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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, July 27, 2002
    Comings and goings
    I wake on Saturdays with mixed feelings; itÕs a lighter day in the parish, a time to catch up with reading and writing. But itÕs also the day IÕm on call to the Royal Liverpool Hospital. And I know that when the pager goes my next hour will be a journey into the eye of a storm for a family about to lose a loved one. Administering the last rites is a deep privilege but a great trauma too. I deeply admire the hospital staff who in their own ways, ÔministerÕ to the dying and their families when (as often, sadly) chaplains arenÕt around.

    ItÕs hard to say goodbye, even in less extreme circumstances. A letter arrived yesterday from David Cross who is leaving his post as community linkworker for Church Action on Poverty (CAP) after nine years. David has been the catalyst for a great deal of positive work around the country, encouraging small and nervous groups of concerned people to find their voice and speak up about the realities of poverty in their home situation. He helped us set up a Merseyside group a few years back.

    Through DavidÕs great grassroots work CAP has spoken truth to power to great effect, epitomised for me in the deeply satisfying meeting I once witnessed between a friend from Everton, rendered ÔunemployableÕ through disability, and the Welfare Minister, in the latterÕs Westminster office. ItÕs typical of David that he should want to write to all he has worked with, thanking us for our contributions, and sharing with us some words from Ralph Waldo Emerson Òwhich have helped me keep things in perspective over the yearsÓ:

    To laugh often and much.
    To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children.
    To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends.
    To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others.
    To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition.
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.