Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Santiago in my Stocking!

Imagine my delight when I found this beautiful carving of St James tucked into my Christmas stocking. He is about 11 inches tall and now graces the corner on my desk. He is a reminder of the adventures ahead.

My in-laws purchased this lovely carving a few decades ago on their first visit to Spain. Back then it was merely an attractive souvenir with little meaning. And now, they have passed it on to me.

I recognized it as soon as I saw it.

I was probably there when they made this purchase long ago in a dusty gift shop somewhere in Spain.

But back then I did not know about Santiago or the Camino. I was young then and fully engaged in the logistics of simply living life.

Now, I have lived a full, rich life and have much to be grateful for. Now Santiago and the Camino are important to me.

I think back to Franco-era Spain. So many years ago, I lived there with my husband (an AFRTS radio announcer and TV production specialist). My days back then consumed with the humble challenges of raising two small children while living in a different culture.

We lived in a tiny adobe home in a very modest neighborhood. I cooked, cleaned, gardened and was absorbed in the minutiae of day-to-day living. The children and I shopped at the bazaar and everyday we learned new words. We were immersed in the culture and we thrived. Life seemed simpler then. Our son was born in Spain. Our daughter started school there.

Spain was our happy home for five lovely years.

Years later, we had the good fortune to make a return to sunny Spain. This time it was my job that brought us there. My husband was Mr. Mom. We lived in a university town (Alcala de Henares) and instead of a small, cozy cottage in a working class neighborhood, we lived in a spacious high rise facing the park. Our then-teenagers took the train to Madrid and became quite cosmopolitan. We lived and laughed and the years flew by. After five years, we again had to say farewell to our life in Spain.

This time though, I knew I would return. The seeds were planted - I knew I would one day return to walk the Camino.

And walk the Camino I will - this is the year.

My St James graces the corner of my desk. He is a joyful reminder of the adventure that is ahead. He is also a fine reminder of a wonderful life.

Life is good...

{Photo Credit: @ Virginia J. Pulver, Santa Fe 2009}

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