“I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes,” Matthew 11:25.
We have already heard about Freda’s great love of the natural world and the beauty of poetry. As Jesus suggests in that reading from the Gospel of Matthew, the instinct to be available to something more, what you might call the transcendent, in the everyday moment is anything but conventional. Indeed, it is an openness to Christ himself, who we believe is constantly communicating the joy and gentleness of God’s grace to us – “rest for the weary soul, an easy yoke and light burden.”
Freda shared in that self-effacing indomitable spirit of her generation. Her character would have been tested in a crucible of social, political and economic upheaval, an age where history seemed to be turning in on itself. It seems to me that the life we celebrate today is one of resilience, good humour and quiet determination.
So, perhaps I should go further to say that Freda’s delight in the beauty of God’s creation began with a deep reverence for the beauty of human dignity. A passion for the common good, that “all who labour and are heavy laden” should have that dignity enhanced and protected. And let us do this with a smile.
I would say that this is more than simply the product of a warm, wise and outward facing temperament. It is faith - an instinct to the hopeful higher things in a manner that is well earthed. To quote Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore: “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
So today, above all things we give thanks for Freda’s participation in a reality much greater than that which meets the eye, the reality of the dawning of the world to come. It is into the loving embrace of God’s gentleness that we commit her soul today. To quote from Wordsworth’s Daffodils, a poem she recited to Catherine very boldly in her final years:
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.