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Today I was in church again. It reminded me of the church of my youth. But in an older, beautiful medieval church building. An experience of both alienation and sanctification. 

Outside the high window arches, looking inside does not succeed. Her soul does not make itself known by looking up at her eyes. You have to go inside first. From inside, though, you can look out through the eyes and see the play of colors through the stained glass, when the sun wants to shine through. As if the church gives rose-colored glasses to see around you in love.

Inside, the impressively high vault is responsible for making us feel the futility of man. It awakens a mystique of space and still time. Or the relativity of time. Like a celestial vault, it makes one look up to the higher, anywhere in time. The building connects, like ancient paths, to believers of old. The church through time. 

The solemn, archaic language sloshing around the ears also does it violence, when I hear the children reciting "nochtans" and "den disciple" while lisping, then again it is salutary when the richness of language allows its finesse to permeate the refinement of thoughts. 

The contrasting of man against this ancient background emphasizes her temporality, with her colors and whirls. And crests. Because looking back does not belong, one must see ahead. Surrounded by people, you can still be present here anonymously and lonely. Unseen merging into number. 

As for the odors, earlier in my notes I once wrote: 'of what could have been a divine experience, one thing in particular became apparent to me: the stifling stuffiness of fragrant perfume in quantities that silenced the odor to the uniform reek of the well-to-do middle class.' Especially the sarcasm and my unspiritual attitude stand out from this, of course, but in my own defense: also how quickly I am distracted. Surely, in suggestion, I cannot help suggesting that the perfuming be applied only sporadically and only in appropriate amounts. We can thus save the larger amounts for Jesus, along with our tears.

Sometimes carried by the agonizing roar of a devil's horn, with its inimitable melodies and - just too lingering - rhythm, the organist tries to force together singing. Roaring chants are overwhelmed, so that hardly even one's own singing is audible.

And amidst all this linguistic, musical and architectural violence - anchor points. Not so much in the aesthetic, but floating along, or more so; resonating, to the rhythms of the sacred.  A point of rest. Is it a tensing of the bow to shoot a well-directed arrow, or is it the unwind of the everyday? It seems to be both at the same time. Like the eye of a hurricane, where it is silent and still, while around it everything is spinning, moving and being swept along. So that nothing remains but me and God. God and me. 

The whole cacophony turned out to be a symphony.

The photo used is an edit of the church of Brakel, originally found at 


Erwin de Ruiter

"One man tries to express himself in books, another in boots; both are likely to fail." - G.K. Chesterton

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