Monday, August 5, 2013

Ancestors on the Shelf

During our stay on the island of Paros, we took a short tour of a monastery.  At one time, 75 nuns lived here, but now there were only eleven.  Because it was deemed a holy place, all us women were required to wear pants and those with shorts were given beach towels to wrap around their waists.  No bare legs allowed.  It seemed so silly, but everyone happily obliged.

When we wandered into the cemetery, our tour guide explained that the dead are buried for only 2-4 years and then their bones are dug up and placed into a tin box.  The skulls are lined up on shelves, so family and friends can come visit!  It seemed so macabre and yet so practical.  There is limited space on an island.  When I told my son this story, he made the comment, "The Cyclades have been populated for thousands of years.  Shouldn't there have been mounds of bones by now?"

I shrugged.  "Well, I guess even skulls have a shelf life."

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