Witnessing the Reconstruction of the Dome of Human Kindness

Many thanks to Julian Race, trainee journalist, for writing this article:
Witnessing the Reconstruction of the Dome of Human

It was a pleasure to witness the rebuilding of Tom Henderson-Smith’s Dome of Human Kindness.

I joined Dor Kemmyn, Cornwall’s inter-faith group, after my Auntie had invited the family to the rebuilding of a dome in early August, which we hadn’t heard of before. As we entered the Peace Field in Penmount Crematorium where it was being rebuilt on a very sunny Sunday afternoon, we joined a lovely, peaceful, almost heavenly atmosphere where the dome was being put together and people were enjoying drinks in the heat.

After a hair-raising ride down the field in my wheelchair, I stopped and looked around. Right in front of me was Tom, the dome’s designer, and then in front of him the dome itself with a crew of people assembling it’s triangular faces. At first sight, for me, it resembled Indigenous Australian artwork or, as Tom was inspired by; 14th and 15th century murals, found on the inside walls of monasteries and churches in Italy.

The closer you get, the more colourful it becomes, and on the inside each triangle is painted in natural, bright colours, with an open top, maybe for star-gazing or letting the sun in. On the outside, three scenes depict stories of kindness; the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, as told by Jesus, and the story of St Martin and the beggar. These stories were painted onto the shiny polished wood in colourful stripes.

The dome was made originally after Tom had spent some time in Italy in 1972 exploring its artwork, and was rediscovered many years later, deconstructed. He actually painted the inside originally, but wanted to turn it inside-out since many of his older friends would not be able to view it from the inside. The result is a small building which can house about three chairs.

After it had been constructed, we all stood nearby in a circle to share readings from different faiths on the theme of kindness. We heard from lots of different perspectives, including Hindu, Buddhist and Baha’i. What struck me the most was the variety in culture and worship. The Muslim and Hindu readings consisted of poetry and singing, while the Christian reading was a story, and the Buddhist reading took inspiration from a particular character.

In the same way that Tom’s dome is constructed of many colourful sides, like a diamond, everyone had a different perspective on God and kindness, but we certainly shared much common ground. And now the dome sits in the Peace Field as a reminder of that unity and of the power of kindness.

Thank you Tom.

For more information on the Dome and Tom’s work, please visit: www.facebook.com/rebuildingthedome/
Julian Race, 8th August 2019