My wife & I were supposed to be enjoying a weekend away together, without the kids! She didn't know anything about it, but I had booked a cottage in the Highlands, and booked my parents to come and grand-parent, for the weekend. Sadly however, it was not to be. My Dad phoned a day or two before the weekend with the sad news that my uncle had died, and so they would not be able to come. Instead of cancelling the weekend altogether, we decided to take the kids with us - and all pile into the cottage. mood... Relaxing with a glass of wine, on a big sofa, in front of a roaring log fire was the ideal way to spend an evening - except that the romantic mood was not exactly enhanced by the presence of a twelve year old boy sitting in between us!
Our friend's cottage is a lovely peaceful place, perched above the river. With its grassy banks, gentle flow, and constant wildlife activity, the banks of Feugh look like the setting for the start of The Wind in the Willows. It certainly provided a serenely calm and beautiful place for me to spend a few minutes remembering my uncle - whose funeral in Bristol I set off to the next day. The funeral was a positive and uplifting event, as my uncle was a committed Christian who believed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and in so doing broke the final power of death - guaranteeing his own resurrection into the presence of Jesus. For me the 'highlight' (is it right to have a highlight of a funeral?) was listening to my Dad paying a moving and heartfelt tribute to his big-brother. He spoke about many things; school, WWII bombing raids, cricket, athletics, meeting up after work for dinner in the mid-1960s, and my uncle's PhD work. Most significantly though he spoke about the way in which his big-brother had first introduced him to the Christian faith through the boys Crusader group (still going, now re-branded as Urban Saints). My Dad talked about that being the place where his own faith in Christ was born - which of course subsequently led to me being brought up in a Christian home. Any reader of this blog will know what a huge influence that has had on me, and therefore how much I owe to my uncle.