Edmund had impeccable timing. He died, aged ninety, on the eve of Resurrection Day. When his widow, Joan, rang to tell me I said:  'Typical.'

I met him  about 1958 when, as a Church Army Captain, he ran a tin tabernacle church on a housing estate outside Bognor. He had an accident and became ill. Feeling near to death in a hospital bed, and that he had lost his faith, he cried out (as did Jesus when dying on the cross) 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' The nurse who tended him confided in him that she needed spiritual help and was feeling suicidal. Edmund led her to faith in Christ. Later he recovered his health - and his faith.  On another occasion a distraught mother informed him she was about to commit suicide. 'Oh, good', he said, absent mindedly, not thinking what he was saying. She thought this was so funny she couldn't stop laughing. Suicide went out of the window,

Edmund was like that. This was just as well for me. I was a miserable introvert, forced by family circumstances to move to a strange place and forego a place at university, and dithering as to whether I might or might not be called to ordination. When I raised this possibility with a local vicar, all he could say to me was: 'You'd have to wear a black suit for the rest of your life, you know'. Edmund did not say things like that. He was never PC. Things often went wrong. But usually God turned up next day. Like Easter Resurrection Day turning up the day after he died.  

I told Joan I will light a candle for him on Holy Island on Wednesday, when many will celebrate his life at Malmesbury Abbey. I also said to her: 'I think God has reserved a special department for Edmund in heaven. The plate on the door will say 'There was only one Edmund''.




Posted at 08:54am on 7th April 2012
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