A few weeks ago I visited a delightful country church set across a meadow away from the road.
I parked my car at the same time as an elderly gentleman was unloading some tools from the boot of his. We passed the time of day and I followed him through the lych-gate and into the church, where he deposited his tools in the vestry and then came back to talk to me.
He was such an interesting man to converse with and so knowledgeable about the history of this particular church. He accompanied me around the church and pointed out every detail of particular interest… It was during this two hour personal tour that I realised the man was in fact the incumbent and had been the Rector here for almost fifty years.
Here was a man who could actually give me the answer to a question which had bugged me for years…. I asked him why some graves face West and others face East… He said that it used to be the norm for lay people to lie facing the East and the clergy to lie facing West. The thought being that the clergy would still be facing their congregation.
I don’t know if nowadays this is still thought relevant when a burial takes place
He was an amusing man and made me laugh when he said he expected his late wife to be waiting for him with rolling pin in hand when he went to join her, as he didn’t think she would want him to lie top to tail with her in their double grave.
I admit I felt guilty and apologised for taking him away from his duties, but he said he’d thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and that his ‘jack-of-all-trades’ work could wait until another day… Although now well into his eighties he still does as much of the handy-man work in the church as he can himself – hence the bag of tools he took into the vestry.
A wonderful man whose kindness is an example to us all. I hope he keeps hale and hearty for many more years, as he’s definitely someone who will be sorely missed by his parishioners.