As I prepare to depart from Berlin and conclude one dream, another one looms before me: To cycle around the world.
The new dream was wrought at the Scourmont Monastery in Chimay, Belgium. At this point in my journey my destination was just to get to Berlin.
But then, I met Père Jaques. Père Jaques greeted me at the gates of the monastery with a gruff "We have been waiting for you for an eternity". When I left the gates three weeks later it was in a heart rending goodbye.
This wonderfully kind Belgian monk started telling people that I was a "pèlerin de la paix" (a peace pedaller) who was "cycling around the world". It was partly true, I had come all the way from Smithers on the West of Canada. I was also working on my 1Mandala peace and oneneness project. However, cycling around the world wasn't yet my conscious intention.
However, Pèrere Jaques words resonated with me deeply.
They excited something deep in my soul. My heart smiled. It had been guiding me in this direction all along.
And so, Berlin has become not a destination, but a beginning. A beginning of an even greater and more wondrous dream. Today, I look at the map-- of Europe and Asia and I plot my course. So many adventures and beautiful experiences lie behind me. So much more before me!
The painting above is inspired by my stay at the monastery. First painted at the monastery, it is titled: "With Gratitude"
You see, while there longstanding dental problems began to plague me. I did not make much money as an artist back in Canada-- and I simply could not afford the necessary repairs to my teeth. They had gotten worse and worse.
When I mentioned in passing a small pain, Pere Jaques insisted I stay longer. An appointment was setup. After a survey of my many large and small issues, the monastery dentist insisted I come back the next day when he was done all his regular work.
I arrived at 8 PM. He set to work in a marathon dental extravaganza. He tackle not just one problem but ALL OF THEM. In three hours, five years of dental issues were resolved-- wisdom teeth, cavities, fractures, etc. He worked late into the night in a bloody, painful yet glorious session. When he was done, every single issue was dealt with. Everything! I have had no problems since.
At midnight when I returned, a bottle of the monastery's strongest brew of beer awaited me.
My gratitude was so immense. But so was my pain! The monks insisted I stay longer to recover. In a week of recovery I painted the first version of this painting as a gift. It now hangs in the monastery.
I realize now that an even greater gift from the monastery was finding my dream. There, walking through the snow covered orchards with Pere Jaques and experiencing the chanting morning masses I heard the whisper of my heart. As I have cycled on my gratitude has only grown for my time at the monastery and for the general abundance of blessings that have befallen me
Here is the second, much bigger version of the painting "Met Dankbarkeit / With Gratitude" (1.5 x 1.5 meter) now hanging here in Berlin.