“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.” (Robert Burns)

The Meenister’s Log

I’m sometimes invited to speak to a branch of the Church of Scotland’s Guild (formerly the Woman’s Guild) and it always seems to be in an out of the way place on a dark and dismal February evening.

Once I drove here, there and yonder in this particular village (which I’d never been to before) looking for the  Hall where the meeting was to be held (the actual church building had closed down a few years before, so this is where they met).

Eventually, found it in the proverbial nick of time, went in and found half a dozen elderly ladies still wearing their coats and scarves – the heating had broken down.

We got round to my half hour talk about chaplaincy and I gave it my all: there were accounts of amusing incidents, the old chestnuts of anecdotes, poignant and sad stories (so tragic that they would make you feel that the “Death of Little Nell” was a work of comedic genius*),but all the time never losing touch with this kind of ministry and the giving of spiritual care to those in need.

I don’t use notes, so it was a wee bit of a “performance”, though sincerely done, if not in a somewhat animated fashion.  After all, these few ladies had come out on a cold winter’s night to hear me, and deserved a little bit extra.

After the meeting, I was escorted to the door by the secretary who said  “Well, Mr Strachan, I wish I had your gift”

I was thinking “empathy, compassion, healing… a host of things”

“Aye, the gift of the gab!  Here’s a fiver for your expenses”

The primitive Celtic word for mouth was Gab, but the expression is more likely based on the Middle English Gabbe meaning “idle talk”. Gab however remains in modern use as the basis of Goblet and the slang Gob for mouth. Gab, for mouth, was known in 1811.

{* Oscar Wilde  on Dickens: ‘One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears…of laughter’.}

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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