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  • Rev. Caroline

Sparrows and woodpeckers

It’s 8.50 in the morning on Friday 8th May. I drive into the empty car park at Dundee Crematorium. It is warm and sunny so I am tempted out of the car. It is unusual to be here alone, and it is almost like being in a woodland (an unexpected spinoff of the coronavirus pandemic) for besides the wreaths and sprays set against individual names, there are flowering shrubs and trees in blossom, though I don’t spot any of the rabbits, moles or deer who apparently call this place home, according to a notice.

I have chosen Jesus’ saying about the sparrows to read in the service:

Jesus said, "Aren’t sparrows two a penny? Yet without your Father's leave not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So have no fear; you are worth more than any number of sparrows."

(Matthew 10:29-31)

I will be saying that sparrows are commonplace – we can probably all recognise them – but in spite of the trees and the quietness I cannot see or hear any. What I do hear, much to my surprise, is a woodpecker! I’m not mistaken – one of the staff confirm my suspicions. There it is again – loud and clear – there is no traffic to drown it out. And ordinarily there is a great deal of traffic noise, as I realised when the chapel was closed for upgrade and services were being held in a marquee in the car park which didn’t have any sound proofing.

It’s not 9.00 yet so I take a little wander into the grounds – in all the years I’ve conducted services, I have never done this before, I suppose because my attention is always on the family, and it wouldn’t do to hold up those arriving for the next service.

“They have found the freedom they fought for.”


This inscription is on a wooden seat. It’s a bit weathered, but still legible.


I look at the plaque below – how relevant for today, the 75th anniversary of VE Day.


And I think of a friend, a lovely old lady of strong faith, who told me that she sometimes prayed for the dead whose names she would read on headstones.

Aubrey did not live to see old age, or even middle age.


To Aubrey, who gave so much, we thank you.

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