VAN GURP, Alexander
Ceremony on August 31, 2002 at Russell Lake
On April 11, 1924 Alexander van Gurp was born at Scheveningen,
Today we are together to commend his remains to the earth at a place where he spent so many happy hours.
Quotations from the cottage-book
July 1991 This evening it was very quiet as it usually is after the birds and mammals have retired, for whatever reason they have to do so. And when I soak this in, I'm very happy and peaceful.
February 1994 Lately I have been trying to decide why I am so content and relaxed here at Russell Lake, even when the weather is not very nice and I think the answer came to me one evening recently when I was sitting on the sofa at home in Halifax, looking at my surroundings. It suddenly struck me that almost evrything around me was dead: the fire place, the walls, the ceiling, the ornaments, attractive as they were. I then fancied myself in the cottage, looking out through the sliding doors. Everything I saw was showing signs of living. I realized that I am a living organism in the company of other organisms. It makes no more sense to distinguish between nature and oneself than between, for instance, nature and birds or trees, we and they are altogether one.
May 1996 Lots of birds and their songs. I can just imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt in the Garden of Eden.
June 1997 I'm looking out in the flower garden with the orange azalea and purple ajuga in full bloom and birds frolicking in the birds bath. The sound of the wind in the trees and the chirping of the many birds are the only outside sounds. Not a human within miles; no lawn mowers, no cars. Vivaldi's "summer" of the Four Seasons is playing softly in the background. Nothing but tranquility. The sunlit greens of the trees, ferns and grass appear to be almost luminous. There is a light haze over the lake. Oh, perfect peace!
May 1998 Russell Lake … Sunset Chalet … How sweet it is!! No cellar, no whzzz-whzzz or grrrr-grrrr of cars and lawn mowers. Just the sweet sounds of bird songs … nothing else, or total quiet.
January 2002 During 2001 I have been here 132 days which is 36% of the year, almost all of it from May to November: 4 more months and the fun starts again. What will 2002 bring?
From the 103rd Psalm
As a father has compassion on his children
We all select a stone and place it on the heap of stones
which is a monument to the memory of Alexander van Gurp
In the ancient Greek world, religion sprung from people's interaction with their environment and was a way of understanding or coming to grips with the actions and cycles of the natural world. Gods lived on misty mountain tops and controlled the oceans and the skies. The most sacred spots were also the areas of greatest beauty and inspiration. Even today visiting these sites send chills up your spine and generates a strong sense of awe and reverence.
The Christian religion of our father's youth and family has close connections to the beliefs of the ancient Greeks. Common threads can be found between the ancient and more modern religion and a number of books of the New Testament were written in Greek communities amid the temples and religious practices of the Greeks. The ancient people believed that everyone went to the underworld when they died.
To reach the underworld they had to pay a boatman one coin to be ferried cross the mythical river Styx. Africans held similar beliefs and many of the old sprirituals, based on ancient beliefs, refer to rivers or waters to cross to reach the promised land. The Greeks also believed that exceptionally good or heroic people were reserved a place in the Elysian Fields, a golden, blissful place of rest in the underworld. Of course, not everyone made it to the Elysian Fields after their first life. If you were sent back to earth and made it to the fields three times, you earned the right to rest in the Island of the Blessed and never had to leave. Today we are ferrying our father's body across the waters of the Lake Russell to reach the promised land of eternal peace and serenity, to remain undisturbed as long as the land, God or gods allows islands to stand and lakes to be filled. Whatever our religious beliefs may be or not be, may we all live with the hope that eternal peace is possible, whether it exists in the form of a place in heaven next to God, a spot reserved in the Elysian Fields or a tranquil island in Lake Russell.
Travel well, Dad, and Godspeed.