a man with a cross
and a long long way to go
being a description of
a planned action by
• Get a big wooden block.
• Lock yourself up for 7 days. Do not talk to anyone, and do not go out on the street. Be completely alone with the wooden block, and use a hammer and a chisel to hew a life-size cross, in one single piece, out of it. Do this with the utmost concentration and devotion, and knowing that you have 7 days to accomplish the task.
• During those days, let everything that happens to you - mentally, emotionally, physically - be transfered to the wood. It will be your only focus; your friend, your enemy, and your lover. Allow for every state of mind you go through to impregnate into the wood, and in the same way allow for the wood to leave its imprints onto you. The cross will become a part of your body.
• Take the cross to the place where the Walk will start.
• Bring nothing with you except for the clothes on your body.
• Put the cross over your shoulder and walk.
• Walk for 40 days.
• Be completely dependent of the people you meet with regard to food and shelter. Accept everything that is offered to you. If nobody offers anything, be hungry and sleep in the open air.
• Be entirely open to everyone you meet. Embrace all reactions, be they positive, negative, or neutral/ignoring. If someone wants to talk, listen. If someone wants you to come along, go. If someone is silent, be silent. If someone hates you, continue walking.
• During those 40 days you will not have a name. You will simply be the man with the cross.
• On the 40th day, go to a bridge over a big river.
• Throw the cross down into the river and watch it float away.
• Go home.
The walk should be executed in the autumn. The winter is too cold, the summer too hot, and during spring people will think it is being done because of the Passion Week. This should be avoided - it should happen unexpectedly in a completely unrelated daily world.
The plan is to do it in October and early November of this year.
The Walk will be slow. On an average of 15 to 20 km a day, it will span something around 700 km in 40 days. This is enough to cross very different regions, with different populations, traditions and mentalities.
The Walker should avoid spending too much time in cities. Contact will be made easier in a less busy environment, and the Walk will also be less exhausting.
The Walker will not carry a map. He will only have a simple compass, and roughly walk in direction of the South/South-East. It doesn't matter if he goes a bit off - as long as he keeps on walking he wil get somewhere. The intention, though, is to cross Germany from the North to the South, starting in Arnhem (Netherlands).
There are many scenarios, none of them impossible. The Walker might just not get any food at all, and fall apart after a few days. He might get injured from the weight of the cross. It could rain endlessly, and it would make him sick. He might be stopped by the police and they could take him because he doesn't carry any documents. Etcetera.
By starting the Walk, the Walker takes full responsability for all the consequences that might arise from his action. No other person or entity involved in the preparation or aftermath of the Walk can be blamed.
If something happens that would bring the Walk to an early end, so be it. Surely there will be obstacles to overcome, but the Walker should not stop unless continuing is fully impossible or by all means unreasonable.
Mendel Hardeman, the Hague 2006
The text above served as a guide for the action
I planned to execute in the Fall of 2006.
In the end of September 2006 I locked myself up in a house in The Hague with the intention of executing the action described above. During a week of loneliness I built a cross. Then I took it to Arnhem, where the Walk was to be started.
A plan I had in mind was that, after I had completed the 40-day walk, a friend of mine would visit the places where I had been in order to make a film about it. In this film, people who had met me would be asked to talk about what they had seen.
I started the walk on Saturday October 7th, 2006. What happened in the immediate following days became such a strong personal experience that for now I am keeping it to myself. Even though the forty days were never accomplished - I came back already in the next week - it changed my life.
The plans for the film were left to an uncertain future. I'm not done with it yet, so I may come back to this theme one day. When and how, only God knows.