22nd July was Summer Conference week - good fellowship amongst God's people, many of whom knew Padi and had prayed for us for years.
29th July was the week of the funeral. Donations to the two charities went well. The basket collection at the funeral raised about £175 for the WVHigham Trust and CLIC Sargent have just topped £1000. Shortly after that, the three travelled up by train to join the Associated Presbyterian Churches' Inverness summer camp. That left Ally and myself a week of reflection and renewed companionship. Ally made her first ever ascent of Pen-y-Fan.
With just doggies for company, we were happy to see the children back although Moli wasnt home for long. She attended RYLA in the Brecon Beacons, getting very wet and experienced at canoeing. That gave parents and smalls time together.
On the Friday, after the closing BBQ and speeches, we made a sharp getaway to begin our journey to the Loire. A few kind people had given money insisting we go away together and France was the obvious choice. So the family enjoyed time together relaxing in the pool or around the table playing games and eating tasty treats (photos from this trip can be seen following this link). That was GCSE results week - the school email revealed that Moli had really excellent results with A* in the three sciences, English and Maths.
Hardly touching the ground, last week was Christian Worship Camp in Chepstow where Ally was cooking. After some time on my own in the house, I went up to help with the last night BBQ. A new award was initiated in memory of Padi who attended the camp against all odds last year. You can view a video of this on the CWC Facebook page. The award will remind all campers in years to come that life is brief and uncertain, but also that, as excellent as CW Camp is, nothing can match Padi's recently aquired mansion in glory and endless delight. Meanwhile, we occasionally get 'ambushed by grief'.
This week sees Boaz start high school and Asher begin Year 9 (and a new rugby season!). Moli's now enrolled with her 6th Form College (St David's). I start back to work on Thursday for a phased return. Ally is about to begin heading up the Sunday School. There is everything to live for while we still have it.
We have had so many supportive messages and practical help over the years that seemed to reach a particularly high plateau recently. For example, yesterday I found this hymn in my pocket:
Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above
Come, let us join our friends above, who have obtained the prize,
And on the eagle wings of love to joys celestial rise.
Let saints on earth unite to sing with those to glory gone,
For all the servants of our King in earth and Heaven are one.
One family we dwell in Him, one church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream, the narrow stream of death;
One army of the living God, to His command we bow;
Part of His host have crossed the flood, and part are crossing now.
Ten thousand to their endless home this solemn moment fly,
And we are to the margin come, and we expect to die.
His militant embodied host, with wishful looks we stand,
And long to see that happy coast, and reach the heavenly land.
Our old companions in distress we haste again to see,
And eager long for our release, and full felicity:
Even now by faith we join our hands with those that went before;
And greet the blood besprinkled bands on the eternal shore.
Our spirits too shall quickly join, like theirs with glory crowned,And yet... and although everyone feels the loss of Padi, it's almost impossible for anyone to hit the right sympathetic note. And that is also right, because words cannot carry the meaning of absolutely everything.
And shout to see our Captain’s sign, to hear His trumpet sound.
O that we now might grasp our Guide! O that the word were given!
Come, Lord of Hosts, the waves divide, and land us all in Heaven.