On landing at Heathrow Priscilla was processed with barely a pause through the UK/EU channel, but I was queued as a non-UK arrival (I do prefer that nomenclature to the US “Alien” categorisation) for nearly an hour until an official took pity on me, hauled me out of the cattle-run, and took me straight to a counter for processing. I must have look older that my age (but probably not older than I felt at the time) as there were others my age or older inexplicably left in the line. We picked up our car easily enough and after setting up the phone and Google maps set off. Two mistakes saw us investigate previously unknown parts of London and Bedford (note though that Priscilla’s sister who often drives that route has made the identical error in London so don’t be too harsh on me) duly arrived at Felicity’s (Priscilla’s sister) near Bedford.
We had a good time with Felicity and Paul on Monday, catching up on personal news and finding out just what had happened with Priscilla’s mum. We had a visit from their energetic daughter Susie and her very cute and compliant three-month-old twins. Alex, one of their sons, also called in. Catching up with family, even in these circumstances, was good!
Tuesday we drove to Banham. Once again we made a couple of navigational errors, although it is much more interesting exploring unintended places in the daylight. On the other hand, any of you who know Cambridge will know that there is no way a journey from Bedford to Banham should have taken us along the Cambridge Backs (oh, but it was nice to be back in Cambridge with its familiar places). Generally, we make a fairly good navigational team, cross-checking each other and the unfolding route, but if both of us should miss a road-sign or both of us miss-hear Mrs Google at the same time life becomes more interesting for a period. Many of the fields around Banham were resplendent in rape in full bloom.
There we met up with Priscilla’s younger sister, Celia, her husband Iain and their daughter Caroline. Again it was great to meet up with family despite the sadness of Priscilla’s Mother’s death permeating every moment. They live just a few houses away from Mother’s house into which we now settled. It is a very familiar place and is much like a home away from home for us – but, again, inescapably missing the person who has made this the place it is to us.
I think again about Jesus’ words in John 14:1-4. Here in Banham is place we can come to because it is a familiar place, a place we are welcomed to and a place that till now has been home to someone we love deeply and who loves us likewise. Without her, everything else is right but it is not right! It is the person – not the things or the place – that made it special. So it is with the “place” Jesus has gone to prepare for us. Whatever Jesus does to prepare it for us so that we feel truly “at home” there, the most significant thing will be his presence. Hence he promises to come for us to take us there. What a place he has taken our Mother to be in with himself; what peace that brings to us even in sadness; and what a hope it reminds us of: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms … I am going there to prepare a place for you.”