FUNERAL ADDRESS FOR DIANA GOODWIN
TUESDAY 24 JULY 2018
I recently went on a day pilgrimage to Walsingham in Norfolk, a place which was a major pilgrimage centre from the 11th to the 16th century, and then from the 1920s once more. It is a place dedicated to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, and to all the saints, and is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. The Shrine, referred to as the Holy House, is intended to be a replica of the home of Jesus in Nazareth, and to remind us of the preciousness of every individual person, loved and called by God. Diana had already died and was very much on my mind, and as I read those words in the little brochure I immediately associated them with her.
Loved and called by God : as the Matthew Beatitudes were being read out just now, I wonder what passed through your minds ? For me they encapsulate the exceptional person we have had the honour and privilege of living and working with in this place, and by place I don’t just mean this church community, great though her service to it was: as Churchwarden, Parish representative for choosing a future Vicar, parish giving secretary, church fair in charge of the raffle and the famous cake stall, and in many other less public ways. In all her dealings with other people Diana was indeed compassionate, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker: all these epithets apply to her. In her private life Diana had cause to mourn the loss of several close family members, her mother, her older sister, and her husband Geoffrey after only ten years of marriage. But she was not poor in spirit, in my view, although her private nature may have led some to that conclusion; she did hunger and thirst for righteousness, that is to say for a right and fuller relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, in her participation in Lent groups, house groups and quiet days. I believe Diana knew that she was loved by God, and that underpinned her life and showed itself in her behaviour.
In the Christian life we are all called to be saints: that means that as we make our way through life we are to use all the skills and talents which God has given us for the benefit not only of ourselves but also of wider society. Blessed with a sharp intelligence and excellent people management skills, Diana excelled in her work as a Speech and Language Therapist, advancing in due course to be an NHS service manager.
She was also devoted to the cause of the Rotary Club, and frequently gave hospitality to Rotary visitors from other parts of the country and the world; she had a great sense of duty, including particularly to her family and godchildren. Diana was very attentive to the needs of others, as many here today can testify; she was an excellent cook; she had a very lively sense of humour; all these gifts she brought to bear in her dealings with others. Last but by no means least Diana showed great dignity and courage in the adversity of her final illness – an example to the rest of us.
Many people who knew Diana will feel that her life has been cut short by her death at such a relatively early age. We shall probably never know why some people die earlier or only after prolonged illness. I know a family who lost their daughter at an early adult stage of life. She had devoted the few years of her working life to care for children who had been cast aside from society through circumstances of various kinds. After the natural process of grieving the family came to the conviction that their daughter had been chosen by God to go ahead and be with Him, in recognition of her selfless service to others. This I believe is why Diana has been chosen to go ahead of us, as a privilege, to be reunited with her mother, sister and husband in that place where all mourning is no more and great joy and love are the order of the day. May she rest in peace with God and rise in glory with Jesus Christ.