Lay Person in Charge
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On Friday 10th May a good number of the congregation gathered at the rear of the Chapel to tackle the long awaited re-planting of the memorial garden.
This is something that has been much in our thoughts over the last couple of years, and despite the rain and very little sunshine, we were in good spirits as we set about clearing and then re-planting this precious and sacred place.
Whilst undertaking this task, there were many conversations about the names of people who are on the memorial stone, past members of the Chapel and past Trustees, as well as some reflection that some of those present on the day, would also like their ashes scattered in this garden. A sobering thought, but also an important one as we reflected on how peaceful and beautiful this place is, and how good it is to know where our ashes would be scattered.
These conversations have got my mind thinking, and I know from other conversations with family and friends, that it is good to know, and can give people peace of mind, to know where their final resting place will be.
Some years ago whilst working at Unitarian College in Manchester, the ministry students produced a booklet about 'Sacred Places, Sacred Spaces' and I want to share with you the piece written by Rev David Shaw, past minister of Old Chapel, about Old Chapel's graveyard. The piece is entitled Sacred Stones.
Years ago, before it came to be within the boundary of a chapel it was just part of a farmer's field. Now it has received within its earth those who held such love for this place and, with their passing, their loved ones fulfilled their wishes.
Together, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters rest together. Stones mark their passing and the passing of time. Amid the lichen, names guard empty spaces, for lives moved on. New inscriptions join weathered names to show that loved ones have been reunited.
It is a place for the living as names and dates are read on many occasions, rekindling memories. It is a place visited by the curious, the ponderous and the pilgrim. It is visited by hedgehogs, birds and the tender and routine care of helpful green fingers.
It is visited by the cycle of the seasons. Christmas wreaths battle through to the spring and grieving hands bring flowers that say more than words. Nature brings its annual display from the perennials and the towering trees.
It is visited by minds far away but all hearts know that this place is sacred because we have made it so.
We have made this piece of land special because we trust to its keeping the care for those we loved.
May it always be so!