Peter de Lisle

Instruction by Design


Helen's Reflections

So many of us are gathered here today for the funeral of Michael - for you a friend, teacher, collague, priest - for me, my father.It is a great joy to see you all, and to feel your love and respect for Dad. We have been strengthened by you thoughts and prayers towards us - thank you.


Althought I have lived in Scotland for 30 years now, I have kept up a lively relationship with Mum and Dad, and we have remained close. The older I grow the more I appreciate the remarkable man that Dad was. I always admired him and wanted to do my best for him. One of my sons describes him as a polymath - whatever subject arose, he always had a depth of knowledge to offer!

He put us through some tough experiences, built perhaps on his own tough experines - the loss of his father aged 12, and his bitter War years. Throughout he maintained his integrity and will for the Good, seeking to broaden the minds of his pupils, and to bring confort to those searching, using his formidible, comprehensive and highly trained intellect to inform his service for others. I believe that his rigorous self-discipline has been a source of nourishment for those around him. His simple loves were a source of nourishment for him - the mountain, flowers and beautiful music.

His own inner life questions are, I think, eloquently expressed in his hundred or so sonnets. He would ponder and wrestle to find the words which both expressd his idea, and fitted into the strictures of the poetic form. He was able to see through to the core of things. To me his life showed a masterful interchange between form and content, spirit and matter.

There are so many things to savour from his time with us. As children he taught us to count in Italian. He made us eat fresh coconut, even though we said we didn't like it. He made our little legs walk further than they were able. He taught us rock-climbing, and Latin, and the Latin names of flowers, and read us the Just So Stories.In Art galleries he told us to look at one picture and to remember it. If we lit a fire we had to light it with one match. Even in this last week of his life he and I enjoyed a little rivalry over who was going to get the latest fiendish sudoku out first!

I loved his intense interest in and comprehension of language, history, geology, botany, art, finance, music, and his ability to se how things were inter-related. I loved to see him relaxed in the mountains, brewing a billy of cofee on a camp fire, and soaking up the beauty of nature. I loved it when he laughed, and his blue eyes twinkled.

It has been an immense priviledge to be with him and my mother in these last two weeks of his life - to share deep and sustaining moments together, and to witness the triumph of his radiant spirit over the increasing sickness in his body. He was ready - his work was done, and done outstandingly well.

In these last years, months and days he became patient and gentle. I have loved to see this.

I give thanks for the rich and vigorously filled life of the man who was my father.

© 2018 Peter de Lisle