I CONDUCTED the funeral of a woman called Shona a few weeks ago.

I had known Shona for many years. She was a character, blessed with two great children and two grandchildren whom she adored.

She spent her last days in St Margaret of Scotland Hospice – an incredible place. My own mother had a brief stay there before she passed on New Years Day some 25 years ago but I will never forget the care Mum received – and indeed that I received, including a lecture from Sister Rita Dawson herself.

I was about to depart when she called me in, and I said: “Listen, you are so busy, I will just get away.”

In no uncertain terms she reminded me I had just lost my mother. Sister Rita was indeed the minister to the minister. I will never forget that.

When Shona was in the hospice, even on the very day before she passed, she was still looking for a “ pass out” to go to Clydebank.

When asked by the staff what her hobbies were - was it knitting, dancing or bingo? – she simply said: “Going out.” She was, as her family said, one of the world's great gallivanters!

St Margarets Hospice in Clydebank

St Margaret's Hospice in Clydebank

As I thought of Shona and her children Kevin and Jayne, I thought: there are a lot of good people around. It’s so easy to focus simply on the bad things that happen. They attract attention, but the good sometimes just passes you by.

For quite a number of years I was involved with the health board, and I marvelled at their use of acronyms. Some I knew – A&E, ICU, HDU – but others needed translated.

Well, I heard someone saying recently that, “we live in a VUCA world”. I thought, what is that? And yes, it’s an acronym. It’s used to describe how we are living right now – a time of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

After I looked up all of those big words in the dictionary I thought: yes, that is a fair description of the world today. We certainly do live in challenging times.

How do we react? It is tempting to give up, to be selfish and look out for number one, and forget about all else. And many do. But then I think about Shona, St Margaret’s, Sister Rita and so many more – and I keep going.

Anne Frank, in her diary, wrote: “I haven’t dropped my ideals because they seem absurd and impossible to carry out. I keep going because in spite of everything. I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Thank you Anne; I think that is true.