Next Thursday I have to conduct a funeral for one of our folk, an older woman who died after a life of struggle but who had the most stunning smile and a faith that held out to the end despite agonising pain. Among her requests are for everyone to wear something red (her favourite colour) which has presented me with some interesting dilemmas. I also love red and have in my wardrobe a red suit for high days and holy days - but I sensed it would not go down well if I wore it to conduct the funeral. Sounding out a couple of folk who will tell me straight they said, in their inimitable fashion, 'no mi duck that woon't be roit.' The other red clothes I possess include a fleece, a couple of teeshirts, various tops, some socks and gloves - none of which would work with the expected black suit and clerical shirt. I discounted my santa hats, my red Christmas hair ornaments and even the red beads which just wouldn't work with a clerical shirt, concluding I'd have to look for a cheap brooch somewhere or other.
I had mentioned to one of people I'd sounded out that what I really could do with was a red stole (or a 'vicar scarf' as I called it). Tonight she came to 'thing in a pub' bearing a plastic carrier bag which she presented me with. Inside was a very long, plain red scarf with incredibly long tassels - a perfect stole substitute, which she had spotted marked down to £1 in Primark. She also offered me a tiny, red, heart-shaped pin badge (British Heart Foundation) whilst someone else said she had a brooch I could borrow. In the end, whilst the men looked on in bewilderment, we decided that the scarf was 'the very indentical' and will be perfectly appropriate for a minister conducting a funeral.
For this moment I find myself thinking, who could wish for a more wonderful little flock?