From Brother Klaus to the Black Madonna. Impressions from the first European Walk

On July 17th 2018 a week-long walk started in Flüeli-Ranft, Switzerland, the place where Brother Klaus lived. Nicholas of Flüe (1417-1487), also known as Brother Klaus, was a farmer, a family man and a respected member of his village. After a spiritual crisis at age 50 he withdrew from public life and chose to live the life of a recluse, praying and fasting. Over time people from near and far came in search of his wise advice. He is well-known in Switzerland and is considered to have been an important peacemaker. His life‘s motto and desire was to bring God and the world closer together. As this perspective resonated with the dedicated group that organised and prepared this first European Walk, they chose this place as a starting point.

During the next days about 50 people hiked all day long as a group along an old pilgrimage path, the route of Saint James, also called St. Jakob’s trail. Accommodation and catering had been arranged individually, but each morning the group met at an appointed place for shared moments of silence and inspirational words. Annette Kaiser guided the group in these moments of reflection and meditation. The focus was on appreciation and respect for diversity, as well as on strengthening the realization of Oneness – Oneness with nature, with one another, with the Divine. In the mornings several people walked in silence. Around noon Sri M, who is known for having walked for 16 months in India, told stories or shared some of his experiences, thus giving everyone a chance again to listen within and deepen the experience of unity. The fact that many Indians living abroad joined the walk added a unique flavour to this journey. At the end of each day the group sat together for a closure and some chanting. During the day and at night there was plenty of time to be in dialogue and to get to know one another.

The trail offered many highlights, as Central Switzerland is blessed with clear and shimmering lakes, towering mountain tops, green meadows, and old but vivid villages and little towns. Sitting together under a tree, on the terrace of a mountain top station, in an ancient church or an old wooden chapel was a treat in many ways. Most of the time it was so sunny and warm that the rain that came towards the end of the journey was welcomed as refreshing for both humans and nature. The walk ended in Einsiedeln with a visit to the Black Madonna, thus paying reference to the feminine aspect of the Divine.