The Heron

The Nada Chronicles

Volume 13


For the December issue of the Running Fox Pages, it seemed to be a good idea to create something in which the mood of Christmas would be expressed. For a while I had to think about this, but seemingly effortlessly my thoughts went back to that which what happened during the holiday season of 1998. It is a golden memory that I want to share with you reader by means of this little story.

After a turbulent hard working life and following a long period of illnesses and peevishness, my mother died a few days before Christmas, now four years ago. We saw it happen beforehand. A number of times prior to this, there had been moments that we, the offspring had thought, ďthis is it, but in all those instances it turned out that it wasnít yet time. When you are ultimately confronted with the inevitable, and all of a sudden the woman who brought life to you isnít here any more, it is, to say the least, a shock. I am sure that many of you are able to recognize this feeling.

My motherís life could be read as a poem. Sometimes rippling on the rhythmic rustic lyrics of a calm word flow. Sometimes violent and longing for better times; the strophes struggling to reach the sweet slope of a tranquil seashore. Always there was this forest with its many trees of which she was unable to make a choice. Her life was a vivid word game, penetrated by a powerful belief and always searching for the satisfaction, the completion, and a well-chosen cadence.

During her younger years she discovered the unseen worlds. She was spiritual avant la lettre and soon recognized herself in the Pentecostal church. Krishnamurti came to the Netherlands and on Paasberg Hill she listened breathlessly to the message of this enlightened little man from the east. Later she came into contact with the Anthroposophical movement, in which she found happiness for many years. It was the love for a loving God, love for human and animal, eurythmics, drawing and painting, music.

This accompanying philosophical belief system gave her a lever to come to terms with the things of life. In this way, she sometimes was able to release daily bothers, so that she could lose herself into the great thinker that once was Rudolf Steiner, in a conviction.

She also was a poet not without merit, who in 1953 wrote the following prophesying poem:

Oh to bear and to die, not
to suffer time that presents life,
and tread from the cross of time and void
to feed with wine, of bread the crumb, to take
harvest of abundance in eternity.
God take us for himself and has got plenty of time.


During the spring of 1992 a small collection of poems by her hand was released: ĎProbes of language and sign,í which was circulated among a small group of interested persons. She considered this to be her lifeís work, but unfortunately her health suffered a great deal while Parkinsonís disease started to meticulously waste her. Throughout her last few years she took comfort out of the poems by Ida Gerhardt, a renowned Dutch spiritual poetess.

All the time I have been able to look at her life from the sideline and what I saw was an eternal quest. It was a longing for that one tree that would be able to give her everything that she was looking for during this life. Many times she found one who was benevolent to her for a shorter or longer period of time. But always came, early or late, the disappointment, the turning away and again the yearning for something that would exist beyond the horizon.

Then all at once she wasnít there any more. All of a sudden she didnít take part any more in this sublunary world. She and I had been contemporaries for 54 years. Her last years had been a hard struggle with Parkinsonís, several cardiac arrests, lung embolism, a broken hip, and breast cancer. She certainly wasnít spared!

A few days before Christmas my wife and I found her dead in a secluded room in the home for the elderly where she had spent her last months. A few minutes before, she had closed her tired eyes for the last time, yet round her calm face played a half smile and in that moment I knew for certain that at last she had found her one tree.

After the cremation ceremony Annie and I, together with a score of friends and relatives, went to our home to drink a little bit and to talk about the occurrences of the last few months that had led to this sad event. As often is the case after funerals, it became an animated happening with people one tends not to meet very often in our hectic daily lives.

Suddenly one of us discovered that a heron was perched on the roof of our little shed behind the house. The bird was quite settled there and looked as herons are wont to do with an intense gaze, its long pointed beak aimed in our direction for a considerable time.

By and by conversations subsided and then there was this moment when all of us were looking in the direction of this heron, and it was clear that it was pleased to receive the attention of us all. At that precise moment the stately bird flew up again and winged hither. I can assure you that the silence in the room was long-lasting and deafening. Everyone left with their own thoughts, interpreting this occurrence in his or her own way.

Looking back I can only assume that this valuable golden moment was a penny from heaven, in which it was made clear that all was well and that my mother had not made this transition to the other world without intention. Furthermore it made it possible for us to get along with this loss in a positive way. I thank those on the other side of the veils who have been responsible, for the possibility to re-member that life does not end at the moment of transition, but all the more can be seen as a rebirth into a world that is not tangible for us.

That Christmas time has been one that I shall never forget and which made me realise that the common Christmas message sometimes goes beyond to something much deeper. And yet, do we not each year celebrate a birth at Christmas?