Monuments Lommel: opening ritual

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The ritual opening of the Onument in Lommel immediately became a community event

A comforting place of peace and connection in the open air

In September-October 2022, an Onument was built in the pine grove at the cemetery in Lommel. The Onument is a place in nature. A place of connection, togetherness, and comfort, which wants to give a home to shared and individual experiences of loss. A place, also specifically for the memory of the many Covid-19 victims and all others who died during this period, from which we could not properly say goodbye.

Together, the various Onuments built in our country form a network of quiet places for connection and tranquillity, but also for discovery and meeting in the open air.

Co-creation with the local community

The Onument in Lommel was opened on November 1, 2022, in the middle of autumn. In the Christian tradition, this is the feast of All Saints. Reveil has been organising subdued concerts at the cemetery in Lommel on that day for years. Corporate Rituals was asked how we could turn the opening of the Onument into an appropriate ritual that immediately involves the local community and sets the tone for what the Onument can mean further.

“Our city was also deeply affected during the corona crisis. The whole community was overcome with immense grief. Something that always helps is talking to each other. With the Onument, our city will not only have a symbolic but also a real place for this,”

Mayor Bob Nijs (CD&V) in HLN

Cyclus van de natuur toont een andere bril om naar afscheid te kijken

The cycle of nature shows provides a different lens through which to look at goodbyes.
The wheel of the four seasons, or four cardinal directions, was a guideline for this ritual. This wheel refers to the basic structure that we find everywhere in nature. It is like a map that nature shows us, giving us a place and situating us at every moment in relation to each other and the natural world. It symbolises the four seasons, the cycle of life. It also stands for cyclical time, which is self-renewing, unlike linear time.

In our Western world, we tend to view the world through linear glasses. We want to move forward, to grow, continuously further, always more. When we have to say goodbye to a loved one, it seems as if something is going on. The line, a life, stops. That is also true as far as this human being’s life in this physical body is concerned. That’s why it hurts so much; that’s why we mourn.

It will be different if we look at this from a different perspective and see and experience nature’s cycle. Even then, there is pain, farewell, and loss. But we also experience the comfort and hope of something much greater. We are part of a larger whole in which everything is constantly changing. In which loss, letting go also means that space can be created again. That new life can grow from the emptiness and the silence.

Musicians and artists speak

On November 1, we took the attendees through the cemetery to end around the circle of the Onument. To give more space to what has happened in recent years through an experience of the four perspectives that nature shows us. Individual and collective. In a movement of connection. With art as language.

We mainly had an advisory role in this ritual. It was nice how a local choreographer/director immediately understood the intention and further worked out the whole process with local artists. Following the tradition of Reveil, he created this ritual together with musicians and other artists (dancers, word) from the region. He also invited those present to perform actions linked to elements from nature (e.g., with sand from Lommel).

The opening of the Onument immediately became a community event in Lommel. Several hundred inhabitants allowed themselves to be completely carried away by this artistic-ritual process. This instantly created a strong involvement and showed the power the Onument can have as a place of silence and processing.