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Carbon Is Carbon. Isn't It?

Carbon is carbon, or so scientists tell us. Ashes are ashes, right?  Wrong!
Response to human ashes and what they mean may be quite different according to one's culture. What follows is a true story.

A woman came to Hawaii to spread the ashes of her brother in the sea. She was all alone. After she had arranged for a boat, she came to church looking for a pastor. The clergywoman agreed to help and even offered to bring her husband along to read from scripture.  In mid-afternoon they set out on a beautiful but windy day, to a point two miles out. The short burial service concluded rather quickly, and it came time to commit the remains to the sea. Unfortunately the ashes had been packed quite tightly in their box, and the sister had to use her hand to assist their descent.

When the boat returned to shore, the lone woman looked rather forlorn. When she invited the pastor and spouse to her hotel room for a drink, they readily agreed. The pastor had a glass of wine, but her husband asked for scotch on the rocks. They had been chatting for the better part of an hour, yet the scotch was still there. Having another appointment they thanked the woman and excused themselves.

As soon as they were out of earshot the pastor asked her partner why he hadn't touched his drink. "I watched her carefully," he replied. "She never washed her hands before taking the ice cubes with her fingers."

What you, gentle reader, do not know is that he was raised in an East African culture  that treats the bones of every deceased person as if they are sacred.  Westernized as he was, he could not get his head around the possibility that some of those ashes, plain ol' carbon though they were, just might have gotten into his drink. The glass never touched his lips.

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