“When something is right, beats with your heart, miracles descend” – the Walk of Wisdom by Claartje

Yoga teacher Claartje Bos has been one of our volunteers since the opening, among other things in preparing starter kits. This year, she completed the trek in nine days. When she walks back into Nijmegen on her 9th day: “The whole atmosphere has something apocalyptic: the lock, abandoned factories, everything lit by a watery sun. Also suddenly a lot more people. The difference with the previous days is big“. Claartje also ran for Refugee children (link) and turned to the internet for her followers in the evening to post a report on Facebook. She raised more than €2,000. Below is her report.

Nijmegen – Beek-Ubbergen day 1 30-04-2021 | 16:09

This morning my husband Ad takes me to Lent and together we walk to the Valkhof Chapel. (Stevenskerk — where the tour actually starts — doesn’t open until 11 a.m.)

Waved goodbye by Ad on the road alone. The walking is going well. After 2 hours I arrive at Bison Bay and take an ice-cold dip there – delicious!

It’s great hiking weather. Quiet. Bird sounds, early spring greens, fragrant blossoms… A good time for this tour.

Some encounters along the way:
A couple is thinking about walking part of the Camino, they try it out to see how they like it.
Someone tells us that a golden eagle has been spotted near Beek-Ubbergen.

It’s nice to follow my own rhythm like this. Probably also supported by all the donations and the children we are going to make happy.

Stage 2: to Milsbeek 01-05-2021 | 18:21

Started from the hotel Sous les Eglises in Beek-Ubbergen at 8:30. Through Berg en Dal, up and down, towards Reichswald which I am somewhat dreading. (Won’t I get lost there? Aren’t there any ‘scary men’?)

First over Duivelsberg and past a place where a woman used to be murdered. None of this is encouraging.

By the way, two boys are camping on that spot… My idea, but I’m still happy that I can sleep in comfortable beds and don’t have to carry around any more. At the same time, I think of Nour who tried 5 times to reach Greece via Turkey with sleeping outside in winter without a sleeping bag with only a plastic bag around his feet. And Said who almost drowned at sea during his flight…
Really: what am I worried about?! Moreover, the sun is shining and the early greenery is so beautiful.

Unfortunately, the nice station café in Kranenburg is closed, so no nice German torte. Someone is cleaning, she tells me it’s a holiday – oh well. She has to clean because she is self-employed (yes, those Self-employed keep things running nicely…) VVV also ‘zu’ so no bird ring as proof that I have really been there.

I feel rushed because I think I have to walk more km than I actually do. So it’s not too bad, even the big bad Wald.

Repeatedly I tell myself: enjoy NOW no matter what, it is the only moment that IS. And we’re lucky: our lives are full of them! In fact, there is nothing different than NOW.

A beautiful sentence from the Walk of Wisdom booklet: Pilgrim, strive with whatever it takes to realize your ideals. (For the Falling Angels, paratroopers who attacked from the air in WWII. How would we live now if those young boys hadn’t done that?!)

Now hospitably welcomed by Marij from ‘Friends on the Bike’. Her son, who loves to cook, provides a hot meal. Mmmm!

I would like to attach pictures but that is so tiny and a hassle. So if you want, those will come later.

Stage 3: to Malden 02-05-2021 | 21:13

Yesterday my trip in Milsbeek ended with a warm, hospitable ‘Friend on the Bike’. My son comes with his wife and child and enjoys himself in the kitchen, which results in a delicious, vegetarian two-course dinner. Hostess Marij serves home-baked apple pie. After this I went to bed.

Today it is clear, fresh, good hiking weather and the surroundings are beautiful: the Sint Jansberg with spring streams. It quickly gets busier with people, which takes some getting used to. Two joggers think this is the most beautiful part of the route – many people know ‘the Walk’ – and would later like to be scattered in the stream that flows along the path. A little further I meet a family with three young children. They also follow the WoW and are used to walking long distances, making mountain trips in the summer. How beautiful to do this from childhood! I think about the children I’m running for…

When I walk past Heumensoord via the Mookerheide, I think of the beginning of the ‘Walk of Wisdom’. Pioneer Damiaan Messing walked the entire route with the World Peace miner’s lamp, given to him by the Dru yoga organization, in the company of changing people. On the trip in which I accompanied him, we passed Heumensoord, where many refugees were/would be received at the time. I wanted to do something for them, and now, so many years later, I’m running a charity run for the children… funny.

(Maybe just like with the route: sometimes you don’t know how a clue can be correct, only when you get to the spot, you understand how it works. Perhaps this is also the case in the course of your life: only when you are ready is the next step not strange, even if you had not thought of it in advance.)

Along the way I now also meet more single female pilgrims, Antoinette treats me to cappuccino on the terrace at the glider airfield (nice that terraces are open). She does everything even more ‘in isolation’. She does the whole route in 6 days. Spicy! We both have problems with our feet, and we have to get going again when we continue.

It’s also going to rain hard for a while, luckily I didn’t bring my rain poncho for nothing.

Eventually I arrive in a very comfortable cozy house behind a beautiful farm, away from the (Hatertse)weg. Glad I can take off my shoes… And what I already thought: I have blisters on a number of toes. According to Jacqueline (friend and pedicurist) I have to pierce them because they are full of moisture. Then disinfect and tape. If only I had brought sheep’s wool or greasy cotton wool for between the toes… Except for some pressure points of the backpack, I actually feel very good.

The rest is wonderful and I feel stronger, fitter. I also become more familiar with the route and am no longer afraid to get lost.

Along the way I sometimes sing the Gayatri mantra for those who can use it and I feel grateful for the route and everything that crosses my path (At least suddenly a lot of border terriers. We used to have one of those: Ringo, and I always want to pet them when I meet them).

Stage 4: Malden – Grave 03-05-2021 | 19:46

Today we say goodbye to the lovely house. On to the Hatertse fens, via busy asphalt roads. I know this area. Earlier we had a volunteer day of the WoW here with Machteld and Ronald in their beautiful garden. And together with Denise, I spent the night in their bakehouse.

I pass the patch tree: ‘The robber chieftain Walrick is said to have converted to Christianity in the 8th century when his sick daughter was healed by a preacher. This happened after she had hung a piece of clothing in the tree’ (from WoW). A cheerful tree full of fabrics. I reflect on the people who need healing and sing the Gayatri mantra (I also do it along the way, for them, for the donors and anyone else who comes to mind).

At the first (new) Marian chapel I light a candle for Syrian friends of Mary, and mine and for the children for whom I walk.

The rest is long and straight and asphalt. But despite that and despite the blisters, I feel very happy and joyful. Grateful for all the animals I meet along the way, all the birds that sing happily, the sun, the encounters, the scents of blooming flowers, trees, river, wet grass, wood and wood fire. Grateful for my backpack that wears well on the hips, grateful for my windproof jacket with ventilation holes at the armpits, which I can open, grateful for my new hiking shoes, which may have floored me the first time, but now support me well. Grateful that diligent ‘ant Ad’ grants me this outing and I can sing and enjoy it like ‘the cricket’.

Asphalt and blisters apparently don’t matter to be perfectly happy.

In Grave first sitting on a terrace are blue-faced, all the die-hards around me have, it seems, been longing for the terraces to reopen. When I get on, a motorcyclist asks all kinds of questions about the Walk. He would like to see everything calmer and better.

The Friend on the Bicycle is cycling (I’m too early) and I seek refuge in the church. At one point, a lot of Hail Marys are prayed there by a handful of old people.

On my way to the Vriend I pass through beautiful Grave and past a supermarket where I buy dinner.

When I arrive, I am warmly welcomed and we exchange cycling and walking experiences. I can retreat to her meditation room: a nice attic room. In response to my question, she says that the energy can only become more beautiful because of all the Friends. I think that’s a nice thought. She also donates for charity – sweet. The World Peace Flame candle moves her.

In the evenings I listen to soothing music in the attic. Enjoyable.

Stage 5: Grave – Ravenstein 04-05-2021 | 17:53

Today I left a bit later because otherwise I will arrive too early. Farewell to the friendly Friend on the bike.

I find the hosts very cordial and warm, maybe it has to do with the fact that they are Brabanders or Limburgers?

It’s rainy and stormy and I’m curious how I like it. Usually I’m very lucky with the weather but now I can’t seem to escape the elements. I have to walk extra because the Friends are off the route.

As soon as I come out of Grave, it starts pouring. Soon I arrive at the Capuchin monastery (Velp) which I have heard is worth a visit. I am warmly welcomed and get tea in the guesthouse (where there are all kinds of interesting books, including the book with the title Ubuntu: ‘I am because we are’, really appeals to me). There I meet Femke, also a single person who hasn’t even booked anything and still finds shelter. Great and shows a lot of confidence. We share the opinion that you get what you expect and that this whole journey contains metaphors with ‘normal life’. She had a special experience in this convent. Definitely a nice place to stay! (You can eat with it and meditations are given.)

Because I want to be in ‘De Hooiberg’ in Ravenstein at 3 o’clock – Ad is also coming there – I leave again.

The road is very open and on the dikes I almost fly away in my rain poncho. It’s kind of funny, actually. When it clears up, everything is dry again in no time and there are the most beautiful skies in combination with the early green and yellow of the rapeseed. I sympathize with the sheep and lambs along the way and cyclists with a flat tire.

By the way, this part of the route is new to me. The rest I have already walked with Kristine, Denise and Désirée.

Now cozy with Ad listening to the rain pattering❣️ outside

Stage 6: Ravenstein – Hernen 05-05-2021 | 17:57

It’s cozy with Ad in the Haystack, near Ravenstein. The weather is changeable with beautiful skies and heavy showers. Nice to be inside. We don’t have to get out until 12 o’clock. A little rest and that way I don’t arrive too early at the next B&B.

Together with Toon, the owner, we look at the cute foal Shetlanders who are only 5 days old. They criss-cross and make unexpected jumps. Rosemarijn, our hostess, donates – as I see later – for charity.

Then in the car back to the center of Ravenstein. We take a look at the beautiful old town. Just like Grave, an attractive fortified town. Under an old gate we eat Bossche bollen. Unfortunately, it’s going to rain again. Ad takes me to the bridge where we say goodbye and I resume the trip.

It’s cold and I keep my rain poncho and pants on. Everything is harder today: I feel my feet, especially my (big) toes, I don’t like the route on asphalt and it’s disappointing and the wind makes me a bit dizzy. Fortunately, I only have to drive about 11 km (I don’t know exactly: I don’t have an odometer with me).

Just when I see a bench and want to take off my poncho, it starts to rain again. Probably Murphy’s Law, so I’ll stick to everything. Because of that(?) I hardly have any rain.

At Leur I suddenly find myself in the forest: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and peace descends again. What a difference!

In Hernen I don’t have to go far from the route for the B&B. There are already three other pilgrims who came from the monastery in Velp today. They were not happy about it (funny, so different from what I heard before).

Everywhere I give the hostess/host a World Peace Flame candle. Now appropriate in connection with Liberation Day. Previously, they (coincidentally?) found a good destination for loved ones who died too young.

Hopefully, peace will eventually prevail in Syria and throughout the world. And we can at least give a piece of peace to the children in the form of an outing. In the meantime, the target amount has increased almost sixfold! Thank you very much, everyone.

Stage 7: Hernen – Puiflijk (B&B) 06-05-2021 | 17:33

Slept wonderfully in an (expensive) bed.
Yesterday we ate pizza with the three female fellow pilgrims, brought by the host.
These ladies take a very different approach: they skip whole pieces and go shopping in Nijmegen afterwards. I really like to hear how everyone makes this trip in their own way (so far only spoken to women). It is the only good way: the OWN way.

Because of pressure on my (big) toes, I decide to walk in sandals today. I can recommend that to anyone who has sensitive toes: bring sandals! (And preventively: Spread Gehwohl cream thickly before walking or braid sheep’s wool / greasy cotton wool between your toes (I hadn’t done that). Oh, how my toes feel FREE! I’m HAPPY again!

The tour starts at Hernen Castle: ‘One of the oldest preserved medieval castles in the Netherlands’, very beautiful! The paths and garden that surround it exude antiquity.

I enjoy the beautiful weather, the soft surface, the cadence of my steps, the early fragrant nature, and the song of the birds. In the silence that falls between the songs of the birds, I feel completely NOW. Nature is so wonderful!

At the Kapelberg in Bergharen there is a Stations of the Cross where shields and text are out of sync. I wander a bit and eventually go back to where I saw the last shield. There I can pick up the (slightly different) thread again. It’s okay, otherwise I’ll be at the B&B too early. The three ladies I had overtaken somewhere are having a picnic in the grass. They saw me go wrong from a distance.

It’s good picnic weather, so on a bench I finally eat the sandwiches that have been hobbling along with me for a long time. The backpack has become a part of me. She keeps me firmly on the earth.

In Afferden I sit for a while in a chapel of the old tower. There is a kind of diary for a woman who died young. From the looks of it, she was special. It’s great that her loved ones keep coming here to write for her and to commemorate her. I look for her grave with a nice picture of her.

Outside, the three ladies have just arrived and together we walk to café-restaurant de Tabaksplant, a ring-pick-up place and the place where my hostess will pick me up. It’s way too early again and that’s why I decide to walk to her in Puiflijk, about 4 km.

A very warm welcome, in a tasteful B&B. Wendy would also like to walk the WoW herself, after all the enthusiastic stories of pilgrims. She wants to go alone, but also finds it exciting. I encourage her to go alone. It’s so nice to be able to follow your own path!

Now I’m sitting/lying on a super bed with footboard and backrest up. Wendy will soon be serving hot food. Delicious and luxurious.

Stage 8: to Weurt 07-05-2021 | 18:00

Delicious breakfast with banana pancakes and muesli/yogurt/fruit. Enthusiastic hostess Wendy is looking forward to the WoW. We mainly talk about ‘the Walk’ and related things. When I’m ready, she takes me to the route by car.

From Afferden to Weurt I walk alternately on the dike, along the river and in between on clog paths, just where I end up.

On both sides of the dike are so-called Wheels/Waaien: ‘Due to the force of the water flowing out and swirling around, deep holes were created during a dike breach, now they are small deep pools’ (from the WoW).

I pass dike houses (where tools were (and are?) to maintain the dike) and pipes of brick factories. (I may even have taught in a brick factory in Afferden…)

The sun is shining on the river beach and it looks like a day at the seaside. But with nice river air. A woman calls me out to see if I have any plasters. Well, I have all kinds of things so the woman puts plasters and tape on her skinned heels. Her partner is interested in the Walk and takes a picture of the booklet. In return, I get a cup of coffee.

It is a kind of mirror-image trip like the first day: then on the path ‘bison’ at the Bison Bay, now royal horses with whom I cross paths. I think there will be swimming opportunities again, just like back then. Because of all the plasters, I won’t go in right now.

At one point I walk opposite the dike where I will walk home tomorrow in the opposite direction.

At the end, a cozy hotel awaits, just like the first day. With – again – a nice hostess, who thinks I look ‘happy’ (I have every reason to). It’s funny, I think the same about her, maybe we’re seeing our reflection?

Meanwhile, on this second-to-last day, I feel a bit wistful and wonder if I’ve been ‘in silence’ enough. Also all the photos I take: don’t I want to ‘hold’ everything too much? Anyway, I did it the way I did it and that’s good.

There was really no choice stress. Maybe because of the fixed path and the pre-booked overnight stays. Because of all the different people who all make their unique choices, I understand that everything is ok. (And maybe even everything is already set.)

In the meantime, I’m lucky with the weather. The beautiful cloudy skies only let a few splashes of rain fall. It’s chilly but the wind is (also) with me. Swallows fly around me and sometimes I see a stork. Sheep and lambs are ruminating and I see a beautiful ‘workhorse’.

Now my food is served.

Return home via Nijmegen (Valburg) 08-05-2021 | 17:11

As always, I wake up early (about 6 am). At 8:45 I can’t be stopped and I leave, actually too early because the Stevenskerk doesn’t open until 11 o’clock.

Soon I enter Nijmegen. The whole atmosphere has something apocalyptic: the lock, abandoned factories, everything lit by a watery sun. Also suddenly a lot more people. The difference with the previous days is huge.

Via the Snelbinder I cross the Waal and on the island near Lent I cross the Waal again via the railway bridge.

Because I’m too early, I walk the stone labyrinth on the quay with two ducks. It’s ingenious how something like this is made. When I end up in the middle, ‘I’m my best friend’ spontaneously pops into my head. Beautiful and I muse on it. So I walked this trip with ‘my best friend’… Well that went very well!

Since it’s still too early, I walk back the labyrinth. Then I lose the route and wander through the old town. I walk around the Stevenskerk and go to a nice children’s bookstore. I want to buy a ticket for Sonja. When I pay, I see my favorite children’s book: ‘The Letter for the King’ by Tonke Dragt, now for (far too) little money. I think it’s a very nice gift for my new best friend, so buy it. It’s quite amazing that I’m running into that right now. But I know from previous experiences that when something is right, beats with my heart, miracles descend.

After I have described the map, it is time to report to the church. The missing rings are filled in. (Often the rings were in birdhouses at indicated places along the route. But at one location a bird had sat down to breed.) I also get a stamp in my route booklet.

I am also allowed to enter the church for a while. And that’s where I get a huge emotion. It is special to walk around in that beautiful, large, old church on my own.

On the way back, I suddenly walk the route I ‘should have walked’ again. I take a cappuccino to go and change shoes again to see if that works. That’s fine. In the opposite direction I go to Valburg. I try to walk as many ‘wise’ Wisdom paths as possible. And so I soon arrive at the strip of grassland between the dike and the Waal that can actually be followed to Slijk-Ewijk. Funny, yesterday I was walking across the street. An invigorating rain descends on me and the wind has changed so it blows me back home – warmer than so far.

It is also very beautiful so close to home. In the church of Slijk-Ewijk there is an exhibition of Lincy and I take a look there. Ad calls me, he has come by car to pick me up because of the rain. We see each other outside but I would like to complete my trip with backpack and all.

Close to home, the path crosses with neighbor Els, who has sympathized wholeheartedly and who has invited us to come over for dinner.

At home I am warmly welcomed by my wife and by the cats, who are now sleeping next to me. Ad cleaned the whole house and bought beautiful flowers.

And so ends my fantastic journey. Thanks for sympathizing and reading along. And thank you for the nice amount of money we have saved for the Refugee children.


more about Claartje: link