Ministerial training is a thankless task - whatever you elect to teach your students they will find things for which you had not prepared them. To be fair, I think we were told to expect the unexpected and some of the things I was sure they were daft to be teaching us have arisen several times over in the last six years (I suspect as normal church members we see things very differently from how the 'rev' does).
At the moment I am preparing long-distance for a funeral, something I've done a few times in the past when relatives have lived a long way from the deceased and it was necessary to do all the 'conversations' by phone or email. This time it is me who is 300 miles north and will be travelling back to Dibley for a service I knew was 'on the cards' before I left. An aggressive, terminal illness has run its course and now I have a promise to fulfil, one I am privileged to fulfil, but one that is more complex at a distance and following so soon after a sudden death in the same congregation.
In my more flippant moments, I have pondered the effect of the back-clad vicar boarding the 'red-eye' flight from Glasgow; in my more serious ones I wonder about flight delays or cancellations on the one day I cannot be late. Mainly I ponder the unique and privileged nature of this role, for which no one can prepare you, as you are permitted to share in the extremes of human experience in this way.
The person who has died wasn't a regular church-goer for various reasons but did confide in me his assurance that there was 'more than this.' He was a loving and much-loved person with a mischievous sense of fun that, evidently, continued to his final moments. It will be odd going back as a 'borrowed minister' to a 'borrowed church' when already my sense of 'home' is in Glasgow but it will be a real privilege to say farewell to someone whose life was lived well with love and laughter. God bless you LS RIP.