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From around the world, sailing back into the world

10 Oct 2017

I am from Friesland. It is an ancient part of the Netherlands - at least, that’s what I like to believe. At the moment I find it interesting to look into my historical and cultural background, since I am working on the new series of Eye to Eye: Looking into Immigration and identity together. I am not really fluent in speaking the language; if I ever was, then not anymore. Still I remember some songs. Right now, I set myself a goal this season to look more into the traditional story telling and I would like to resurrect some of those songs I still know from my childhood. And who knows, I might find some new ones!


But why do I bring this up? Because it is surprising me, after all those years. Luit van der Tuuk states in De Friezen, that after the Roman times there is a short time that no one really occupies my region. It is a region where occupants continually fight the water and simultaneously use or ‘befriend’ the water for trade around the North Sea. The new inhabitants are from everywhere and nowhere. It is only because Frisians were living there in Roman times, that they are called Frisians by others: their identity was connected to a past which wasn't theirs. And they were not a homogenous collective; in fact, they were not interconnected at all: all in all this is not a great glorious past. These were immigrants shaping up a country which was left behind. Each year the water washed over the fields of Friesland. Each season was a new start. Yet the world in that time gathered people there together to give them home and a shelter to live. And their neighbours gathered them together by giving them one name, despite their diversity. And gathered from all around the world, they then sailed back to other worlds to bring colour and diversity by taking the lead in terms of the world trade of the time, something which has even become one of the strongest Dutch traits in history.  

My culture is not a boring, dying and dusty part of the world. The world brought her into being and gave her a name. She brightened the world up with its presence - then she filled that same world with a diverse and exciting interaction. I am a child of this culture, as well as this world I live in!


It shows to me, that in my past over the centuries a rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds has come into play. I still learn from surprise to surprise, how everything shaped up from far and wide to what it has become this day. And so I expect each person will walk into the new workshops of Eye to Eye with a story and a surprise - an inspiration for us all. 

Sometimes my best friends can surprise me when they mention something new about their life story and background. Even my own dad surprised me this week by sharing something new: for there was a streetlight corner in his old Frisian village, where people gathered and shared stories. Many known stories of old shared by their collective memory, some stories new and made up on the spot. 

I am looking forward to hearing yours. 

Ebb and flow - between savage and civilised

10 Oct 2017

21 September. Today I watched Boudica at the Globe. The writer didn’t try to give meaning to history and he didn't implement in the story some battles of our times just to make sense of history. To me, in this play our current history with our own struggles was retold: just as war and peace follow each other, so do ebb and flow. Time is the tide, and it repeats itself. 

It was perhaps too obvious altogether, but there is a point there: also in ancient times people from abroad had settled here and like many ‘second generation’ children, Roman children didn't have another home but here. This was where they belonged: stuck in the midst of war seeking rulers, kings and their racist indigenous subjects.  And so we see polarising and peace building forces right there at the same time. Just as our own times are messy and just as we see ‘savage’ politicians among us, we still have to notice those who keep trying the best for us. Those who may be more on the quiet side. Those who may not been understood because they try hard for the good, but rather backstage and seemingly Christlike: above or outside time. While war is loud and in your face; while polarisation can draw our collective attention, bridge building can be a slow and lonely road. I felt for Allona. The Guardian calls it a ‘remain play’ in terms of Brexit and (as I conclude) the way that Brexit is written into this historical play. 

But beyond that it just shows who we are anyway: victims of war - one way or the other. Those who all have wandered around the globe, immigrants from anywhere on one stage in our collective or ancient family history. We all roam sometimes. And wars and oppressors come and go. So however awfully unique our time may be, we are not alone through the course of time. We have a lot in common with other times and with other places. The ebb and flow of our savage and civilised ways. Welcome to our world. Welcome to war. Welcome to peace making. Which one do we choose today?


Time to stick together

23 Jul 2017

The times are changing. The world is burning. We seem less in control. We are more clever than ever with outstanding and sophisticated forms of communication. We travel more than ever around the world. Our opportunities are countless; so much, that they confuse us in our choices from day to day. So much, that we are told, if not commanded, to make use of these opportunities in the same way which we can copy form each other. While our world becomes smaller and we think we get bigger, our vulnerability seems to catch up with us and despite our ever improving technology this vulnerability seems to become like an overgrowing tree over our solid house of life.

What can we do? Where can we go? What can we do together? And heading to Brexit: why would we not just split up and do our own thing according to our separate individual origins?


As much as we are not aimless, we are also not helpless. We can be strong where we are. We become strong when we are aware of our vulnerability. We become strong when we see that we are not those big and independent individuals whom certain systems of communication want us to believe we are. Media may tell us we are like all knowing and all able gods on this earth, but in our hearts and our inner beings we know that the way we survive in this world is by learning how to find and show care and respect. We grow by giving a place to each other and honour the diversity we see even in the smallest communities. Community is what carries us in times of change, turmoil and uncertainty, even when recent developments want to divert us from building communities. When we dare to hurt and step down and when we dare to be soft heartened, we can be rich where we are:  As much as we aren’t robots, we are also not altogether clones with the similar features and characteristics. We all bring colours to this world and we all bring a flavour to where we are now, to where we work and live.


And so Eye to Eye celebrates once more the beauty of diversity in our time; the richness of our histories that meet together; the inspiration we can provide to one another. Surrounded by fear, confusion or uncertainty we can be listening to each other, understanding each other and walk together. Give each other both a stage and a shelter in these times of change. Give each other time to be ourselves and to be there for one another. 


It is the weekend. While I am learning to sing ‘Vincent’, this reminds me of Don MacLean taking time to listen to Vincent van Gogh and see the beauty in the drama of a life so other than his own. And yet with finding understanding, didn't he find an unexpected, profound kind of togetherness?

Let me try to let me know you, hear you, and let you paint your picture on the wall.


Eye to eye starts on Tuesday 12th September in The Yurt @ St Katharine’s Limehouse. Find out more on the WALKABOUT page with future events. 


CLOSER: Michelangelo’s friend

04 Jun 2017

In the National Gallery in London I can’t help but compare the two of them. For a long time they were friends and inspired each other: Sebastiano learned how to display the great masculine features of Michelangelo’s sculptures, while Michelangelo seemed to be less creative, deep or intuitive. Sebastiano made of Michelangelo’s portrait a shining window of their friendship, yet I’ve never found Michelangelo’s own work very charismatic or sparkling. I have much admiration for his abilities and talents, but after visiting this exhibition my heart lies with Sebastiano. 

What did he do to his famous friend, that their friendship seemed to be lost forever?

Was it the difficult and serious journey which Sebastiano had to travel alongside the pope? Did his colours and his atmosphere perhaps become too serious and too sad for Michelangelo?

What strikes me about Sebastiano, is that he offers what Michelangelo lacks. I deeply believe and encounter his work. It touches my heart. This has already become my conclusion before I enter the final room. As soon as I walk into this room, I cry.

In the last room I see several of Sebastiano’s attempts to picture Elizabeth greeting Mary. Having focussed on Mary’s song (Magnificat) for the new project Closer, I am drawn to this story: like Closer, this story is about different generations.  But throughout his years, it seems to me, that Sebastiano notices less differences age wise between these two women. To me, the age gap has become less relevant.

The last painting was created much later than the first one: Sebastiano had lost a friendship in the meantime, but after several decades he hadn't lost his spiritual, contemplative touch. In fact, the very last painting of this story seems to be out of his world: so beautiful, so different, so abstract - it is more timeless, as eternity settled into the story which first showed to be so much more about time and the differences it creates. 

I cry. I am so deeply moved. I am grateful for a powerful painting, for a painter - whatever journey he had to travel to create this - opening up his heart, the hearts of his subjects, the hearts of those still passing by.

Time is up in the gallery. I leave. I have to. But I leave with the glow of eternity which I saw in front of me.

CLOSER songs between hurt and hope

19 Apr 2017

A creative process can be endless. Just as with anything in life you just don't know where to start. You just start at a certain point and then try to find some sense or purpose on the way. Sometimes ideas and impressions need to settle for a while - as if they need to hide, they refuse to come to the surface. 

That happened to CLOSER, new songs and stories ‘between hurt and hope’. For over a year I was wandering around, carrying some questions and issues within my inner being: What is my hidden hurt? How can I give words to what I am hoping for? How can this world be worthwhile for a new generation? I am not sure if I found the answers, but the journey helped me to deal with chaos and crises on different levels - both personal and worldwide. Meanwhile, these songs and stories have grown and became like friends and fellow companions while walking the side road. Through all sorts of landscapes; through areas filled with much buzz as well as through the lonely places. Yet, where THE GARDEN was about pretty and nostalgic Cornwall, CLOSER is a bit more like an urban journey: a journey which is about living my life as a response to this age and to what is happening around me. Yet, this is my feeling and my journey - yours might be a very different response and so these songs might reflect another journey than yours. 

Whatever you think and feel, it needed time and patience to let these ideas become songs. Now these songs are like children set free - finally these songs will lead their own lives by ways that they will be received … Because songs are like children: children that need to be welcomed; children that need to find their own way in this world. These songs aren't mine. They continue to grow. They grow by the way they are listened to; by the way they are welcomed. And I am very curious to find out how you will receive them.

And that curiosity will help me to let go ….


Prayer: Love beyond words

25 Jul 2016

Prayer can be many things. But how do you know you pray in the right way? How essential is it to pray in much detail? And even, if you try to listen while you pray and hope for The Other to leave you an impression, how can you tell that your part of the prayer or your part of the conversation is ok and sufficient?

Don't you think we need to be careful to discuss the quality of our prayers? To pray short and simple prayers can be preferable sometimes, as well as wordless prayers: sometimes prayer is just ‘being’, being within or being aware of God’s divine presence. Or just a state of mind. 

Whoever belongs to God hear what God says. Something quite extraordinary. But also something that easily provokes judgement, while judgement in these chapters of John’s gospel seems to be discouraged! But how then can we belong to God and know what he says?

Does it mean that when I belong to God, I hear his voice? I don't want to contest that, but I also know that often God’s voice is being confused for ours. If I remember correctly, it was one of the Church Fathers who focussed more on how God’s voice was heard: the tone of his voice, the state of his heart. In our time we are so content and knowledge driven that we often forget about the non-verbal part of our communication. So how much do we consider in ‘hearing God’ the holiness, the purity and simplicity in our non-verbal communication with Him and with the world we live in. Isn’t this worth reflecting on? 

And how is our praying helpful for our ways of communicating non-verbally with God, the world and ourselves?

Belonging to God. It is a beautiful concept, but what does it imply? To me, at this moment in time - as I write - ‘belonging’ and ‘belonging to him’ recalls searching God’s heart and knowing him. This is one of the reasons to walk daily with John’s gospel. It invites me to walk and to write and compile this prayer book: writing it helps me staying on the path of knowing the one who made me, the one I pray to. More than knowing what is exactly perfectly right to say and to listen to, it is about knowing in a deeper way the one I pray to; and in that I may know myself and the world more deeply… And in this I feel such a deep sense of belonging, even in a week of horrible events around the world. A deep sense of belonging that my heart can be safe in the Heart of all hearts, something no one can take away.

Whoever belongs to God hear what God says. When I read Jesus’ phrase I think of that song sung by Eva Cassidy: I know you by heart. The walking, the talking, things you don't even have to say because the other person already knows…  Prayer in the context of belonging to God can imply: just knowing the Presence, just knowing the ease of hanging out together, just living in the reality of spending time in divine company: aware of the connection and the mutual understanding, hearing the love, feeling the love…. And you know and live by heart together, no extra word is needed. Because you just know: you can hear the love beyond words.



A prayer book: Walking beside Him

15 Jul 2016


How would you describe prayer? Prayer is so many things. It is peace and perspective. It is power and change. It is silence, it is speech, it is walking…  A prayer said in a sacred place. A prayer whispered at a zebra crossing. A prayer easily forgotten, a prayer written down… 

But why would you write and collect prayers and self-publish a prayer book?


I love tradition and I love words. To me, they are helpful to find prayer beyond rhythm and words. In both I find tools to reflect on different seasons and events. At times though, deep changes in life make me go silent and doubt the meaning of tradition. 

For over a decade I walked and prayed with St John’s Gospel. Sometimes traditionally, sometimes secretly, sometimes silently. This prayer book reflects that walk of prayer. The first set of prayers is more structured than the second one - somewhere in between I  found myself lost for words to describe the changes in my world. 

Didn’t something similar happen to John, the gospel-writer? John’s gospel was the only one written after a very, very traumatic event in history. After the destruction of the Temple the core of the Jewish world view was lost and gone: their tradition, their reference point, their connection with a past that was better… A gospel written within a world feeling destroyed. Still he holds the past as he writes about the future. 


This week I saw an icon of John in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki. I saw how his deep gaze was filled with a strong focus and a distant longing. I saw his pen and his prayer flowing into each other: memories, friendship, heartbeats filled with love … John’s gospel pictures Christ as his close friend. Still, the deep friendship is not an exclusive experience: it shows how the whole world - much loved - is becoming one again in Christ. John’s own walk of prayer and friendship is an integral part of the world as a whole. And this inspires me as I pray and write with his writings. It invites me to sense the loving heart of God. It makes me dream of heaven and look around on earth more carefully and lovingly. An invitation into a holy conversation of God with his creation. So maybe in your way of walking and praying, prayers like these encourage you to feel part of that conversation, too.


John’s gospel shows me that there is fruit in walking with Christ, both on my own and in togetherness. Walking with him makes me walk with the world and see love within and around me in colours more hopeful, deep and strong.


You're most welcome to rest while 'walking' and join Kerst for the book launch of Walking Beside Him on 11th September, 1.30pm

House of my Heart: See my different faces

16 Jun 2016

Many cities have many different faces. It makes a place more interesting, when you see people with various professional backgrounds or from different origins. Sometimes I crave for a beautiful historical museum and other times I yearn to find myself in a more urban and ‘lived in’ quarter. 

It takes a while sometimes, to find another side to a pretty place. Take Bruges, for instance, the Venice of the North. Like Venice, its high level postcard outlook is fantastic, but it also seems very much a Barbie doll location, when you find it hard to find a true connection with a day to day reality. 

In such a place, it takes some perseverance to find a local with his dog (another French bull dog) 


Sometimes I feel I have two different faces. Or more. And it frustrates me when conditions are set in one particular way, that it seems that people only seem to see my ‘Bruges outlook’. I’d love to show in such circumstances that I am more than my stage artistry, or more than a big smile on my face. To be true and honest is like fighting a battle sometimes. Or more positively, is like going for a long long walk on a sightseeing tour. 


That’s what I have found so nice about Airbnb or about staying with a person you know well in a city you want to get to know. It helps you to feel at home. It helps you to see a more real, more multi-sided picture. This is ‘House of my Heart’ to me: that one is not so easily put in a box with one photograph or one postcard. We are stories with various chapters and character developments. Our hearts are vast places with different quarters and neighbourhoods: with ‘top ten highlights’ for the world to see, as well as with rough parts that need much work, investment and subsidising from  outside. 


I’m off to Helsinki in a few weeks time. To see the sights is a mediocre experience. To live there as a house guest a true treasure.


My wish for the upcoming concert in Helsinki is therefore, that the heart will speak beyond the music and the poetry: showing various layers, inviting to verbalise a range of responses. Like deep conversations of unknown hearts. Person to person. Heart to heart. Like we should live life: to the full and in togetherness. Celebrating our various faces…


Kerst is singing on Friday 1st July in the German Church in Helsinki. Free entry, 7pm start.

Brexit: Two candles

03 Jun 2016


Tomorrow I will sing ‘Candle’ again, after not singing it for quite a while. Most of the times, when I was rehearsing it for the recording of ‘House of my Heart’ I sang it for the people of Syria. As the refugee crisis progressed, I sang it for people on the run.

Tomorrow I will be selfish and sing it for myself. I know the Brexit-referendum is a complicated issue. As I mentioned before, in what I read and hear about it, I often miss a level of solidarity. 


There was a time when European nations were grateful for any help from the outside. Re-building the nation was a joined effort with other nations. Prosperity arrived on the back of sticking with each other. As we removed the ruins of war, we remembered those who had liberated our lands and we soon made peace with those who were our neighbours. It was a time that living together was not only built on economic ideals. 

Later, we became so spoiled and individualistic that we forgot about this road of solidarity that had led us to the highway of prosperity. Although we have arrived to another chapter full of fear and of hiding together for agressors from the East and the Middle East (or from the West, depending on who will be the next US president), we seem to prefer to live for ourselves and for our own economical interest. What if the end is in sight and we will face another chapter of war instead of peace - then please let us be known for sticking together and not living for ourselves. 


Tomorrow I will sing for the country I left and for the country I hope to stay. Both countries have changed. One is slowly closing in, when it comes down to immigrants and refugees. The other shows more and more scepticism and harshness. If I fear, than I fear for our tolerance, compassion and selflessness. 


Two candles: In the midst of it all, I light a ‘Candle’ for both countries - remembering that so often throughout the centuries, they had to stick together. 

Two candles: for two wonderful Greek friends I spoke with this week. Such luxury that I got to know both!! 

The referendum: let's walk together

01 Jun 2016

Brexit: the referendum. I don't know what you make of it all. If you can, what will you vote? 

I don't have a vote. I don't have a British passport. Nowadays I cannot obtain a British passport without handing in my Dutch one. Although I don't have to worry directly about staying in the UK, a vote for leaving brings me closer to a choice forced upon me - the one to be either Dutch or English. 

Does it bother me? Not so much yet, but I wonder how many voters bring their vote to a very personal and individual level. I hope voters realise how much they vote about the future of many. People are afraid of change, but change has always been part of our lives. We are interacting people, interacting countries and although some of our interaction leave negative and vague consequences, there is much that we have loved and adored about a wide world of diversity and opportunity. 

What can we learn from our histories? Ironically, the Celts left these British isles to conquer vast parts of Europe for their Christ. And with that many lands were transformed in dark times - braving wild waves they shared the arts and their insights and built new communities. 

Centuries later, the young Dutch Republic was helpt by many immigrants to become a naval power and a leading country (young as it was) in the arts. Even these isles were to enjoy their portraits and winter scenes … 

Examples like these show that a strong local or national identity can open up opportunities for a wider world. It tells us about a noticeable and fruitful impact, when cultures cross each other.

Back to the referendum: what bothers me, how much does history play a part in all this?  We are so much influenced by voices which prefer stimulating fear and dispute to building solidarity. I think that’s dangerous and restrictive. It discourages empathy, while it encourages cynicism and cynicism doesn't stand  so much in line with love and solidarity. Without understanding the full picture (at all!) I see two important questions: In which case will we become more limited, playing our part in this part of the world, if not worldwide? Will we lose an opportunity to play our part and improve the systems which are now in place internationally? 

Speaking about the protection, the safety and security of these wonderful British isles, let’s at least remember two things at this important point in time: firstly, we can never go back to the past; secondly, the future is never in our own hands. 

Whatever is decided, let’s not be afraid, but walk into the future together.

Easter: Today - see the man!

07 Apr 2016

Good Friday: Absence. Easter: Presence. The Easter weekend was almost a fortnight ago… What did remain? Stories of a doubting Thomas, a confusing walk to Emmaus, a shy Peter - a confronted Saul…. What did remain indeed?

Two weekends ago it stood out to me personally, how heaven and earth are joined together in Christ. He who abides in the perfect heavens is present on earth - still loving it so dearly. He is not just a heavenly Super Hero Ruler with fantastic attributes. He is still deeply human. Today. In him today’s earth and today’s heaven are joined together. He was so fully human, so tested, so perfectly aware of everything around him  - and of him it was said: Ecco homo, see the man! This is still the man in heaven, this is the man ruling the world…

I could do with a lengthly Lent: Easter was so early that it hit me completely. A long Lent - not for its penitence and fasting. A long Lent to see more of what humankind is and should be. What we were meant to be like when we were created… A time to look at him and see that this is humankind in the absolute fullest way we can behold and be inspired by.

And so may this have been our Lent this year: that it brought us more of his heaven on our earth; more of that man who dwelt nearby that Syrian sea; more of eternity, if time is pressing us. 

Maybe we have the honour of seeing fruit.  It could be all of the sudden in the quiet - in the unknown place - that people around us may say: See the man! See the woman. And that his Easter presence may be shown fully alive through us.

Good Friday: Absence

07 Apr 2016

I am ashamed to say that it only occurs to me now a friend died very recently: Jesus had not only decided to give up his own nature of being God. He also decided to cease to exist for a couple of days. 

As I arrived to church today for the Good Friday meditation someone recalled the loss of a close relative. “A void” she said “It’s a void”. And that’s what it feels like. It is as simple as that. And that is Good Friday and Silent Saturday: a sense of a void of Christ not being there - gone. It is this great loss, this absence that shows that a crucial part of the world is missing.

That’s what I’ve felt this week. That’s what I’ve felt this evening. Even when I wonder through beautiful woodland, leaving the sun behind and finding the soft spring night like a blanket spread out over the grass. It is wrapped around my shoulders - telling me it is still cold, leaving me a headache when I find my way back onto the streets. It was a beautiful evening this Good Friday, like I saw it fourteen years back in the Lake District. But something is lacking. Something is absent. 

A loud void on a calm and silent evening in spring. 

The Passion: What language can I borrow?

07 Apr 2016

…. To thank you dearest Friend. Of all the songs around Christ’s passion I find these words from O sacred Head now wounded the most profound. Every year I long to sing them, and every year the lyrics tell me something about my own emotions towards my walk with Christ - right where I am, right at this point in time. To be clear: I don't claim that the state of our spiritual walk and the quality of it is ours to know, let alone to judge. Christ knows better than we do. Still singing this verse gives me a slight indication of the current state of this walk. The words wake me, they question me, they force me to pause….

Of course I think of the failures and of the ways I have crowned him king with thorns. How I’ve shown traces of betrayal, fear and envy - of misunderstanding and disappointment. Yet, each time I hear or sing these words they bring me closer to him who crossed that long distance of mixed emotions and confusing reflections.

Sometimes I sing and find that this question is a rhetorical one: for there is no real answer, when any gratitude is too imperfect to respond to his perfect sacrifice. Other times the answer is very holy and heavenly - when I truly don't know from which language I am borrowing - not my own one,  not one I have learned. A language of heaven and love: borrowing this language  fills me with even more love and gratitude. Then the song of love and its response seems infinite…. 

This year another dimension was given to this answer: I borrowed a language I would love to learn. Learning love that is taught by others who show love to love. They who lent me the language to love, in which the language of the King of Thorns is fully present. Through them he lends me a language with deeper resonance and a wider range of vowels. In those nearby he offers a song in a language unknown: to borrow, to repeat, to make me cherish and share the pure language that love is.

if it is French, Frisian, English, German or Dutch - pure as the heart he draws near in the love that he taught us - in the love he reveals to us in this point in time. 


Maundy Thursday: Love bows down

07 Apr 2016

He bowed down with love. He went a way no-one else could go. And yet till the very end he decided to show his attentive love… Aware of all the tensions, all the fear and all the emotions he decided to embrace them all with love - till the end… Love is patient, love is kind, is not self-seeking, holds up the truth. 

Love bows down. He bowed down with love to wash our feet. Love bows down to heal, to comfort. In the water we can see his reflection: in the water we can see love’s likeness and who we may become one day: to be like the love that loved us. Till the end. 

When I see my face I am such a frail reflection of this face I saw in the bowl with water. Yet this Holy Week I hope I see his face still looking at me from the water of cleansing love. I see him looking at me. I imagine myself to be like the rich young ruler who he met before: the ruler who knows it all, but who doesn’t know how to do love. Who doesn’t know how love bows down. Now, as my feet are washed, Jesus looks at me. Maybe I am a traitor or a coward. One who knows him too. One, whose fear is more overpowering than his love bowing down… Still Jesus’ gaze is one of love. Still his reflection is in the water.

Love bows down - love shown, enabling me to love. On the road of suffering Jesus’ enduring love is an example in the way he takes his next to kin in consideration, his best friends - this is the wonderful mind of Christ. To see the other, even when the road leads to less than nothing. When bowing down is the choice we make - love is putting the other first. Love is a reflection that reminds us of softened hearts. Reminding us that we can bow down too, with love. And love rules as we see each other - not from the high and prestigious places. Now we show each the face of love with those faces reflected in the water. As our faces find Love’s home in a bowl of water… Love so tender - the treasure of love is below us. From below, the best beauty of love will then smile to us when we want to see it and receive it….



Palm Sunday: Just himself

07 Apr 2016

Crowds. I find them difficult. Palm Sunday shows a crowd of revolution and change. The same familiar crowd - just look at Bernie Saunders’ success. Opposite to them the scribes, the Donald Trumps: blocking any change as long as they could. While after a few decades everything changed drastically anyway…

We are not in control of our direction. I try to learn from the Palm Easter King: his entry was one of confidence, yet of humility… He knew where he was going: realistic, determined, and filled with compassion. He was supposed to ride in with a voice of hope to ‘make our hands strong’ - as the prophet once said. He made my hands strong to reach out like palm branches for this King. Reaching out for his otherness of love, peace and compassion. Reaching out with the psalms and prayers of my heart. Reaching out to the who is always the same. Reaching out to another kind of change…

In the psalms we read of a range of emotion and reflective journeys that are as rich as all that we experience and desire in our hearts. This King knew the pressure, the desire and the shame, the threat… So much beyond the politics of that day, he still enters in with that same otherness: but never ignoring, never dismissing and always listening…

He just had his way of ‘non-campaigning’, which I find so appealing: Instead of seeking the popular vote he stunned, perhaps even appalled  the crowd by aiming for a tax collector named Zaccheus. In the same chapter the crowd is his, a few chapters later he’s the focus of mocking and disgust. The crowd was changing sides just like the wind…Despite its indecisiveness he just went his way and his glory was his immense focus through it all. And with that focus he chose life and he secured life for his friends and followers as well as for that same crowd which couldn’t make up its mind. Isn’t that comforting. The way he copes with what we carry inside and with the mess we make: authoritative yet gentle. Above all: strong as a king. Equal to us: vulnerable as a lamb. Other - just himself. Other -but alike.


Lent 2

07 Apr 2016

In simple trust like theirs, who heard beside the Syrian sea - the gracious calling of the Lord...

One of the first hymns to sing in Lent is Dear Lord and Father of mankind. I know how much some of my friends cherish precious memories when they sing this hymn... Words of peace and calm and ordered lives... So often i thought this was a hymn for our own personal life and spiritual walk. For me, this Lent this too well known hymn has been given a bigger stage: For nearby the Syrian sea life is all but ordered, nor simple - as we encounter it in the news from day to day. 

It shows how Lent is not an individual journey. Lent is about the world we live in. It is about what should be transformed for the good and how we all try to find a way to play our part in that change.The journey to the cross is one we make together with aspects to our collective lives which we can’t control, nor order, nor make sense of. This is why we walk nearer to the cross in these weeks before Easter. None of us perfectly sorted (that’s why we all need Lent), but in togetherness. 

As we walk side by side we hear a gracious calling. Thank God we don’t have to do this alone. Thank God there is a Saviour. This Lent I am glad I don’t have to make the journey by myself, and that his calling still goes out into a world full of chaos and violence. Lent points us to the soft calling of a Saviour who was never afraid to step down in the chaos - to lead us on that road out of the utmost darkness towards the light of the cross. 

In the midst of all the hurt that I hear and see I still believe it is true: the cross of hope and peaceful balm.

Identity in a Foreign Land

16 Feb 2016


FINDING A HOME FROM HOME


Oxford. It’s the end of January. I realise once more how much this is a country of story telling. Here in The Eagle & Child the stories are so tangible: Lord of the Rings, Narnia - and that after I was already warmed up by a visit to the Ashmolean Museum full of stories from all around the world...


Sometimes stories in a foreign land can help us to be aware of my own past and identity... It is like finding Dutch Masters on the walls in a museum abroad. For me, it was the music: in the Songs of Travel Vaughan Williams worked with Stevenson’s words in such a way that its British melancholy helped me to give a deeper expression to my own journey of finding a “home from home”. Not just because I fell in love with the English country side. Not just because the music helped me to find my voice and my musical identity in English songs and German Lieder. While working on these songs a mirror of my past was held before me. The words and melodies helped me to give a place to past experiences and old treasures of my youth in a new and foreign country. By finding my past in these songs, I felt that a home was given to me here in the UK. I love walking and I love music. And although much of my past has now disappeared, I found a way to remember it and to bring it with me wherever I go.....


“Song tuneful song, built a palace in the wild”


Somewhere down the line the music provided a house and a home, in which I rediscovered what once was my own old home. Years later, much of my youth has disappeared: the school, the church, the hospital and many friends are gone- but the melancholy of these songs make me remember them and by remembering them they are still a part of me. 



Lent 1: Giving up, going up

13 Feb 2016

Ash Wednesday 2015, St Paul’s Cathedral. It is early in the afternoon and the sky is bright and winter-beautiful. Easter is early this year. So early, that I haven’t really thought about what I could give up for Lent. Should I do that anyway?

In interaction with the bright sky the winter sun brings in some most interesting rays of light. H ere in the buildinghey capture a ball shaped cloud of dancing, playful incense... Isn’t this almost something too beautiful to watch at a solemn occasion like this Ash Wednesday service? I am intrigued how the ‘ball’ of incense slowly rises upward...

Giving up. Going up. Lent: shackles fall off our wrists and ankels. Shackles fall down as our souls are lifted up. The scent of sent sacrificestowards heaven, great and small. Sacrifices: sometimes they hurt and require time for us to heal, while they find their way heavenwards. During Lent giving up and going up meet each other: Easter is far away, but in the end we will go upward. That is what it is about - as we learn to send our best upward, we will be lfited up as well - like incense playfully reaching the sky - captured and held by the light of life. This is Lent: living sacrifices like you and me, finding their way heaven-home. Following the one who through his sufferings founded our Easter joy...

Is 53:11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied

Advent 1: Eyes wide open

12 Dec 2015

ALERT RATHER THAN ANXIOUS

Hope: It’s a short word.  It’s a big concept. What is it? What does it mean today? Christmas is full of drama this year: You can’t get soaked  in the commercial business without thinking of the refugee crisis, the recent events in Paris, and the high security level in Brussels. 

Where does hope leave us in times of threat, panic and fear? 

Advent: a season of waiting and reflecting.  Does it fit the context we live in?

Violence. It’s a scary word. In the weekend after Remembrance Day the world around us is in a shock. Other parts of the world seem to have their own local violence to be worried about: Lebanon, Nigeria... 

It makes me feel and think: so many things are unclear on what is happening that Friday night. The closer we are located to events like these, the more we feel affected. Just like on the day in July in London, now more then ten years ago. I still remember thinking how this felt like war. Exactly this was to be discussed, even in Dutch political circles. Exactly this was written on the faces of French friends of mine.

Advent 2015. Does it fit the context we live in? I think it does. To me, the most interesting quote after ‘Paris’ is not one of great prose or heroic courage. It is a comment by Ebe Brons, of the Centre for Safety and Development -regarding what to do when you find yourself in circumstances of a terrorist attack: He pleads for a short moment of considering what the options are... For example, within a hall, restaurant or public place, he advices to be aware of where the emergency exits are placed. Then, if we find ourselves in a disastrous situation, a short moment of eyes wide open - of immediate reflection - can give clarity in what to do or how to respond in the madness of the situation. 

I wonder of course how realistic this is. Is it not culturally related to think certain things through (Northern Europe) or to let passion and feeling lead us instead (Southern Europe)? Never mind our differences in terms of our personalities or ways of upbringing...

Still (reflective as I can be), Advent seems to be like one long moment of consideration. Advent is being on the watch with eyes wide open. A moment of considering where we are heading to, as we stop, wait and watch what the options are. Whar are we heading towards? What is the purpose of all this? How can we see light in the darkness? Advent: ‘eyes wide open’.

Like that medieval hymn O come o come Emmanuel.  For centuries it’s been a carol at the start of the new church calender year.... Throughout wars and times of peace we have sung the words... Disperse the gloomy clouds of night... And again, it is the prayer of those who take the effort to consider and watch the wind of times; who are more alert than that they are anxious in the dark. 


House of my Heart: The Writings (I) - 'Candle'

12 Nov 2015

The story behind Candle (from The Winter Queen Trilogy)

November. We remembered our histories this week: Even from the other end of the North Sea I heard how dignified the broadcasted service was last Sunday. Yet war is with us again. The war written on the faces of those roaming across our continent. Wars come and go. They keep filling the chapters of history ... How do we respond?

400 years ago Elizabeth the Winter Queen was on the run. Europe was in one big crisis even then, fighting a war of thirty years over religious conflicts.  When she fled Prague there was no where to go and winter was bitter and cold. In the end, she 'd finally find refuge in the small country of The Netherlands. 

Imagine her in a chapel uttering some of the phrases in this next song before setting off into the great unknown.... What about her loss, her status, her family and friends? What went through her mind?  

Remember: For those on the run. For those who travel far to nowhere and leave family and loved ones behind. For those on the run...

A candle is burning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n4s8Fiq1eA



Understanding colours

26 Oct 2015

I’ve always adored Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s work. His Lake View captures the mystic, joyful experience of walking through the Lake District. The Boy with a Crow’ holds a stillness and luring sense of anticipation of what comes next. I saw many of his works some years ago in the Groninger Museum. What I came across in The Ateneum in Helsinki was another - darker - side to his work. 

How could I validate this, being so full of his work, yet feeling so much more distance to this darker tone?

Don’t get me wrong - I think there is room for darker tones and shades in artistic expressions- it just was a surprise. I think that it is easily done to create a ‘set picture’ in one’s frame of mind. There was more to Picasso than cubism. there is more to Kerst than singing/songwriting... One should be careful to reduce an artist or musican’s port-folio too one single, significant impression. I learnt from this encounter with the artist’s darker side: this is probably how people look at me and capture me in what was either a good or bad experience for them. 

Still, it bothered me for a while. How then should I Iook at this painter - one of my favourites... I held this question up in the air for a day or two. Then my friend took me to Tarvaspää, to Gallen-Kallela’s studio. This was where I felt I really met the painter. Again I found some works which I had seen in Groningen. This time I saw Ad astra in Finland - and this time it occured to me that the artist had made this for his own children’s baptism: the way the figure rose from the brokeness of this world... His own desciription moved me deeply.

In the top of the building I realised I had walked through the whole building too quickly - I hadn’t read carefully. Here I met a man who worked for a client on a deep,deep level of empathy: He too had lost a child. This child had drawn tender pictures, left in here for the world to see... Drawings like our four year olds pass on to us.

This room where drawings were made, was like a monk cell to me, with the seats carved by the man himself; the texture of the woodwork still to be touched; drawings drawing us closer to the artist’s father heart of love; the light so slow; that the world could never break these profound moments left to us: moments in a space of tranquility and thoughtfulness. 

Once outside, the waterside revealed a sunny display of similar lakeviews and a natural, spacious freedom. I left with a deeper understanding of this artist’s emotive world - and more space in my heart for his way of coping with grief. On this sunny morning Lemminkainen’s mother became a pieta to me. For isn’t it often so that in that Mother’s Suffering so much of our suffering has found a reference point? As I left I felt I was engaging much more with the range of his work  and the deeper pigment of its ‘colours’. And like so often, art helped me understand true colours of my own.

A few days later my four year old host handed over a vital piece of his own art work: his drawing as my leaving present. 



Like leaves we let go

08 Oct 2015



WALKING ON THE WIND OF HISTORY


I love walking. Embracing all the nature around me. Passing historical sites. It’s so refreshing. It reminds me of who I am. I wind down. It helps to reflect. I contemplate the history as I encounter it on my way.  

I remember old stories and new songs.

I often think of one particular track of Clannad’s Landmarks album - a song about autumn leaves painting the scene of the past with an atmospheric tone... Somehow this song stayed with me and helped me to reflect on other stories, for example that one of the Winter Queen. I often find the song ringing in my head when I pass some castle windows or impressive trees....

I love to take people on a walk through London, called the ‘Favourite Trees Walk’. It passes my own landmarks and resting places. Places in the park where the seasons have a home. Places of the past which help me to reflect on the time we live in now. Decisions, sentiments, desires, reflections, memories.... they all deserve a place. Walking through London’s quiet and meaningful places make the days feel a bit longer. They help me to reflect on who I am; on what I can do and contribute today.


Today? Leaves have started to fall around us. Let‘s embrace their falling beauty - their fall is a quiet one on the wind. Focus on that ancient existence of trees around us. Follow the wind and let go. Not to be restricted and suppressed by the past, but to learn from it, to leave the branches, to find the wind of history. Like leaves we let go and find our course. Like on this particular walk, let’s “leave freely” and remember where we are coming from historically as a continent. Let’s look into the years of the Thirty Years’ War, 400 years ago. 

It was an age when the world was shamed by war. People were on the run.

It was an age when immigration build new nations. 

It was an age of insecurity and of harm, yet of gold and of new hope. 


An age worth remembering - as a mirror for our own time. As we walk through over four centuries, we embrace the wind of history and of our change. And autumn is with us as we walk with the changes. See our hearts calm down on that same wind.

Today? Let’s pass beautiful nature and let’s be reminded of the history in our hearts and the hope we carry with us still. That also is: “House of my Heart”

Favourite Trees Walk; do you want to walk along? Check out the events calendar on Kerst’s Walkabout 

Time to listen and be real

01 Oct 2015

The current climate is one of action! Of course it is - but it is also one of confusion. One moment the borders are opened, the other they are closed. One country is flood with refugees, the other has a less humanitatian approach.

The current climate is also one of being moved. Moved by photographs, by news facts, by what you see yourself. I never forget walking through Keleti Station in Budapest just one or two days before things got tense around there. I felt sadness for those having to stay there: making a home for themsleves for the time being. I sensed the smell of those on the run. I saw the small child we had with us: one ‘of our own’ who I felt protective about... No, I don’t want to forget....

I was moved during the summer concert in Lokoshaza, near the Romanian border. It moved me how we truly  met each other even though we didn’t understand each other’s language. There was so much left to listen to, so much more to understand about the other part of Europe... 

When I came back in London I met many friends who were moved in these summer months. Some wanted to take in refugees, others wanted to express their concern about the future. I heard left and right, I heard right and wrong. And I realised.... how hard it is to get a grip on what is happening, both emotionally and in my thinking. I meet those being overwhelmed by compassion, while I also meet academics who know much about the complexities. 

These are hard times - times of action and confusion. These are also times to listen carefully and live from a deep awareness that we have to be together in this. These are times to seize the opportunities to be real with each other.

Let me be mindful. Let me have a heart to listen. Let me feel. And if I don’t, please remind me that I really want to.



For never was a story of more woe

22 Sep 2015

...than this of Juliet and her Romeo

This year I am trying to attend most productions at the Globe Theatre. I love going there. Standing in the yard easily changes my mood: the way the actors involve us as an audience can be very compelling, as well as challenging; tragedies come so close to you that it is right before your eyes and in your face. When a tragedy is so tangible, you simply believe that there was ‘never such woe’ than this of Juliet and her Romeo...

The tragedy of The Winter King and Queen in the 17th century was no fiction. They were refugees of their time and despite their riches and fame they had to run while Europe turned into a ruin due to her religious disputes. While writing The Winter Queen Trilogy for House of my Heart I tried to imagine what they went through when they didn’t know who would take them in... Did they remember this story of Romeo and Juliet, when they were on the run? They might have done, since Shakespeare had payed them a visit in Heidelberg - the ruins  of the castle still show a theatre similar to the globe. They might have watched the play from their royal box and - later in life - identified themselves with Romeo and Juliet. They were known for their warm and true love, but in a world of war there wasn’t much room for a love story such as theirs, 

A lot of today’s tragedies are right in your face - they are drawing closer and closer to us with refugees walking towards us from all over Europe. I wonder: how many stories of true love do we see right in our faces which are broken, injured and affected by cruelty and uncertainty?

Many love affairs have followed and been as tragic as that of Romeo and Juliet. Reason enough to use the story again and again by any art form. In the 60s the story was put to film music. On a cold evening in London, not too long ago, I suddenly heard a violin playing its scores in Covent Garden, not too far from where The Winter Queen herself spent the last days of her life restfully:

‘A time for us, some day there’ll be a new world - a world of shining hope for you and me....’

I keep going to the Shakespeare’s globe: to be closely confronted with the tragic emotions and intrigues of our world. And I keep looking at my screen, encountering more tearing stories of the Romeos and Juliets of our time; all Winter Kings and Queens: Those on the run roaming through Europe, searching for a place in this world where they are finally free to live. In faith that they will see a world of shining hope for the stories of their love.

Eurostar to Brussels 21st September

From around the world, sailing back into the world

10 Oct 2017

I am from Friesland. It is an ancient part of the Netherlands - at least, that’s what I like to believe. At the moment I find it interesting to look into my historical and cultural background, since I am working on the new series of Eye to Eye: Looking into Immigration and identity together. I am not really fluent in speaking the language; if I ever was, then not anymore. Still I remember some songs. Right now, I set myself a goal this season to look more into the traditional story telling and I would like to resurrect some of those songs I still know from my childhood. And who knows, I might find some new ones!


But why do I bring this up? Because it is surprising me, after all those years. Luit van der Tuuk states in De Friezen, that after the Roman times there is a short time that no one really occupies my region. It is a region where occupants continually fight the water and simultaneously use or ‘befriend’ the water for trade around the North Sea. The new inhabitants are from everywhere and nowhere. It is only because Frisians were living there in Roman times, that they are called Frisians by others: their identity was connected to a past which wasn't theirs. And they were not a homogenous collective; in fact, they were not interconnected at all: all in all this is not a great glorious past. These were immigrants shaping up a country which was left behind. Each year the water washed over the fields of Friesland. Each season was a new start. Yet the world in that time gathered people there together to give them home and a shelter to live. And their neighbours gathered them together by giving them one name, despite their diversity. And gathered from all around the world, they then sailed back to other worlds to bring colour and diversity by taking the lead in terms of the world trade of the time, something which has even become one of the strongest Dutch traits in history.  

My culture is not a boring, dying and dusty part of the world. The world brought her into being and gave her a name. She brightened the world up with its presence - then she filled that same world with a diverse and exciting interaction. I am a child of this culture, as well as this world I live in!


It shows to me, that in my past over the centuries a rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds has come into play. I still learn from surprise to surprise, how everything shaped up from far and wide to what it has become this day. And so I expect each person will walk into the new workshops of Eye to Eye with a story and a surprise - an inspiration for us all. 

Sometimes my best friends can surprise me when they mention something new about their life story and background. Even my own dad surprised me this week by sharing something new: for there was a streetlight corner in his old Frisian village, where people gathered and shared stories. Many known stories of old shared by their collective memory, some stories new and made up on the spot. 

I am looking forward to hearing yours. 

Ebb and flow - between savage and civilised

10 Oct 2017

21 September. Today I watched Boudica at the Globe. The writer didn’t try to give meaning to history and he didn't implement in the story some battles of our times just to make sense of history. To me, in this play our current history with our own struggles was retold: just as war and peace follow each other, so do ebb and flow. Time is the tide, and it repeats itself. 

It was perhaps too obvious altogether, but there is a point there: also in ancient times people from abroad had settled here and like many ‘second generation’ children, Roman children didn't have another home but here. This was where they belonged: stuck in the midst of war seeking rulers, kings and their racist indigenous subjects.  And so we see polarising and peace building forces right there at the same time. Just as our own times are messy and just as we see ‘savage’ politicians among us, we still have to notice those who keep trying the best for us. Those who may be more on the quiet side. Those who may not been understood because they try hard for the good, but rather backstage and seemingly Christlike: above or outside time. While war is loud and in your face; while polarisation can draw our collective attention, bridge building can be a slow and lonely road. I felt for Allona. The Guardian calls it a ‘remain play’ in terms of Brexit and (as I conclude) the way that Brexit is written into this historical play. 

But beyond that it just shows who we are anyway: victims of war - one way or the other. Those who all have wandered around the globe, immigrants from anywhere on one stage in our collective or ancient family history. We all roam sometimes. And wars and oppressors come and go. So however awfully unique our time may be, we are not alone through the course of time. We have a lot in common with other times and with other places. The ebb and flow of our savage and civilised ways. Welcome to our world. Welcome to war. Welcome to peace making. Which one do we choose today?


Time to stick together

23 Jul 2017

The times are changing. The world is burning. We seem less in control. We are more clever than ever with outstanding and sophisticated forms of communication. We travel more than ever around the world. Our opportunities are countless; so much, that they confuse us in our choices from day to day. So much, that we are told, if not commanded, to make use of these opportunities in the same way which we can copy form each other. While our world becomes smaller and we think we get bigger, our vulnerability seems to catch up with us and despite our ever improving technology this vulnerability seems to become like an overgrowing tree over our solid house of life.

What can we do? Where can we go? What can we do together? And heading to Brexit: why would we not just split up and do our own thing according to our separate individual origins?


As much as we are not aimless, we are also not helpless. We can be strong where we are. We become strong when we are aware of our vulnerability. We become strong when we see that we are not those big and independent individuals whom certain systems of communication want us to believe we are. Media may tell us we are like all knowing and all able gods on this earth, but in our hearts and our inner beings we know that the way we survive in this world is by learning how to find and show care and respect. We grow by giving a place to each other and honour the diversity we see even in the smallest communities. Community is what carries us in times of change, turmoil and uncertainty, even when recent developments want to divert us from building communities. When we dare to hurt and step down and when we dare to be soft heartened, we can be rich where we are:  As much as we aren’t robots, we are also not altogether clones with the similar features and characteristics. We all bring colours to this world and we all bring a flavour to where we are now, to where we work and live.


And so Eye to Eye celebrates once more the beauty of diversity in our time; the richness of our histories that meet together; the inspiration we can provide to one another. Surrounded by fear, confusion or uncertainty we can be listening to each other, understanding each other and walk together. Give each other both a stage and a shelter in these times of change. Give each other time to be ourselves and to be there for one another. 


It is the weekend. While I am learning to sing ‘Vincent’, this reminds me of Don MacLean taking time to listen to Vincent van Gogh and see the beauty in the drama of a life so other than his own. And yet with finding understanding, didn't he find an unexpected, profound kind of togetherness?

Let me try to let me know you, hear you, and let you paint your picture on the wall.


Eye to eye starts on Tuesday 12th September in The Yurt @ St Katharine’s Limehouse. Find out more on the WALKABOUT page with future events. 


House of my Heart: See my different faces

16 Jun 2016

Many cities have many different faces. It makes a place more interesting, when you see people with various professional backgrounds or from different origins. Sometimes I crave for a beautiful historical museum and other times I yearn to find myself in a more urban and ‘lived in’ quarter. 

It takes a while sometimes, to find another side to a pretty place. Take Bruges, for instance, the Venice of the North. Like Venice, its high level postcard outlook is fantastic, but it also seems very much a Barbie doll location, when you find it hard to find a true connection with a day to day reality. 

In such a place, it takes some perseverance to find a local with his dog (another French bull dog) 


Sometimes I feel I have two different faces. Or more. And it frustrates me when conditions are set in one particular way, that it seems that people only seem to see my ‘Bruges outlook’. I’d love to show in such circumstances that I am more than my stage artistry, or more than a big smile on my face. To be true and honest is like fighting a battle sometimes. Or more positively, is like going for a long long walk on a sightseeing tour. 


That’s what I have found so nice about Airbnb or about staying with a person you know well in a city you want to get to know. It helps you to feel at home. It helps you to see a more real, more multi-sided picture. This is ‘House of my Heart’ to me: that one is not so easily put in a box with one photograph or one postcard. We are stories with various chapters and character developments. Our hearts are vast places with different quarters and neighbourhoods: with ‘top ten highlights’ for the world to see, as well as with rough parts that need much work, investment and subsidising from  outside. 


I’m off to Helsinki in a few weeks time. To see the sights is a mediocre experience. To live there as a house guest a true treasure.


My wish for the upcoming concert in Helsinki is therefore, that the heart will speak beyond the music and the poetry: showing various layers, inviting to verbalise a range of responses. Like deep conversations of unknown hearts. Person to person. Heart to heart. Like we should live life: to the full and in togetherness. Celebrating our various faces…


Kerst is singing on Friday 1st July in the German Church in Helsinki. Free entry, 7pm start.

Brexit: Two candles

03 Jun 2016


Tomorrow I will sing ‘Candle’ again, after not singing it for quite a while. Most of the times, when I was rehearsing it for the recording of ‘House of my Heart’ I sang it for the people of Syria. As the refugee crisis progressed, I sang it for people on the run.

Tomorrow I will be selfish and sing it for myself. I know the Brexit-referendum is a complicated issue. As I mentioned before, in what I read and hear about it, I often miss a level of solidarity. 


There was a time when European nations were grateful for any help from the outside. Re-building the nation was a joined effort with other nations. Prosperity arrived on the back of sticking with each other. As we removed the ruins of war, we remembered those who had liberated our lands and we soon made peace with those who were our neighbours. It was a time that living together was not only built on economic ideals. 

Later, we became so spoiled and individualistic that we forgot about this road of solidarity that had led us to the highway of prosperity. Although we have arrived to another chapter full of fear and of hiding together for agressors from the East and the Middle East (or from the West, depending on who will be the next US president), we seem to prefer to live for ourselves and for our own economical interest. What if the end is in sight and we will face another chapter of war instead of peace - then please let us be known for sticking together and not living for ourselves. 


Tomorrow I will sing for the country I left and for the country I hope to stay. Both countries have changed. One is slowly closing in, when it comes down to immigrants and refugees. The other shows more and more scepticism and harshness. If I fear, than I fear for our tolerance, compassion and selflessness. 


Two candles: In the midst of it all, I light a ‘Candle’ for both countries - remembering that so often throughout the centuries, they had to stick together. 

Two candles: for two wonderful Greek friends I spoke with this week. Such luxury that I got to know both!! 

The referendum: let's walk together

01 Jun 2016

Brexit: the referendum. I don't know what you make of it all. If you can, what will you vote? 

I don't have a vote. I don't have a British passport. Nowadays I cannot obtain a British passport without handing in my Dutch one. Although I don't have to worry directly about staying in the UK, a vote for leaving brings me closer to a choice forced upon me - the one to be either Dutch or English. 

Does it bother me? Not so much yet, but I wonder how many voters bring their vote to a very personal and individual level. I hope voters realise how much they vote about the future of many. People are afraid of change, but change has always been part of our lives. We are interacting people, interacting countries and although some of our interaction leave negative and vague consequences, there is much that we have loved and adored about a wide world of diversity and opportunity. 

What can we learn from our histories? Ironically, the Celts left these British isles to conquer vast parts of Europe for their Christ. And with that many lands were transformed in dark times - braving wild waves they shared the arts and their insights and built new communities. 

Centuries later, the young Dutch Republic was helpt by many immigrants to become a naval power and a leading country (young as it was) in the arts. Even these isles were to enjoy their portraits and winter scenes … 

Examples like these show that a strong local or national identity can open up opportunities for a wider world. It tells us about a noticeable and fruitful impact, when cultures cross each other.

Back to the referendum: what bothers me, how much does history play a part in all this?  We are so much influenced by voices which prefer stimulating fear and dispute to building solidarity. I think that’s dangerous and restrictive. It discourages empathy, while it encourages cynicism and cynicism doesn't stand  so much in line with love and solidarity. Without understanding the full picture (at all!) I see two important questions: In which case will we become more limited, playing our part in this part of the world, if not worldwide? Will we lose an opportunity to play our part and improve the systems which are now in place internationally? 

Speaking about the protection, the safety and security of these wonderful British isles, let’s at least remember two things at this important point in time: firstly, we can never go back to the past; secondly, the future is never in our own hands. 

Whatever is decided, let’s not be afraid, but walk into the future together.

Identity in a Foreign Land

16 Feb 2016


FINDING A HOME FROM HOME


Oxford. It’s the end of January. I realise once more how much this is a country of story telling. Here in The Eagle & Child the stories are so tangible: Lord of the Rings, Narnia - and that after I was already warmed up by a visit to the Ashmolean Museum full of stories from all around the world...


Sometimes stories in a foreign land can help us to be aware of my own past and identity... It is like finding Dutch Masters on the walls in a museum abroad. For me, it was the music: in the Songs of Travel Vaughan Williams worked with Stevenson’s words in such a way that its British melancholy helped me to give a deeper expression to my own journey of finding a “home from home”. Not just because I fell in love with the English country side. Not just because the music helped me to find my voice and my musical identity in English songs and German Lieder. While working on these songs a mirror of my past was held before me. The words and melodies helped me to give a place to past experiences and old treasures of my youth in a new and foreign country. By finding my past in these songs, I felt that a home was given to me here in the UK. I love walking and I love music. And although much of my past has now disappeared, I found a way to remember it and to bring it with me wherever I go.....


“Song tuneful song, built a palace in the wild”


Somewhere down the line the music provided a house and a home, in which I rediscovered what once was my own old home. Years later, much of my youth has disappeared: the school, the church, the hospital and many friends are gone- but the melancholy of these songs make me remember them and by remembering them they are still a part of me. 



House of my Heart: The Writings (I) - 'Candle'

12 Nov 2015

The story behind Candle (from The Winter Queen Trilogy)

November. We remembered our histories this week: Even from the other end of the North Sea I heard how dignified the broadcasted service was last Sunday. Yet war is with us again. The war written on the faces of those roaming across our continent. Wars come and go. They keep filling the chapters of history ... How do we respond?

400 years ago Elizabeth the Winter Queen was on the run. Europe was in one big crisis even then, fighting a war of thirty years over religious conflicts.  When she fled Prague there was no where to go and winter was bitter and cold. In the end, she 'd finally find refuge in the small country of The Netherlands. 

Imagine her in a chapel uttering some of the phrases in this next song before setting off into the great unknown.... What about her loss, her status, her family and friends? What went through her mind?  

Remember: For those on the run. For those who travel far to nowhere and leave family and loved ones behind. For those on the run...

A candle is burning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n4s8Fiq1eA



Understanding colours

26 Oct 2015

I’ve always adored Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s work. His Lake View captures the mystic, joyful experience of walking through the Lake District. The Boy with a Crow’ holds a stillness and luring sense of anticipation of what comes next. I saw many of his works some years ago in the Groninger Museum. What I came across in The Ateneum in Helsinki was another - darker - side to his work. 

How could I validate this, being so full of his work, yet feeling so much more distance to this darker tone?

Don’t get me wrong - I think there is room for darker tones and shades in artistic expressions- it just was a surprise. I think that it is easily done to create a ‘set picture’ in one’s frame of mind. There was more to Picasso than cubism. there is more to Kerst than singing/songwriting... One should be careful to reduce an artist or musican’s port-folio too one single, significant impression. I learnt from this encounter with the artist’s darker side: this is probably how people look at me and capture me in what was either a good or bad experience for them. 

Still, it bothered me for a while. How then should I Iook at this painter - one of my favourites... I held this question up in the air for a day or two. Then my friend took me to Tarvaspää, to Gallen-Kallela’s studio. This was where I felt I really met the painter. Again I found some works which I had seen in Groningen. This time I saw Ad astra in Finland - and this time it occured to me that the artist had made this for his own children’s baptism: the way the figure rose from the brokeness of this world... His own desciription moved me deeply.

In the top of the building I realised I had walked through the whole building too quickly - I hadn’t read carefully. Here I met a man who worked for a client on a deep,deep level of empathy: He too had lost a child. This child had drawn tender pictures, left in here for the world to see... Drawings like our four year olds pass on to us.

This room where drawings were made, was like a monk cell to me, with the seats carved by the man himself; the texture of the woodwork still to be touched; drawings drawing us closer to the artist’s father heart of love; the light so slow; that the world could never break these profound moments left to us: moments in a space of tranquility and thoughtfulness. 

Once outside, the waterside revealed a sunny display of similar lakeviews and a natural, spacious freedom. I left with a deeper understanding of this artist’s emotive world - and more space in my heart for his way of coping with grief. On this sunny morning Lemminkainen’s mother became a pieta to me. For isn’t it often so that in that Mother’s Suffering so much of our suffering has found a reference point? As I left I felt I was engaging much more with the range of his work  and the deeper pigment of its ‘colours’. And like so often, art helped me understand true colours of my own.

A few days later my four year old host handed over a vital piece of his own art work: his drawing as my leaving present. 



Time to listen and be real

01 Oct 2015

The current climate is one of action! Of course it is - but it is also one of confusion. One moment the borders are opened, the other they are closed. One country is flood with refugees, the other has a less humanitatian approach.

The current climate is also one of being moved. Moved by photographs, by news facts, by what you see yourself. I never forget walking through Keleti Station in Budapest just one or two days before things got tense around there. I felt sadness for those having to stay there: making a home for themsleves for the time being. I sensed the smell of those on the run. I saw the small child we had with us: one ‘of our own’ who I felt protective about... No, I don’t want to forget....

I was moved during the summer concert in Lokoshaza, near the Romanian border. It moved me how we truly  met each other even though we didn’t understand each other’s language. There was so much left to listen to, so much more to understand about the other part of Europe... 

When I came back in London I met many friends who were moved in these summer months. Some wanted to take in refugees, others wanted to express their concern about the future. I heard left and right, I heard right and wrong. And I realised.... how hard it is to get a grip on what is happening, both emotionally and in my thinking. I meet those being overwhelmed by compassion, while I also meet academics who know much about the complexities. 

These are hard times - times of action and confusion. These are also times to listen carefully and live from a deep awareness that we have to be together in this. These are times to seize the opportunities to be real with each other.

Let me be mindful. Let me have a heart to listen. Let me feel. And if I don’t, please remind me that I really want to.



CLOSER: Michelangelo’s friend

04 Jun 2017

In the National Gallery in London I can’t help but compare the two of them. For a long time they were friends and inspired each other: Sebastiano learned how to display the great masculine features of Michelangelo’s sculptures, while Michelangelo seemed to be less creative, deep or intuitive. Sebastiano made of Michelangelo’s portrait a shining window of their friendship, yet I’ve never found Michelangelo’s own work very charismatic or sparkling. I have much admiration for his abilities and talents, but after visiting this exhibition my heart lies with Sebastiano. 

What did he do to his famous friend, that their friendship seemed to be lost forever?

Was it the difficult and serious journey which Sebastiano had to travel alongside the pope? Did his colours and his atmosphere perhaps become too serious and too sad for Michelangelo?

What strikes me about Sebastiano, is that he offers what Michelangelo lacks. I deeply believe and encounter his work. It touches my heart. This has already become my conclusion before I enter the final room. As soon as I walk into this room, I cry.

In the last room I see several of Sebastiano’s attempts to picture Elizabeth greeting Mary. Having focussed on Mary’s song (Magnificat) for the new project Closer, I am drawn to this story: like Closer, this story is about different generations.  But throughout his years, it seems to me, that Sebastiano notices less differences age wise between these two women. To me, the age gap has become less relevant.

The last painting was created much later than the first one: Sebastiano had lost a friendship in the meantime, but after several decades he hadn't lost his spiritual, contemplative touch. In fact, the very last painting of this story seems to be out of his world: so beautiful, so different, so abstract - it is more timeless, as eternity settled into the story which first showed to be so much more about time and the differences it creates. 

I cry. I am so deeply moved. I am grateful for a powerful painting, for a painter - whatever journey he had to travel to create this - opening up his heart, the hearts of his subjects, the hearts of those still passing by.

Time is up in the gallery. I leave. I have to. But I leave with the glow of eternity which I saw in front of me.

CLOSER songs between hurt and hope

19 Apr 2017

A creative process can be endless. Just as with anything in life you just don't know where to start. You just start at a certain point and then try to find some sense or purpose on the way. Sometimes ideas and impressions need to settle for a while - as if they need to hide, they refuse to come to the surface. 

That happened to CLOSER, new songs and stories ‘between hurt and hope’. For over a year I was wandering around, carrying some questions and issues within my inner being: What is my hidden hurt? How can I give words to what I am hoping for? How can this world be worthwhile for a new generation? I am not sure if I found the answers, but the journey helped me to deal with chaos and crises on different levels - both personal and worldwide. Meanwhile, these songs and stories have grown and became like friends and fellow companions while walking the side road. Through all sorts of landscapes; through areas filled with much buzz as well as through the lonely places. Yet, where THE GARDEN was about pretty and nostalgic Cornwall, CLOSER is a bit more like an urban journey: a journey which is about living my life as a response to this age and to what is happening around me. Yet, this is my feeling and my journey - yours might be a very different response and so these songs might reflect another journey than yours. 

Whatever you think and feel, it needed time and patience to let these ideas become songs. Now these songs are like children set free - finally these songs will lead their own lives by ways that they will be received … Because songs are like children: children that need to be welcomed; children that need to find their own way in this world. These songs aren't mine. They continue to grow. They grow by the way they are listened to; by the way they are welcomed. And I am very curious to find out how you will receive them.

And that curiosity will help me to let go ….


Prayer: Love beyond words

25 Jul 2016

Prayer can be many things. But how do you know you pray in the right way? How essential is it to pray in much detail? And even, if you try to listen while you pray and hope for The Other to leave you an impression, how can you tell that your part of the prayer or your part of the conversation is ok and sufficient?

Don't you think we need to be careful to discuss the quality of our prayers? To pray short and simple prayers can be preferable sometimes, as well as wordless prayers: sometimes prayer is just ‘being’, being within or being aware of God’s divine presence. Or just a state of mind. 

Whoever belongs to God hear what God says. Something quite extraordinary. But also something that easily provokes judgement, while judgement in these chapters of John’s gospel seems to be discouraged! But how then can we belong to God and know what he says?

Does it mean that when I belong to God, I hear his voice? I don't want to contest that, but I also know that often God’s voice is being confused for ours. If I remember correctly, it was one of the Church Fathers who focussed more on how God’s voice was heard: the tone of his voice, the state of his heart. In our time we are so content and knowledge driven that we often forget about the non-verbal part of our communication. So how much do we consider in ‘hearing God’ the holiness, the purity and simplicity in our non-verbal communication with Him and with the world we live in. Isn’t this worth reflecting on? 

And how is our praying helpful for our ways of communicating non-verbally with God, the world and ourselves?

Belonging to God. It is a beautiful concept, but what does it imply? To me, at this moment in time - as I write - ‘belonging’ and ‘belonging to him’ recalls searching God’s heart and knowing him. This is one of the reasons to walk daily with John’s gospel. It invites me to walk and to write and compile this prayer book: writing it helps me staying on the path of knowing the one who made me, the one I pray to. More than knowing what is exactly perfectly right to say and to listen to, it is about knowing in a deeper way the one I pray to; and in that I may know myself and the world more deeply… And in this I feel such a deep sense of belonging, even in a week of horrible events around the world. A deep sense of belonging that my heart can be safe in the Heart of all hearts, something no one can take away.

Whoever belongs to God hear what God says. When I read Jesus’ phrase I think of that song sung by Eva Cassidy: I know you by heart. The walking, the talking, things you don't even have to say because the other person already knows…  Prayer in the context of belonging to God can imply: just knowing the Presence, just knowing the ease of hanging out together, just living in the reality of spending time in divine company: aware of the connection and the mutual understanding, hearing the love, feeling the love…. And you know and live by heart together, no extra word is needed. Because you just know: you can hear the love beyond words.



A prayer book: Walking beside Him

15 Jul 2016


How would you describe prayer? Prayer is so many things. It is peace and perspective. It is power and change. It is silence, it is speech, it is walking…  A prayer said in a sacred place. A prayer whispered at a zebra crossing. A prayer easily forgotten, a prayer written down… 

But why would you write and collect prayers and self-publish a prayer book?


I love tradition and I love words. To me, they are helpful to find prayer beyond rhythm and words. In both I find tools to reflect on different seasons and events. At times though, deep changes in life make me go silent and doubt the meaning of tradition. 

For over a decade I walked and prayed with St John’s Gospel. Sometimes traditionally, sometimes secretly, sometimes silently. This prayer book reflects that walk of prayer. The first set of prayers is more structured than the second one - somewhere in between I  found myself lost for words to describe the changes in my world. 

Didn’t something similar happen to John, the gospel-writer? John’s gospel was the only one written after a very, very traumatic event in history. After the destruction of the Temple the core of the Jewish world view was lost and gone: their tradition, their reference point, their connection with a past that was better… A gospel written within a world feeling destroyed. Still he holds the past as he writes about the future. 


This week I saw an icon of John in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki. I saw how his deep gaze was filled with a strong focus and a distant longing. I saw his pen and his prayer flowing into each other: memories, friendship, heartbeats filled with love … John’s gospel pictures Christ as his close friend. Still, the deep friendship is not an exclusive experience: it shows how the whole world - much loved - is becoming one again in Christ. John’s own walk of prayer and friendship is an integral part of the world as a whole. And this inspires me as I pray and write with his writings. It invites me to sense the loving heart of God. It makes me dream of heaven and look around on earth more carefully and lovingly. An invitation into a holy conversation of God with his creation. So maybe in your way of walking and praying, prayers like these encourage you to feel part of that conversation, too.


John’s gospel shows me that there is fruit in walking with Christ, both on my own and in togetherness. Walking with him makes me walk with the world and see love within and around me in colours more hopeful, deep and strong.


You're most welcome to rest while 'walking' and join Kerst for the book launch of Walking Beside Him on 11th September, 1.30pm

Easter: Today - see the man!

07 Apr 2016

Good Friday: Absence. Easter: Presence. The Easter weekend was almost a fortnight ago… What did remain? Stories of a doubting Thomas, a confusing walk to Emmaus, a shy Peter - a confronted Saul…. What did remain indeed?

Two weekends ago it stood out to me personally, how heaven and earth are joined together in Christ. He who abides in the perfect heavens is present on earth - still loving it so dearly. He is not just a heavenly Super Hero Ruler with fantastic attributes. He is still deeply human. Today. In him today’s earth and today’s heaven are joined together. He was so fully human, so tested, so perfectly aware of everything around him  - and of him it was said: Ecco homo, see the man! This is still the man in heaven, this is the man ruling the world…

I could do with a lengthly Lent: Easter was so early that it hit me completely. A long Lent - not for its penitence and fasting. A long Lent to see more of what humankind is and should be. What we were meant to be like when we were created… A time to look at him and see that this is humankind in the absolute fullest way we can behold and be inspired by.

And so may this have been our Lent this year: that it brought us more of his heaven on our earth; more of that man who dwelt nearby that Syrian sea; more of eternity, if time is pressing us. 

Maybe we have the honour of seeing fruit.  It could be all of the sudden in the quiet - in the unknown place - that people around us may say: See the man! See the woman. And that his Easter presence may be shown fully alive through us.

Good Friday: Absence

07 Apr 2016

I am ashamed to say that it only occurs to me now a friend died very recently: Jesus had not only decided to give up his own nature of being God. He also decided to cease to exist for a couple of days. 

As I arrived to church today for the Good Friday meditation someone recalled the loss of a close relative. “A void” she said “It’s a void”. And that’s what it feels like. It is as simple as that. And that is Good Friday and Silent Saturday: a sense of a void of Christ not being there - gone. It is this great loss, this absence that shows that a crucial part of the world is missing.

That’s what I’ve felt this week. That’s what I’ve felt this evening. Even when I wonder through beautiful woodland, leaving the sun behind and finding the soft spring night like a blanket spread out over the grass. It is wrapped around my shoulders - telling me it is still cold, leaving me a headache when I find my way back onto the streets. It was a beautiful evening this Good Friday, like I saw it fourteen years back in the Lake District. But something is lacking. Something is absent. 

A loud void on a calm and silent evening in spring. 

The Passion: What language can I borrow?

07 Apr 2016

…. To thank you dearest Friend. Of all the songs around Christ’s passion I find these words from O sacred Head now wounded the most profound. Every year I long to sing them, and every year the lyrics tell me something about my own emotions towards my walk with Christ - right where I am, right at this point in time. To be clear: I don't claim that the state of our spiritual walk and the quality of it is ours to know, let alone to judge. Christ knows better than we do. Still singing this verse gives me a slight indication of the current state of this walk. The words wake me, they question me, they force me to pause….

Of course I think of the failures and of the ways I have crowned him king with thorns. How I’ve shown traces of betrayal, fear and envy - of misunderstanding and disappointment. Yet, each time I hear or sing these words they bring me closer to him who crossed that long distance of mixed emotions and confusing reflections.

Sometimes I sing and find that this question is a rhetorical one: for there is no real answer, when any gratitude is too imperfect to respond to his perfect sacrifice. Other times the answer is very holy and heavenly - when I truly don't know from which language I am borrowing - not my own one,  not one I have learned. A language of heaven and love: borrowing this language  fills me with even more love and gratitude. Then the song of love and its response seems infinite…. 

This year another dimension was given to this answer: I borrowed a language I would love to learn. Learning love that is taught by others who show love to love. They who lent me the language to love, in which the language of the King of Thorns is fully present. Through them he lends me a language with deeper resonance and a wider range of vowels. In those nearby he offers a song in a language unknown: to borrow, to repeat, to make me cherish and share the pure language that love is.

if it is French, Frisian, English, German or Dutch - pure as the heart he draws near in the love that he taught us - in the love he reveals to us in this point in time. 


Maundy Thursday: Love bows down

07 Apr 2016

He bowed down with love. He went a way no-one else could go. And yet till the very end he decided to show his attentive love… Aware of all the tensions, all the fear and all the emotions he decided to embrace them all with love - till the end… Love is patient, love is kind, is not self-seeking, holds up the truth. 

Love bows down. He bowed down with love to wash our feet. Love bows down to heal, to comfort. In the water we can see his reflection: in the water we can see love’s likeness and who we may become one day: to be like the love that loved us. Till the end. 

When I see my face I am such a frail reflection of this face I saw in the bowl with water. Yet this Holy Week I hope I see his face still looking at me from the water of cleansing love. I see him looking at me. I imagine myself to be like the rich young ruler who he met before: the ruler who knows it all, but who doesn’t know how to do love. Who doesn’t know how love bows down. Now, as my feet are washed, Jesus looks at me. Maybe I am a traitor or a coward. One who knows him too. One, whose fear is more overpowering than his love bowing down… Still Jesus’ gaze is one of love. Still his reflection is in the water.

Love bows down - love shown, enabling me to love. On the road of suffering Jesus’ enduring love is an example in the way he takes his next to kin in consideration, his best friends - this is the wonderful mind of Christ. To see the other, even when the road leads to less than nothing. When bowing down is the choice we make - love is putting the other first. Love is a reflection that reminds us of softened hearts. Reminding us that we can bow down too, with love. And love rules as we see each other - not from the high and prestigious places. Now we show each the face of love with those faces reflected in the water. As our faces find Love’s home in a bowl of water… Love so tender - the treasure of love is below us. From below, the best beauty of love will then smile to us when we want to see it and receive it….



Palm Sunday: Just himself

07 Apr 2016

Crowds. I find them difficult. Palm Sunday shows a crowd of revolution and change. The same familiar crowd - just look at Bernie Saunders’ success. Opposite to them the scribes, the Donald Trumps: blocking any change as long as they could. While after a few decades everything changed drastically anyway…

We are not in control of our direction. I try to learn from the Palm Easter King: his entry was one of confidence, yet of humility… He knew where he was going: realistic, determined, and filled with compassion. He was supposed to ride in with a voice of hope to ‘make our hands strong’ - as the prophet once said. He made my hands strong to reach out like palm branches for this King. Reaching out for his otherness of love, peace and compassion. Reaching out with the psalms and prayers of my heart. Reaching out to the who is always the same. Reaching out to another kind of change…

In the psalms we read of a range of emotion and reflective journeys that are as rich as all that we experience and desire in our hearts. This King knew the pressure, the desire and the shame, the threat… So much beyond the politics of that day, he still enters in with that same otherness: but never ignoring, never dismissing and always listening…

He just had his way of ‘non-campaigning’, which I find so appealing: Instead of seeking the popular vote he stunned, perhaps even appalled  the crowd by aiming for a tax collector named Zaccheus. In the same chapter the crowd is his, a few chapters later he’s the focus of mocking and disgust. The crowd was changing sides just like the wind…Despite its indecisiveness he just went his way and his glory was his immense focus through it all. And with that focus he chose life and he secured life for his friends and followers as well as for that same crowd which couldn’t make up its mind. Isn’t that comforting. The way he copes with what we carry inside and with the mess we make: authoritative yet gentle. Above all: strong as a king. Equal to us: vulnerable as a lamb. Other - just himself. Other -but alike.


Lent 2

07 Apr 2016

In simple trust like theirs, who heard beside the Syrian sea - the gracious calling of the Lord...

One of the first hymns to sing in Lent is Dear Lord and Father of mankind. I know how much some of my friends cherish precious memories when they sing this hymn... Words of peace and calm and ordered lives... So often i thought this was a hymn for our own personal life and spiritual walk. For me, this Lent this too well known hymn has been given a bigger stage: For nearby the Syrian sea life is all but ordered, nor simple - as we encounter it in the news from day to day. 

It shows how Lent is not an individual journey. Lent is about the world we live in. It is about what should be transformed for the good and how we all try to find a way to play our part in that change.The journey to the cross is one we make together with aspects to our collective lives which we can’t control, nor order, nor make sense of. This is why we walk nearer to the cross in these weeks before Easter. None of us perfectly sorted (that’s why we all need Lent), but in togetherness. 

As we walk side by side we hear a gracious calling. Thank God we don’t have to do this alone. Thank God there is a Saviour. This Lent I am glad I don’t have to make the journey by myself, and that his calling still goes out into a world full of chaos and violence. Lent points us to the soft calling of a Saviour who was never afraid to step down in the chaos - to lead us on that road out of the utmost darkness towards the light of the cross. 

In the midst of all the hurt that I hear and see I still believe it is true: the cross of hope and peaceful balm.

Like leaves we let go

08 Oct 2015



WALKING ON THE WIND OF HISTORY


I love walking. Embracing all the nature around me. Passing historical sites. It’s so refreshing. It reminds me of who I am. I wind down. It helps to reflect. I contemplate the history as I encounter it on my way.  

I remember old stories and new songs.

I often think of one particular track of Clannad’s Landmarks album - a song about autumn leaves painting the scene of the past with an atmospheric tone... Somehow this song stayed with me and helped me to reflect on other stories, for example that one of the Winter Queen. I often find the song ringing in my head when I pass some castle windows or impressive trees....

I love to take people on a walk through London, called the ‘Favourite Trees Walk’. It passes my own landmarks and resting places. Places in the park where the seasons have a home. Places of the past which help me to reflect on the time we live in now. Decisions, sentiments, desires, reflections, memories.... they all deserve a place. Walking through London’s quiet and meaningful places make the days feel a bit longer. They help me to reflect on who I am; on what I can do and contribute today.


Today? Leaves have started to fall around us. Let‘s embrace their falling beauty - their fall is a quiet one on the wind. Focus on that ancient existence of trees around us. Follow the wind and let go. Not to be restricted and suppressed by the past, but to learn from it, to leave the branches, to find the wind of history. Like leaves we let go and find our course. Like on this particular walk, let’s “leave freely” and remember where we are coming from historically as a continent. Let’s look into the years of the Thirty Years’ War, 400 years ago. 

It was an age when the world was shamed by war. People were on the run.

It was an age when immigration build new nations. 

It was an age of insecurity and of harm, yet of gold and of new hope. 


An age worth remembering - as a mirror for our own time. As we walk through over four centuries, we embrace the wind of history and of our change. And autumn is with us as we walk with the changes. See our hearts calm down on that same wind.

Today? Let’s pass beautiful nature and let’s be reminded of the history in our hearts and the hope we carry with us still. That also is: “House of my Heart”

Favourite Trees Walk; do you want to walk along? Check out the events calendar on Kerst’s Walkabout 

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