Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Ancient Moral Dilemma

Some six or nine months ago I went to a car boot sale in a town far away from where I live now. This is like a garage sale. People fill the boots of their cars with their un-wanted items and they gather in a car park, or in a field somewhere and sell their goods to visitors. The event is often well advertised beforehand and is often held regularly. Sometimes it is to raise money for charity.

I always look for antiques when I visit car boot sales. Something a little older than my mother-in-law and perhaps more valuable. On this occasion I bought an urn, or jar, for about £5. It is a foot high with a lid. It is made of either porcelain or some glazed terracotta. The lid was stuck tightly to it. When I got home I left it in the garage and forgot all about it.

A few weeks ago I took it to an antique dealer friend of mine for a valuation. He said it was ancient, older than my mother-in-law, and indeed very valuable. Far more than the £5 I paid for it.

Following his advice, when I got home I managed to ease the lid off without damaging it or the vase, or urn.

To my surprise, the urn was filled with a dark grey powdery substance. It was not sand; much finer than sand. Some people have suggested that it might be ashes.

You are way ahead of me, friends. It is most probably the ashes of a deceased person or persons. Or indeed it could be the ashes of something else, a favourite animal perhaps. A pet dog, or a horse or ... I don't know.

The question is: What do I do with it?

I can hardly send it to a lab for examination and analysis. How much would that cost?

I could empty the jar in the bottom of my garden, or in the woods, or the trash bin before it is emptied once a week. Is this dignified do you think?

I could bury the ashes somewhere, or spread them in the cemetery, or somewhere else, on the beach perhaps, and say a prayer whilst doing so. But I don't even know who it is. A man? A woman? A horse?

The urn is very old, what if the ashes belong to some ancient famous person and DNA tests could identify him or her? What if the ashes are more valuable than the urn? 

What would you do in this situation?

26 comments:

  1. Whoa. I was hoping someone else might beat me to first … so I might borrow their thoughts! Since I'm taking a chance (yours) isn't a spoof …

    Our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier comes to mind.
    Personally, I'd be troubled. Tho' your purchase wasn't intentional, you've still a burden. My first instinct would be to consult my priest/clergyman. But what if the deceased were non-Christian? Even, no matter if he/she were a miscreant or bum, I suppose they deserve some final measure of respect. A scattering at the seashore sounds fitting.

    Please let us know!

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    1. Well ... well ... well ... Mevely. What a well thought out response to my Ancient Moral Dilemma.

      Let's consider the options you suggest:

      Asking my Catholic priest for advice would be costly. You know how Catholics are? We now have two collections at Mass on Sunday most weeks.

      I could of course ask a non-catholic priest/vicar/clergyman (or woman). We have several Church of England female vicars. Did you ever see the Vicar of Dibley on TV? She was good. She'd give me good advice, I reckon.

      I don't know whether the ashes belong to a Christian or not. But does it matter? They were in an expensive vase or urn. So he or she must have been important. But what if it was an animal?

      I remember the story of a man whose dog had died and he asked the priest to say a few word at the funeral. The priest refused. So the man asked "If I give the vicar down the road £1000 do you know if he would say a few word at the dog's grave?

      The priest replied, "Wait ... you did not tell me the dog was Catholic!!!"

      Can you have Catholic animals, Mevely?

      A friend of mine suggested we build a large catapult like the one in medieval times in my garden and at night we could catapult the urn and contents over at some fare away neighbour's garden. What do you think?

      God bless. Keep smiling.

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    2. LOL! My late uncle-the-undertaker (really) would have loved that idea! Unlike his humorless father and brothers (Lutheran) ministers both, his sense of humor was over-the-top. I'm no theologian, but I don't see why animals can't be catholic. Would you be shocked if I were to confess to having once baptized my dog? God bless you back! :)

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    3. Hi Mevely,

      We are all God's creatures. I understand St Francis of Assisi was the Patron Saint of animals, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.

      I wonder if he ate steak !!!

      Do you think there are animals in Heaven, Mevely? I hope not. I would not want to come face to face with the Sunday roast admonishing me for having eaten it.

      God bless you.

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  2. Well this is what I think and what I would do. Since you bought this because you thought it was worth something and beautiful you can have it resealed, place it where you feel it would look well and let this personor or horse rest in peace.
    If it happens to be some kind of joke and the ashes are from someone cleaning out their fireplace you have a conversation piece. Either way you have a lovely urn and a great story ⚱

    Blessings Victor💮

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    1. Neigh ... neigh ... having a horse on the mantle piece? What if he gallops away if it gets too hot?

      The thing is, Jan, what if the ashes are of someone famous? Icarus for instance? Did he burn or did he drown?

      There's an advert on TV in the UK about a firm. If you send them some saliva in a tube they can check your DNA and tell you who your ancestors are. They could be Romans, Vikings, or any other origin. I once sent them some saliva from my dog's mouth. They replied and said I was a boxer. Funny this. The whole of my family are Dalmatians!

      Shall I send them some of the ashes? They might tell me what make of cigars they come from.

      God bless.

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    2. You better have you pedigree DNA checked!
      As for the horse on a mantle piece...he is already ashes and so I don't believe the heat will bother him.
      Having said this...the Urn could be hot! It may have been swiped from somewhere and now you could go to jail for buying hot merchandise.
      You, my friend have a dilemma to solve...

      Blessings 💮

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    3. The thing is, Jan, I know the urn is valuable. My antique friend said so. He is not antique, a bit old maybe, but not antique.

      He specialises in antiques. He's been married 32 years. His wife said he's a good husband. The older she got the more interested he's been in her!

      Anyway, this antique expert told me the urn or vase is at least 18th Century. That's about 1700 something is it not? He said it looks European. Perhaps Greek. Do you know what's a Greek urn? About 50 Drachmas a day before they joined the Euro.

      So if the urn is from the 1700's; who knows whose ashes they contain?

      God bless.

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    4. Well the Urn is even more valuable to it's owner...whether it be human or animal, it is their final resting place. The fact is, it should have never been disturbed in the first place. Maybe the owner will never be identified but that said...they just need to rest in peace 💮

      Blessings~

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    5. I agree Jan. Assuming of course the ashes are of human or animal origin. What if it they are the ashes of some famous document or book? Do you know, for example, that every year England plays Australia at cricket in a tournament known as The Ashes? The winning country retains a small urn filled with the the ashes of a wooden bail.

      I know, you will now ask me what is a bail, and what is cricket.

      A bail is a small piece of wood finely balanced on three other pieces of wood planted vertically in a field.

      Cricket, the game, not the insect, is the most boring game on earth that has ever been invented. Two teams of eleven men with nothing better to do than compete sometimes for days or weeks. Often times the game ends in a draw and no one wins. If you ever watch it on TV or live in a sports arena you will learn a valuable lesson. At the end of the game, you'll say, "Well that's taught me a lesson. Here are 10 days of my life I'll never regain again!"

      So you see, Jan, the urn I have might contain the ashes of something else. Like the sandals worn by Shakespeare, for instance. Or King Henry the Eighth's beard clippings.

      God bless.

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  3. Gone with the wind.
    If the ashes are actual remains, God can figure out how to put 'em back together when the time comes.

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    1. Yes Chris, but what do I do with them in the meantime? I can hardly sweep them under the carpet.

      God bless.

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  4. I would spread them around some beautiful areas that I frequent. Maybe the person or animal would be grateful to be part of some beautiful scenery.

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    1. Then I'll sell the urn, Bill. That antique friend said it's worth at least £15-37.

      God bless.

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  5. I had great fun reading all the comments here, Victor - such good ideas! And I have no doubt that God has already taken care of the soul of the person (or animal) in question. Ashes are ashes, and dust is dust. Our souls transcend this world and are the essence of our real selves.
    Blessings!

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    1. You gave me an idea, Martha. If dust is dust, I'll put a little on the TV screen every so often and hope it gets cleaned away as usual. I rcell, once I was watching TV and was asked: "What's on TV?" I replied "Dust!"

      Got the silent treatment and no hot meal that day.

      God bless.

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  6. Replies
    1. Good for the roses, maybe.

      God bless you, Happyone.

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  7. I must tell a story here, Victor. A former co-worker had to move his family to another state to take a great new job. They couldn't take their sweet cat, Onyx, so they asked me to adopt him. David knew I was a sucker for cats and of course, we took Onyx into our family. Onyx had been a Hanukkah gift to David's kids. Come Christmas, we bought a Hanukkah stocking to hang up for Onyx, along with our other cats' Christmas stockings. After two years of living in a Catholic household, Onyx and I had a 'talk' and he accepted Jesus. The Hanukkah stocking got packed away and a Christmas stocking for Onyx was added to the line-up. So... those ashes could belong to a Catholic pet. Just saying!! It happens!! :)

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    1. For once ... I am speechless. I just don't know what to say. My mind is thinking all sorst of things ... yet I have nothing to say.

      God bless you, Terri.

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  8. Interesting reading all the comments, can you imagine someone selling that urn with ashes? That's terrible.

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    1. Maybe they thought it was an ash tray for their cigarettes, Christine. Or they wanted to get rid of a loved one they did not love!

      God bless you.

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  9. I vote for a non-denominational ash burial ceremony.

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    1. Is that better than catapulting the urn over into a neighbour's garden, Kathy?

      God bless you.

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    2. I won't speak for anyone else, but a solemn observance and a few prayers would make ME feel better.

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    3. Perhaps you're right, Kathy.

      God bless you.

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