On the morning of Tuesday 11th April 2023, Community of the Passion member Lya Vollering set off from Canterbury to begin walking the 1800km pilgrimage trail known as the Via Francigena, which has Rome as its destination.
Walking an ancient path to the future, Lya does so as an act of ecological witness in the midst of our climate crisis, to call attention to the urgent need to heal and care for the earth, our common home.
We hope to bring you weekly updates on Lya’s progress: here are her thoughts before the journey’s beginning.
Good Friday: The ugliness of it
On Good Friday the full moon was shining into my bedroom at 6pm. Did she wake me up? She did invite me to go out. So I climbed up the hill to see the moon descending and the sun rising.
Two deer were watching too. When they saw me they looked at me for a while and then decided to run off. Those early spring mornings are so precious, the birdsong, the light, the atmosphere. It is hard to describe. On my walk over the hilltop I came across black plastic caught in barbed wire. The ugliness off it. I decide to take it off—not as easy as I thought. It had got tightly wrapped around the spiky parts of the wire. It was cold and my hands were getting numb, but I persevered until I got it all off.
I thought of the black figure I had made of this plastic (it is used to wrap silage): The Jesus/ Atlas figure carrying a disintegrating glitterball representing our world. I would like to make a bigger version of it. So, if you on your walks come across this black plastic, please collect it for me. Thanks!
Easter Sunday: One more sleep
This Easter morning I got up at six again, and this time I decided to walk in the opposite direction. I came across a field with young horses. They were curious, and came to have a look, probably checking if I had something edible with me.
One of them touched my forehead with his/her lips. I am sure it was a kiss 😊. I heard the skylark. What a delight to celebrate Easter morning with creation. The sun was rising red. Mist hung over the valley. A hare nearly run into me. But then when I was walking along the road I saw this big animal. A badger: dead. This beautiful creature had a head injury, probably hit by a car at night. I stood there for a while. Then I decided to take him/her to the verge. Poor creature.
This was my last walk here in beautiful Hexhamshire before I start the big one from Canterbury on Tuesday. The rucksack is packed. The boots cleaned. One more sleep.
Monday 10th April: If we slow down…
Early in the morning I heard singing: not only the birds, but human voices too. Five friends had arrived, and were singing one of my favourite songs of Wendell Berry. They had brought breakfast too.
We drove for nearly 9 hours along motorways. Not very often now that I travel long distances on motorways. It struck me—and I remember I had these thoughts when I was a child—how ugly motorways are. How ugly, too, the service stations along the way. So much litter along the road. I wonder: if we slow down, would we be able to make the world more beautiful again?
We arrived in Herne Bay early evening, at the house of a Passionist community. We were warmly welcomed by Mark, Patrick and Cai.
You can follow Lya’s weekly updates here.
Reflections, music and scripture as well as opportunities for sharing on this World Aids Day online service.
Dec 01 2023
See the full list of talks at this year's week-long seminar, and tune in on YouTube.
Sep 20 2023
Lya Vollering shares eight concluding lessons from ninety-six days spent walking the Via Francigena.
Jul 25 2023