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Sunday, 24 May 2015

The future of our bones

The last few weeks I have been reading A Tour of Bones by Denise Inge; its been a fascinating and challenging book. Books I enjoy as I have this one, I usually devour quite quickly; the thought provoking nature of this book meant I took it in small chunks.
Denise takes us through her journey through four European charnel houses, visiting them to consider the nature of bones the "enduring and essential ... that remains as flesh falls away". Behind all this is her diagnosis of an inoperable sarcoma that lead to her death on Easter Day 2014. Denise's reflections raise questions about how we live as well as how we might be remembered. We are challenged by the bones to consider the nature of humility and why and how we love.
Though sounding rather philosophical her writings are generous discussions on the natural surroundings through which she travels and the associated writings of earlier travellers as they considered the power of life, as well as the spirit of humanity in those she meets along the way.
Why should you read this book? It has much to say about how we might live our lives, and confront the nature of death too. However we wish our body to be dealt with after dying our bones, and ashes if cremation we choose, are symbols of a life passed, and past. For me it has been salutary reminder that life and death come and go, and that bones who have "lived and loved and suffered and joyed and died" are signs that others have "been where each of us fears and none of us has gone".

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