Being Away and At Home at the Same Time

In what she calls “the walk that changed my life”, Kathleen took on the 800-kilometre journey along the El Camino Napoleon route starting from St. Jean Pied de Port (in France) and ending in Spain at Santiago de Compostela.

When you think of the micro-community of family and how we live within it, it is my feeling that each of our personal stories become the tread or the fibre of its sustainability. A shared family, landscape and community are, for me, the three main characters in the building of my stories, the weaving of my experiences into my life blanket.

I think of those who have crossed my life path, who are my significant others. The significance being that they have helped me grow to be the person I am today. They are my family, the co-creators of my blanket. It was not until I had visited Spain that I came to know the meaning of family on a larger scale. The landscape of the communities nurtures the gathering places for all walks of like. The beautiful squares, always with a fountain and enough space for children to run and play ball, while the rest of the generations commune in conversation. The Spanish culture creates time for such events to occur. Every topic is open to discussion – politics, love, sex, religion. Relationships all have a place in the story of their lives.

I witnessed the celebration of life even in death. The mourning was not hidden, the loss of a person was felt by the whole community, and the stories they all shared became part of the celebration, the blanket of love they wove in which to wrap their grief. Weddings and birthdays, toasted and celebrated with food, song, dance and music, and hope for a healthy and happy future was abundant.

While walking through small villages, offerings of figs and fruit lay on the stone fences to nourish strangers. It was though you were not really a stranger, and they were expecting you. In that moment you are connected, your presence acknowledged.

I am not naive enough to believe it is all roses. They, I am sure, have their times of discord that challenge the strength of the family. After all, it is a huge family. What I do believe is that their love for each other and their landscape and the stories they build is what sustains their passion for life. There is not a sense that goes untouched, which for me makes for the very best story of all – LIFE!

Family + Community + Stories = Spain

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