Sunday, 27 December 2009

Dearest Frank - Rest in Peace

One sunny afternoon early in 2005 when Anna, Frank and I were sitting in their garden I asked Frank if he had a favourite poet or poem. He considered this thoughtfully for a minute or so, then quietly recited this poem by Francis Thompson. It is:
"In no strange land: the kingdom of God is within you".
Those of you who knew him will remember his deep, well modulated voice and careful speech.

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air -
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places; -
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
Tis ye, ‘tis your estrang├Ęd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry; - and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry, - clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!

Frank, we weep for our loss, and offer our gratitude for your friendship, generosity, sensitivity and love.

Other tributes can be found at:

Later Note:
Grace's tribute photograph of the delicately pink lotus reminds me of an occasion when Frank invited me to visit so that I could see the blossom on their flowering cherry trees. Naturally the invitation was accepted immediately. When he opened the front door, the first thing he did after greeting me was to lead the way to where I could best see them.  The two trees were exquisite, with their white and pale pink blossom seeming to be luminous, even in the sunshine.

I enjoyed a leisurely visit of some hours, and then when I was saying my good-byes, Frank said "Come and see the blossom one more time" and led me back for one last look.  I was touched that he appreciated their beauty so particularly and also that he wanted me to see them too.  It is a very fond memory.

These photographs are of a different tree but it is perhaps a little similar.


Simon said...

Yes, as one who was cared for in the same home up until the age of five, I too have only good memories of Frank. I distinctly recall being very impressed as a boy (and am even more so now) with how patient he was, compared to some other grown-ups I knew. I have no recollections of discord at all, which considering he was going through a marriage breakup at the time speaks volumes. The only time I can at all remember that he was at all heated was once, (some years later) when he was reproving Danny-dog: "Aw, Danny, take the ruddy bone outside!" (The story of Danny's Bone deserves telling in its own right.)

As well, Frank loaned us his 2.5inch refracting telescope for months and years on end. I spent hours looking through it to objects near and far: houses, mountains and streetlamps, as well as the night sky. I can still recall the wonder of seeing the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn for the first time through it.

Thanks too Leigh for sharing the poem. "The things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal". There are temporary earthly treasures, and there are eternal heavenly treasures. Love endures forever. All that is good and true in a man's life, that has become part of his spirit, goes with his spirit. Blessed be Frank's memory, rest in peace my dear friend, until we meet again in a better world.

Leigh said...

Thanks for this, Simon. And so the mantle of being elders gradually accrues to our own shoulders. You wear yours well, which I appreciate. Frank has given us much to aspire to.

kiwi137 said...

I share Simon's sentiments and can attest to a similar first-hand experience.

All that is gold does not glitter, but on the Day when it is revealed how much we have done with what each of us were given, there will be surprises. Some people we thought we knew so well will be revealed as lords of dignity and power, while the outward glory of others cracks into hollow emptiness.

Frank, I salute your memory, every thought of which calls me to faithfulness on my own account for others' sake.

Hopeful Kiwi

Leigh said...

Thank you Kiwi137. What I chiefly remember of my conversations with Frank about spiritual matters was his free and tolerant outlook. Love from me to you.