A contemporary day like no other

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Pilgrim Richard Göbel-Frieswijk walked the Walk of Wisdom with his wife Natalie. Below is the story of their last stage. It started somewhat stressed and ended with a fat cigar and a drink. Richard also wrote a poem: The Walking Terrorist. You can find that at the bottom of this page.

One more stage

From 15 to 20 July 2019 we walked the Walk of Wisdom . The goal was to finish the tour in 1 go. We, especially me, are not that trained. Actually, we are not trained at all. But every now and then a day or two of pilgrimage in Friesland yields somewhat positive results. These limited conditions meant that we couldn’t quite make it. There was still 1 stage of about 21 kilometers left. You can read the report of the first part here.

On Saturday, October 19, we would complete our pilgrimage. We specifically chose this date because we wanted to attend the departure ceremony. Circumstances confined us back to our homes and we decided to mark the next ceremony. But four weeks later also brings with it a completely different climate. Again not entirely averse to a challenge, I had already conceived the idea of building a wood stove for the tent last year. I aspired to winter camping anyway and decided to build a stove from an old steel ammunition box. Winter camping involves extensive preparation. For example, it is smart to take the following items with you. You have to think of thick socks, two sleeping bags, a hot water bottle and thermal underwear. Then you’re already well on your way.

Our departure
No sooner said than done, we left on November 15, 2019 for the campsite De Oude Molen in Groesbeek. You can reach the site through a back entrance. After setting up our camp we went to eat and prepare for the night. The next day we were going to complete the Walk of Wisdom .
Unconsciously, you always have some kind of planning in your head. You’re going to live up to that. A few weeks before, I read on the website of the WoW that speakers were requested for the departure ceremony. That sounded like something to me and I decided to compose a poem. I also decided to keep my performance a secret from my partner to make this a surprise.

Before that I had been in contact by phone and we met at the Marikenbeeld on the Grote Markt in Nijmegen. Unfortunately, the bus was not on time and I did not have the planning completely under control. That’s how we missed the group. I saw my opportunity slip by in front of me and started to stress a bit. We were always under the impression that the departure ceremony would take place in the Stevenskerk. I knew something about a chapel but visualized it near the Stevens Church. After asking around a bit, we finally arrived too late at the Valkhof Chapel in the Valkhof Park.

Hear who’s knocking there kids
On the day of the entry of the saint, we had finally found the Valkhof Chapel. Knowing that I was being waited for, I knocked carefully on the old door. With my partner still in ignorance we were received. I was addressed by my first name. I had already been announced and was immediately allowed to take “centre stage”. Despite the fact that I am not experienced in this kind of business, the presentation fortunately went well for me. The St. Nicholas Chapel or the Valkhof Chapel is the oldest standing building in the city of Nijmegen.

The ceremony had already started. After I had had my say and read my poem, each pilgrim was given the opportunity to express his intention for the journey and to confirm this by lighting a candle. A nice way to start consciously in this spiritual way. The impressive historical place made it a very beautiful affair. Musician Mark Schilders finished it off with his self-composed Pilgrim’s Song. Go pilgrim go.

Spiritual father
Afterwards, each pilgrim received the candle from the previous ceremony to ensure circularity. Afterwards we helped to clean up the chairs.
Suddenly, Damien Messing was there. We were warmly thanked for the beautiful contribution to the ceremony. Damien is the spiritual father of the WoW. In the meantime thinking “It’s getting later and later”, we were invited for coffee at Credible. A trendy place just a stone’s throw from the chapel. “You should cherish a nice moment, so don’t stress,” I admonish myself in my mind. You can’t force situations. Mark went with us and in the end we had a wonderful moment. Thanks to Damien.

Finally starting
After a heartfelt goodbye we took the bus to Afferden and then started our trip at 13:22. That’s very late when you still have 21 kilometers to walk. The trick is to resign yourself to this.

Wrong choice
After only walking a few hundred meters, it soon became clear to me that I had made the wrong choice of shoes. I had been inattentive. A quick assessment of my boot revealed that the heel was worn on the inside and slid over my heel. Within a kilometre I had two blisters on my heels. An expletive, at this point, would have been appropriate. @#$%&@$#@ It had literally taken a lot of effort to get to this point. So I decided to persevere. Every step hurt. As if that wasn’t enough, we decided to walk the unpaved part through the floodplains. Nevertheless, a very beautiful area. I endured my pain. I didn’t want to be responsible for aborting this last stretch.

Sedentary occupation
In daily life, I have a sedentary job. I also spend a lot of time in the car. As a result, I have weak back muscles. Even before this trip, I had been to the physiotherapist three times to loosen up the muscles. The uneven terrain was especially tough. Loose sand and stones. Just before Weurt, someone had made a swing out of a buffer block that had fallen from a ship. My lovely partner couldn’t resist the temptation to take advantage of this moment. At this place we also made coffee and ate bread.

Navigating in darkness
It was now getting dark. And reading the descriptions became more and more difficult. In the end, the light of the mobile phone had to come in handy. We realized that we were very lucky. It was a dry day. Not too cold and clear skies. Very different from when we walked the first part. That week we walked in shorts every day. Now we had the light of the stars. Here and there gratefully using the light of a lamppost.

In the distance we saw the Tacitus Bridge. Where the A50 crosses the Waal. It’s easy to navigate on such a large object. The subsoil of the floodplains forces us to take a stroll. Zigzagging along the waterline we seem to be looking for our way. Crazy that we are on stones, we notice that there are a lot of flat stones. As playing children, I am roughly knocked aside when my (not so sweet) partner sees a beautiful stone. This does not take into account my increasingly painful feet. Out of love, I let her win. Picking up a stone here and there, I force myself not to take any more stones with me. It’s an addiction and it weighs down my stride. Continue, Richard I speak to myself sternly.
The bridge is getting closer. We climb up. Under and over barbed wire. Once under the bridge, we look in awe at the massive concrete columns on which the road surface rests. A clever piece of engineering.

The Crossing
In the distance we see a new bridge. It’s “The Crossing”. Via the Noordkanaalhaven we walk towards the bridge. The position of the bridge confused us somewhat. We don’t understand. Once closer, we see that the bridge is a quarter turn different than we expected. It’s because of the design of the bridge. Under the bridge we have to take the stairs to the top. It all seems brand new. (Completed in 2013)

St. Steven’s Church
From afar we can see the illuminated Stevens Church. A familiar face. Halfway through the Crossing we take the stairs down to get to the island in the Waal. We fantasize about what we think we will find. In the meantime, I can feel my blisters growing. I try not to think about it. I secretly hope for a bit of a passable path on the island. I can’t contain a negative expectation. I have an image of high vegetation and sandy beaches. Why should it be any different from the floodplains. Once down, I see that it is a wide paved path. Sometimes gravel, sometimes concrete slabs. It’s easy. And I’m happy.

The railway bridge
My steps are getting smaller and smaller. The pain in my lower back is increasing. My feet almost unbearable. “I have to live up to my word,” I think. After all, I myself have proclaimed that suffering is part of the pilgrimage. Well; I suffer. We leave the island again via a long staircase with long “lazy steps” up. Above us, trains rumble back and forth. From afar it was a beautiful sight in the dark. On the bridge we walk in the direction of the quay. Down the stairs again and lie down on a bench for a while. Not too long and disciplined we get up again. The last hundred meters. Via the labyrinth up the stairs via the St. Anthony’s Gate in the direction of the Stevens Church. The gate played an important role in the attack on Nijmegen in 1589.

The Devil
You unsubscribe from the devil. A bit of searching but eventually we found him on the wide stairs to the Stevenskerk. Exhausted, painful, full of emotions, we embraced. We had made it. And in no way did we imagine it that way. The day started completely differently than planned. Despite everything, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way. I wouldn’t have wanted to walk it with anyone other than my partner.

Back to the tent
Once back at the tent we lit the stove. We deserved a big cigar and a drink. Sit comfortably in a warm tent. In the end it turned out that I had a blister of 3 cm diameter on each heel.

Richard Göbel

And then the poem:

The Hiking Terrorist

● Many people walk as a form of contemplation, but after completing it, it feels like victory to us.

● We live in a society of seduction, although I think of a two-separation.

● Where temptation and envy lurk … Nazar turns our faces,

● We are inundated with information and signals, which occasionally tempts us to go astray.

● There is light and sound everywhere, but I walk in love with my bride.

● Everything has to be done a lot and fast, which I experience as a torment.

● We live in a society of quick gratification. To my chagrin, I experience this as an insult.

● Excess is everywhere. Unfortunately, this results in a lot of (litter) waste.

● Walking slows down alléz. The hiking takes care of our rendéz.

● When you walk, you have the chance to give a counter-movement. It’s nice to live walking like this.

● You resist and still do something right.

● The Walk of Wisdom is not urgent.

● When you walk, you know everything in perspective.

● Eventually, you learn that everything is only relative.

● It is a wise course of action. You will slow down by walking.

● Make this contribution as a counter-movement you… hiking terrorist …. And let this be the nail in your coffin.

● Make this sacrifice for this overall balance in society… And so turn our tide.

● Slow you down. Slow down.

● Take one step at a time.

● Feel every pebble, every breath of wind…. Don’t go fast.

● This is good for everyone and go with this message…. And right now….

● Go, pilgrim, go.

16 November 2019

Richard Göbel-Frieswijk.