The course of one's life never unfolds quite as we imagine it would. While traveling to gain perspective on her life, Mony, a Lebanese-Canadian woman feels called to walk an ancient path known as the Way of the Soul. She wavers, allowing her fears to drown out her heart's yearning. Until 9/11. Fate orchestrates all the necessary preparations, including an unexpected companion named Alberto, an Andalusian mystic whose ideas would challenge every preconceived notion Mony holds about peace, life and love. Their 13-month, 5000-kilometer odyssey across 13 countries would lead them physically to Jerusalem, but more importantly, to what was perhaps the intended destination all along: their true selves. This remarkable award-winning true story reminds us that it's never too late to listen to our hearts, that omens appear to guide us in our journeys, and that following both will lead us to realize our dreams and fulfill our destinies.
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When we began the process of writing this book, we each relied heavily on our diaries. In the early versions, we described every city, every person, every kilometer, every experience. The more we wrote, however, the more that we appeared to be creating an adventure travelogue, which in part it was, but one that had not captured the full spirit of the walk or, more importantly, the driving force behind all these experiences.
It was at this stage that I balked. I preferred to speak about the places and people, and keep the full extent of what was happening within me to myself. My deepest fears, curiously the same ones that I walked into Jerusalem with, now played out on a grander scale. What would people think if I revealed my insecurities and judgments, if I told them what I was really thinking? And if I told them that the biggest decisions of my life I made following signs and omens; that I didn't necessarily think through each situation, but merely jumped in and winged it, trusting that the Universe would guide me through it? Would people, especially those I hold dear, think I was nuts? If I mentioned I was on a spiritual journey, a quest to know myself, would they think I had become a religious fanatic? The more I thought about it, the more vulnerable I felt. So I resisted.
The forces of the Universe, however, were relentless and kept tugging at me to speak from the heart, to have courage to speak about my inner journey; but I wasn't prepared. I fought with them, with myself, and especially with Alberto. With each story, he would try to reason with me, explain, cajole, anything, to get me to write about what was happening "behind the veil", as he often referred to it. When I eventually did, I saw the beauty of the experience from a perspective I had not considered before. It was in those moments that I felt especially inspired, or perhaps guided, and when the words seemed to flow through me like a current. I eventually stopped resisting and allowed that flow to continue.
The people and stories that you are about to read are all true. In certain situations, we changed the names when we felt we needed to tell the story to demonstrate an important point in our journey, but we didn't want to unintentionally offend the individuals involved. We also had to remove a great number of stories, and although they are not yet available, you can still visit our website walkingforpeace.com to see our exact route, day-by-day, along with photos, anecdotes, and interviews we granted along the way.
Having two people come to agreement on every aspect of one book has not been an easy task. In many ways, it too was a journey. This may not be the book I would have written alone, or that Alberto would have written alone, but this final product has exceeded our wildest expectations. It is an entirely new creation, not a compromise of creations. Nothing has been lost; on the contrary, both visions have expanded.
Perhaps this book, in some small measure, can stand as an example of what can be accomplished when the intention is to unite and transcend differing views rather than keep them separated. Perhaps this can show a path towards a peace that is lasting.
We live in moments of great change, where a consciousness of peace is emerging and taking form. In this nascent state, it is still fragile and easy to dismiss as utopian. But all great journeys begin with a single step. And no matter how tentative these first steps may seem, they all inevitably lead to their destination, one that may even surprise us.
I invite you to take that first step with me now.
Mony formalized her studies with an MBA in Canada and, for ten years, pursued a marketing career in the burgeoning software industry. Her growing dissatisfaction with the lack of meaning in her work led her to abandon her lucrative career in 2001 and to embark in earnest on a search for self.
Alberto, a naturally gifted artist and sculptor, set aside his abilities to follow the "responsible" path of working in the secure and well-paying insurance industry in Spain. The unexpected death of a childhood friend underscored for him the importance of living life without fear. His subsequent decision to abandon his job and pursue his dreams would eventually lead him to the Way of St. James in northern Spain, where he would fatefully meet Mony.
Their walk for peace would reveal itself to be a path of self-discovery, a path they continue to walk to this day, and one whose insights and revelations they share in their blogs and artwork. They have lived in Spain and now live in Canada with their daughter Sylvana.
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