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.