Sky and emptiness: Saturday departure ceremony


This Saturday is our (free) departure ceremony after sunrise: the pilgrim lauds. We walk in silence through the deserted Stevens Church in Nijmegen. In the middle of the beautiful space, we listen to a story from Seasons of Life, the first pilgrim’s Book of Hours of the Walk of Wisdom.

Last month it was a story by Martin Pieterse in response to the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Toine Janssen of the philosophical practice de Wijsmakerij read it aloud. The image is a miniature from Seasons of Life by Gerrie Dobbelaer: ‘Winter’.

“Air and emptiness,” says Ecclesiastes,
air and emptiness, everything is emptiness.”

Ecclesiastes 1.2
The Preacher is not a happy smiley face. ‘Everything is exhausting’, he sighs in the first chapter
of his book. There is nothing new under the sun. All fame and fortune will sink into
oblivion. Air and emptiness. Bloated, hollow lives that slowly deflate. Leak, already at
the birth.

On most antique calendars, the year begins as a matter of course with spring. Not at the
Preacher. His whole being belongs to winter. Our northern winters were sure of him
please. Bare fields, bare trees, gray clouds in gray skies. Air and emptiness.

“The wind blows to the south, then it turns to the north. He twists and turns and blows and
turns, and as it turns, the wind blows back again,” says the Preacher. Spinning Wheel of
Karma, symbol of all vanity. The Preacher hates vanity.

Pomp! Winter is the season of silence. Life rests in the earth, waiting for
warmer times. Winter is a time to reflect, to brood, to disconnect from
the impetuosity that dominates our lives for the rest of the year. The Preacher hates
of impetuosity.

Martin Pieterse
Lecturer of the Old Catholic Willibrordus parish

With thanks to publisher intermedi-art kunstzaken.
Sign up for the departure ceremony (non-pilgrims also welcome): link.
More about our series of pilgrim books of hours: link.