Frequently viewed as a hybrid people, because of the relatively modern establishment of their country, Belgians are making an intense, honest and often raucous effort at nation-building. To some outside observers, it almost seems like the nation is ripe for a split. I see a country that is no more likely to fall apart than is Canada, Switzerland or the U.S., for that matter. The Flemish and the Walloon French are each a hard-working, proud and stubborn people, with solid pasts and vibrant, rambunctious and highly intelligent youth. They will argue and bump heads, so to speak, but these people came together by choice, mainly to break away from their three larger, overbearing neighbours: France, Germany (then Prussia and Westphalia) and the Netherlands. They accepted the German Saxe-Cobourgs as their royal house, and have built a genuine national culture. Brussels reflects that blend.
I began the day at L’Eglise Notre Dame des Bon Secours, whose Roma caretaker slyly accepted “tips”. She keeps a clean house, so I obliged a few euros.
This unidentified piece evoked Munch’s “The Scream”.
For some reason, Vasco da Gama has found his way in here.
I felt blessed enough to continue my journey, heading up to north Brussels, for a brief visit to the new Baha’i National Centre of Belgium.
The Walloon caretaker, and the Flemish secretary and treasurer are all best of friends, as is the Baha’i way. Jacquo is a skilled engineer and craftsman, who did the bulk of the renovation to this lovely center.
Toos and Yolande keep the operation running smoothly.
The watchful eyes of Baha’ullah’s sons always guarantee that we place His Teachings first and foremost, especially in matters of Faith.
Mirza Mihdi died young, in a tragic fall through a skylight, in the mid- Nineteenth Century.
‘Abdu’l-Baha lived to oversee His Father’s Faith, after Baha’ullah passed, and traveled extensively in Egypt, Europe and North America, from 1911-13. He passed in 1921. ‘Abdu’l-Baha never visited Belgium, but He is revered by Baha’is everywhere.
After a cup of tea with the ladies, I bid farewell to this beautiful center, and was soon on a train out of Brussels, headed east.
I managed a shot of Brussels Cathedral, from the train.
I hope to someday come back to the Belgian capital, and savour more than the glimpse of these scenes.
The next thing I knew, though, I was headed through the east of Brabant.
Namur, in western Wallonia, was not a station stop, but the train slowed own enough for me to get these scenes.
The Meuse River flows out of the Ardennes, towards Antwerp. It seems to split Namur in half.
We headed into the rolling hills of the Ardennes region.
The route took us past enticing little villages, like Jetelle.
You can see that, as we got further inland, the air became clearer and bluer.
By mid-afternoon, the train arrived at Libramont, where those of us headed either to Bastogne, or the European Space Center, got off to transfer to buses.
I will devote the next two posts to Bastogne, the little town which roared back at Nazi Germany,during and after the Battle of the Ardennes (“Battle of the Bulge”).