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following threads: Tom & Francis, Rijks & Museum

Today was a day, April 9th 2024. First time I experienced this particular day, quite sure I won’t experience this day again.

On my way to do an interview about Francis of Assisi with Henk van Os, former director of the Rijksmuseum or the Rijks Museum, for, after its renovation, somehow, a SPACE opened up between Rijks & Museum. Rijks & Museum. That might be a good brand name as well. Maybe for the gift shop. Please exit through the gift shop! (Still one of the best films about art I’ve ever seen)

Sometimes that happens, you break down and from the rubble you re-invent or rebuild yourself and the old name no longer fitting, suddenly a new name appears. That’s one way of looking at it.

I guess the question is: do you re-invent, or re-build yourself? Reinvention has the artificial air of conceptual form and role-play, while rebuilding seems to come from the more grounding force of heartfelt renewal; not out of an excited teenage enthusiasm but out of necessity when life has broken down (part of) your structure, to then take the actual building blocks of experience and using them to rebuild a new, and more ‘sturdy’ form that can bear the brunt of reality.

I’m reading ‘the pillars of the earth’ by Ken Follett at the moment.

At the moment (in the book) Tom Builder is rebuilding a cathedral that was burnt down.

The cathedral was already dilapidated, now it’s in pieces.

Before the form broke down, the building had already lost its soul.

Tom had lost his wife and newborn baby just before arriving.

Ruins everywhere, it seems.

His wife’s dying wish was for Tom’s living wish to be fulfilled, that is to build a cathedral as beautiful as his talents and workmanship would allow. Through living out the soul’s desire, you (re)build yourself.

A newly appointed prior placed in charge of the cathedral was already working on a plan to re-invigorate the inside, the spiritual life of the place, the soul of the priory, before Tom arrived. Renewal starts from within, however, beauty is reflection of essence, and therefore a necessary companion. Another way of putting it: rebuilding always starts with the soul: our inner prior must first grasp the necessity, then, the inner builder comes into play, who can create new forms to match the re-ignited soul’s desire. Only in conjunction, can the process of rebuilding truly begin.

A new name for the cathedral may yet appear.

In the interview with Henk van Os, one conversational thread followed was Francis of Assisi, the saint who was born in 1181.

The book takes place in 1135.

Different time, different place, and yet, not too far away, in space nor time.

Rebuilding cathedrals in 1135, re-invigorating and emancipating faith from 1182 onwards, the necessities of the time sometimes forge surprising connected chains of being.

In the end, the interview with van Os turned out to be a conversation about the essence of story telling. Henk van Os is a master story teller, so it might also have been a conversation about him. Editing starts Friday. We’ll see.


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