Sunrise departure ceremony

Stevenspedel at our pilgrim lauds

This Saturday is our departure ceremony at sunrise: the pilgrim’s lauds. In the deserted Stevens Church in Nijmegen, we make a quiet walk a little after sunrise and then listen to a story from our first book of hours: Seasons of Life.

Below is a story that was read during a previous ceremony. It was written by Frans van Balveren. The accompanying artwork is by Judith Krebbekx. More about the book: link. To participate in the (free) ceremony: link.

“Above all, let the relief that sounds from the title prevail and not the longing for death. Life is a search for the idea for which one wants to live and die. By what way can I reach my destination, what do I want and what do loved ones in my environment want. As a speaker at funerals, I have given many speeches at farewell services where the family was unable to do so themselves. This was preceded by an extensive conversation with the next of kin. It was striking how easily lives are understood backwards. During those stories, I saw in my mind a person in front of me who had laboriously lived life forward.

The core of the stories was how that person lived and what we mean by being a good person. It told of lives that had been lived with pleasure or had been imbued with melancholy and all variations in between. With the dead man so close by, the evil that had happened was spoken of with compassion: to what extent was he guilty of what had happened and what could absolve him of the grief that had been inflicted on others.

Thinking about someone else’s life is a starting point to think about your own life. Why does one way of life appeal to me and the other life raises many questions? Why could a life that has been abrasive have been blissful? Which lives am I rebelling against? It’s easy to say you want to do things differently: practice what you preach. Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac.

Sometimes people around you do things that you can’t follow. It indicates the limit of your own empathy. Things you can’t put your finger on. What is it about? Taking responsibility for your own life, doing what you have been assigned, standing behind the choices you have made, trying to come to self-denial and charity, doing what appeals to you, expressing guilt and remorse and showing forgiveness. Almost an impossibility, so I see it as a daily pursuit and I am happy with the ‘tree’ I have become.

Death gives you a chance to escape all this. In that sense, a relief. Still, for others it may be a cliché but for me it is meaningful, a loved one in your vicinity, two fantastic children and being able to meet two beautiful grandchildren gives all the energy to go all out!”

July 2014
Frans van Balveren
Father of Wouter and Frouke and grandfather of Beer and Fiep (and now also Carlijn).

Judith Krebbekx
a miniature by Judith Krebbekx

More about Judith Krebbekx

To the website of Judith Krebbekx: link.