‘The grief and mourning may stay with me’ – Miriams Walk of Wisdom


The months of Corona have also strung themselves together for me. I enjoyed the relative peace and quiet. The world has become small, the activities less so.

Fever Tree Sint-Walrick, Paul Spierings

Still, last winter it started to itch a bit: I had to get away from it all. Other carpets underfoot. But also, and perhaps more importantly: saying goodbye to what has been, reflecting on what I am doing and finding myself.

An old plan taken out of the drawer: walking the ‘Walk of Wisdom’. A modern pilgrimage route, not to Santiago, but closer to home. A tour around Nijmegen with start and end in the Stevenskerk. My motto for the tour: ‘You’re missing out on more than you’re experiencing. Not bad at all.’ A quote freely adapted from Martin Bril that was in one of the texts in preparation for the route.

On Tuesday, April 6, with the route in hand, I leave with a backpack with clothes, food and drinks and have already booked the first 5 nights.

Exciting, but it feels good. What am I going to encounter, what is it like to walk so many days in a row, to be on the road alone? Can I do that? First we went to the Stevenskerk……

Write in the big pilgrim book and take a starting photo.

The sun is shining and I’m on my way now. The journey has now really begun: I walk, step by step and follow the marked route. Through Nijmegen in the direction of Ooijpolder.

I’m curious to see how far I’ll get and what it will bring me. Slowly I get into a rhythm. The hubbub of the city fades into the background. My thoughts begin to calm down, to adapt to the rhythm of walking. Nothing more than the route, where you can sit down and have something to eat or drink. Enjoy the surroundings. ‘You’re missing out on more than you’re experiencing……’

After a few hours I meet a fellow hiker, we walk together and philosophize a bit about life and the purpose of our trip. Together, we can get the ferry moving. But that would have been too much of a chore for any of us. In Beek we say goodbye. I make the climb to Berg en Dal for the first night.

The next morning I leave in a white world: it has snowed heavily, but it melts away just as quickly. Over the hills in the direction of Groesbeek.

Friend Annemarie and colleague in mourning (we have both lost our partner) walks the Pieterpad and our paths cross by chance and at the same time: together we eat a cup of soup under a parasol on the Duivelsberg in the pouring rain. After 50 meters we part ways, but this encounter gives warmth and strength to continue. Out on my own and that feels good. On to the log cabin at a campsite. It turns out to be a converted canteen. It’s cold but the bed sleeps well.

That’s how the days go one after the other.

The route starts in a wooded area, which encloses the landscape and invites you to turn more inwards, then it becomes more and more open at the Mookerheide and the Hatertse Vennen to end in the river area, along the Maas, through the land of Maas and Waal to the Waal. Little shelter and strolling along the river.

Along the way I pass various chapels, monuments and places that ask for repentance. My thoughts also follow this path. My inner peace is increasing. I experience more and more unity with the landscape. How I enjoy the beautiful skies, the still transparent trees, flowering blackthorn and the views. Every now and then I fight against the wind, hail and rain, that’s all part of it.

Halfway through the tour, at the ruins of St. Walrick, there is a patch tree: there you have been able to hang and leave worries/illnesses in the form of a patch for centuries. Don’t look back when walking away….. I brought a handkerchief to leave (part of) my grief about the loss of my love there. However, I can’t hang up the handkerchief. Finally, after some hesitation, I tore off a very small piece of handkerchief and hung it in the tree. I put the rest back in my shirt pocket and took it home. It’s still on the kitchen table. It has become clear to me that the grief and mourning can stay with me. I don’t want to lose it either. That moves me and it’s good. After all, it colors my life: our relationship has changed, but it is permanent.

The trip has brought me a lot. First of all, the experience described here. It also turns out that I can walk 136 km in 10 days. Along the way there were beautiful encounters. Being on the road alone was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it. Walking is a nice way for me to relax, to come to myself. Thoughts come and go, it’s living in the moment and eventually ‘problems’ seem to solve themselves. Sometimes different than expected.

I return home with a clear head. Happy and satisfied, but also sad that the journey is now behind me.

Still experienced something very special during this corona period…….


6-15 April 2021