“People thought he was the caretaker.” Sandy told me this of Mike as we were sat in his room at hospital a few days before he died.
It was something to do with his demeanour, maybe he didn’t always look like someone who was a head of department or year, yet he was and as a teacher there are I’m sure many who owe him a great deal as do we here at St. Mary’s.
I didn’t know him that well, sadly, but I did spend a little bit of time with him and soon realised what a charismatic man he was one of those people who drew people to him and enabled others to fulfil their potential.
Liz has spoken of some of the different strands in his life, working, at home and in his spare time. Mike has led a rich life.
The last few weeks have difficult for him, Sandy and the rest of his family particularly. A holiday in Greece was soon followed by the discovery of a brain tumour. It has seemed all the more difficult for us because Mike was such a fit man, he loved to run.
That’s why in part at least I chose our reading from Isaiah ‘they shall run and not be weary.’ Strange that for runners know what it is to be weary. Mind you as Liz has reminded us Mike had an ability to keep talking amidst weariness when for others words ran out.
The reading also holds the weariness of life alongside ‘the everlasting God’. In life we know something of this weariness and the experience of God’s presence with us.
We’re wearied because there are things we struggle to understand, the brittle harshness of life and the depth of sadness we know.
Being a priest means you come close to that sadness more often than others might and so this role often reminds day after day that life is fragile and precious and that we are to live as fully as we can and make the most of the opportunities that are before us.
Mike it seemed to me did just that, he made full use of the talent God gave him and in so doing has taught us much in all kinds of ways.
Yet alongside the weariness, there is also the experience of God’s presence, the everlasting God whose love was made real for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.