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.

29 People from 17 European Countries Engaged in a Collective Inquiry

During the months and weeks before the meeting in Frankfurt the core group of Co-Creating Europe had sent out invitations including the project’s manifesto to people from all over Europe. They were looking for networkers, solutionaries and disseminators from as many European countries as possible; people from all age groups who are rooted in Presence and who feel the necessity for action from that place; people who love Europe and who recognise the need for a new culture, as well as a renewed sense of European identity.

From the 9th till the 11th of March 2018 twenty-nine wonderful people gathered in Frankfurt – bonding, reflecting and co-creating : Brigitte Wingelmayr (Austria), Helen Titchen Beeth (Belgium, UK), Zhivko Stoilov (Bulgaria), Barbara Torggler (Austria), Elizabeth Debold (Germany, USA), Thomas Steininger (Germany, Austria), Sonja Student (Germany), Griet Hellinckx (Germany, Belgium), Stephan Ley (Germany), Barbara von Meibom (Germany), Hilde Weckmann (Germany, Austria), Bence Ganti (Hungary, USA), Ágota Éva Rusza (Hungary), Arni Heidar Karlsson (Iceland), Teresa Noce (Italy), Alise Skupele (Latvia), Marie-Rose Fritz (Luxemburg), Anne-Marie Voorhoeve (the Netherlands), Lysan Boshuyzen (The Netherlands), Maciek Gutkowski (Poland), Pavel Luksha (Russia), Domen Kocevar (Slovenia), Joserra González (Spain), Anders Nyberg (Sweden, South-Africa), Annette Kaiser (Switzerland), Cecile Cassini (Switzerland), Marian Brehmer (Turkey, Germany), and Aslinur Brehmer-Akdeniz (Turkey).

Fourteen people, who would have loved being there, had to prioritise other tasks. They are staying in the loop and are thus adding to the range of countries represented in this growing field: Carolyn Lee (Ireland, Australia), Damir Saciragic (Bosnia), George Pór (UK, Hungary), Ivan Fomin (Russia), Jasenka Gojsic (Croatia), Jasmin Egger (Liechtenstein), Jordí Cartanya (Spain), Kalypso Nicolaidis (UK, Greece, France), Lev Gordon (Russia), Marco Robledo (Spain), Nora Ganescu (Slovakia, Romenia, Hungary), Shelley Sacks (UK, South-Africa), Stephen Busby (UK), Timo Pfender (Germany) and Wolfgang Aurose (USA, Germany).

Walking in Unity – Idea Sketch for Advocate Europe

In January 2018 we published the idea for the Walks on Advocate Europe’s site, hoping that on the one hand many people would resonate with the idea of Walking in Unity, but also hoping that we would be one of the winners.

From centre to periphery, Advocate Europe brings project-makers together. Since 2014, they have collected more than 1,500 ideas from 42 European countries, connected 49,745 people on their online platform and invested in 25 winning initiatives that pilot new answers for a common European future. Behind each of these ideas are people: our European change-makers. Together, we connect Europe.

Here two of the interesting questions that were asked, as well as our answer.

Why does Europe need your idea?

Walking together with a focus on Unity can further dialogue, mutual understanding, insight in challenges & new initiatives, as well as appreciation of local history, culture and natural beauty. It can inspire a European Democracy of the Heart & the willingness to try out new ways of co-creating.

What is your impact?

Hundreds of people who have resonance with the idea of Unity will have walked together – in their own country or in others. They’ll have learned from one another how we can respond in new ways to the needs of our times. Many more will have read or heard about the project’s intention.

Our idea sketch can be found here:
https://advocate-europe.eu/ideas/walking-in-unity/