Hardwick Tomb

The 1577 Hardwick Tomb in Leeds Minister is a typical Elizabethan memorial to the prosperous dead. It shows Thomas and Anne Hardwick, a lawyer and his wife, kneeling in prayer along with their seven children. What a pious bunch they are, hands clasped, eyes averted, knees aching. Although the family inhabited a more religious age then our own, I suspect they are depicted how they wished to be remembered and not necessarily how they actually were. At today’s funerals, we enjoy being regaled with how humorous the deceased was, or how much he could drink, or what a great father he was. Again, the gap between projection and reality we tend to enlarge.

The Church of England’s 1980 Alternative Service Book quotes the 11th-century Leofric missal, containing a collect which goes:

Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may love you completely,

and rightly magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We might kid our friends and families while we breathe and our mourners when we croak, but God sees the real us. Thankfully, the shameful parts of our histories and characters Christ’s blood is able to cleanse, and that which is noble He will enlarge and magnify.