Almost a decade ago, I set out on an epic journey. With only my bike and camping gear, I left behind my small town in North Western Canada to get to Berlin. I was following my dreams– to be an international artist, to revisit the land of my forefathers and to make a giant global collaborative mandala. It was a classic case of biting off way more than I could chew!
The odyssey was insanely challenging. Yet, it was by far one of the best things I have ever done. The journey took a slow and steady year and a half before I arrive in Berlin and setup my art studio. A long the way, I found dazzling moments of love and despair, beauty and disaster, heartache and joy, and… friendship. Most of all friendship– for that is the treasure that not only endures; it ripens.
One of those friendship began on a cold and wet winter night as I pulled my bike up to a massive oak door in a forest near Chimay, Belgium. A white haired Trappist monk emerged in his brown robes from the Abbay de Scourment to greet me. He chided me for my late arrival, “Mon fils, on vous attendent une éternité” (my son we have waited for you an eternity). With those portentous words Pere Jaques ushered me into the monastery. A snow storm a few days later prevented me from leaving, and as the days turned to weeks, I had a chance to get to know Pere Jaques over long walks through the monastery’s estate.
Tonight, roughly nine years later, I knock on the door of the monastery once again. I am eager to see Pere Jaques again and tell him the countless adventures of my journey since I pedaled away nine years ago. I look forward to the peace of the place, the early morning chants, the reverence of presence and prayer.
Strangely, although I have come full circle, it does not feel like my journey ever came to end.