The journey took longer than anticipated and slowly the feeling of hope was weakening as the labor of movement and exhaustion consumed our reality. Our pathway, although a descent down the mountain, was treacherous and time consuming. It levelled off almost at the base of the mountain, but still above the valley. We continued to follow a pathway that bordered the valley tightly against the mountain’s base. We could see that there was a stream running through this oasis, and that small groups of homes dotted the riverside. Other pathways broke off from ours, paths that would take you into the small village.
Finally reaching the base of the Monastery, we approached a grandiose staircase of white stone, pillared on each side, the steps rose steeply up to the main entrance. Each step of the staircase was smooth and worn indicating use with age. Colin, guiding our entourage, walked up the steps with the aid of attendants. We followed silently; collectively overwhelmed with humility and thankfulness at finding a safe haven after our journey. As I entered the large hallway a feeling of ease flooded my body. There was a distant sound of chimes, sultry, ringing in the air. A beautiful fragrance consumed my senses.
Once we were all gathered in the massive hallway inside the building, Colin turned his attention to us travelers. He told us we were safe. Although the accommodations were humble, we were to make ourselves at home. He assured us that the many questions we must have in mind would be answered to the best of his ability. First, however, he suggested, we go with the attendants to rooms prepared for us. There we could freshen up and relax. We would meet in an hour’s time for a meal that would be prepared for us. Nervously, but unanimously, the group agreed. One by one we followed the various attendants to our rooms.
My room was large with tall ceilings, ornate crown molding edged the entire room. The room had French doors that led to a balcony; through them I saw the long green valley with the river slumbering it’s way through it. The backdrop was a silhouette of the mountain range we had crossed, with all its various summits. The scene was so perfectly surreal I thought I must be dreaming although all my senses assured me I was awake.