Thila's Hill. (Photo:
Nada Chronicles, part 2
Hans Brockhuis - 2000
I am in a reflecting mood and while doing so I'm going back
in time towards the spring of the year 1794. These are turbulent
times in Europe. The Southern Netherlands (now Belgium) still
endure the domination of Austria and elsewhere a certain Bonaparte
is trying his utmost to make true his ideals of a unified Europe.
times threaten to become real for the Netherlands, and somewhere
in the Borinage, not very far from Charleroi, in the town of
Farciennes lives the Labruyère family in a narrow and twisting
alley, close to the brick church. Father Pierre Labruyère labours
in the local coal mine, only a few hundred meters away. On April
3rd 1765 he weds his loved one Agnès from the neighbouring town
the course of time they get, while being good Catholics, six
children. First three suns are born, of which the eldest, Pierre,
arrives in 1765. Then consequently follow, until 1769, Guillaume,
Arien and the eldest daughter Mathilde (Thila). Finally in 1771
another son, François is born and in 1774 the youngest, Juliëtte
mother Agnès is sickly and because of that no further worldly
citizens are born. Therefore very soon the two girls are expected
to help out in the household, which means that they, besides
the hours they are at school, are all the time polishing, cooking,
getting water, and all that which is essential to get a family
going. All five men are going to work successively in the mine
as well. Even when they are too old to go to school, the girls
continue to live in the parental home to be of aid to mother
Agnès and to take care of the men.
and Julie, are almost always together, even when they get older.
They talk to each other about all that crosses their minds and
they know of no secrets towards each other. They live together
as if they were one soul. And in the scant hours they are free,
and that is mostly in the evenings, they climb the hill at the
other side of the Sambre River and enlighten each other about
their dreams. About the stars that contain so many promises
and about the customs of the people in other countries who speak
different languages than they, who can in fact only speak their
own dialect. In the school they have been taught correct French,
but that was only something for in the school. At home - and
with their rare friends, and with the baker and the butcher
only the local dialect is spoken.
who is more than five years older than Julie, shares with her
sister all that is happening to her, and the younger sister,
always listens with much pleasure to all the anecdotes of her
elder sister, whom she adores. And Thila likes very much to
confide her sister in all her fantasies that, as the years go
by, turn more and more towards the attraction of the young men
in the village. But almost always the sisters are together and
anything further than reflecting about these things it does
not come to.
this special evening, the two girls again are sitting under
their favourite oak tree and are glancing across the valley.
Already it grows dark and they can see that one by one the lights
of the town are illuminated. The nightshift of the mine is being
helped down the great shaft. They know that Guillaume and Arien
are on this shift. The weather is clear and a tender wind is
blowing which makes from time to time their long blond hairs
flutter in the breeze. Both they have their knees pulled up
and with their arms they clasp their long skirts against their
Slowly the first stars become visible and subsequently the Polar
Star, and the Big and the Small Bears take on their shape. Orion
and the Pleiades are also there. Maître Plon told them about
this at the time. And they used to listen, with an immense hunger
for more, to these wonderful stories about everything that is
happening in the universe. Now a feeling of expectation takes
possession of the twosome and suddenly, a bit to the right of
them a shooting star splashes. Quickly both girls formulate
a wish and bit-by-bit the feeling grows that something big is
going to happen.
at once something startles them. A tremendous clear and white
light overwhelms the slope. The surroundings can't be seen any
more. Troubled they look at each other. What is going on here?
The darkness that made them unable to see each other only moments
ago is transformed into a seemingly atrocious light in which
a halo magically appears around their heads in which the loose
ends of their hairs are clearly visible now in the against-light.
It looks as if their skin has taken on a fluorescence that beams
out until far beyond the foliage of 'their' oak. But they do
not have ample time to think about this, because suddenly a
manifestation stands before them. A long and gracious woman
abruptly has appeared from naught before their eyes. She is
wearing a stunning long robe in two striking hues of blue and
the classical face is wreathed with long fair hairs, just like
do not be afraid, children", the woman says with outstretched
arms to the shaky couple. "Each Sunday you come and pray
in the to my memory consecrated church, down in the village.
And now I come to you to fulfil your prayers with compassion.
My name is Nada, but what more important now is, that I carry,
just like your House of God, the essence of Mary of Magdala.
And you too, Thila and Julie, carry this essence; because it
was long ago that we all together walked upon this planet. Often
you talk with each other about the strange far away lands that
you would want to visit, and about the miracles of the firmament,
but know now that there has been a time that both you and I
have been there already and when you chat about these things,
in truth you speak about the re-membrance of the adventures
that you once experienced."
and Julie look at each other with questions in their eyes. What
is going on here? They do not understand very much of all that
has been said to them. But the beautiful woman continues.
this is not what I wanted to speak about with you, my dear children.
I would like to speak with you about Love. And I do not particularly
mean the love that you, Thila, seem to feel about this very
special boy from the village. No, I mean the Love of people
towards each other, and that for your parents and for God and
for all the folks who cross your path. Know that very soon a
number of incidents will occur in and around your town, of which
at first sight it will seem that this will have nothing to do
with Love. And that will be more than true. The events in themselves
will have a character of hatred, of resentment and of distress.
Hatred of people in respect to each other, resulting from the
apparent need of some who have hunger for influence, for money,
and for possession. Resentment of many because they desire the
possessions of others and sorrow of the unfortunate who will
have to endure all this."
I advice you. That what is going to happen, you will not be
capable to avoid. But try to keep in mind at all times to maintain
the Love in your Hearts, also and above all in regard to your
enemies. Present to these enemies compassion and make it clear
to them in this way that it will in the end be the Love, the
Oneness and the Power of the Merciful, which will prevail in
the end. Try to re-member that, my dear children. Because if
you will be able to cling to that notion, the fate that you
will have to endure, will be a bit easier to bear."
the midst of your community exists a pond. Imagine that many
people find themselves about this pond. All of them are hurling
stones into the pool. All these stones cause ripples that eventually
will touch each other and the turbulence in the pond will be
heavy. But keep in mind that all those people inevitably once
will cease the tossing. At first one and later more and more.
And in the end no more stones will be thrown into the water.
By and by the waves will disperse and the waters will be quiet
at last, calm and serene. Cling to this notion, dear children.
It will help you. Goodbye then, I wish you well and know that
- whatever happens - I will always be somewhere in the background
to share your fate. And wherever possible I shall try to soften
it." Before she leaves, she places her hands for a moment
on the heads of the flabbergasted girls…
months later, ten kilometres to the north of Farciennes, the
battle of Fleurus takes place, where the troops of Napoleon
under general Jourdan achieve an impressive victory over the
combined forces of the Prussians and the Austrians. Because
of this the whole of the Southern Netherlands becomes part of
France. The Prussian army recruits Father Pierre and three of
his sons, Guillaume, Arien and François, and unfortunately all
of them die in this dreadful battle. Because mother Agnès died
already in December 1793 to a lingering heart condition, the
two girls are left behind in the little house in Farciennes.
About the fate of Pierre, who disappeared in all the confusion,
nothing can be said and for the two suddenly into young women
transformed sisters, those are frightful days.
are terribly afraid because gradually it becomes clear that
father and the other brothers will not return from the battlefield.
They are terrified of the groups of wandering soldiers who are
underpaid and try to replenish their meagre rations with all
that the population can 'borrow' them. And they are frightened
for the plundering soldiers who, arms at the ready, revel in
lonely left behind women.
they have to think back to the appearance on the hill and they
talk about courage to each other and they know that all this
mischief has been brought down upon them for a reason. And although
that reason remains a mystery for the moment, they understand
that Mary of Magdala guards over them and will keep them from
still greater danger.