DATA BASE REF: I/F 2007
The King of love my Shepherd is
Whose goodness faileth never-
So we have just sung, but there are times in all our lives, when we wonder whether this is true. And for many of us, today may be one of those occasions.
The natural sadness we feel at anyone’s passing, is mixed up with so many other feelings, for most of us here. With most deaths, there is unfinished business for those left behind – especially when someone as Tracey dies suddenly. There may be guilt and frustration on the part of those close to her – a feeling that surely this should not have happened – and even anger at the situation. And above all, concern for Tracey’s two lovely children, Rebecca and Amy.
Dear Rebecca and Amy, our hearts go out to you in helpless sadness. I only hope that in years to come, there will be some consolation for you in the numbers here today.
I first met Tracey some years ago, when Rebecca and Amy were in Castor church choir. Although we all know that Nigel and Tracey led separate lives, on a number of occasions when I was round at Tracey’s house, Nigel was there also. Nigel – we wish you well in the difficult days and weeks ahead – we know you will make a loving, and excellent job of caring for Rebecca and Amy – and we all here will be behind you, and praying for you.
“Perverse and foolish oft I strayed” – so we have sung in our hymn about the Good Shepherd, the King of love. As we all can be, Tracey could be perverse – she was a free spirit; true to herself not other people’s expectations of her; erratic and independent by turns, but also needing and grateful for her close friends, like Pam Harrison who were always there for her. For Tracey was maddening at times, but always loveable.
Rebecca and Amy were talking to me about their mother a few nights ago, we were trying to find words to describe her. This is what the children said, she liked Tigers, she liked rock-climbing, she liked purple. Somehow I think these are important insights into her character. Graceful and independent like the Tiger, going her own way, the risk of rock-climbing, the sense of danger for someone who was easily bored – Purple, an unusual choice and a striking colour; like the 3 year old tomboy Tracey was who shed her clothes, but always wore wellies, with blonde curly hair, who even then enjoyed climbing.
She also, pervesely, liked historical romances and star trek, and the music of Enigma, which was approppiate for she was an enigma – as I said a free spirit who attracted friends, but could madden her family – amusing, fun to be with – the best Toad of Toad Hall ever at Castor school.
She loved travelling, and that was right, as she was always searching, opening doors, but never quite finding what she was looking for.
And yet this unconventional person, had for the last 14 months found stability and enjoyment in a most conventional place. Working as a security officer for the Serpentine Green Centre, was work she loved. She loved the people, the place, her collegues from work. She even loved the uniform – a real poacher turned game-keeper.
At times it is so easy to feel that something has been wasted; so difficult to make sense of life. And where in all this is the Good Shepherd? – the King of Love.
First I believe that he both knows and cares – for Tracey, for Rebecca and Amy – for us all. He cares when even a sparrow falls to the ground, he said, how much more will he care for us his children. He knows us too well, even if we know him not, he knows us so well that even the hairs on our head are numbered. He may not stop the sparrow in its flight falling to the ground; he did not stop Tracey from dying, but He knows and cares.
We only have to look at the seasons, the movements of the planets, the sun rise and set and rise again to see that there is shape , pattern and purpose in our lives. As someone wrote – we lie too close to the carpet to see the pattern. But there is not only purpose and pattern, there is also love, not judgement, love and promise.
And the purpose is this, Rebecca and Amy’s mum was known by the Good Shepherd, and loved by him, as are we all.