Pilgrimage in your own country – report by pilgrim Ineke Kets

Ineke Kets at the symbol of the Walk of Walk of Wisdom

Ineke Kets at the symbol of the Walk of Walk of Wisdom in the Stevenskerk

Ineke Kets was forced to discover pilgrimage in her own country and wrote the report below.

After more than 1 year I have completed this special journey, this special experience. Closed? No, it goes with me, further in my life. It inspires me to make more of these trips.

Ubbergen Walk of Wisdom

For years I had the desire to make a pilgrimage alone. I had the necessary reservations, fears and doubts, but at the end of 2011 I had reached the point where I dared to say to myself and to a few others: “Next summer I’m going to walk the St. Olav pilgrimage in Norway, more than 600 km. alone…. There is one thing that can keep me away from it and that is a grandchild”. In January 2012 our daughter told us that she was pregnant and that our first grandchild would be born in July of that year.

Doubted and doubted and decided not to go for a walk. The memory of that one beautiful event would be faded by the other great event, or so I thought. After all, the pilgrimage until July and then in the same month a grandchild. Too many highlights, or so I thought. In addition, the tension of unexpected events or an early birth.

A beautiful grandson and 2 years later a beautiful granddaughter were born. The desire to go for a walk always remained. But also, as these years progressed, physical complaints arose that forced me to face the fact that a trip of 600 km. was no longer feasible. Partly because I would have to walk with a very heavy backpack. Renewed space, after I quit my job in 2016.

Departure ceremony Walk of Wisdom

In 2017 I heard about the Walk of Wisdom: this is what I can do, what I want to do and what I’m going to do now!
On August 19, 2017 the farewell ceremony in the Valkhof Chapel and an awkward departure. Awkward because at that time more people started the tour and most of them walked in groups… I had to learn to relate to the people around me and on my path… me as a loner…

I went along with a few themes. Reflection and being alone and also trying not to have to do things of myself, not forcing and not performing so many kilometers… listening to my body and if that said ‘stop’ actually doing that. In practice, however, it is more difficult because you can’t easily stop at any time and continue the next day… But still, this remained a starting point and always predominantly…’Sometimes it is appropriate to endure the pain’ is also a way, both physically and mentally. A kind of desert experience.

I was always longing for the next stage. I did the first stages per day. Through the Reichswald with an overnight stay in Milsbeek with a very nice lady, via Friends on the Bike. The next day we continued to Malden. A small milestone: 2 days of walking in a row going up and down. Tough, but it worked! That was autumn 2017. Then there was a break but in January 2018, 2 days after a big storm, I walked from Malden to Grave. Already at the first meters the peace fell over me like a warm blanket and I realized: I missed walking on my own!

Jansberg walk of wisdom

Unfortunately, in the spring/summer of 2018 there was a dip in my health and back problem. After walking from Grave to Ravenstein for 1 day on a sweltering day in the summer, I was able to finish the trip this fall.
To experience the pilgrim’s rhythm, I wanted to walk for 3 days in a row, and that happened in no time. From Ravenstein to the Stevenskerk, of which the middle stage is even 23 km. Always consulting and making agreements with myself, this went very well!

I have experienced walking alone as so cathartic. Alone with your thoughts, whirling through your head, ebbing away and coming back again… until things gradually become a little lighter. More peace of mind, more harmony. Being able to put the worries that are there into perspective, not by thinking about it but by feeling the wind, the sun, your sweat, your sore muscles, step by step… Space is not created by intellectual thinking, but by physical feeling. And through nature, all day around me I felt included and part of a bigger picture.

Peace in my heart and in my soul. I came ‘home’ and that’s how I went home: recharged and more resilient again. I now know: walking alone is very good for me, a medicine, a way to feel more ‘whole’ again. This is what I’m going to keep allowing myself. Maybe not the long hike in Norway walking alone, but I will definitely look for a nice trip again, here in our beautiful hiking country! What a richness…

October 2018, Ineke Kets-Wesselink
(pilgrim 1484)

Labyrinth Waalkade