A Man Of Many Parts

Today’s local paper reports on the funeral of Ivan Gilbert.

The article describes him as ‘a well respected  building company founder’, ‘dedicated charity worker’, ‘father of two and grandfather of four’, ‘passionate Norwich City supporter’. Those who paid their respects included representatives from St John Ambulance, Lowestoft Lions, Gisleham Parish council and Masonic members.

Ivan was a man of many parts

In his play ‘As You Like It’ Shakespeare famously wrote:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

He then went on to describe the ‘seven ages of man’, seven stages of life, seven parts that we play – infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth, middle-age, old-age, extreme old-age…

In my professional life I’ve worked with teachers who have played different parts. Two of the gentlest teachers I have worked with have been very competitive rugby players. One dedicated teacher spent his weekends travelling the country searching for rare orchids. To say nothing of those who went home to play a different part in their family life, becoming the cook, nappy-changer, story-reader, painter, or home technician.

I met children who played different parts. Tony, an ordinary child who didn’t stand out, was a national ballroom dancing champion. I saw Kirsty, who at school was sweet and gentle, shouting and swearing with the crowd at a football match. Lee who at school worked steadily and cheerfully went home to be his mother’s carer – cooking, washing, shopping, cleaning. Barry who couldn’t sit still in class, would sit beside his fishing rod for hours on end on summer evenings…

And in this time of Advent we often remember the words of Isaiah the prophet:

‘And his name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

Jesus, the man of many parts.

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