Some days you experience something that reminds you that there are more important things to worry about than our usual agenda. Today was one such day.
I had the huge honour of being asked to take part in the funeral of a man called Davie Findlayson. Who he? I hear you ask. Well that's really the point. I have known Davie for around 12 years. He was a member of what was my congregation, St Margaret's, in Restalrig.
He was 79 when he died on New Years Day, married for 51 years to Alice whom he adored, and she him. He had problems with his lungs most of his life and in the end was almost permanently on oxygen or a nebuliser.
yet even at his death was looking our for others and making folk laugh with his wry humour
Davie Findlayson died with his family round him and a smile on his face. If ever there was a definition of what it means to die with your boots on, it is how Davie died.
Davie Findlayson was a one off. A man who brought smiles to many faces but did not ignore the reality and at times the struggle of living. He was a deeply spiritual man who would have shrugged his shoulders if you had said that to his face and dismissed the description with a laugh. A man who played up the “grumpy old man image” but only for the laughs. He was a man who loved the church but had little time for the machinations of organised religion.
He was a participator, a doer, rather than a joiner or a leader yet he made a far bigger difference to other peoples lives than many with positions, titles or leadership status.
He was great with kids. If I say he could quickly get to their level that's not an insult but why he was good with kids.
A musician to his fingertips, always up for a session and able to produce the right tune at the right moment and also to create an embarrassing moment. I still remember the day I took my jacket off during a service and immediately heard the sounds of the Stripper being played by a straight-faced and an ever so innocent Davie on the box!
He was never precious or precocious about his musical talent. He just wanted to play so others could have pleasure. In all his years of performing gigs across Edinburgh and beyond, at innumerable nights with the country dancers and in his huge contribution to the music of the church, it was always the pleasure and the participation of others that matter rather than his own performance.
And at the heart of his life was laughter. Ever Sunday he would greet me after the service with
"Good Morning your reverence, thanks for the use of the hall". He always had a joke but often too a question about what had been said in the service, never one that had an easy answer
Davie was one of the reasons why I loved being Minister at St Margaret’s and one of the reasons why after I stopped being the minister I wanted to continue to be part of this congregation. This gentle, generous, God filled man of music and laughter who gave some much and yet dismissed his own significance.
I know that I am the richer for having known him and I will miss him a great deal. I know that though I weep at his death, I smile at his memory and I hope that in heaven they are ready for the ceilidh that his arrival will surely mean.
Why have I told you this story about a man you never met. Well perhaps in the hope that you might get a wee hint of the great gift he was to those who did and because his death has reminded me once again that its not what you say but what you do that matters, that a smile breaks barriers like nothing else and that no matter how significant we might think politics is, life and its living is still much more important.
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