I am currently at a European Voluntary Service seminar in Weimar, so I won't be able to write anything much until I get home on Saturday. However I just received news of the death of John Cole, a member of the York Carmelite Spirituality Group (YCSG), someone I got to know very well during my student days.
He was always a very engaged and friendly man, who was well loved by all who got to know him. While in York I did a lot with the Carmelites and attended some of the various meetings they organised in the local area. John never failed to turn up despite being in his eighties; one person who often gave him lifts to the events once told me there was 'simply no stopping him!'. He spoke a lot about his experiences during his time in the army, as a twenty year old serving first in Western Europe and then in Palestine, a period of his life he recollected often.
When he heard I was working in Germany at a KZ-Gedenkstaette he was very supportive and told me of his presence at the liberation of KZ Bergen Belsen in North Rhine Westphalia. He could still remember the bodies, and whenever I discuss the liberation of KZ Dachau by the Americans, I think of John and the strength of such memories almost seventy years later.
I can honestly say I will miss him, and I am sure there are many members of the YCSG who will too. I don't know how to end this; I'm young enough and lucky enough not to have seen the deaths of many friends. I'll quote the email I got from YCSG:
"He was much loved by many of us, and will be missed. We now confide him to the loving arms of Jesus, the Lord to whom he gave his full allegiance."
John (left) after his first profession of promises as a member of the Third Order at Thicket Priory, November 2009, alongside two other group members.