Tom Kets is an actor, writer and teacher.
He makes theater and art projects for children as the business and artistic director of ‘Huis Binnenweg’. December last year he visited the Open Group Palliative Care of the Zen Peacemakers Lage Landen in Belgium for the first time. During this intensive meetings, there is always space to communicate with each other heart-to-heart using the council circle. Tom was inspired by this meeting to the following:
Open Group Palliative Care in Lier
On December 17, I was a participant in the Open Group Palliative Care. When I drove home after the meeting, a text came into my mind up that I wrote several years ago for a music theater. I decided to look again at the text. The text was perfectly consistent with my feeling about the meeting on what we are trying to stand still and to indicate language …
The Farewell Bird
Where the road ended and seemed to disappear into thin air, there was this small village.
Nothing special at all, you’ld say. And, in a way, it was just like that.
Life went on, peacefully.
Day after day the children played, while their parents tilled the soil.
Yet, there was something special about this village. It had a unique resident.
He lived in the center of the village.
Every morning the inhabitants played a song for their great old friend –for that’s how they called him.
It was a way to start the day.
You will problably be wondering who that friend might be.
That friend was Robur, the old tree.
Robur had been living in the village for many, many years. He was born there.
The wind carried him when he was still a tiny seed.
No one knew about his family.
He found his new family in this village. A new beginning.
Robur was the oldest resident of the village.
And, as I already told you, the inhabitants played a song for him every morning.
Subsequently, Robur waved his branches as if he wanted to say: “Have a good day, all of you! “
However, today was different.
Today, Robur seemed sad and lost.
He didn’t respond to the music.
This never happened before.
The inhabitants didn’t understand. This never happened before. They didn’t know what to do.
Some one said: “Let’s play the happiest song we know, maybe that will help.”
And so they did.
At dawn, the most joyful music resounded.
Especially for their great friend.
But it didn’t help.
Robur’s branches were wilting. A tear slipped out of his right eye.
No one knew what was wrong.
Untill somebody whispered: “I know what it is. I know what’s wrong. Our great friend had a visit. The Farewell Bird payed him a visit. I saw. He sat on one of his branches yesterday.
Every one know what that meant.
The Farewell Bird doesn’t come just like that. He comes only one time and then never again.
He always comes a bit unexpected, even if you do expect him. He always comes too fast and usually at an inconvenient time.
Nobody likes his visit, but you do have to receive him.
He whispers his clear message quietly in your right ear: “Come, it’s time, time to go.”
And that is what happened.
The Farewell Bird told the old tree that his time on earth was over.
It was time to say farewell.
Farewell to his friends.
Farewell to his village.
No one expected this. Robur was very old.
Out of the blue. All of a sudden.
That evening the inhabitants gathered around a big fire.
They reflected on what they could do for their great friend.
They decided to give him the greatest farewell gift ever.
The next day the inhabitants surrounded Robur. Each one of them came forward, fondled his stem and gave him a big hug.
Then they sang a beautiful song. A song for Robur.
While they were singing and dancing, the old tree calmly closed his eyes. As if he fall asleep.
The Farewell Bird crowed thrice.
And whilst the music rose up from the village like a fire, the Farewell Bird flew onto a new farewell.