Those of you that know me will know I am not particularly religious. I was at one point. Vaguely. My parents decided it should be my decision as to whether I wanted to be christened, not theirs (it was the late sixties so yay for hippies). I decided at about 13 that I did want to be christened so took myself off to Sunday school, got christened and then the following day I was confirmed.
Whilst I am no longer particularly religious, I am drawn to churches and their architecture. To their peace. To their stillness. Often on weekends away Mr B and I will find ourselves in a church, photographing windows, ends of pews, graves, floors. Oh the flag stone floors, I adore them. What we don’t do though is “go to church” on a regular basis. Other than weddings and, sadly, funerals.
Which is why I found myself in a church this week. The funeral of a beautiful lady who died from cancer a few weeks ago. The church itself was fairly unremarkable (the vicar, however, was amazing. Think Vicar of Dibley. She really was superb) but I don’t think I will ever forget the service. Hymns picked very much with Bree in mind, readings from her family who shared snippets of her life growing up, or as a mum, that we hadn’t heard before. We laughed. We cried. Oh how we cried. Her dog, Honey, was there, with her new adopted family, and made us equally sad to remember how much Bree adored her, and happy that having been abandoned long ago in the New Forest Honey had now managed to have two families worship her.
What was remarkable was one snippet the vicar, Kat Bracewell, said in her reading about Bree, from Ecclesiastes. Kat elaborated and talked more about how this related to Bree, and all that she did in her life. How she loved animals, and her family, that whilst she was strong and independent she still cared deeply for the people around her.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-1321st Century King James Version (KJ21)
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice and to do good in his life
Translated by our vicar, Kat, as “Be happy. Do good”
Forget everything else.
Relating the story back to Bree and her beloved dog Honey, Kat talked about how when preparing this speech she had got up from her desk and walked to the kitchen. She was struck by an odd “thump thump thump” noise and couldn’t work out what is so she went off to the lounge to see if it was in there, sure enough as she walked through the hall to the lounge, there was the same “thump thump thump”. Perplexed she then returned to her desk as she couldn’t find the source of the noise. As she sat down the the same “thump thump thump” happened again but this time as she stood up to investigate she saw her dog lying in front of the fire. Aged, blind, almost deaf, the only part of her that had free movement was her tail. Kat realised that as she had got up from her desk the dog had felt her footsteps and had begun wagging her tail, making it hit the wall beside her.
Thump, thump, thump.
Kat walked over to give the dog a cuddle and put aside her task of writing about Bree, knowing that Bree would approve. It reminded Kat that all a dog wants to do is good, fetch a ball, return when called, chase a stick and bring it back, to do good and to ultimately be happy. Wagging a tail when its owner comes into view, happy to see them.
This is what this single line from the bible tells us. That we should do good, be happy. Nothing else matters. If we just remember those four words then life will be so much better. We will be so much better. So much happier.
It’s therefore my new philosophy. It used to be one life, live it, which could actually be a translation of the next line:
Ecclesiastes 3:13-1321st Century King James Version (KJ21)
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God
So that’s it. In 2018, can we all agree to be happy and do good.
To be more Labrador?