I was at your place yesterday. It doesn't seem so long since the last time, when I came and spoke about how all cathedrals are, in the final analysis, transitional cathedrals. I was gutted to be rung by Michael Hughes the other day and learn that deans are too. Shocked. Shattered. Unbelieving. I know your health was bad, and I know we are all temporary but you were so full of everything that makes life worthwhile that your death just didn't seem right.
You would have loved yesterday. As Garrison Keillor once said “They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days.” You were there, of course; or at least your body was, and everything about the service spoke of you. I'd be really interested to know if you were conscious of all that. Perhaps one day we could talk? The music was great: your choice, I understand, and Bishop Victoria spoke of you so movingly. The script of what she said is recorded on the Taonga site, but like any script it conveys hardly any of the life and power and feeling imparted by she who spoke it. She let us in on the joke about the Golden tumours. One of your best! And of course you know about the lections for yesterday morning, which tells me that the Holy Spirit was in on the joke also. Victoria, like many good preachers, kept repeating a memorable catch phrase; in this case it was, "when did you last see Lynda?" and of course I thought about that all during the service and for a lot of the time afterward.
It was General Synod. We talked of books. Thank you again for introducing me to Huraki Murakami, whom I shall never read from now 'til Kingdom come without thinking of you. Ditto 1 Samuel chapter 6. I thought of how much more I could have shared with you, of the possible conversations we might have had and which I now bitterly regret not having. It was only in the last couple of days that I learned your age, and I was surprised to realise that I more easily fitted into your parents' generation that yours. Unconsciously I had always thought of you as a contemporary, and in conversation yesterday I learned that this was true of a lot of people - some my age and some twenty years your junior.
I guess one of the things I always sensed about you was that behind the humour and the accomplishments and the wit and the sheer good fun there was a great well of self doubt and pain. I think that this is one of the things that made you so compelling. You seemed to me to be a person who had lived the crucifixion with such depth that you knew beyond the shadow of doubt the reality of resurrection. You didn't so much preach the Gospel of the resurrected Christ as live it. You were one of the most genuinely modest and self effacing people I've ever met. Which is the real reason I hope that in some way you were conscious of yesterday.
The cathedral - YOUR cathedral - was full. Every chair was occupied and a couple of hundred stood at the back. Some of us had come quite a way to be there, because we could not be anywhere else on that particular Tuesday. We sang and prayed and listened and laughed, and mourned what we'd lost in you. But more, we mourned the loss of what you might have -would have - been. You were just the sort of leader our church needs right now. But it's not to be. You're gone.
As a lover of great literature you will understand how the ending always works back and defines all that went before it. So it is with people. Yesterday I saw your ending, which was the better part of a thousand people of every age and type, gathered together from across New Zealand and beyond because they loved, respected and admired you.
You did so well. You made such a difference. Thank you so very much.
With love, admiration and respect,