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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Grote Kerk...St. Bavo Church -- Haarlem, Holland




About a 20 minute train ride west of Amsterdam by Dutch Rail , you'll find The Grote Kerk ('Great Church'), or St. Bavo, in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Holland is one of my most favorite countries and I have such powerful memories of my many times there. In fact, I think I have been to The Netherlands more times than any other country that I've visited. And our last visit there was one heck of an exciting day. One of our Top 10, in all actuality. One of those days you won't soon forget and will talk about over and over. St. Bavo has been made famous for many reasons. Two of them are that the 10-year-old Mozart played its pipe organ in 1766 and it was also the church where the Ten Boom family went to church in the true story The Hiding Place. I have been to Haarlem several times and been through St. Bavo twice. The most recent time was February 2004 with my partner and my parents. It was cold. And very few tourists anywhere. We like to travel off seasons so that we have most anywhere that we go completely to ourselves. We actually toured The Hiding Place with just the four of us on the tour...no one else was there that day. This is a watch shop in the center of Haarlem owned by the Ten Boom's, a Christian family, who made their home above the shop. During World War II, the family hid Jewish folks in a converted closet in one of it's bedrooms until they were discovered and all sent away to various concentration camps throughout Europe. It's a fascinating place to visit and you'll find my name in the guest book three or four times. So, this particular day in February 2004, we also made our way over to St. Bavo. It was cold outside and equally as cold inside. The floor is stone -- in fact, grave stones for the most part. We made our way around the building quietly and prepared to leave. In fact, my mother had already stepped outside of the main cathedral when it hit. And boy, did it. The pipe organist hit the first notes of his practice session for the week. It was one of those hair-raising moments. All of our eyes glanced around at one another and one of us quickly ran for my mom...to get her back inside. If you're a musician or person who appreciates the arts, you'll know exactly what those moments are like. We sat, nearly alone, for the next bit of time while the organist played and played, practiced and practiced. I kept on thinking of a very young and talented Mozart up there in the same place as the organist that we were watching...238 years ago. We left with our eyes wide open in such appreciation that we were the ones that happened to be there at just the right time. Completely unexpected. Completely amazing. We have a lot of those moments in our lives and we appreciate every single one of them.

14 comments:

franck said...

Very cool! I had a similar experience in a church in Zurich (the one with the Chagall windows, I forget what it's called). What made it extra surprising is that there was nobody at the actual organ. Somehow it was being controlled remotely from another organ. Weird.

christopherc said...

I think I want to travel with you! It seems you have some of the most wonderful adventures and discoveries. Of course, I must confess I think we all do if we look at them in the prope perspective. I'm just glad you're open to the realization of them and share them with us.

-C

Breenlantern said...

With all your fun, silly, and flirty posts and your dashing good looks, it is important for your readers to realize that you are also a well traveled man who has experienced more of this world than many of ushave or ever will. These posts remind me of just how much of an intelligent, well spoken, poetic story teller you are and can be. I love all that you have to offer, but something about these posts just makes me feel really glad that I have your eyes to see parts of the world I probably will never get to see through my own. Thanks for sharing.

Blair said...

"Completely unexpected. Completely amazing. We have a lot of those moments in our lives and we appreciate every single one of them".

Here here! We certainly have created some wonderful memories and had exciting times in our lives. The best part is knowing we have so many more experiences and memories to create and share together and we never know where or when or how it will all play out. We always enjoy the ride and we love every minute of it each and every journey we share together.

Great post and great memories.

Rob Inukshuk said...

We had a similar experience when taking Mother and her sister to France. We were visiting the church on the hill above Loches in the Loire and all but mother had exited the church when the organ began to play, to practice - I rushed back in to grab Mother before she got into trouble for messin with the organ. Of course she was sitting quietly enjoying the music. I still maintain it could have been her having a go!

Dave2 said...

It's these moments that make travel worth the effort and expense. I love the unexpected discoveries that happen... especially when it's a place you've been to many times.

bridgeout said...

Your words make me long for the days when I will be able to travel and experience some of these beautiful things! Thank you for sharing.

Lemuel said...

What a cool experience!

LSL said...

I absolutely love hearing about your travels!

Ur-spo said...

Completely unexpected. Completely amazing. We have a lot of those moments in our lives and we appreciate every single one of them".

lucky man -these make life worthwhile.

RAD said...

Great post....You be be a good egg to travel with...I like your presentation and vibe when you share your travels-- there are others out there that blog about travel and they are more big headed or rather upitty about it all...Breenlantern hit the bulls eye with his comment..you rock!

cb said...

Gotta love those beautiful serendipitous moments

Victor said...

Beautifully described. I got goosebumps just reading this post when I got to the part about the Church organ.

WAT said...

I have never been to Europe! I AM SO JEALOUS! ARGH!

Holland sounds like a gay man's paradise! I must brush up on my Dutch now...