“We bones in here wait for yours to join us.” This message over the door greets visitors who enter the Chapel of Bones. Disturbing and disruptive. Unlike anything I had ever experienced, Capela dos Ossos is in the Church of St. Francis in Evora, a cute Portugal city that has been around for 2,000+ years.
Three monks, concerned with the values they saw in Evora’s society in the 1600’s, created this macabre chapel to give residents a place to contemplate their love of material things against their inevitable death. Using locales from the cemeteries around town, skulls and bones were gathered to form the walls, columns and ceiling. Full corpses of an adult and a child also are on display. To stand in that room looking at this religious expression of protest against wealth and status from so long ago shows that society never changes. You have that same wealth disparity today across the world. Will human beings ever learn?
Not my cup of tea usually but staring at the display made me reflect on the need to be in the present, appreciate my blessings and not take one minute of this precious life for granted. Because, just like these bones and skulls staring back at me, we will all join them some day. All that matters then is the lasting good that we are able to create while alive. Unfortunately, though, most shun thoughts of our eventual demise and focus on gathering as many material things as we can while alive. The old saying “you can’t take it with you” comes to mind. Why on Earth then do we spending all our time working to buy stuff that we don’t really need?
On Mother’s Day, I appreciate that Thom and I created two really outstanding human beings who are now making a difference themselves in the world. Hannah and James make me very proud every day of the worthy life I have lived. Until I depart to be only bones, I can only hope to continue to do good work and live a life well served.