Not so long ago, I attended a thanksgiving service for families and friends of people who had donated their bodies to a university. It was a beautiful and heart-warming service, tinged with sadness, but full of thanks and grace.
The service itself was not overly religious, but there was some lovely choral singing – some with a Christian leaning - and a bible reading from the book of Psalms.
Names of donors were read out as a Tibetan Singing Bowl tolled and candles were lit.
A PhD student from the university spoke words directed at the people whose generous act of donation had aided so much practical study of anatomy and further learning. Her words were extremely moving.
There were other speeches and readings delivered alongside a splendid Book of Remembrance which took pride of place and which held the names of all thirty-nine 2015 donors.
A few quiet tears were shed during the ceremony – even by me, as an interloper, being present only as spouse of a choir member.
A short inspiring address given by a retired Anglican Chaplain, mentioned what he referred to as ‘John Wesley’s Rule of Conduct’. Such good words – and I include them here:
‘Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.’
(from: Letters of John Wesley, ed. George Eayrs, p. 423.)
This list of ‘Rules’ seemed to epitomise the actions of the donors and their families in their generosity and unselfish charity.
It brought to mind the old Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola, which, although a prayer, suggests, in part, similar thoughts and actions:
‘….to give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward..’
Wouldn’t it be nice if many of John Wesley’s and St Ignatius Loyola’s words of advice were heeded by everyone throughout every day?