The Owl in Our Midst

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The Owl in our Midst
From Rev Antoinette’s address at the Funeral Service
for Rev Colin Read on March 18th 1999

Welcome to all of you who have come to pay your respects and give of yourself to a unique man, one of our founders and leaders, Rev Colin Sax Read. Especially we welcome Colin’s family: Wally, Margaret, Meryl, Stan, Suzanne, Bruce and Michelle.

Each one of us have our own experiences, memories and relationship with Colin, and I am certain that each one of these is different.

These days between his death and his funeral have been likened by one of our priests to the mystical interval, to that time when things become visible and known. Each one of us has come to know things about Colin in these days which we didn’t know with fullness before. These recognitions and realisations are important − for us, for our Centre, but also for Colin.

As he goes through the greatest transition, it is helpful for him to know what we now know. So please offer these thoughts, these recognitions to him, so that he may know truly and fully the gift of this life.

It is a time when that which is no longer required falls away, the unnecessary, the non-essential, the dross. What is left and what becomes visible to all of us is the essence, the essential.

We each have our stories to tell where Colin is concerned. But today we have asked just a few, those who knew him best, to speak.

Margaret and Michael have been his longest and closest friends in our Centre. He brought them to The Centre when he met them in New Zealand, and ever since, a period of 25 years, they have been firm, close friends. And so today, because Michael can’t be with us, even though he very much wants to be, because he is overseas, Margaret − a person who is normally very unpublic  will speak to us about the Colin that she knew and loved. Margaret ……… 

None of us have really known Colin as a family man and he in reality wasn’t. But he loved the members of his family. He followed what they did with great interest, was very proud of them, was delighted when he became an uncle and then a great-uncle. He advised and showed his loved in very practical ways. To speak on behalf of Colin’s family and I hope to tell us something of the boy who grew up in Collie, is Stan, Colin’s brother-in-law. Stan ………

And now the person who undoubtedly loved Colin unconditionally, was with him in life and in death, in sickness and in health, for better and worse − and I don’t mean to make that sound how it sounds, Julie, but it is true. Please speak to us of the Colin that you knew and loved. Julie ………

I also have known Colin for a long time. He came into my life when I was 7 years of age. He was there in my teenage years, my early twenties, my thirties. And in these last few days I realise just how much of him is in me and just how much of his values and what he strived for, I now take for granted. Just as it is an integral part of our Centre. His insistence on freedom, on not being labelled − I now take as my right and I see it as part of The Centre, and may it ever be.

When I phoned Christine to tell her that Colin had died, she sent me a fax. It was a picture, a cartoon − one that she had had framed for Colin. It was a picture of a bar and a barman and an owl. The owl is at the bar, wing leaning on the bar, an ashtray full of butts, and he is ordering a drink. The barman looks in disbelief at this owl and the owl says, “There’s an exception to every rule, and I’m it!”

That kind of sums up Colin to me. He refused to be one thing or another and just when you thought you knew what he was, he’d contradict you. He was fluid!

In our Centre he was the owl − the symbol of wisdom. The bird of the evening, the darkness, alert when all else is asleep. Colin has given to each of us of his wisdom in so many ways − in business, in practical terms, in relationships, in real estate, in spiritual life. And he was alert to what the rest of us were not.

When Mario died I felt that the symbol of the eagle, of zeal and determination, vision and high aspiration, became part of each of us. With Colin’s departure from the flesh, the owl now becomes part of us. Wisdom and care and alertness and the ability to see in the dark are now available to us.

A great soul has been in our midst, a soul who took on an incredible life purpose and plan. It fills me with awe that a soul can take on what he took on. Today we give thanks, we salute him, and we praise God for the gift of life which enables us all to grow and to give.

So shall it be.


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