For the last few weeks our weekly market has been more colourful than usual, because of the stalls selling both artificial flowers and real pots of chrysanthemums and winter pansies . Winter pansies are called Pensées here in France, which can also, I think, be translated as “Thoughts” – which is very appropriate – because the reason these have been for sale is in preparation for today: Toussaint, All Saints Day.
Gradually the cemetary becomes more and more colourful as families arrive to lay flowers or to put plants on the graves of their loved ones. Usually by 11th November, most of these have blown over in the Autumn winds, so before the ceremony at the War Memorial my friend, her children and I spend 15 minutes or so replacing them! We’re usually early for the ceremony of remembrance, as we don’t go to the Church service before, so uprighting all the blown-over plants keeps the children well-occupied.
If you click on the photo to enlarge it you should be able to see the blobs of colour that are appearing.
I’ve blogged about this before here when I remembered my Father. But today, Mr D and I went up to the cemetary and laid a pebble each on the grave of our dear friend Paul. He died at the beginning of the year. Paul was a scientist, and in particular a physical scientist, with a love of nature and rocks. He was an incredibly generous man, with his possessions, his time, his heart, and he truly loved God. We rejoice that we knew him, but regret the time that we knew him was too short, and that so much of it was shadowed by the cancer that he bore so bravely and, although it sounds strange, almost joyfully. He never showed his fears to us – in fact, he once said to me “I’m not afraid of my death for myself. I’m only afraid of what it might do to Daniele” . A lovely, selfless man.
We didn’t want to lay flowers, or put a plant. For me, that is the family who does this – and, because Toussaint is really a Catholic “festival” and Paul was staunchly Eglise Reformée, I’m not sure the family would want this anyway – but both Mr D and I decided seperately that we wanted to place a pebble on his grave. It seems appropriate that a man who loved geology would like a stone. So we each picked one from my collection: mine was a biggish, orangey colour, about the size of a duck egg, with a hole which, I guess, another stone wore away over hundreds of years, while Mr D chose a small grey pebble, with stripes of white quartz. We walked up together, and stood for a few minutes remembering our dear friend…and then we went a shared a cup of tea with Gilles, another of our good friends here in St Just.
Thank you Lord for the love and friendship of friends and family, here and gone before. May we remember those who have left us with joy and gladness, and may we appreciate those who are our friends in the here and now. It is so easy to take them for granted. Help us to show our appreciation for all they have done for us, and all they give us.