Valenzuela describes her pilgrimage so far as “a process of abandonment,” surrendering to God everything that is outside of her control.
“I feel that He is in charge, that this is not up to me, it's up to Him. I've never felt that kind of loneliness, although I've never been alone for so long in my life,” she told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.
“My prayer has been changing a lot and I am learning little by little to contemplate, to see the landscapes and contemplate the work of God in the things I see, in the song of the birds, in how the leaves move with the wind, in the landscapes,” she said.
Valenzuela said that her parents were quite worried when she first told them of her plans to walk across a continent alone.
She left behind her job, friends, and family to make the pilgrimage. But even at the halfway point in her journey, she already feels like she is not the same person who set out from Spain in January.
She said: “I would invite people to have the courage to search a little inside, to ask themselves: what has God put inside of me?”
“And on that path of discovery, when they begin to glimpse which way to go, then they should set out on the road. For you only have one life, even if that sounds very cliché. You only have one life and there is only one opportunity to reach its fullness.”
Valenzuela will head off from Rome on the next leg of her journey at the beginning of June, on her 30th birthday. Her next stops include Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece.
Once she arrives in Jerusalem, she hopes to tell God “what I have been telling him since I started: that I am here, so that he may do his will in me.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.