ever known, unless you count someone I knew in my schooldays who was headed for the convent. She was an Anglican, ordained priest in the church to which I belong, and latterly has been an important figure in the lives of the four friends who called ourselves "Sr. Clare's Coven" - a group who asked her to lead our retreat sessions on three different islands over the last ten or so years: Iona, Cumbrae and Lewis.
She was at once intensely spiritual and wonderfully human. She influenced us all with her love and her challenge to us, and listened to our needs and our weaknesses. And for myself, there was the joy of meeting a friend who loved the poetry of R.S.Thomas as much as I do, who loved plainchant and Leonard Cohen as I do, and who challenged me to write and to talk about poetry to the lovely people she gathered around her in Lewis. She used Facebook and contemporary slang with the same ease as she sang the office, and she had the most infectious laugh and a wonderful smile. I'm grateful to have known her - and to have been so well known myself.
Today is one of these days when the veil between this life and the next seems very fine. May Clare, may Hugh both rest in peace and rise in glory.
Blip shows Clare in her chapel in Gress last June.