The path to awareness leads us past the building blocks of our soul. Tears, laughter, suffering, strengths, weaknesses, endurance, friendship, guidance, love and understanding. All that we laughed about, on this fourth & last day of our pilgrimage from Hinterbrühl in the Vienna Forests to Mariazell in Styria. All that we swore upon. All that we marveled at, suffered from, danced to, rejoiced in and realized over. The way really is our goal in life, it is and always will be. As we stood by the magnificent Basilica of Mariazell this afternoon, having put almost 100 walking kilometres & well over 2.000 metres of difference in altitude behind us, it finally hit us – each one of us in his or her own way. All of a sudden, I was moved to tears, and whatever it was that was keeping me going, that made me laugh and entertain those around me, suddenly fell from me. I felt dead tired, worn out by all the physical effort of walking and climbing, and yet so clear: Something mighty and beautiful was about to happen. Something unexpected. Right then & there, I fell silent.
“Don’t look for the answers that cannot be given to you because you could not live them anyway. Focus instead on the questions! In doing so, perhaps you will, one day, live to see the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke).
Those are beautiful words. Powerful words, that speak to me. When we, too, as pilgrims, feel overcome by emotions and lack the right words to say, our dear friend & pilgrim guide Maria Kvarda always found the right ones to say: Thank you so much, dear Maria! You made us look out for the beauty of nature while walking – alpine herbs, fire lilies, Enzian flowers and more. You cared about our stories and had yours to add. You always knew what to say: All your “Questions About Life” are full of wit & wisdom. Luckily for me and you, Maria handed them out to us as a gift towards the end of our pilgrimage.
Little by little, we have come to understand today’s mission: “Pray with your feet”. Oh GOD!, is indeed a phrase we kept on saying throughout this fourth and last day of our pilgrimage!
“Life is what happens when you start making other plans”, is something that John Lennon already used to say back in the days. “Life is a gift, it happens unexpectedly, it just knocks at your doorstep. Move up a little, make some space for it: Each day is a choice about what the future holds.” And: “Being true to yourself is the only foundation for love to grow. Know yourself, and always put yourself first, before starting to reach out to others.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? 🙂
A pilgrimage is so much more than just a hike. Of course, there is the element of physical endurance – burning feet, blistered soles, aching knees, sore muscles and else. At the same time, however, something more is happening – something way more significant. Your mind is able to find peace and relax in all the history and present-day context of the actual pilgrimage. This I believe has become rare in our times. We all grew stronger in those past few days, too. “I can do this”, and, “See what we are able to do after all?!” are words we shared repeatedly as a group – despite the rain, the fatigue and the fact that we only met as a group a few days ago … ! Now this does not happen by coincidence. To become a pilgrim truly has life-changing powers. Throw in all the fresh air, the green fields & forests, the exhilarating altitudes, and you get your soul’s reply to the uncertainties of everyday life: A MOST BEAUTIFUL SONG that reaches out straight from the heart, and seeps right into your mind and consciousness.
I will never ever forget this pilgrimage together with my dear travel bloggers turned into friends, Tanja Klindworth (Travel Blog Wellnessbummler), Oliver Zwahlen (Weltreiseforum), Hubert Mayer (Travellerblog) and Monika Baum (Entdecker-Greise). Neither Monika’s emotions right at the end of our trip, when she shared her very moving and personal life story with me, nor my own. I think of all the dear people around me, about everything that is and was, and look ahead at the future calm now, day by day, literally taking it step by step. The moment is all we have. Let us seize the moment!
And you, what is it that you think about pilgrimage and life wisdom?
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Mostviertel Tourismus to go on this pilgrimage along the Via Sacra to Mariazell. All opinions are my own.