Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Epitaph (a poem)

22nd March - I've been working on these lines, and have decided to post a revised version:

When it is time to go
I shall hope to be remembered with smiles,
though I’d like there to be tears as well.
And I'd like to think there might be stories to tell
assisted by the raising of glasses
and maybe the odd eyebrow too.
When it is time to go
I'll hope to leave knowing
there’s a job well done, and a journey boldly made;
but maybe there might be a touch of frustration besides,
for I could have had a little more to try at,
might have found a mile or two further to walk; but anyway
I'll hope there may not be too much to regret.
I didn't get everything right, I know: I shall not hide from my faults.
The mistakes were all my own; I feel for every hurt I've caused.
But when it is time to go
I’d like to think they might be looked on kindly;
I hope I might be welcomed wherever it is I'm going -
with forgiveness and forbearance and maybe a little love.
For let this be known of me,
let this be believed, friends, when it is time to go:
I put my heart always into all I set myself to do,
always tried hard at love, and always hoped that in the end
I should have made more smiles than tears.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Psalm Sixteen

Another first draft of a poem . . .

On this grey morning
with the wind soft in my face
I am looking over the valley
from this path by a stream that chatters idly to itself
as it flows gently down under the stone slabs
of the old sheep bridge, sweet cold water splashing between
the new and hopeful greening of early spring.

You are down there somewhere,
I imagine,
doing something timely and important:
chairing a meeting, playing a violin,
hanging out the washing, waiting for a train.
I am for now outside the reach of time,
with nothing important to do,
and nowhere important to go;
but the wind blows soft in my face, and
standing where my eyes can scan the world,
just for this quiet moment
the lines have fallen for me in a goodly place.

For here I can feel it to be true:
that God is set at my right hand,
so that I can be glad, for safe held I shall not fall.
The quiet breeze and the soft grey clouds
seem alive with the Spirit, with the Creator’s presence;
the stream’s splashing motion sings
a constant litany of prayer and praise.
High on this hillside
each unspoken thought is laid open
to the mind of God;  and he hears,
for he is close by, he is close by.

Thou shalt show me the path of life;
in thy presence is the fullness of joy,
and in thy right hand
are pleasures for evermore . . .

. . . with the wind soft in my face.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Keeping the Fast

A talk prepared for this coming Sunday :-

I was cleaning my teeth the other night, and as I took the toothbrush out of my mouth and rinsed it to put away, I found myself suddenly thinking, “How on earth did my toothbrush get into such a state?”  There it was, all straggly and soft and with bristles sticking out in all directions.  As a means of cleaning my teeth it was no longer much good.

How on earth did my toothbrush get like that?  Gradually, is the answer.  Bit by bit and without me noticing, is the answer.  As with toothbrushes, so with so much else.  Things get tatty and run down and worn out without us noticing.

A friend of mine was complaining to me the other day that he was getting pins and needles and his hand was swelling up.  He was still complaining at work the following day and they sent him to casualty.  Turns out he’d broken his wrist, maybe a couple of weeks earlier taking a tumble on the ice as so many of us did.  He hadn’t realised and had just worked on. Quite often even fairly large problems and deficiencies go unnoticed because we’ve got other things to think about, too much else on our minds.

So here we are in Lent, and that’s what Lent is for.  We need times in our lives when we take a closer look at our selves, take a step back as it were in order to notice the things we otherwise don’t see.  What am I doing that I really shouldn’t be doing?  What have I stopped doing that I ought to still be doing?  What bits of my life, and especially what bits of my spiritual life, are getting saggy and worn out and really no longer quite fit for purpose?  And what am I going to do about it all?
In other words, let’s get back into shape, let’s get back into a disciplined way of living, let’s get back into touch with our spiritual heart, let’s get back in touch with God.

And of course, that last bit is the bit that’s most important.  Let’s get back in touch with God. Jesus directed the attention of his disciples toward those people, chiefly the Pharisees, who made a big deal out of fasting and praying. They anointed themselves liberally with ashes so that people wouldn’t be able to help but notice they were fasting.  They stood on the street corners to pray so that no-one would be able to ignore what they were doing.

Said Jesus - if you do what you do so that people will see you and applaud you, well, don’t be surprised if that’s the only reward you get.  That’s the one you were aiming for, after all.  The point of fasting is that it’s between you and God.  It isn’t what other people see, and what other people say, that matters.  This is between you and God.

A former colleague of mine who happens to be a Muslim used to take gentle but nonetheless serious issue with the way Christians do fasting, compared with the proper Muslim fast - as he saw it - of Ramadan.  During Ramadan, Muslims (as I’m sure you know) fast completely throughout the daylight hours, neither eating nor drinking, and they only break their fast when the sun sets.  Ann and I were in Istanbul one Ramadan, and we felt quite guilty really, every lunchtime, seeing as so many other people around us weren’t eating a thing.

So when my Muslim colleague used to tell me, “We Muslims fast properly, while even in Lent you Christians don’t really seem to fast at all” to be honest, I tended to find myself more or less agreeing with him.  I think I recall saying something about how sad it is that in this secular and materialistic age people here are no longer as serious about things like fasting as they used to be.  Mind you, that might all be changing now, with the news recently that the fasting diet is actually a very good and sensible way to keep your weight down, and maintain your body in good health.

Be that as it may, what I could have said to my Muslim colleague was that Christians aren’t supposed to make a big public thing about their fasting, not even in Lent.  If our fasting is saying ‘Look at me’ rather than ‘Look at God’ then somewhere we’re going a bit wrong.  Nonetheless, we should keep the Lenten fast as a fast, in some quiet but sincere way - because we really do need it.

We need it because we don’t notice as we should when we get slack about our praying or our Bible reading or our charitable giving or our care for one another.  And we need it because we don’t notice the ways in which other things, pleasures, possessions, ambitions, take too big a place in our lives, so that they become idols, little gods in their own right blocking our view of the one true God.  And we need it too because maybe at times our Christian fellowship together needs a little repair and refurbishment too.

But fasting isn’t about beating ourselves up just for the sake of it.  It doesn’t have to be a miserable time.  One prayer I sometimes use talks about the joy of the Lenten fast - and why not use that word?  Surely if we’re drawing closer to God then that should be a joyful thing!  Nor is it just about giving things up.  It’s also about taking things on.  If during Lent we give up a meal, and what we would have spent on that meal goes into our holiday fund for later in the year, that doesn’t seem very right.  If giving something up saves us money, then how we use that money is also part of our Lenten commitment.

There’s plenty about fasting in scripture.  Sometimes the people of Israel seems to have imagined that all they needed to do was to fast a bit and pray a bit, and all their woes would be reversed because God was bound to be back on their side now.  Prophets like Hosea told them in no uncertain terms just how wrong they were.  God isn’t bound to support you just because you press the right buttons, he told them.

In other words, it isn’t what you do with your hands or on your knees that matters, it’s what is happening in your heart.  Jesus knew that very well.  Do things in secret, he told his disciples, so that your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.  It doesn’t matter that no-one else sees what you’re about.

Solving my toothbrush problem wasn’t a problem.  They come in packs of two very often anyway, and the other half of my last pack was waiting for me, pristine and ready to brush, there at the back of the bathroom cabinet.  My friend with the broken wrist is off work for a couple of weeks, but by then he should have healed up OK, and he’ll be back in the thick of things.

I suppose the sort of things the Lenten fast is supposed to sort our might need a little more work.  If my biggest spiritual problem at the start of Lent is that I’m not praying as I should, then just giving up eating chocolate isn’t going to be the total solution.  If I don’t succeed I end up feeling miserable;  if I do succeed I may also be miserable, as life without chocolate isn’t much fun - but I may also be so full of pride that I’m tempted to boast about how well I’m doing.  And at the end of it all I’m probably still not praying.

So we do need to be purposeful about Lent;  sorted out and realistic.  What do I really need to do, for me to be stronger and more effective, better tuned in to the will of my Lord, better able to serve him and to praise him and proclaim him?  Giving things up will help, but only if I’m also taking things on.  And the right things, for me as I am.  Otherwise, it’s a bit as though I’m saying, “Oh, I see my toothbrush is getting a bit threadbare, I think I’ll buy myself a new hat.”

Now at this point you might be thinking, “Well, this is all very fine, but we’re already two Sundays into Lent, why is he saying all this now?”  Well, your Lent might be all sorted out, but it might not be.  Or you might even have given up.

At Lent as at the New Year, we make resolutions full of fervour and good faith, and then we trip up and don’t keep to them, and so we give up and say, “Well, never mind, there’s always next year!”  Fasting is too important a principle to be thrown out just because you missed to keep it on one occasion. I personally think Christians should always fast, and I know a very holy couple - no, I’ll rephrase that, because it makes them sound like the sort of pious head in the clouds types that are no fun, and that’s not them - I know a very jolly but also very prayerful couple who fast every Friday throughout all the year, in honour of Good Friday but also because it just brings them back to God in a firm but gentle way, it’s a way in which they remind themselves each week just who comes in at number one in their lives.

But that was to digress.  Not giving up was what I wanted to talk about.  Purposeful fasting is about making progress through Lent, drawing closer to God, mastering our rebellious selves, bringing ourselves back into line.  It stands to reason that we won’t always manage it first time.  High jumpers at the sports get three goes at the bar, at whatever height it’s set.  We get as many goes as we need, so long as we keep on trying, and with good faith.  We’re not disqualified, just because on this time or that one we didn’t manage to clear the bar.

I seem to be mixing my images rather today.  If you come away from this sermon with a mental image of a chap with a broken wrist trying to clean his teeth as he clears the high jump bar in an athletics contest then (a) hopefully it will at least raise a smile, and smiling is allowed, even in Lent, among God’s people;  and (b) well, sometimes it does seem as difficult as that to get it all right and to be good and faithful disciples . . . but Jesus never did say it would be easy, just that he would be there always with us, and that in the end it would be worth it.  Happy Lent!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

What is it with staplers - or is it just me?

I self-publish my poems, printing up books whenever I have a reading, in the hope that some might sell - so last night I was busy printing and folding, as I was talking to a group a few miles from here.  A little while after we moved here two years ago I decided to invest in a new long-arm stapler, as my old one - the latest in a small succession of such things - was just not behaving.  Anyway, for a while all was well.

But not now.  This is I suppose the fourth or fifth long-arm stapler I've owned, and I've never bought cheaply, figuring that it would make good sense to invest in quality.  Quality?  My trouble is, none of them have really lasted the course.  This one was fine for about a year, but by last night it was skittishly refusing to properly inject the staples.  About every other one was crumpled and distorted, and not holding in place.  I want my books to look neat and professional, and so I make sure they are well laid out and printed . . . so you can imagine my frustration when it all gets spoiled because of one stupid stapler.

Yes, I am one of those people who get cross with inanimate objects.  I know it's silly, and I know we all find it so terribly amusing when we see John Cleese bashing his recalcitrant car with a stick in 'Fawlty Towers' - but no, I have to admit it:  after just one more distorted and useless staple messed up my handiwork last night, I became Basil Fawlty.  'The whole world is against me, and it's being channelled through you, you stupid b****y stapler.  Take that!  And that!  And that!'  It didn't do any good.  My stapler now hates me, and won't ever work for me again.  I had to give up making up poetry books (fortunately, I had finished enough to take to my reading).  In fact nothing moved forward in any way;  And if I felt briefly better for having vented my wrath, not even that  lasted for long.

Anyway, in the sober light of the next day, my question is, I suppose, is it just me?  I mean, are long-arm staplers just inherently flimsy and untrustworthy bits of tat, so that they always go wrong for everyone - or is it actually somehow my own fault?  No need to answer.  I'll buy another stapler, and see what I can do to treat this one with love and care.  And maybe, just maybe, it'll see me out.  One can but hope.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I was at work yesterday when my wife called in a state of panic from our new home.  Water was pouring through everywhere, and what could she do?  What could I do, I wondered, particularly as at the time she rang I had a newly bereaved family with me, who had come to view father in our chapel of rest.  Everything seemed to be falling down about our ears, all our plans and expectations in ruins, and we were helpless.

Well, we knew where the stop tap was, at least, not that that solved the problem instantly.  A friend who does some plumbing work was quickly mobilized and, bless him, dropped everything to rush over a help.  The central heating system was the problem - a combination of things, including, it would seem, the failure of safety equipment that should have directed excess water outside, rather than allowing it to fill the roof space. Damage has been done, though we think - and hope - not as much as we'd feared at first.

And we have to look at the positives.  That can be hard at first.  We'll not be covered by insurance, as they don't cover this sort of thing until the policy has been in operation for fourteen days.  Putting everything right will cost us three or four thousand pounds, not money we have readily lying around.  And we remain worried about things like electrical damage.

But I have to admit that it's better that it should have happened now, before we move in.  We'd expected to spend money on the central heating anyway, and at least this means that anything we get done will be "root and branch" rather than tinkering at the edges.  And getting it done will perhaps allow the house to feel more "ours" at the outset.

It's easy to be spooked into thinking about kismet, fate, to be tricked into a sense that this is a project doomed from the start by bad luck.  Such a way of thinking can become self-fulfilling;  but it shouldn't be.  I think I have a past history of just getting on with things when the going gets tough.  I do not intend to give in to anything, and certainly not to unfounded speculations about jinx or hoodoo.  Someone said (though I can't remember just who) that we're never given dreams without the means to make them come true - except that often the journey from dream to reality involves a lot of hard slog.

Saturday, 9 February 2013


The text of an address prepared for this Sunday, the last before Lent :-

Here’s a story you might have heard before, but I’m sure it’s worth re-telling, especially in a Presbyterian church. A bishop who was guest of honour at an event in one of the churches of his diocese found, somewhat to his consternation, that he was being followed around by a little girl as, sherry in hand, he made his tour of the room.  The little girl was the vicar’s six year old daughter - and every time the bishop looked round, there she was, staring at him.  Wherever he went, there she followed.  He just couldn't shake her off.  Finally, he could take no more:  "Why are you following me about, little girl?" he asked.  "I'm waiting to see you do your trick," she replied.  "What trick?" asked the bishop in consternation, not being much given to tricks.  "I’m waiting to see you do your trick with the glass," said the little girl.  "I don't do any tricks with glasses," replied the bishop sternly.  "Daddy says you do," replied the little girl serenely.  "Daddy says you can drink like a fish."

Really, my starting point for today is that people followed Jesus - and many of them followed him for reasons much the same as the reason why that little girl was following the bishop.  They wanted to see what tricks he was going to do - for he was, after all, the latest thing, and they wanted to be dazzled and amazed.  And I want to keep that image in mind as I think this morning about what it means for us as his Church and as individual Christian people to be followers of Jesus today. 

We’ve heard one version of the story of that remarkable event we call the Transfiguration - and we’ve seen how three of the disciples were so dazzled and amazed, up there on the mountain, that for a while none of them really knew much about where they were at all, or even whether they were waking or sleeping.
Not that they’d gone there with him expecting any of that. Not everyone was following Jesus just in the hope of seeing magic tricks and miracles. Peter, James, John and the others were following Jesus because he had called them. And, I suppose, because something about the things he said and the things he did burned in their hearts.

Here are four things I want briefly to say about following Jesus, looking at it from the point of view of, say, Simon Peter. First: If Jesus called people Simon Peter then he might call anyone.  He doesn’t call people of a certain grade, with established qualifications, with a certain measured quality of goodness.  Jesus called fishermen (and tax collectors, and all sorts), not scholars - or at least, not necessarily scholars.  He didn’t look for book-learning -  the one thing he requires is this:  that when he calls, we say yes.

So my second point follows on: all we need at the outset if we’re to follow Jesus is this - that we have an obedient faith.  Jesus said, "You are my friends, if you do what I command."  Doing what you’re told to do is the mark of a servant, but Jesus doesn’t leave us that way.  He says very clearly, "I call you servants no longer. You are my friends."

And that takes us to my third point: Following Jesus means learning from Jesus and growing like Jesus.  "Are you following me?" Those are words a teacher may say to her class, or a storyteller to the people listening.  And when Jesus asks us to follow him, he doesn't mean tag along behind me like so many of the crowds did, or like that little girl did to the bishop. He means come and learn from me, follow me as your guide in life; so that, as St Paul wrote, “we have the mind of Christ”. Let me complete that quote from St John - "I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father." To learn from a teacher is to grow like that teacher - the great Christian call and challenge is to imitate, to grow like, to grow close to, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The fourth thing I’d want to say is this. It’s a point made by one of the cast in a very moving and challenging play I went to watch at Marton Village Hall last week, performed by the wonderful Riding Lights Theatre Company.  Jesus doesn't say to anyone he calls that following him will be a safe thing to do.  Quite the opposite, in fact:  it won’t be safe, or easy.  It can be tough, and it will be costly. But what he does say is that it’s going to be worth it. For another thing he says to his disciples is:  "I am the way, the truth, and the life." 

The Church is a community of people who’ve heard Christ’s call and decided to follow. Its members are people who as friends of Jesus are pilgrim companions together. Jesus told the disciples that the world would know the truth of his word when it saw how his friends loved one another. He laid down his own life for love of his friends, and for love, even, of those who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. And his one great commandment is this: love one another, as I have loved you.

So the renewal of our Church in mission and outreach depends on our obedience to that great command. If we’re to grow and thrive and make new disciples, we need to be renewed in unity and fellowship and love. If we don’t notice, encourage, correct and support our fellow disciples, if we let ourselves be divided so that labels like Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or Catholic mean more to us than the one that says Jesus, then we fall short of he calls out from us, and we short-change our witness to the world of his love. 

I’m not sure what right I have to say any of these things. I wouldn’t claim to be a shining example of discipleship. Nor would I dare to speak from any platform of ministerial authority; I stand here with no authorization other than that of fellow pilgrim. I am amazed to hear Jesus call me, but he does, just as he calls you. All I can do is to try and follow. And why? Because in Jesus I see a great man, and a fine teacher, and an example of faith and service. But not only that; there is more.

And that takes me on to reflect on just what it was that happened on the Mountain of the Transfiguration, just what it was that Peter and James and John saw there. Transfiguration means fundamental change, and we’ve heard how in their eyes Jesus was changed, how his clothes, his face, became dazzling white. And yet I don’t believe Jesus changed at all.

My take on what happened on that mountain side is not that Jesus was changed, but that the eyes of his friends were opened, or maybe their hearts, and just for a moment they were able to see him as he always is - aflame with the glory of God, shining out with the purity of God.

For this man is so closely joined to God, the Son and the Father are so closely one, that all the radiance of divine glory shines out in that human face. It always does. It did in the stable at Bethlehem, it did as that man hung broken and dying on the cross. For the most part its shining was hidden and unseen; but the miracle on the hillside was not that Jesus suddenly shone so radiantly, but that they just for a moment were granted leave to see it, to see him as he always is.

For in this man we see all the radiant glory, all the loving power, all the creative authority of God.  So to say yes to his call and to follow him is to join ourselves in to that closeness to God.  When we are friends of Jesus we can call God ‘Our Father’ and we can pray to him in a new way, with no need for intermediaries or special ritual, for priests and temples, but just as ourselves, in perfect confidence and trust. We can discover the truth of the promise made in Isaiah that God is with us and will uphold us if we pass through fire or water. Follow me, says Jesus, join yourselves to me, so that I am the vine and you the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing, he tells us. But when we’re joined to him, when we follow him in faith, we too shall shine, as our lives and the life of our Church will bear the fruit of his love.

Friday, 8 February 2013


We picked up the keys to our new home today.  We still live in the old one, and we'll be here for a while yet I think.  But our new home is now accessible to us, and for a period we'll be a bit confused, I suppose, as to which one really counts as 'home'.  We've lived where we are for two years;  it's a bit small for us but otherwise it's lovely, in a slightly ramshackle sort of way, and I'm sorry to be moving, although I recognise we have to go.

We made lots of changes to our present place, before we moved in and during our first, say, six months here.  So, although it is of course indelibly stamped with the marks of its previous residents, it also very much feels like 'our place'.  It may take a while for the new place to feel so much ours, I don't know.  It's lovely and it suits us, we wouldn't be going there otherwise, but . . .

"Home is where the heart is," they say.  Well, spring is a time for hearts and flowers, and maybe that'll help us to settle.  The garden will be a project to get our teeth into (or more probably our forks and trowels!), and I think I'll enjoy seeing the woodland behind us leaf up.  So I'm sure it will all work - but just at the moment I do find myself wishing I felt a bit more excited than I do.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


I'd just like to pay a little tribute to the humble snowdrop.  I was out and about today, covering some ground as I travelled from mid-Wales through Shropshire and into Worcestershire (and back) - and in quite a few places my heart was gladdened by little clumps, and in one or two spots huge drifts, of snowdrops.  It was good to see them, especially on a day that featured a fair dusting of snow and some cold winds.  Spring may be a little way off yet, but we're reminded that it is coming.

Most of the snowdrops we see in the countryside have been deliberately planted, but they naturalise well.  Except in my garden, that is.  Since it's a flower I really love, it's always been a particular sadness that for me they seem not to grow as they should.  I plant them, they flower, they disappear, there's no sign of them next year.  Why should that be?  Other people think of them almost as weeds, they get so many!  But it's such a special flower that I am determined to keep on trying!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

February Baby

As a February baby - born, indeed, on the first day of the month - I've always tended to think rather proprietorially of this month.  It's a transition month, often - you begin to notice at last that the evenings are opening out a bit, and snowdrops and celandines, primroses, perhaps even a few early daffodils signal the spring days that are not too far around the corner.  The shortness of February was always a relief, too, particularly in the days when my income barely kept pace with our family expenditure.

February gets its name from the Latin Februa, the purification festival held on the fifteenth day of the month, as designated in the old lunar calendar. I presume that there is some connection between this pagan ritual and the Feast of the Purification (or Candlemas) which falls on February 2nd in the Church calendar and signals the end of the Christmas / Epiphany season.  It is possible there might also be a connection with fever (febris), and certainly this is a month when many of us find ourselves laid up with the flu!

A few years ago I prepared a talk about this month for one of our local ladies' clubs.  February is the month chosen to vary in length so as to correct the calendar, and I was able to discover and share some interesting facts about February's varying length - there have been, in various places, Februarys with anything from 24 to 32 days, as calendars were brought in line with each other. Normally, of course, the variation is between 28 and 29 days, and, as our oldest child was born on 29th February, this has directly impacted on us.  She had a decision to make, since her 'real' birthday only comes round every four years.  On the other three years, should she go for 28th February (and thus remain a February baby), or  opt for 1st March (which of course would be the full year on from her previous birthday)?  Wisely, she decided to go for both, reckoning that two substitute birthdays might atone for the lack of one real one.

This year, February started cold, then got a bit warmer - it's been quite mild here today - and, glancing ahead over the next few days, looks as though it's getting colder again.  There may even be a bit more snow.  But it's still light at tea time, the bulbs are growing in the garden, and I'm happy with whatever my little month sends my way.  Anyway, in three and a bit weeks' time, it'll be March!

Saturday, 2 February 2013


I've had a busy day today.  I popped in to the Saturday coffee morning held every week in our local church hall.  Each week is organised and staffed by a different charity - this week it was the local Welsh Society.  After that I had a chat and a coffee with some friends and fellow members of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, to discuss arrangements for this year's Poppy Appeal.

After lunch I did a quick litter pick along the roads and footpaths between our home and the middle of town, including the hospital car park which we walk through - something I try to do each week as one of the local "Litter Champions" organised by 'Keep Wales Tidy'.  Then I spent  a couple of hours in Sainsbury's supermarket collecting for the Marie Curie Nurses, who do such a fantastic job in caring for cancer patients and their families.

In the evening I was part of the choir singing at a concert to raise funds for Hope House, our local children's hospice, and also for a local lunch club / day centre for the elderly.  It was a very well attended concert, with all those performing giving their services free, and it will have raised something in the thousands of pounds, I very much hope.

It's unusual for me to do so many different things with a charitable focus all on the same day, and I list them now not to draw attention to myself in any way (after all, in the main I was only playing a bit part in proceedings!), but to highlight how absolutely essential all those masses of people who volunteer are to our society and to each local community - including all those with whom I was in contact today.  So much caring work is done by volunteers.  So much vital fund-raising is done by volunteers.  And those who go week by week to events like our coffee morning also play their part.  Many of the people I met and chatted to today are, I know, involved in not just one but many different bits of charitable work (if you want something done, find a busy person, they say).  Probably, most people don't know just how much volunteering these generally unsung heroes do.  Well, I am happy to sing their praises here, and to hope that others will join them and make sure their work continues and grows.