In silence we walk the third stage

07 April 2022 23:10

Today it is 8 years ago that Uncle Frans was murdered in the garden of his monastery in Syria where he is also buried. The rain patters against the windows as I wake up to the strong wind. I walk to the entrance to take a picture from the outside so that I can delight the pilgrims in the group with the words “Whatever falls now, will not fall later.” The reactions are very positive and hopeful. Bindert writes and Bernie says to me, "And most of it falls next to you when you walk in the rain." And videos like 'Only Happens When It Rains' are reviewed.

Walk in silence

After breakfast we listen together to the podcast ‘De les van de graankorrel in de aarde’ from the podcast Bidden On the road and then leave the hotel in Bodegraven in silence at 9.15 am. It's still raining, but the worst is over. Today I walk in silence all day except for the rest points. The participants are free to do this, but up to and including the second resting point everyone walks in silence. I find that very special and gives me a huge sense of connection.

The sunbeams of Frans

The weather is beautiful, but perhaps people today would have thought it was terrible. We experience everything. The only thing that is missing is some snow, but the nice thing is that after our departure some sunbeams quickly shine towards us. Every time it gets colder, a warm jet appears towards us. Lovely, I don't think my smile has ever been this big. I am convinced that this is Frans' work. During the training walks we have often talked about how lucky we are with the weather. Also today. The gusts of wind almost blow us off the road, but the volume in our hair has never been so much. And our faces just turned a shade browner.

The Shepherd with his flock

In recent months I have really learned that I have to be true to myself, because I should not have expectations of others. This gives an enormous feeling of freedom, but I also know myself. I am easily distracted by things going on around me, so the choice to really walk alone is an easy one. I therefore decide to run at my own pace and quickly get ahead with Hans. It is like Frans who goes out with his herd (people). He often led the way or called his people his “flock.”

Walking broadens your mind

Uncle Frans famously said, “Walking broadens your mind.” At first I thought this only happened when you walk alone, but today I realize that this actually happens when you walk together. Your mind expands because you get tired and your thoughts disappear, but your mind is also expanded by really listening to others. You get new insights and that also enriches your life. Thus, the doubt as to whether chatting with each other on the road most days does not miss the point of this pilgrimage. So I can enjoy this stage even more in silence.

Because of the cold and strong wind I sometimes walk with my hood on. That gives an extra effect to walking alone. I only hear my rain pants creaking. Compared to my first walks, I now arrive at an 'empty head' much faster. It's so nice to just look around a bit as the landscape passes me by. That was different in the beginning. Then I was attacked by dozens of thoughts in a row. Now there is silence and space for new insights that suddenly appear. So is the feeling of pride towards our pilgrims. It is unbelievable what we have already achieved together, but what I find most special is how closely we are connected in such a short time. The group all have different flavors and colors, but it fits together like a puzzle.

Vespers in Saint Catherine's Valley

After this beautiful stage and our crossing with the ferry from Schoonhoven to Groot-Ammers, we are taken by bus to the Sint-Catharinadal, a monastic community where the Norbertinessen sisters live in Oosterhout. Nita has with sr. Mary Magdalene arranged that we may attend vespers with them on this special day. We are received very warmly and the ladies are honored that we come. The service was truly special. They had focused everything on Frans. Something I didn't expect, so the emotions were there. Some of us couldn't even keep it dry. Afterwards, the sisters gave us a little light for the rest of our journey. Unfortunately they can't walk themselves, but they pray every day. After a number of photos with the sisters, we continued our way to the next location of Gr8 Hotel in Oosterhout where we will spend the next three days.

We are halfway through our hiking adventure, for me this experience can't get any better.