Remembering the Rhythm of the Way

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Remembering the Rhythm of the Way

by Marian Gonsior | Westland, MI

Remembering the Rhythm Marion Gonsior, green fabric design.
A snapshot of the artist’s work in progress, taken in Castrillo de Los Polvazares, May 2023. Textile art piece “Remembering the Rhythm of the Way” and photo by Marian Gonsior.

When I trace my finger along the winding blue ribbon of fabric, the Camino becomes present. I am aware of my breath. I hear my footsteps. The fabric is part of a wall hanging I made last year while on Camino, as a remembrance of the experience. I took some vintage cloth I had brought with me, along with some fabric purchased locally, and stitched the pieces together to recreate my Camino experience. In a static piece of art, I feel the consoling rhythm of the Way.

Although this strip of material, sewn on a greenish-blue background, represents for me the Camino path itself, the main image in the piece shows three phases of the moon in a figure that is traditionally known as “The Triple Goddess.” I chose to highlight this image not only because of its association with the different stages of a woman’s (and thus my own) life: maiden, mother, crone; but also because the cyclical nature of the moon’s path recalls the circular rhythm of the Camino.  We gather supplies, take our leave, arrive at our destination, walk, say our goodbyes, return home.

Besides this circular routine of a Camino walk, the comings and goings that pilgrims experience along the Way present another rhythm to illustrate in my art. The single path of a pilgrim interweaves with those of others; a pulse felt sometimes over days, sometimes only as brief encounters. I represent this coming together and letting go with pieces of fabric in different shades of green assembled on a black background.

There, I also see the stained glass windows of the cathedrals along the Camino, made of glass fragments and brought together with black strips of lead. I see pilgrims with shattered lives finding healing in the comunidad, or community, of the Camino. Joined together as threads in each other’s stories, we can feel ripped apart when we return to our quotidian lives.

Our breath, our steps, our coming together, and our inevitable farewells are all part of the rhythmic pulse that is the Camino. Maybe, along the Way, we all undergo that somewhat magical transition that takes place like the one Julia Cameron describes in The Artist’s Way, when “that rhythmic, repetitive action transfers the locus of the brain’s energies from the logic to the artist hemisphere.” Strict reality, fact-based conclusions, and linear thinking fade and are replaced by the rhythm of intuition, imagination, and dreams.

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