30 June 1948 to 11 May 2021
This page includes a video of the funeral held at Emmanuel on 21 May 2021 and the tribute given at the service.
Given by Mandy Mullins
“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord”. What moving words. The writer of this psalm was unable to be in the tabernacle, where Jews worshipped, more than a couple of times a year. Hence the level of anticipation was extremely high. Traditionally this psalm was sung during the journey to the tabernacle from wherever worshippers lived.
This psalm was a favourite of Chris’s during her school days. Clearly even then she had a deep enthusiasm for being in God’s presence. Her chosen spiritual home in Didsbury was this church, Emmanuel, and she still had that sense of anticipation whenever she came here. You could see the sparkle in her eyes and the genuine hunger for God’s word in her face. She was never just going through the motions. If she was here, she was fully here and drank in what was being said.
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God…” The psalmist here shows humility and a longing to serve God, however menial the task. Chris served all her life it seems to me. She certainly served this church. Together we helped serve at Youth Club. That’s when I got to know Chris well. I witnessed her love for all attendees and her natural manner with them. I saw that infectious sense of humour and her love of a game of table tennis, at which she was pretty lethal!
The Youth Club days were before she studied at Liverpool and headed off overseas to minister as a doctor to people in the Gambia. As we all probably know, her desire to go back a second time didn’t work out; but despite her illness, Chris carried on serving here. The Gambia’s loss was Emmanuel’s gain and, among other things, Chris volunteered with children’s groups at the 10.30 Emmanuel service. I picture her as I write this. Her elfin, eager little face in her elf green children’s worker T shirt, all ready to share her love of her Saviour with whichever children were lucky enough to be in her group on that day. I have no doubt she has left her mark on them all, as I know she has on every one of us here today. You could not know Chris and not have your life impacted and enhanced.
Latterly, Chris wasn’t well enough to attend church, and in any case there had been a period when none of us was able to, so worshipping from home became the norm. Being away from the building we are in now didn’t keep her away from her God for one moment. Clergy would serve her communion at home, friends would visit, Chris would read her Bible, and she’d talk about the day that finally came on the 11th of this month, always acknowledging that it would be at God’s time. She spoke to friends and family about her wishes for today. She knew what she wanted and who she wanted to be involved and , in her inimitable fashion, made things easier for those she left behind. Her first thoughts were always for others, not herself.
“Who passing through the valley of Baca… go from strength to strength.” There are various theories about the valley of Baca and exactly where it is. Whatever, most of Israel is arid and dry. Aridity and dryness are symbolic of thirst and suffering. Yet, there is also a connection with water; possibly pools that appeared like oases;but there is definitely an acknowledged connection with tears, with weeping and suffering. The promise that those who go through a time of suffering will subsequently go from strength to strength in God, is extremely pertinent to our beloved ,and God’s beloved ,Chris. The past four and a half years have been a rollercoaster, for Chris and all who have travelled the journey with her. There have been horrendous times, when the suffering was almost unbearable; there have been days full of joy and laughter. Sometimes Chris’s energy levels and zest for life were little short of miraculous. You would come upon her jogging around her garden, tending to the flowers, or picnicking in Fog Lane park. As time passed Chris’s spirit shone brighter and brighter and her love for God and others increased still more. She carried on with little, and big, kindnesses to others even when she knew her days were numbered. She went to a lot of trouble for people.
A particular tale she told me was so lovely, I’d like to share it. As a child, she had been given a doll to look after by a friend who had to leave the area suddenly, due to family problems. The little girl obviously thought her doll was in danger and gave it to her friend Chris to look after. Not that many months ago Chris decided to try and find that old friend and return the doll. In the event it transpired that her old friend had died ,but Chris being Chris, developed a relationship with the family and sent the doll for her friend’s descendants, along with a similar one of her own. She made the best of every single day and gave whatever she had inside her to whoever she saw or thought about that day.
Chris’s family were her delight. When Sarah, Ian and Ed were in the house recently her cup ran over. She loved to listen to them/you chatting downstairs from her bedroom upstairs. She delighted in the fact that THEY/YOU got to spend time with each other. Geographically, that’s not easy, but your love and devotion to your mum made it happen. It brought her much joy.
Chris would always have tales to tell about family following her visits to you all over the years. She’d regale friends with tales of her grandchildren’s latest exploits and achievements, the games they all played with her and the art and craft projects they did together with her. Getting to meet and spend time with Apollo, her most recent grandchild was so important to Chris. As she thanked God for this gift, so do we, that her wish was granted.
Family wasn’t an exclusive little club though. Family extended to friends too. Rachel was certainly an honorary daughter as Chris was an honorary mum. Chris’s world view was inclusive and she saw the best in people and encouraged others. She noticed things others might not. My husband, Denis, is a man of few words, but a very generous heart. Chris often commented that though he says little, it can be inordinately insightful. She LISTENED with her whole heart. It was a kind of running joke between us that she had a very soft spot for Denis and she would often say: ‘Oh, I do wish Denis had a brother!’ Chris would notice people others might not. She looked beneath the surface.
“Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young…” One evening Chris and I were sitting chatting, she in bed, me at her bedside, and we were looking out of a sun drenched window. It was beautifully peaceful and a truly glorious evening. Chris said how she loved watching birds outside the window and listening to all their different songs. Earlier there’d been a virtual gale and torrential rain, which we commented on. She told me that during the storm she had been concerned that little birds would be blown off their perches. They’d clung on and she’d been so relieved. Her love was intense.
Chris noticed every little detail. She paid attention to all that she did, all those she met, all those she loved, what she put in her body, any living creature or part of nature and her own impact on the environment. Things were generally of minor importance to her. Material things didn’t do it for her. She could appreciate them but she could happily give them away if the occasion demanded it. At one point some years ago she was whittling her jewellery collection down. She had three animal brooches with little sparkly stones embellishing them. She gave them all to me so each of my daughters could have one.
People, creatures, nature, relationships and harmony were what she sought, always with God at the centre. She was a true sister of Christ. One of my favourite writers and poets is Thomas Hardy. He wrote a poem about how he would like to be remembered for his love and respect for the natural world, the universe, and all in it. He hoped people would say: “He was a man who used to notice such things”. He hoped people would say: “He was one who had an eye for such mysteries.” I’d like to read two verses of “Afterwards” to you.
When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
‘He was a man who used to notice such things’?
I say “Chris was a woman who used to notice such things” and I loved her.
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more, ‘He was one who had an eye for such mysteries’?
I say “Chris definitely had an eye for such mysteries. She revelled in nature and valued it. She contemplated heaven and the afterlife”.
Now her God welcomes her. She can see his face. She can embrace the mystery. She can join the angels that her friend Christine sang of so beautifully. God has searched Chris and God has known Chris. He formed her inward parts and knit her together in her mother’s womb. She was and is wonderfully made. God formed her days and now he will lead her in the way everlasting.
Lovely Chris, rest in peace and rise in glory.