In loving memory of Paul Vernon Stuart who died aged 45 years on 4th January, 2002

The closing prayer will be read by Thomas Stuart (nephew).

With confidence that you are at Peace, and

He led an amazing life, and his cultural and spiritual awareness far surpassed my own. He was a student, as in every other circle, of religion, and far more likely to have the answers. All the same, I can't help feeling that he had something fundamentally wrong in his beliefs that I can't quite hold down.

I believe that he sought God; whether or not he found whom he sought is beyond my faith.

In honour of your life amongst us

I'm talking to a man I barely knew, with whom I was often angry, or bitter for his long absences and distant manner when I was with him. Perhaps he was afraid of my potential homophobia, perhaps he just didn't want to talk. All the same, I can't help thinking back to the one time I ever saw him angry - with me as a child because I wanted to play Monopoly.

We give you thanks Paul (Ananda) for:

Bliss, your Indian name. Bliss, but I can't feel bliss as I read this. I know that afterwards, everyone will congratulate me on my reading, but I'm not doing this for plaudits. I'm doing this to show myself that I can feel. I'm not convinced.

Your love as a son, brother, companion and uncle

I can just see my grandmother gently weeping down there. Another uncle who couldn't come to terms with your condition is staring at your coffin, full of regret for missed oppurtunities. On the right, the one who wrote this is clutching his handkerchief like a lifeline. I am not moved.

Your faithful friendship

Another friend stands up to play a wooden flute for you. You never told me about this life of yours, but I must now celebrate it in your death rites.

Your caring heart

I look up again. Many identify with this. I have vague memories of your concern for me and my family, and am comfortable saying this.

Your generous face

As a child, I always looked upon your gifts of classic books as rather cheap, thoughtless even. Only now do I realise that they were the most valuable I ever received. I only wish you could see my appreciation for them now.

Your integrity of person

You never gave up, you always stood up for what you thought was right. Even to the end you stood up for yourself. You are the bravest of us all, and I thank you for that.

Your creative talent

On the wall hangs a mysterious picture of a fantastic castle, with a sentient ram creature looking down on it as an army pours into it. It holds the attention like a great orator, and I find it hard to look away.

Your adventurous spirit

You once took me to a Hindu temple and showed me a banquet. The flavours were so intense that I remember them still, like the musty smell in a grandparent's house or a first kiss. If it weren't for you, I would never have used a bidet.

Your healing hands

Fortunately, I never needed treatment from you, but your work in your ashram has left me fascinated and convinced by the concept that massaging one part of the body might help another.

Your warm embrace

How could I forget it? I only wish I could have felt it more often. Instead I will do the next best thing and try to pass on my own imitation, however inadequate.

In joy, may those who precede you in death greet you in new life

I remember reading correspondance between you and my late grandfather in Denmark. I only stole a few glances, but I grasped immediately that you were kindred spirits. May you meet in the next life and be my guardians in this dark world.

In celebration, may the angels of the dance accompany you along happy paths

You always did love music on this earth. May you discover a perfect kind of music, untainted by the air of this world, and may it fill your ears as you look back at us, making our ways toward you.

In Peace, may the great spirit of Divine Love

Our time together is drawing to a close. The music has begun, everyone is standing.

Embrace you

A man in black walks solemnly up the aisle. My legs are shaking - I never knew it would be this hard.

Hold you

The curtain begins to close. I feel my eye prick with a tear.

and Keep you as His own forever

Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.


So you can feel, after all.