As I walked yesterday thinking of how I could describe how I feel in Spain, the word that came to mind was GROUNDED.
I read a great definition of grounded as meaning that one is present in one’s body and connected with the earth, allowing one to feel centered and balanced no matter what’s going on.
Those who have seen my recent pictures have commented that I look serene, happy, at peace and relaxed. This is not to say that I am not at ease at home in Canada.
I am happy at home and I have a wonderful life full of activities, enjoyment and most importantly love. My husband, my family, and my friends are a wealth of love and support.
What I feel in Spain is very different. I felt it back in 1977 after spending my first summer in Spain studying art and history in what was then the small town of Cuenca. I remember clearly telling my mothet that Spain was a draw to me not only in my heart (a summer romance surely had something to do with that) but also in my soul.
The following two summers anchored those feeling even more. 32 years went by and the feeling remained, albeit somewhat lessened slightly through the passage of time.
I do say lessened and not disappeared. There were many times a song would play on the radio that would immediately catapult me right back to my summer days in Cuenca.
Little did I know that Spain would once again become an integral part of my life in a very different way. In 2011, after my retirement from my corporate career, I set foot on the Camino de Santiago.
The Camino is a bit of a misnomer because there are many caminos (roads or ways) leading to the city of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest part of Spain.
My first time on the Camino Frances was by far the most influencial one. It is during that first pilgrimage that I experienced the many unexplained, mystical life changing moments that would cement my love for the Camino experience and my love of this country.
Today, more than 7 years after my first journey on these sacred grounds, I have been blessed with amazing encounters with pilgrims, made strong bonds with friends, covered thousands of kilometers of seemingly unending beautiful roads and became a hospitalera (volunteer helper) on the Camino.
Last year I yearned to discover my ancestral roots through a DNA test. My siblings and I expected the results to show that our heritage would be mostly of the United Kingdom (on my mother’s side) and of France (on my father’s side).
The UK component was spot on with 44%. To our surprise I scored a mere 2% from France, and the biggest surprise was the second highest percentage of 18% from the Iberian Peninsula! Maybe somehow at the cellular level I have ancient memories tying me to this country.
Whatever it is that keeps me grounded here, I truly appreciate every day I spend here. My feet need to be on these ancient paths so in a few days I will be heading out to complete the Camino I started in honour of my sister Denise. Not only will I have her spirit guiding me but I will also be guided by the energy of those who have journeyed on these blessed paths.
Once again I will hear the familiar “Buen Camino” greeting from locals and other pilgrims as well as the beautiful sound of the wind and the bells on the sheep in the pastures.
Life is beautiful!