Our new Book of Hours is out! (first chapter)

On the road to wisdom - cover

The first chapter of On the Road to Wisdom – our new Book of Hours – is out. It was published as an e-book (pdf) and contains 88 pages of reports of (guest) pilgrims, poetry and art.

You can download it for €9.99. We will use the proceeds to finance the following chapters and the paper book. Meer.

Gesture to save the world

On a wave of warm interest, the e-book was presented on Saturday 3 September in our start-end point, the Stevens Church in Nijmegen.

Just like our pilgrimage route, the book is a means to convey that we as humans are deeply connected to each other and to nature. That awareness is a source of meaning and inspiration to act from.

Is this awareness of connectedness also a compass for the human species as a whole: homo sapiens – the “sensible, wise man”? Do we even deserve that title?!

Monique Appels - Walk of Wisdom
Monique Appels by Paul Spierings

The Good News of Life Itself

According to the pioneer of the Walk of Wisdom – Damiaan Messing – man has yet to earn the title of homo sapiens. Shocked by what we are doing to each other and the planet, he has been looking for more than thirty years for a new, big story that can inspire people to love each other and the planet more. In his search, he came across an important candidate: the big story of life itself. A pilgrimage of 3.5 billion years across the earth, fanning out into a trillion forms and species.

Damiaan Messing by Paul Spierings
Damien by Paul Spierings

“My own spiritual awakening strangely started with one of the greatest atheists of our time: Richard Dawkins. This evolutionary biologist wrote a wonderful book: the story of our ancestor. In it, he tells the story of evolution from the beginning of life to the present day, culminating in humanity. That version of the story, according to Dawkins, leads to narcissism. As if all evolution revolves around humans.

Dawkins tells the story the other way around: from humanity to the very beginning. A pilgrimage to the common ancestor of all life. In this evolution-backwards, it turns out that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Not only the geniuses of human history, but also and above all the genius of life itself. Life that independently of man made many wonderful discoveries, from the art of flight, to seeing, from underwater breathing to photosynthesis and digestion.”

Dawkins is accused of reducing life to the level of genes. To me, that doesn’t detract at all from the miracle that is life. For the short time of our existence, we carry that miracle further through time and space. Through our children, our ideas, or through the work we do for organizations that are a form of those ideas. Until we humans too are extinct, like the vast majority of species. Life, however, goes on. In new forms, in new guises.

Damien thought this was such a beautiful story that he once considered becoming an ‘evangelist of life’. He felt it was a new, big story that could bring people together and connect them to the world’s ecosystem. However, when he learned how much blood has been spilled in history out of inspiration for great stories, he dropped out. Eventually, with Manja Bente and the help of many others, he developed the Walk of Wisdom .

“To connect, you first need freedom”

Damien: “The power of modern pilgrimage lies in the premise of freedom. Pilgrims today who walk along old religious paths or new trails all praise the simplicity and connectedness of being on the road. The complex existence is reduced to the planning of a day’s march: eat, drink, sleep. Your body. Differences in status disappear under the dust of the walk and everyone shares the same horizon, regardless of religion or origin. It creates a culture of helping each other and respecting everyone’s space.

That is the big story we want to convey with the Walk of Wisdom , linked to modern values such as caring for the Earth. Whereas the great stories of history start from a great, connecting Truth that would apply to everyone, modern pilgrimage starts from the personal freedom that is interpreted differently by everyone. First freedom, then connectedness. Conversely, leads to coercion and bloodshed.”

Song to save the world

Troubadour Mark Schilders then followed up on this. Bewildered, he told me that he had been asked to write a song “that was supposed to save the world. ‘ “Like I’m a break number. A nice, romantic gesture that everyone knows is not possible. But fuck, I believe that you can save the world with a song. In fact, when I started the song, I was through it. I was physically tired and mentally exhausted. But while writing, my good mood came back. I started to enjoy life again. And I realized: yes, with this song I can save the world. Even if it’s just the part of the world that I am.”

Mark sang his song and invited everyone to dance at the end. Which we promptly did, to start ‘a tour around the church. The Stevenskerk – where the presentation took place – is the start and end point of the 136-kilometre-long Walk of Wisdom around Nijmegen. We summarize this round in a round of 15 minutes.

By Henk-Jan de Vos

Earth Angels

Upon returning, co-developer Manja Bente talked about her commitment to the environment and the Earth, which is very important for the inspiration under the Walk of Wisdom . ” ‘The world belongs to everyone’, is written on the back of a wall in my neighborhood. Not just yours and me and everybody. Also of the plants and animals. I want to give that care and love a place in my life and with this route.”

It was Manja who involved the artist Marlieke Overmeer in Op weg naar wijsheid (On the way to wisdom ). Marlieke made a series of seven Earth Angels for the Walk of Wisdom , entirely in line with Marlieke’s philosophy that everyone can be an angel to you for a while. Whether that’s the bus driver on the road or a pilgrim you meet.

Earth angel Marlieke Overmeer
Earth Angel – Marlieke Overmeer
Earth Angel 4 Marlieke Overmeer
Earth Angel – Marlieke Overmeer

Small gesture to save the world

Marlieke Overmeer also designed a ‘small gesture to save the world’. Everyone present received it afterwards, to take home, after lighting a candle by the world peace flame.

Do you want to know what the gesture is? We still have a few lying around and will do something with them soon.

Paul Spierings
By Paul Spierings

Go Pilgrim go

With a nod to the international dream of the Walk of Wisdom , at the end of the presentation everyone was waved goodbye with our familiar pilgrim song Go pilgrim go. It was specially translated into English by Mark Schilders and Marjolein Pieks: “Go pilgrim, go. Every step of the road will reveal what you know. So go, pilgrim, go… ”

By Marjolein Pieks

Download the e-book

On the road to wisdom - cover
On the way to wisdom – cover Petra van Bloemendaal

Miracle flute

And if you are wondering: who was that musician who played the flute so brilliantly during the ceremony? That was Monique Appels. “Everything resonates”: more.

Monique Appels
Monique Appels, by Paul Spierings