An emotional day

I found being confirmed surprisingly emotional. 

I am not sure why I find myself surprised to have been so uncharacteristically emotional on the day - but I was.  Obviously being confirmed is something fundamental, which I take very seriously.  So perhaps I should have anticipated it.

The only thing that I can equate the experience with is my wedding day.  Despite planning and looking forward to getting married for months, from arriving at the church, I shook my way through our wedding service – happy - but speechless!  Both were immensely special and memorable services.

On Sunday 4th August, our new Bishop, Libby Lane came to our Benefice, to Eyam Church to conduct the confirmation service.  We held a joint service for Baslow, Eyam and Foollow at Eyam Church

Four of us were being confirmed; Trevor, Pam and Issy from Eyam Church, and myself from Baslow.  Thankfully, Mike held a rehearsal on the Friday night to enable everyone to meet and go through the service stage by stage, which I really appreciated and enjoyed.  But on the day, Bishop Libby assured everyone we didn’t need to give it a thought and that it was her job to deal with all practicalities; to steer us through the service and guide us as to what we needed to do and when.  For me, that was just as well!

I was doubly blessed to have our church choir with us – in fact if they hadn’t been there and we hadn’t had the responsibility of singing, I don’t think I could have stayed focused and kept myself together.  Another reminiscence of my wedding day – I had written harmonies for a couple of the hymns and was determined to sing.  That alone stopped me shaking (I remember our first hymn was ‘All People of the Earth do Dwell’ which is enough to give anyone calm and strength)!

There were many lovely elements to the service.  In her sermon, Bishop Libby spoke about her recent experiences in India, which, writing this I wonder if she might share for a future Parish Magazine in more depth?  She had the honour of staying with a family in Kerala, India, where there are no fridges and facilities are primitive.  Asked if they would like fridges, if perhaps they could be given them, they simply couldn’t see the point.  Why would they need to ‘hoard’ food from one day to the next, when they prefer preparing the days’ food afresh and are blessed in having complete trust in their community to support them when they might not have food of their own?  Not only do they trust in the generosity of their neighbours, they value this as their preferred way of life.  Bishop Libby’s sermon drew on Biblical parallels, but left me wanting to hear more about what she learned in Kerala!

We moved to the font to make the sign of the cross on our foreheads, after which Bishop Libby made her way around the church showering everyone with Holy water, flicking it from stems of lavender bound together which she dipped into the font water.  The perfume was beautiful and lavender will be forever evocative of my confirmation. 

Finally, each confirmation candidate went up to Bishop Libby to be anointed with Holy Oil.  She made the sign of the cross firmly on my forehead and placed her hands on my head whilst she said a silent prayer.  It was a wonderful and loving moment.  I felt so much, but equally was afraid to feel too much in case I couldn’t hold it together.  What was so lovely, at the end, was that Bishop Libby offered me her hand to help me up. 

Our third hymn was ‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’ – chosen by our Rector Mike.   This was the final hymn on John and my Wedding Day and I had written my own descant (long forgotten).  In the midst of everything, Jennie Smith kindly wrote a descant for me that worked perfectly with the organ setting, so we were able to sing this too.

At the end of the service, Jennie opened up the beautiful organ in Eyam Church with Nun danket alle Gott – Now Thank we all our God by Sigfrid Karg-Elerg – as we progressed out of the church.  The joy in that organ voluntary played so brilliantly is breath taking!

The four of us had photographs taken with Bishop Libby at the doorway of Eyam church, holding the lit candles we had been given to treasure. 

I am only annoyed with myself that emotion prevented me from talking much at all with Bishop Libby.  She seemed to me the most amazing lady – clever, warm and sensitive.  I wish her every happiness on her new role with us in the Derby Diocese and hope she will be with us for many, many years!

On a separate note, I am very glad I waited until now to become confirmed.  I’m sure many young people are ready to be confirmed at an early point in their lives, but this (much older age!) definitely felt right for me. 

Thank you to everyone who sent me such lovely cards and gave me their support – especially Rector Mike and Bishop Libby.

Claire De la Haye

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