‘I peel a fruit, a smiley appears’ (René van Nieuwkuijk, pilgrim 612)


“Peel off your grace, let go.” Pilgrim René van Nieuwkuijk walked the Walk of Wisdom and it became a kind of ‘spiritual composting’, he says.

René recently gave a ‘Speech of the Pilgrim’ on the occasion of his journey. That was at an art manifestation about pilgrimage at the Homische Mühl residential park (http://homuschemuhl.nl/


Read his extraordinary speech below.




I’m peeling a fruit

A smiley face will appear


I’m René,

This spring I became a pilgrim;

I walked the Walk of Wisdom

The new pilgrimage route without connection to any religion, which was developed by pioneer Damiaan Messing around Nijmegen.


When I started, I wrote the following incantation:




Grimas images



Turn inward


Puns as a guide 

as companions.

A pun is a delight to me

and a helping riddle.


In the word pilgrimage,

In this way I find the fact of the mask,

the ‘grimace’.

I call them incantations 

Because I wanted to allow myself to take off my masks

and play with it.


Not only masks,

Also images, images (pel-grimage) –

Knowing that images can help but can also disturb.


So let go

Turn inward

The funny thing is that I turned outwards

Walking, in nature


That’s a fascinating fact, I think

Turning inward and outward can belong together.

In pilgrimage, this duality is an interwoven fact for me.


Because turning inward 

is quite different from navel-gazing,

or fall asleep,

or close your eyes.

Well, those are tricky words

Because closing your eyes can sometimes reveal more than opening them.


There’s a pilgrim lying there.

So here’s one.


Rolling wood on the stream of life.

My pilgrimage is about under- and upstreams, 

About what I might not see

maybe feel

perhaps suspected.


For me, it’s about THE OTHER SIDE

About what I can’t find out with my eyes and mind

And also not in my contacts with other people


I make a pilgrimage on my own –

and ongoing.

Perhaps Goethe had that experience,

that you, Homische Mühle,

have written on your building:

“Nur wo man zu fuss war  –  war man wirklich.”

I think that’s a possible idea.


Back to those grimaces

The Masks

Which brings me to the first day of my Walk of Wisdom tour.

You will receive a garbage bag from the organization.

To collect litter on your trip and thus make a contribution to keep our environment in order.


I was annoyed by that;

It rubbed off on my hypersensitivity to moralism

I’ll figure out for myself what I keep in order and how I do it!


Immediately afterwards I was annoyed by my reaction;

Self-righteous know-it-all that you are there!

And what are you going to do with that pilgrimage!??


Okay, then.

I’ll do it.

In this way, waste became a theme

Maybe an image, a disturbing image?

But no

I think a helpful image

‘Cause it was going to work in me

It caused all kinds of things that I wouldn’t have made up myself


For example:

That my discarded masks

Waste is 

of my way of dealing with myself;

That my grimaces would be garbage.

But René,

Grimaces are fun!

They are so typical of you.


That may be

But they can also be quite disguised

and get in the way.

But to call them garbage right away…

and the garbage bag  metaphor for your cleaning process??


Is garbage waste?

Or fodder for joy

For inner peace?

Is my pilgrimage 

So basically a kind of spiritual composting?


I think the latter is an attractive image;

Carefully Collecting My Own Spiritual Apostasy

because they are growth substances

in the cyclical process of my maturation as a human being

As a plan

As a flower

As a fruit

As creation?

Beautiful and divine images, aren’t they…!??


Or sly puns

For diabolical erroneous ways…???


Yes, because puns can play tricks on me too

Left runs

As I walk the pilgrimage

To get away from it

Running away with myself


Walk like the English ‘loop’,

A twist that brings me back to AF


For me, pilgrimage is tying the cat to the bacon!


I like it

that it was provided for

on my pilgrimage.


Those are the duration and the length.

Because after a few days

and many kilometers,

forces are at work that are stronger than the

Then my clever musings

and my funny ideas;

I’m coming 

On the other hand



Unexpected fruits hanging on the trees

unexpected guests cross my path

Unexpected experiences present themselves


I’m going to fall in line

with the rhythm of nature

or what I mistake for it;

My own nature

Get in touch



Then I notice

that words are the least suitable

To tell you about pilgrimage

at least

Literal words


What I hope 

Is that my words

Canvas whitening

whereupon my experience appears invisibly

Visible only to …


For whom, exactly?

For what?

For myself?

For later?

For the good listener?


But also

Have I 

with that words whitening

Made a new grimace

And the cyclical game can start again:


Hi that René

How are you doing?

Oh, very good!!

Do you have a garbage bag for me?

I’m ready again

To some spiritual composting!


And that of that non-religion-related pilgrimage

Has come true for me anyway;

As a right-minded apostate.