The fourth stage was dry, but with a tear08 April 2022 23:40
This morning after breakfast we gathered in the lobby of the hotel to listen to the podcast ‘Zachëus’. It is one of my favorite stories, because it shows that there is something good in every person. After it's over I tell you that I think this fits nicely with the theme 'Love for your family'. I have a very sweet family, but I am different. I often compare myself to the story of the ugly duckling. A duck that is not ugly at all, but authentic and unique. Something that I actually find so special, that I honestly think it is the most beautiful duck.
I am enjoying all the beautiful conversations along the way. In the bus to Schoonhoven I sit next to Harry with whom I talk about the faith, but also about the different monastic communities and the faith of his children. When Conny walks next to me, she tells me that she is touched by my story of the ugly duckling and we share experiences and insights about what we have learned from our families and what we take from these lessons. They are all precious moments of which there are actually too many in one day to write them all down. That is why they all have a special place in my heart.
No rain, but tears
When we arrive at the lunch spot I grab my phone. Something I really only do to take pictures. Only now I look at my messages. My mother texted me, so I open the message. “Can you give me a call during lunch?” Immediately I get the feeling that I also had when my father called me on April 7, 2014. So I decide to act immediately. My mother's health has not been good since 2019 and it remains a mystery what is going on. I ask Roderick if he spoke to my mother, but he didn't. I immediately call and walk away. My mother asks how she's doing and actually quickly tells her that she's not doing well. She falls straight to the point, because we have agreed to always and directly be honest with each other. She may have a tumor in her esophagus. Tears roll down my cheeks of sadness, but also of relief. We finally know what's going on. I will write as soon as possible, because biopsies have been taken and next Wednesday we will only get the definitive results. However, this explains all her complaints.
I rejoin the group, but decide to immediately tell everyone what is going on. Very nice, because the love I feel and receive is very warm.
We walk on
After lunch we continue our way towards Gorinchem. I walk next to Bernie and Gerda with whom I have conversations about my mother, but also with Gerda about her vision of me. I always find it special when someone compliments how they see me as a person, but I also find it a bit uncomfortable to be the center of attention. I decide to ask questions and listen to her. This leads to beautiful conversations about family and death. On arrival at the final resting point I give Gerda a hug, because the news about my mother touches her too and that is why she has earned this one well.
Nita's been having trouble with her feet for a while and I'm really starting to feel mine too. We decide to rejoice our feet with some extra hiking wool and then set out again. I'm looking forward to the next part, because I only discovered this piece later. Before we brave the umpteenth 'transfer', I take a picture of the sign that hangs by the gate, but don't read the text. Once in the meadow we are a bit confused, because electric fences are stretched for us everywhere. We see an alternative route, but it also ends. Rob still says that jumping a ditch is fine, but I realize that the text on the board may say something about this. And sure enough, “Rural separation is no longer accessible to hikers.” There we are. Some of us want to go all the way back, but others also see a short route across the meadow to the track where there is also a road. We decide to take this shortest route on our way to the dike to enter Gorinchem.
The bus is stuck
Once we arrive in Gorinchem we enjoy the fortress and the beautiful city center, but we smell the end point. We have to wait for the bus and a number of other pilgrims, but that is no problem while enjoying a soft ice cream, iced coffee or cappuccino. At the agreed time we are in the parking lot, but soon I wonder if the bus can turn here. I call Roderick if he has the number of the bus company, but then we see the bus coming. It's all tight but it seems to work. Only the streets in the center of Gorinchem are quite narrow and then we are stuck. The bus has to go to the left, but cars keep coming from the left. For a moment I look at it from my window, but like Henk I have the idea to help the driver. I jump up and walk out in my socks. I speak to the motorists, but there is not much cooperation. Let alone that there is a friendly response to free the bus together. After three cars Henk and Hiske come to help. Henk I let the cars inform us for us. Hiske the cars that are still arriving and then stop the cars at the end of the road (read end of the center) for me. Fortunately, after a few minutes we can get back on the bus and head towards the hotel. Tomorrow we will be dropped off somewhere else.
Eating with Syrians
Yesterday Hans suggested to eat outside. Most find that a tight plan, because the food in La Place is not very special. Rob and Conny, who have lived in Oosterhout, still have the restaurant 'Smikkelen&Smullen' on their list. And let that just be a Syrian restaurant. The food is very tasty and the pilgrims are so enthusiastic about this pilgrimage that they offer me and Roderick the food. That's another icing on the cake today.