Sunday, 13 October 2013

Only remembered for what we have done.

I feel a bit nervous about writing this post.  I can feel that difference in my heart beating, my breath – the sensation at the top of my arms that also comes when I drink strong coffee.  It’s because I am afraid you will think I am showing off – and I’m not meaning to.  Well, then, you’ll just have to see what you think.

My daughters – my clever, funny, beautiful, kind, capable, visionary dreamers of daughters – sometimes make me CDs of music compilations, and these are always treasure troves of delight.  Yesterday in our little blue car, as we trundled along through the winding lanes of Sussex, between the farmers’ fields and beneath the great trees, one of these music compilations was playing, and my girls here and there singing along.  The great thing about these CDs, of course, is that I know only some of the songs when I am given them, so they come with fresh insights and bring new shafts of unexpected perspective and beauty.

The song I carried away in my heart from our travels yesterday was this lyrical, evocative, haunting ballad from Coope Boyes & Simpson, Only Remembered (I’ll linkify the title in case you have trouble with the embedded one here).

In case you couldn’t catch all the words (by John Tams), here they are:

Fading away like the stars in the morning
Losing their light in the glorious sun
Thus would we pass from this earth and its toiling
Only remembered for what we have done

Only the truth that in life we have spoken
Only the seeds that in life we have sown
These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten
Only remembered for what we have done

Who'll sing the anthem and who'll tell the story
Will the line hold will it scatter and run
Shall we at last be united in glory
Only remembered for what we have done

As I listened to it, perhaps inevitably the question arose in my mind, have I done anything worth remembering?

As I see it, the harvest of my life, my offering to God, has been threefold: raising a family, writing books, preaching in church.

This autumn will see my fifteenth book published, and also is a season when I have been preaching in church again after several years’ silence.  

I am . . . not proud – grateful . . . that so many people have written to me or reviewed online, to say how much the books I have written meant to them.  Helped them, encouraged them, deepened their faith and showed them more of Jesus.  It’s what I hoped, of course.

This next week, I have a new book out – one I wrote over two years ago that I have struggled and struggled to get published, in the end self-publishing through my agent MacGregor Literary.

The picture at the top of this post is the cover art for that book (The Breath of Peace) just to give you a taster.  So breath-takingly beautiful, a picture that tells a story indeed, it was painted by my daughter Hebe Wilcock 

I’ll tell you more just as soon as it’s out on Amazon.

Then at the beginning of November my fifteenth book is out – The Wilderness Within You – a Lent book of conversations with Jesus – my conversations with Jesus, I mean, not just from the biblical record; stories.

And this morning in an hour or two I go to my church for the astonishing privilege of preaching the Gospel, opening the Scripture to help friends understand and see the Good News in our ordinary daily lives.

Only remembered for what we have done?  I expect I shall be remembered as that rude old woman who always left church early and wouldn’t support the quiz night.  Or as that difficult, tactless psycho who would never shut up in the theology group.   Or as the one who left the ministry – put her hand to the plough then didn’t so much look back as wander off to live in the woods.

But I hope that the legacy of my life will be the family I raised, the books I wrote and the sermons I preached; because they are the best of me.   I hope I was one of those who held the line.   And I hope when the end comes I will die with courage.


Ganeidaz Knot said...

How odd that you should finish with that particular phrase. For months I have been getting the phrase at the end of Ephesians 6 in prayer: And having done all to stand...

This self promotional stuff is necessary; difficult but necessary. Take it as an understood.

And I loved the song. ☺

Pen Wilcock said...

That song is quite wonderful. I love it too. xx

Anonymous said...

Their voices are wonderful.

I imagine if I died tomorrow that would be remembered by my friends and family but not missed by the world at large. I have done nothing that is amazing, unusual or special. I can make nice teddy bears and sew bits and pieces but nothing that someone else coundn't do. I have no children to carry on after me, no natural legacy to leave the world but I am me and the only me that there is and God created me for a purpose and Jesus died for me and with that I am content :-D

Anonymous said...

This one is lovely :-D

Deb D. said...

I am over the moon in anticipation of getting hold of your newest H&D book. I did an advance purchase of your Lent book and cannot wait to receive that, too.

How do we purchase the new H&D book? Will it be available in electronic format?

The song causes one to think. So much of what you share does. Thank you.

I hope your spirit soared as you shared the Truth in church. You have a gift of sharing truth in a piercing way (I mean that in a positive way!).

God bless you!

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello Deborah and Deb D!

Thanks for the song link, Deborah! "The only me that there is" - that says it absolutely*!

Deb D - The H&D book will be on Amazon (I'll put a link on my blog as soon as it goes live), and will be available as either a print book or an e-book.


Pilgrim said...

I honestly don't expect to be remembered very long, and that's ok with me. Better than being infamous or notorious. :-)

So glad to have your next book to look forward to.
(I am reading The Jesuit Guide to (Nearly) Everything, by James Martin, which will set the stage just in time.)

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Pilgrim! xx

Peter said...

Thank you for a really helpful sermon in church this morning - and I love the phrase 'dependent co-arising' ! Any chance of posting the sermon here ?

Fascinating blog discovered thro your amazon page. Not at all surprised by your post below on your influences - churches often seem embarassed by spirituality and quick to speak and slow to listen.

Interested too in what you said about TNH - I had a piece on Christian Mindfulness published a couple of years ago which might interest you.

Look forward to reading more of the blog.

Rebecca said...

What a haunting AND hopeful song! Makes me remember the motto that used to be more prominent years ago: "Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last"...

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi friends :0)

Peter, if you post another comment here with your email address, I won't publish it, but will send you the text of that sermon. Thank you for making yourself known at church - good to have you on board!

Rebecca - yes indeed! Reminds me of the words of Edward Everett Hale: "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do." x

Julie B. said...

I thought the song was touching too.

I don't like to give thought to how I'll be remembered, because I feel a deep inward groan about too many things I wish I could change... things I've said I wish I hadn't, things I should have done that I neglected. I am grateful for God's mercy when thoughts like this surface.

Years ago someone told me they thought I'd be remembered as a smart person. This was supposed to be a compliment but inside I was so grieved. I think if I could choose, I would want someone, anyone (!) to say after I'm gone, that I was kind, and that I loved Jesus. So thankful the Lord isn't finished with me yet. :)

If we never meet on this earth, I will remember you as someone who wrote books that made me marvel, praise God for His mercy and patience, books that moved me deeply and encouraged me greatly, and I will remember you as a dear someone who prayed for me. And as a mother with wonderful daughters. Huge things in my mind. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thanks, friend xx

Julie B. said...

And I forgot to say how gorgeous the book cover is!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, Pen. I am a long-time fan of the brothers of St Alcuin's and have commented on your blog before. This is to say that I have just ordered 'The Breath of Peace' from Amazon and 'The Wilderness within you' from Eden. I can't wait to get stuck into both. Your fiction has blessed me greatly, as did your powerful book 'The Road of Blessing' - what an eye-opener that was. As I am a Reader in the CoE, I also loved your splendid article on radical simplicity in the autumn edition of 'The Reader'.

I confess that I struggle not to envy women who both raised a family AND gifted the world with their writing. Yours is a rich and wonderful legacy on both counts. :)

- Philippa

P.S. The song is incredibly moving. It features in the play 'War Horse' (magnificent - see it if you never have. Spielberg's film was very good but the play is a marvel.)

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Philippa - thank you so very much for your encouragement, and for buying my books. I do hope they are a blessing to you when you read them. If you have time to leave a review on Amazon, I would be so grateful.

I have never seen War Horse - it looks interesting, but I believe it is sad too, and I am afraid of bad things happening to the horse - I've never had the courage to watch it! xx