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Topic: hope (03/29/04)
TITLE: Donít Look For Me Among The Bones Beneath The City
By Melanie Kerr
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Hidden in a warren of small back streets is the entrance to the catacombs. For a few francs and the loan of a flashlight you can explore underground passageways. I went on a tour. We were an untidy line of whispering people inching our way at a snails pace through the turns and twists of a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city. It was damp with the sound of dripping water. The air was moist. It was dark and cool, and as the flashlights played along the walls they created eerie shadows.
The walls were studded with skulls. Bone faces with hollow eyes, empty of life. Like the streets above us, these passages also carried street names. Some of the more creative builders had placed the skulls in pretty patterns of diamonds, crosses and hearts. Every so often there was a plaque telling the reader in a variety of languages that the bones had come from graveyards and hospitals and dated back hundreds of years.
There was a kind of morbid fascination about the place. The walls were close enough to touch. I felt the damp stone, and touched a skull, tracing a finger over an empty eye socket. Did those people so long ago think that this was where they would end up, embedded in cement, with curious tourists whispering around their remains?
It was a place that made you think about your own mortality. Life comes to an end. Light ceases to shine. Darkness awaits us all. For some people that is what their future holds out for them.
Quick! Letís get on the Metro to the other place!
Out in the bright sunshine, high on a hill stood a church. In the Montmatre district of Paris, the Sacre-Coeur basilica dominated the skyline. It was white, like pastry, with towers and domes. Itís quite a climb up flight after flight of steps with green lawns and flower borders on various terraces. If you are lazy like I am, you can forget about the steps and climb aboard a tram that winds its way up the hill.
Inside the church was light and airy with bright sunshine filtering through stained glass windows. Dancing patterns of rainbow coloured sunshine waltzed on the flagstone floor. The walls were decorated with mosaics, the most stunning showing Jesus with outstretched arms. Not on a cross, not in agony, not with blood pouring from his wounds or tears flowing from helpless onlookers, Jesus just stood clothed in a white robe with His arms open in invitation. Almost without thinking I gravitated towards Him, longing to be enfolded in His embrace.
My bones, bleached and pale may one day be collected up and built into walls beneath a city, but I will not be there. I will be held in the loving embrace of my Saviour and Lord. This is my future. This is my hope.