A Reverance for Barns
After seeing many of my favorite barns in the county destroyed by the December storm, I went through my book collection to look for a book I once had, but must have given away when I moved out here. The book was called, A Reverence for Barns. I believe it was partially the work of Fredrick Franck. I can’t find it on Amazon or even a mention of it on Alibris. It must have been a limited local pressing.
Though I’ll probably never see that book again, my search did bring me to the memory of Fredrick Franck. Franck was by trade a dental surgeon who worked with Albert Schweitzer in Africa, though he was best known for his writing and art work. He wrote several books on Zen and spirituality. His art mostly consisted of his drawings and his folksy sculptures.
I first met Fredrick when I was taken to his compound, which he named "Pacem in Terris." I was taken there by a girlfriend at the time, who is now married to a friend who frequents this blog (Geeze, I was 23 years old back then). Franck lived in Warwick, New York in an old house on the banks of the Warwick River. Next to his house was his studio and library.
Across the river from his house was an old stone grist mill that he turned into a theater with a roof that resembled a dove in flight. It had a large heavy wooden door that pivoted to open. The water way was still partially there inside the building. It was cool being inside a building that had a river entering it.
Up near the ceiling on one end was, as I recall a round colored glass window that looked like an eye with the GK Chesterton quote, “The eye with which God I see is the same eye with which God sees me.”
Fredrick hosted classical music concerts every Sunday afternoon. After the concert he would invite the audience over to his sculpture garden across the road for glass of wine.
Looking at him you could tell he was a spiritual man. He was a ghostly pale man with white hair and beard and he dressed in black. He was kind and open and quiet. He looked like a million other older men, but somehow he stood out. Oddly, for someone who wrote so many books on spirituality, he wasn't very preachy. He would speak with passion about his compound, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) and his art.
Fredrick Franck died of heart failure at the age of 97 on June 5, 2006.