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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Funeral of a friend.

On Saturday I attended the funeral of my friend Neville in the local Catholic church. Neville was what is know as "Coloured" (mixed race) here in SA, black as the ace of spades with his equally "Coloured" wife who was blond. I've known Neville and his wife for more than sixteen years, a more gentle and caring man I have yet to meet. His wife, daughter and three grandsons were the centre of his life, his world. 

Neville was a man with a wicked sense of humour, he could find something funny in the worst of situations, Neville's laugh was infectious, when he laughed you could not help yourself, you would find yourself laughing with him. Feeling bad, talk to Neville he would soon make you feel better, got a problem, discuss it with Neville, between the two of you a solution would be worked out. No matter how busy he was he could make time for any one.

The church was packed and there wasn't place for the proverbial mouse, Black, White, Indian, "Coloured", Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, (and every shade in between), Hindus, Muslims, and Pagans, all there to pay tribute to the man they loved and admired. If you want to know what a man was like during his life, attend his funeral. Looking across the packed church I thought to myself, "This is what heaven will be like, "every race and tribe" ".

The service was led by the Arch Bishop of Bloemfontein, a black man with an imposing presence, broad of shoulder and broad of girth, with a deep melodious voice - a preachers voice. It wasn't because Neville was an important man, (in the greater scheme of things he was Mr No Body like the rest of us) that he merited an Arch Bishop for his funeral service, no, they had been friends since Neville was a young man and the Arch Bishop a lowly parish priest.

The funeral service was called a Resurrection Mass, and the Arch Bishop with his beautiful voice delivered a gospel filled message of the resurrected Jesus, (and the hope  of those who believed in the resurrected Jesus). No one could have any doubts as to the fact that this was a Christian funeral service full of hope, not one of despair. Even an ex Calvinist like myself could not find fault with the content. 

After the service I thought how blessed I was to live in a country like ours, with it's diversity of people and cultures. I have friends among all race groups and among some that I count as best friends are Muslims. I feel very sorry for people who live in bland single culture, single language, single race countries, about as interesting as tapioca pudding. 

It always amazes me when I hear of countries overseas where people complain about immigrants changing the culture of a country. They enrich a culture and if the local culture disappears or is weakened it couldn't have been worth much in the first place. 


Jo said...

What a lovely post and tribute to your friend, Neville Phil. He sounds like a humble, loving man with his priorities in the right place. Thanks for sharing these positive words about our beautiful country. Love Jo xxx

Kay L. Davies said...

Phillip, I'm sorry you lost a good friend, and your country lost a good man, but I just have to say I agree with you about immigrants. Canada is a land of many immigrants, and our culture is a mixture of every nation and every religion, whose people have chosen to live here, whatever the reason. In my family alone there are people with several different skin colours, but we are all equally Canadian.
I'm sure I would have liked your friend Neville, and his friend the Archbishop!

Joyful said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend. But some day you will see him again in heaven. It will be great when we can mix and mingle with so many tribes and tongues. Now and then we get a glimpse of it here on earth.

Gorges Smythe said...

I understand what you mean by your last statement, but I don't entirely agree with it. Some folks immigrate with the deliberate intention of destroying a nation. Sorry about you losing a friend,but you'll be seeing him again in a few years. He sounds like some-one I will enjoy meeting as well, when that day comes.

Pumice said...

We Protestants find it so easy to forget that at one time the Catholic church was the only church and that each branch of the faith has people who are true to the gospel as well as hypocrites and dross. Having the gospel preached is a fitting memorial.

Grace and peace