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Scenes from Clerical Life (4) – Inverness

April 3, 2009

161054The same Bishop who was addressed by the actress in my last post appointed me Provost (Dean) of his Cathedral in Inverness in the north of Scotland. The Cathedral is a beautiful 19th century red stone building beside the river Ness, which flows out of Loch Ness, home of the famous Monster. I loved my time there and even began to learn Scottish Gaelic, still spoken by quite a lot of people in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Most Highlanders are called Mac something, but Inverness had the unique problem that all three of its undertakers were called Fraser. It was sometimes hard to figure out which of them was dealing with a funeral, but the locals had solved the problem by christening John Fraser “Coffin John”, David Fraser “Dave the Grave”, and William Fraser (who had wanted to build a crematorium), “Barbecue Bill”.

They were all good men and often just as pastoral (if not more so) than the clergy when dealing with newly-bereaved people. Undertaking is not a job I would like to do, but for many of those who work in this business, it can be a genuine Christian ministry. Maybe that’s true of any job, if it be done with kindness and concern for others.

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