Monday, May 30, 2016

Habbie To Jeely-Eater: A Biography

Habbie To Jeely-Eater: A Biography –
“In retrospect, I realise my life has been built on three pillars: Family, Friends and Faith.” So says the indefatigable Rev Ian H Miller in the final chapter of his book which essentially deals with this threefold cord.

The three main takeaways from this book are laughter, tears and contemplation. Ian is a master storyteller.

Laughter? Ian can spot humour at fifty paces even at funerals! He relates a funny story about a bird at the crematorium at Cardross depositing “a little message on the undertaker’s formal funeral wear.” He says, “All I could see was this splurge of white. I lost it.”

Tears? Again funerals! Speaking of the local cemetery Ian paints the following vividly sombre picture, “On a number of occasions, I have stood on the windswept hill above the Valley intoning the words of committal as we lay to rest a loved one whose life had been forfeited to the river.”

Contemplation? “We tend to look for God in the spectacular and miss him in the ordinary.”

Ian is a Christian minister. To minister is to serve. Ian has served the Vale folk, i.e, the Jeely-Eaters, well!

On a more personal note: My father died in November 2005: “The Rev. Ian Miller had another funeral to attend to, but he allowed us to use his Bonhill Parish Church on the River Leven where I conducted the funeral service.”[1] After the service we accompanied dad’s coffin across the hill to the Crematorium at Cardross where Ian was graciously (and patiently) waiting to conduct the brief committal. We arrived much later than originally planned. As I approached him I was cringing with embarrassment at what he might say about my organisational tardiness. (We had arrived not long before the service that was scheduled to follow ours.) Ian, a master of the humorous rebuke, looked at me and said, “Red Card, McKinlay! Red Card!” No point in arguing with such a well-respected referee as Rev. Ian H Miller.

I think the whole of the Vale has been touched and indeed influenced for the better by this man. This (exiled) “Jeely-Eater” says thankyou Ian! And thanks also for the great read!

[1] Neil Cullan McKinlay, From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice, Nordskog Publishing, California, 2011, p. 147. – See

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