The last time I directed you to the Hearth of Mopsus blog you were mostly pretty beastly about the writer, a clerk in holy orders who has the cure of souls in Swanvale Halt. Here’s what you said.
He’s actually a bit of a sweetie, and if you like reading clerics’ diaries (I do), then you might even want to follow him (as I do).
A year ago (I’ve been trawling his archive) he wrote this about funerals:
This week I’ve taken two big funerals at the crematorium, big enough to fill the chapel and some, attenders standing all round the sides and down the central aisle, and out into the narthex. The first was for a woman who died of an aggressive and nasty cancer in her forties, and naturally there was a lot of emotion. The second was for a man who was also only in his sixties, and carried a certain amount of intra-family tension; he was also a member of the ambulance service and so the local branch’s banner was carried ahead of the coffin and there was an honour guard of boys and girls in green Service overalls.
I was exhausted at the end of both these services. I feel increasingly that the priest acts as a spiritual lightning rod on these occasions, and that all the emotion present ends up channelled through you. The size of the funeral makes no difference: I’ve presided at big funerals where that sense of strain has not been present at all. Nor do tears, on their own, seem to be the deciding factor: some tearful funerals I’ve taken haven’t been charged in this way at all. There is something more subtle happening. It would be interesting to see whether humanist funeral celebrants have the same experience.
Do leave a comment either here or at the Hearth of Mopsus blog. I take humanists to include celebrants of all stripes.