Return the other way around

Every first Saturday of the month, just after sunrise, we organise the good bye ceremony the pilgrims’ lauds. In the twilight of the st. Stevens Church in Nijmegen, we walk in silence to a special edition of our first pilgrim book Seasons of Life. There one of us reads out a text from this book. At the beginning of this month it was a text from writer Richard Engelfriet. Ton Reijnders read aloud.

Next pilgrims’ lauds: Januar, December 4 at 8.45 am. Participation is free: more.

From the morning … a lithograph by Ardi Brouwer. It is her first miniature in the series: From the morning, Through the afternoon, To the evening, Into the night. Appeared in Seasons of Life: A Contemporary Pilgrim Book of Hours

Return the other way around!

The most beautiful walk I ever took was the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand. In ‘God’s own country‘, as the New Zealanders like to call their country, you can take this beautiful day hike. You walk right through the film set of The Lord of the Rings. Wild volcanic landscapes, beautiful lava lakes, deep craters and incredible views alternate. You climb almost 2 kilometers, see flowers you didn’t know existed and smell scents you’ve never smelled before.

A beautiful walk, with unfortunately one major drawback: about 5,000 fellow walkers. Buses full of people start the tour from 5 a.m. Where I was only packed with a simple backpack with 6 sandwiches, 4 liters of water and a jar of Nutella, I saw people walking with packs to travel for weeks through the Himalayas. And that wasn’t the only thing: on the way they liked to take a hundred or so photos, immediately tweet them and call home from the most beautiful viewpoint: ‘Yes, it’s me. I can’t hear you really well, it’s quite noisy over here with all the other people’.

It is what it is, but then try enjoying your walk ‘zen- style’. Let alone feel like a pilgrim embarking on a meaningful journey. Fortunately, the solution was very simple: at the end of the walk, all those tourists were picked up by vans. I turned around and walked the same walk again. But now alone.

I can heartily recommend it. Should the Walk of Wisdom crash under its own success, I have some simple advice: just turn around and enjoy the silence.

I wish you a good journey!

Richard Engelfriet
Freelance chairman, author and speaker