You might think I am a week early, what with Palm Sunday not even happening yet….and certainly it isn’t Good Friday today. But I am that particularly blessed Rector, with one church, one village (town), one closed graveyard (except for additions to existing graves) and a cemetery owned and beautifully maintained by the Parish Council. And so this gorgeous sunny afternoon I interred some ashes – of a man whose life was long, full of love and zest.
The cemetery is a five minute walk at a stately pace from the Rectory – down the lane, over the road, past the pub, up the slope and there you are. There isn’t anywhere to robe, and so it was I found myself walking through the village wearing cassock, surplice and purple stole (much too warm for a cloak today) and carrying my service book. As people go, I wasn’t inconspicuous. And I decided that the pace needed to be reasonably stately, because rushing about wearing that lot (a) looks daft; and (b) would have made me even warmer.
I tend to speak to people whenever I am on foot, but somehow, wearing robes which ought to have been a barrier, I ended up speaking to even more people than usual. My darling daughter was doubled up with laughter as I left, but as she said “at least they’ll definitely know they’ve got a vicar!” I certainly won’t be adopting full clericals as a matter of course, I’ll stick with my collar thank you, but I’ll walk with a little more confidence next time. Because being visible, being approachable, being part of the community, all matter. Every person who is greeted with a smile, a word, and who then chats, may just find the church a bit less scary when they need it, wherever they are. Even if it is wearing robes.