Holding the door open


Spiritual counsellor Marinus van den Berg often walks a ‘walk of wisdom’ of a good hour at the end of the day in his city of Rotterdam to evaluate his day. 

Holding the door open

It was raining and storming when I got home around six o’clock in the evening. A father had picked up his daughter from daycare and I held the door open for them for a moment. It was like an inclusio. In the morning, I held the door open for another resident on her way to work. “I’ll hold the door open for a moment and wish you a good day,” I said. “My day is off to a good start,” she said, thanking me and wishing me a good day too. Over the course of the day, I heard complaints about passengers in the metro, tram and buses who say nothing. Everyone has their own earphones and looks at their own smartphone. I didn’t want to ask, “Have you greeted anyone yourself….?” 

Today Damien came to visit. He came to ask me for an autograph for the mayor’s copy of Seasons of Life. I was unexpectedly unable to attend the opening in the Stevenskerk in June. We talked about the meaning of holding the door open. You can see it as just a matter of decency, perhaps even bourgeois, but I regularly notice that it is not self-evident. You have to look behind you or around you to see if anyone else is coming. That’s just a little more than being introverted leaving your house as quickly as possible or heading to your own front door. 

Damien told me that 400 pilgrims walked the Walk of Wisdom . Some the whole route at once and others in stages. I am preparing myself for the farewell of 40 years of working in healthcare as a pastor/spiritual caregiver and for the presentation of my new book Relieving Suffering

It fascinates me to see every day as a day on the Walk of Wisdom . You leave your home and enter the world where you don’t know most people. You come home and leave the world where you met new or strange people or people you thought you knew differently. Every day it’s also about my inner door and my inner path. Those who keep their door open receive a lot of kindness.

Monday 30 November

Marinus van den Berg

Photo: Doeka