Sunny Zolc, our information officer and a member of the Parish Council, undertook a pilgrimage from Lugo to Santiago de Compostela earlier this year.
We asked her to let us have a brief account of her experience for this website.
This is it.
As my best friend, Mareike, lives in Ivory Coast and we rarely see each other, we try to spend a week of vacation together every year to catch up and have some quality time together.
Last year, we went to Sweden for an active outdoor camp.
This year I suggested walking part of the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
On March 13, Mareike’s close friend and business colleague lost her life together with 21 other victims during the IS terrorist attack in Gran Bassam, only 40 km from her home in Abidjan.
It was by chance that she had to work that Sunday and could not join her friends on the beach. I can only imagine how hard it was for Mareike to cope with the loss, with the fear and the sadness while keeping “the business going” with no one around to help, comfort or care for her. We were only able to speak on the phone for the next five months and met in Lugo on August 15th to start the pilgrimage together.
Our journey involved six days of walking, around 25 km each day, just the two of us, with our backpacks, giving us plenty of time on our hands on our way to Santiago.
Most pilgrims go on a pilgrimage for religious reasons, seeing the experience as a spiritual adventure and an opportunity to step back from the bustle of modern life. Others are hikers who walk the route for other reasons, enjoying the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. We considered ourselves “a bit of everything”. With every step and every mile we covered, we became more relaxed on the inside and yet more focused on our surroundings. Thoughts came and went, hours of silence took turns with conversations while we walked through endless eucalyptus forests and small villages. The trail became a protective shelter to bare one’s soul; to your co-pilgrim, to yourself and to the Lord. The change went nearly unnoticed. But at the end of our pilgrimage, when we reached the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and attended the Pilgrims’ Mass, we found ourselves more grateful for what we have, more attentive to all the small things in life and more united with the Lord our God.
Had we gone anywhere else for this year’s vacation, I am sure we would not only have lost out on muscle soreness and blisters, but also on those long and profound talks about what worries us deep inside and what makes us happy. I want to believe that we, our path and our thoughts and prayers were silently guided by Him.
Mareike and I parted again in Madrid after only a week but felt more connected than ever before.
Free water for pilgrims along the way – provided by local supermarkets or citizens.
The credential – collecting stamps (at least 2 per day) is mandatory to receive the compostela.
Only one of the eucalyptus forests.
The two of us.
Inside the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.