|Fr Wilfrid McGreal|
"When John of the Cross was dying he asked the brethren to read The Song of Songs to
him, that powerful poem that celebrates love. The images are of the joy of human loving
and the writer is celebrating the goodness of committed love. Jesus’ command is to love one another; if we do that, then as friends to each other we can find we are close to God. Human unselfish love tells us something of how God is in love with us. That relationship is startling, and to come to it John of the Cross tells us that we have to let go of lesser Gods, or Gods we have imagined. This journey into the light of love is not easy, and it can often seem to be unchartered and dark.
I believe that in the last months of his life David discovered that he was loved and
loveable, and he was able to taste in the here and now something of the closeness to God
that is our calling. David was a gifted man. Before becoming a friar he had, after graduating and postgraduate studies, become an economist at the Bank of England. However, at university he felt drawn to priesthood and his chaplain discerned that religious life would be the way forward. David became a Carmelite, making his profession in 1977 at Aylesford.
As a friar he studied in Rome and Dublin, and also qualified as a teacher. For a number
of years David was involved at Whitefriars and then St. Edward’s School, Cheltenham,
eventually becoming school chaplain. He gained valuable pastoral experience in
During this time David ministered with great gentleness, but over the years and perhaps to a greater degree he could feel that what he was doing was beyond him, or he felt isolated. His unease surfaced during his time in Aberystwyth and would continue in the years ahead. David didn’t realize that people valued him for his gentleness, care and deep interest that he could show, perhaps because he felt needs he could sense where others were hurting.
In recent years David was able to serve the community at Aylesford and the Order at
large. He took on the daunting task of preparing the yearly Carmelite Bibliography. This
work was demanding, painstaking, but an invaluable tool for anyone involved in
Carmelite Studies. Then just a year ago the Prior General asked him to be the Order’s Archivist and David agreed. Sadly, as we know, no sooner had David come to Rome last year then illness struck. Along with the illness David experienced a profound change in his being.
He became conscious of how much his brethren cared for him, and he realized that he
was a worthwhile person. Thanks to Maidstone hospital, Trish our nurse, and the
Aylesford Community, David was able to have a good quality of life. Each day he saw
as a gift and so many experiences were to be savoured. His creative side, music
photography, all flourished along with a great sense of peace. He felt happiest in chapel,
at meals and in the community room. He felt ready to respond to whatever God’s love
and will had in store for him. He knew he was dying, but everyday was a day of his life.
The end came quickly, but he left this life praying with Brother Neil and Trish by his
David had found his God, and found he was loveable and was free to love. His
transformation began before he left us, but he has left a precious memory and a reminder
that our human loving is the gateway to the source of that love, Our Saviour."