March 28, 2008 / 3:10 PM / 12 years ago

Vicar offers stress relief in grave

BERLIN (Reuters) - A vicar in Germany who had the novel idea of helping parishioners escape the stresses and strains of daily life by letting them lie in an open grave was upset when intrusive journalists spoiled the atmosphere.

“I meant it as a meditative exercise,” pastor Thorsten Nolting told Reuters. “I wanted people to think about what weighs on them down in the darkness and gather the energy to resist it.”

Nolting, from the western German city of Duesseldorf, said his plan went “horribly wrong” when journalists’ persistent questioning as parishioners were “laid to rest” earlier this week ruined the serenity of the occasion.

“It wasn’t silent, as it should have been. They ruined it. (They) would not go away, even when I asked them,” he said.

Extraverts who could cope with the incessant questioning were happy to climb down into the two meter long hole, and then rave about their “resurrection,” Nolting said.

But a local newspaper said one man was still shaking, 20 minutes after his seven-minute spell in the dank grave ended.

Reporting by Carolyn Palmer, editing by Tim Pearce

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