Pilgrims from the Lower Rhine

Today, shortly before Verzenay in Champagne, I met a group of seven hikers who turned out to be pilgrims to Jacob from the Lower Rhine, all colleagues from Geldern Prison. My paternal grandfather was from Geldern and I also worked in this town as an emergency doctor in the rescue service. They have been walking the Way of St James in sections for nine years, usually nine men aged between 50 and 65. This time, unfortunately, two of them were absent for health reasons. They spontaneously invited me to join them and asked if I still needed accommodation. Since I hadn’t booked anything yet, I gladly accepted their offer of a bed in their booked hostel (www.champagne-alain-lallement.com). We spend a pleasant evening together. One of them is the prison priest. A Catholic priest on the Way of St. James, who is also a pastor for the pilgrim colleagues from the JVA. At the request of the pilgrims, he holds two masses and common prayers every day. A pastor does not need a church. It is very relaxed. Everyone sits at the table after dinner. The pastor begins and at some point it is the turn of each individual to say what he thinks, what moves him, what is close to his heart, what causes him problems. A spiritual experience, completely relaxed. I talked to him about the fact that until recently I had been called as an emergency doctor in prisons more often and had sometimes intensive contact with the prisoners. Even as a doctor one is confronted with the problems there, mostly of a physical nature, but often there is more behind it, especially with the many drug addicts and psychologically damaged people who can be found there.

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