Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Now is the time of tears...

It’s been a few days now, but I’m still gasping with shock at the tragic death of Bosco and Helen Peters’ daughter Catherine.

Fr. Bosco’s site is one of the Anglican web’s greatest treasures, and in January I had the privilege of meeting him and Helen while I was in Christchurch. What was supposed to be a quick cup of coffee ended up being the better part of a day spent sitting outside at the Arts Centre sharing our lives in the wonderful, heart-breaking, inspiring and utterly maddening journey that is faith. Together they are among the most inspiring and Christ-like people I’ve met: genuine and funny, filled with insight and the kind of honest love that makes me remember why I first became involved with this whole Christianity thing – because there really is a God who cares enough about people to dwell in our midst, shining both around us and through us in spite of whatever circumstances in which we might find ourselves.

All of which makes this all the more hard to comprehend. Why so vicious an evil should befall such great people as Helen, Bosco, and their son Jonathan, is beyond comprehension: like any theology graduate I’ve spent countless hours studying the strengths and weaknesses of endless theodicies, but none have ever seemed more than fatuous when considered in the light of a tragedy like this. In such times it’s only a touch that’s real, a kind word and the warmth that comes from being held by those sharing in our grief; those who also know what it is to live in a world clouded by sadness so dark that it seems the sun might never be seen again.

Which is why I’d like to send an expression of love and support to Bosco, Helen and Jonathan from all of us in the wonderful community orbiting around OCICBW… Ours may be a “virtual” church, but it’s no less real (and considerably more so) than many congregations I’ve had the misfortune to encounter, and on this terrible occasion we can as a community let Catherine’s family know we’re there with those whom she loved most.

The funeral looks like being next Monday afternoon, which will be late Sunday night/early Monday morning for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. At the moment it doesn’t look as though I’ll be able to get on a flight so that I can attend myself, but members of my family in Christchurch will be delivering flowers on behalf of all of us in the OCICBW… gang. In addition I thought it would be nice if I could put together a book of all of our thoughts and support for Bosco, Helen, and Jonathan, letting them know in a physical way that we’re all thinking of them.

Please send what ever you’d like included in an email to me at making sure to put “Catherine Peters Memorial” in the subject field so that my irritatingly hyper-active spam filter doesn’t grab it. As many of you have probably already learned, my email server is very unreliable, so I’ll confirm your comments have arrived within 12 hours of your sending them: if you haven’t heard back from me by then please resend.

I’ll print them out on some nice paper, one comment to a page, and bind them, which will make a permanent record of our support for Catherine’s family: the weeks, months and years ahead are going to bring some very dark times, and this way our friends can have a reminder that we’re there for them long after the internet’s moved on. Please say as much or as little as you need to: just remember that I’ll need to have everything by Friday evening U.S. time at the latest in order to have it in Christchurch by Monday N.Z. time.

And please, remember Bosco, Helen and Jonathan in your prayers.

Rest in Peace dear Catherine, until we all find ourselves dancing in the Light which shall never be overcome.