Weitblicke beim Weitwandern, © weinfranz.at

Crossing borders, crossing boundaries

Embarking on new experiences from Vienna to Mariazell

Bridges connect what borders separate. Pilgrimage also means recognising limitations, going through transitions, leaving your comfort zone, and venturing new paths—not only in the geographical sense.

Who doesn't know these moments in life: We want to move forward, get closer to our goal, our vision. And we can feel that we need to take the next step, going beyond our previous limitations. To many, this is the perfect occasion to lace up their walking boots and also cross some actual spatial borders and boundaries: from one Lower Austrian "quarter" to the next, from district to district, from village to village, or simply from one riverbank to the other. Those who walk the Via Sacra and the Vienna Pilgrimage Trail cross many such boundaries and borders and may use them as a metaphor to reflect on their own lives.

Leaving the old behind, venturing the new

We cross boundaries and metaphorical borders when we dare to do something new. Our own boundaries, but also those set by others. Limiting dogmas such as "I can't do that" or "I shouldn't be away from home for that long" will hold us back until we consciously decide to cross the bridge and adopt new ways of thinking. An act that pilgrims often like to emphasise with a personal letting-go ritual. Some throw a stone into the water, others send a personal message in a bottle down the river or consciously leave destructive thoughts behind at the border.

Leaving one's comfort zone

As in life, following the Via Sacra and the Vienna Pilgrimage Trail does not always simply mean to leisurely walk straight ahead. Some ascents are demanding; you will need the right pace—and possibly breaks—to make your way safely to the top. Each person can explore individually: What is my way to master this challenge? Where do I leave my comfort zone, and where is my limit? Does my life primarily revolve around achievements and output, or do I also allow myself to fail, to let go, to choose a different path or maybe even turn around?