I awake to the hum of activity and tasks being performed by our entourage. It was evident by the scatter of people, dogs and equipment that we had been stopped for a prolonged period of time. I look around and see that we are on a mountain plateau, one side overlooking the barrens of snow and rock and the other a large impassable granite rock cliff that seems to rise straight to the heavens. Shadows of darkness surround us. We stop here for much longer than the usual drink and rest.
The moon rises over a mountain ridge and illuminates the landscape as it continues to climb in the night sky. The sled drivers sit together in a circle. Two of them look into the heavens, engage in a brief discussion, and then head over to the covered sled. They assist Colin out of the sled, and supporting him either side, he is brought over to where I rest on the sled. Like a child on a long journey, I am anxious and I ask “What are we waiting for? Are we there yet?”
Collin smiles, taking his time to answer me. “We are almost there. We must wait for safe passage.”
Although I am relieved, I ask. “But, where are we?”
Colin’s response was, “Labrador.”
I inquire about my companions and he reassures me that they are fatigued but appear to be doing fine. He asks me if I am able to walk. Moving my legs under the blankets I tell him that I think I can. Collin explains the next part of the journey is treacherous and impossible to do on sleds. I assure him I should be able to proceed under my own steam. He bows his head slightly, and instructs me to rest, to gather my strength for the next part of the journey.
With the assistance of his attendants, I watch as Colin approaches each sled. Closest to mine is Jitters’. I listen to Jitters’ barrage of questions: “Are we near a hospital? Is there a phone? How soon can we get home? How much will it cost?” Colin responds calmly and with quiet assurance that all of Jitters questions will be answered once we are at the Harmony monastery.
How rare, I think, a monastery referred to as Harmony built in the middle of nowhere hidden away amongst rock and a barren desert of snow.