Friday, June 30, 2006

Sound and silence

That was an interesting comment from Ruth to yesterday's post. I can't help feeling it's quite an omission to leave students in training to find out how to conduct funerals during their curacies. Presumably that tends to perpetuate bad practice as well as good - and is that so for other aspects of the job?

As someone who is very aware of the power of words and music, I'd make a strong plea for anyone who is to fill this vital role to have some input from an expert, even if it means importing one every academic session. Both art forms are important for their very lack of specificity; the spaces between the words of poetry are where God can speak, and music is often the bridge over which God dances into our souls. If we try to pin down the work of the Spirit in the banality of prose, we are left wondering if there is anything there at all, and if we do this at a time when listeners are wide open to receive comfort and hope then we shine the bleak light of loss on the moment.

Of course, it may be that there are clergy who will never themselves be able to feel the electricity of silence, to whom music and poetry remain a mystery. But for their sakes, and certainly for ours, I sincerely hope not.


  1. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Oh Christine, we could dedicate a whole blog - and fill it every day - with things we were not taught at Tisec. Whenever we students raised it we were told Tisec is not a skills-based course. All of these 'skills' were to be covered in our curacies and I could fill another blog with curacies that have failed.

    However, we were allowed to experiment in worship. (But with no guidance or leadership - only criticism.) And you can spot a priest trained at Tisec by the amound of tealights, pebbles and silk scarves casually placed in liturgy.

    But somehow in the midst of all that awfulness I did learn the benefits of silence. And for an extrovert that is saying something! It is only in the silence that we hear God's still small voice. But it does make some folk very nervous!

  2. Anonymous10:35 AM

    Ruth is absolutely right -- and this seems to be true no matter when one trained at TIESEC over the past decade. I was a lucky one, with a good curacy. But most of our training comes either through our experience of good churches before and after selection, or through what we learned from each other. The tealights and scarves were an act of desparation, I think, after hours of swirly carpets and mismatched reds.

  3. Ah well - nae swirly carpets in your new charge, Kimberly!