Karoline Barwinski

Travel and set yourself free

Karoline Barwinski
Travel and set yourself free

Let me tell you a beautiful story.  It takes place in Brittany, France, in a little seaside village called Pont Aven where the post-Impressionist artist, Paul Gauguin, painted some of his most significant works.  This story is about connection and a reminder of why travel, no matter where you are in life (even as a mama with a toddler in tow), can be a profound experience that takes you places within you may not get to go at home.   

We spent a few days in Pont Aven.  This charming little town is still replete with artists and retains remnants from the past, one of which is the Chapelle de Tremalo.  

We showered and bathed Rafael before dinner that evening so that bedtime would be a little smoother (and I'm happy to report it was) and decided to walk over and check out the Chapel before our 7:00pm reservation.  Aran's new friend at the local cafe and bakery said it was not to be missed.  

It was about a 25 minute walk on a gravel road.  I ended up hiding the stroller in some bushes because the path was so bumpy I thought it was going to break the wheels!  Aran carried Rafael in our Lille carrier and about 10 minutes into the walk the little guy fell asleep.  The path to the chapel is a country one with small farms, gardens, and fields on each side.  We walked along a wide aisle of beech and oak trees as we got closer to the chapel.  The walk itself was something out of a Gauguin painting.

We walk in.  It's just us and a palpable silence.  I sat on one of the benches and closed my eyes. 

This is what I felt:  a penetrating peace.

The only sounds I heard were birds chirping outside and leaves rustling in the wind, but you still could hear a pin drop inside.  The dense ancient stone exterior protects the sacred within.  I was moved to tears.  I don't know why.  I still am, simply thinking about it.  With my eyes closed, I prayed.  And allowed myself to feel what it's like to live a life with purpose, doing what brings immense joy.  I made a promise to myself to keep pursuing that and I prayed that I keep my promise.

Rafael eventually woke up, but stayed in Aran's arms in the carrier.  Quiet, peaceful and undisturbed.  I have a feeling he felt it all too.  

As we walked off down the beautiful tree-lined path I believe all three of us experienced something special and beyond this world.  Something everlasting, yet subtle and ephemeral, at the same time.  Something fragile, yet powerful. 

As we walked away and headed to dinner, I hoped I'd see a ladybug.  I have a thing with ladybugs.  She comes around at the most special moments, when I am in a special place, or had a special thought.  That evening she didn’t arrive in animal form, but she did as a large table outside of the kitschy, yet elegant restaurant where we ate our last beautiful meal in Pont Aven. 

This was magic.  A little miracle.  Synchronicity.  Alignment with something beyond me.  

I will always have this moment at the Chapel with my dear ladybug friend, and my two guys who I love beyond words.

These moments are rare, but when we follow our hearts they happen.  I felt this when I first met Aran; on Machu Picchu where I met a friend who has helped me see the world beyond the physical; at my grandmother’s grave where she was buried along with my grandfather and their siblings.  

These are the moments I can touch hope.  Where I converse with something greater than myself. When I feel connected to all of life. These are the moments I know anything is possible. 

Do you have moments like that in life?  What do they feel like?   How do you hold on to them?  I would LOVE to know.