This pilgrim is very stubborn

And started his own route…

In May last year, Manja and I were enthusiastically approached by Wilco Kruijswijk from Amersfoort. Wilco had walked the route with his wife and wanted to see if he could help us. He also saw opportunities for collaboration through his “Ministry of Happiness and Well-being.”

In the summer of 2016 it happened: Wilco and I went for a walk. Wilco turned out to have a good job at a research agency; work that he considered to be a hobby. He spent his free time at his Ministry of Happiness and Well-being, which for him was his “real job”. He felt a responsibility to spread happiness and well-being in the world. Fortunately, he delivered this with a wink.


The walk was about the question of how a pilgrimage route gets “soul” and becomes more than ‘just’ a walking route. The course Ritual Studies, with Ronald Grimes as a pioneer, offers excellent starting points for this. Connect with what’s already there, for example. Experiment, let it grow. Choose clear values and propagate them in all the steps you take. Involve people with different sensitivities.

It turned out that Wilco was also working on a route himself, in the vicinity of Amersfoort. Couldn’t we connect the two?

Favourable conditions

It soon became apparent that there was a difference in style. The Walk of Wisdom revolves around “favorable circumstances” in which people fill in their own journey: a few connecting symbols and customs, but above all not prescribing too much. Wilco, on the other hand, wanted to actively give statements and assignments.

In short, we decided to go our separate ways.


After another extensive interview, in the fall of 2016 came the announcement of the “Gelukerwijspad, a contemporary pilgrimage.” The path turned out to be a round trip of 125 kilometers, independent of any religion, with almost the same core values as the Walk of Wisdom, where pilgrims received a starter pack for €27.50 including a garbage bag “to make the world a little more beautiful.” The route was still “a seed” and “had yet to grow.”

Manja and I had to swallow for a moment. It was a lot like what we had built around Nijmegen with the help of many in recent years. But we felt like it was built here in a few months. Suddenly, the whole pilgrimage didn’t feel like a formula anymore.

In the meantime my shock has subsided and I see that we did not do Wilco justice. It is clear to me that with his pilgrimage route he has found a new way to spread ‘happiness and well-being’ in the world. Although his route takes ideas and formulations from others a bit too literally, he also adds a lot of things of his own. His path is certainly not a copy.

Share & Receive

The core of the Gelukerwijspad is ‘sharing and receiving’. There are ‘Happiness Hotlines’, places where you can do volunteer work, ‘happiness indicators’, you get a lucky coin and postcards to send to someone during the route. With boundless energy and a lot of money from his own pocket, he has created a beautiful website in a short time, had a route guide printed in several languages and even developed his own app. He seeks collaboration with city poets and booksellers and connects to historic roads.


Secretly, of course, we hoped that we would remain the only one with our pilgrimage route, regardless of any religion. Due to the success of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage routes are springing up everywhere, but they are often initiatives of tourist offices along original paths or new initiatives of faith groups. Wilco’s initiative, like ours, is different.

Pilgrimage has become a contemporary form of spirituality experience and our Walk of Walk of Wisdom is just one of them. Wilco adds his own ‘happy’ style with his path. That takes some getting used to, but in the end it is healthy.


Photos: Gelukerwijspad

See for yourself: Gelukerwijspad

More about Ritual Studies and Ronald Grimes: English bachelor’s thesis, Dutch summary