Dead and Buried at Tockholes

I visited Tockholes United Reformed Church this year. Once, it was Congregational like ourselves, but voted to join the URC back in the seventies. It is one of those great and venerable chapels that can date itself to 1662- the year the government expelled the puritans from the state church, forcing them to found separate congregations, amid the fires of cruel persecution.

In its pleasant, shady grounds was a curious white sign dug into the earth advising visitors not to bury the remains of dead relatives or friends without permission. Presumably, this sign was a response to an actual problem rather than some imagined possible scenario. Who goes digging ashes into someone else’s land, or erecting headstones or funerary monuments? People in or near Tockholes, it would seem. I looked up the law concerning this matter. The landowner’s permission must indeed be obtained, which means you can freely scatter them at sea but not rivers, fields or gardens. It is interesting that the very people who disdain property rights still value the concept of ‘consecrated’ land.


My advice is not to worry about where your ashes will be interred or in which plot your cadaver will rest. Planning it out might save someone a job later on, but it doesn’t ultimately matter. Those ashes are nothing but your powdered bones and teeth. That is not you. Give it no more thought than you would a fugitive hair or discarded nail clipping, which aren’t you either. Instead, consider the location of your spirit, consciousness, soul, person- call it what you wish. Will it be with other recipients of God’s undeserved grace in heaven, or with those who counted their personal goodness sufficient, awaiting judgement in outer darkness?

To this end, Christ erects a huge white sign into the swirling dust of eternity:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.“ John 5:24.