Zr. Marijke, Retreat at Sisters of Denekamp, Franciscanese, day 3

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In this post I would like to reflect how I am similar and/or different from Zr. Marijke, another guest at the Zuster van Denekamp

Yesterday, I had a talk with Peter van Aarts [1], who is a coach paid by Northwave to help employees who would like support in times of pandemic. I told him that Zr. Marijke came to this monastery with the same purpose: relax, reflect, and enjoy her vacation. Peter requested me to think about what are the differences between her and me. Following I described the similarities and/or differences in (1) age, (2) exercise, (3) religion, and (4) family. I enclose this post with my take-away.

Age. She is 82 years old (April 1938), I am 32. Half a century of difference. Fifty years of experiences. And still, she said a couple of times ‘how grateful she was on being here.’ She was glad about how people in this region of the Netherlands was so cheerful and attentive. She has been very happy with all the nature and the care for the details. Today, she told me that she didn’t sleep well. It was too warm. Then, instead of opening windows, she removed the inside part of the blanket. I did the former.

Exercise. Yesterday, I said that I like to run. She asked me if I run marathons and I said not yet. I said that I run a couple of half-marathons and that this year I was preparing to run the full marathon in Berlin. However, it got cancelled with the pandemic. Then, she told me that she had run three times a 10K. She also told me that she had two surgeries in her hips. She said that run is not for her anymore BUT she likes to be in the treadmill at the gymn. I was amazed by her vitality.

Religion. We both grew up in Roman Catholic families. She ingressed the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus when she was 22 years old (60 years ago). Well, when I was 20 I use to teach catechism to kids and teenagers. Both our heart belongs to God. She decided to do it as a vocation and I decided to use my believes to make the world around me a better place, as a father, a friend, a worker, a teacher, a guider, a person.

Family. My Dutch was not good enough to follow the entire conversation about family. What I understood was that she has a big family and they meet every year. It means that around 100 people meet to celebrate the life of the family. She said that this ritual was established by her father and still keeps going. She said that next time there will be only around 70 people because of the Coronavirus. From my side, family is also a matter of celebration and care. I am looking forward to going to Brazil and bringing my wife, my daughter, and my parents-in-law. We will go there for holidays and to celebrate the 95 years old of my grandma (the last of my grandparents).

My take-away. Zr. Marijke van Eeechoud is at the same time very different and very similar to me regarding (1) age, (2) exercise, (3) religion, and (4) family. From her, I would like to take the habit to perceive simple wonders that God put in our daily life. I would like to arrive at my 82 years old with such a joy and vitality. I consider her as a small gift from God to me. Ik hou van jou Zr. Marijke. I may not say it to you but you know it.

Till next post.


[1] Peter van Aarts personal website. http://www.pieter-schouten.nl/