For this years’ journey I have chosen to go partly on piligrims paths. They arr usually more beautiful paths and there are usually more people on them, was my thinking. That last part remains to be seen. I walk alone, again, most of the time. This year though it doesn’t bother me much. We all walk the same way as well, of course, to get to Mariazell
Mariazell is also called by the name of die grosse Mutter Österreichs (the Mother of Ausyria), the centre of the veneration of the Virgin Mother in this country. That is where I am now and where many other walking pilgrims have found their way towards, today. The pilgrimage is, according to me, a highly social endeavour. Even when walking alone you are still part of the pilgrims’ community. That is also how I experienced my walk towards Santiago de Composyella. Whether you like it or not…but when you walk together it also becomes a pleasurable and hopegiving walk.
That is also how I see the great many small altars, chapels and veneration of saints along the way. They are an expression of a comunally experienced civilization. Possibly the encounter with the Ottoman empire that was brought to a halt in these regions has something to do with it as well. From my experience, the faith always runs deeper across religious divides.
When you, like me walk a lot on your own, you easily go deep. You may have the most amazing insights and beautiful encounters but it can also become rather heavy. If you want to (re)discover pleasure and hopefulness I think you should walk together, as a pair.