Well we jumped ship in Leith in the end – having gone most of the way round the British Isles in a sort of bubble of unreality. Many of you will know that my mother died just as we set out – after a short illness which progressed very rapidly. Thank you to everyone for their prayers and kind messages.

Sheila was the last surviving grandparent for our children. She was a huge influence on all of us. Like many women of her generation, she carried an unfulfilled vocation to ordained ministry – I know that in some measure my vocation has been part of that. But she fulfilled that calling in other ways – not least in her work as an Educational Psychologist working to reduce illiteracy levels among children in some of the most troubled areas of Belfast. As everyone does on the death of a parent, one ponders and reassesses.

I was also sorry to see today news of the death of Rev Cecil Kerr. Cecil grew up as I did in Fermanagh – and he was taught by my father. After time as Church of Ireland Chaplain at Queens University, he took a great leap of faith and founded the Christian Renewal Centre in Rostrevor in the 1970’s. While I was never directly involved in the charismatic renewal movement, I went there often in the early years. In those grim times, it was one of the few places where one could catch glimpses of future possibilities as people from both sides of the religious and political divides came together to acknowledge that spiritual change and renewal was the only way forward. Cecil plunged into dementia soon after his retirement – may he now enter into the peace he sought to plant in the hearts of others.

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