When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Mark 5:15
At 3 AM, a man suddenly woke up in his hostel room and looked around, feeling disoriented and forgetting where he was. He grabbed his notebook and started flipping through the pages to try and figure out his current location. After reading his notes, he realized that he was in Amsterdam and had barely slept in the past 48 hours.
It appears he’s had a steady itinerary of dive bars, hashish lounges, and coffee shops. In his last journal entry, the man mentioned that he visited a truffle shop with his friend Edwin.
Edwin had invited him to join for a week of sightseeing in Europe, which he accepted despite his financial constraints. Over the last few months, he had been confined to his apartment, struggling with a racing mind and a broken heart.
He described his apartment as follows: Room 12 is nothing more than a holding cell where every piece of furniture takes turns laughing at me. The dead flowers in the corner suggests that I lay on the floor until I too begin to decompose. My only interactions with the outside world are the times I go out for a smoke or pay a visit to the corner store.
According to the entry, the man had bought a batch of truffles known as the Philosopher’s Stone. They were said to expand one’s consciousness to uncharted territories and guarantee an odyssey of the mind. After leaving the shop, Edwin and the man ducked off into a nearby bathroom to consume the truffles. The man’s last words were: “Watch this be the craziest trip of my life!”
These were the only clues legible enough to read. The man threw the notebook on his nightstand and looked around the room. He concluded that the man with shaggy blonde hair snoring on the bed next to him was Edwin. Despite his troubled state, he did not want to wake Edwin and risk causing a scene.
The man noticed that the sink across from him was moving back and forth in a zig-zag pattern as if it were on a conveyor belt. Although it was winter, the room felt quite warm, almost like the streets of a Central American town. The wall was adorned with geometric patterns that looked like ancient graffiti.
He attempted to ground himself by writing something, but his hand was trembling so much that he could hardly hold onto the pen. He told himself to start with something simple, like writing his name.
The man felt his body grow tense as panic set in. He couldn’t recall his name and searched his pockets for any form of identification, but found nothing. He wanted to scream, but no sound escaped his throat.
Suddenly, his entire body began to convulse, and he thrashed about in the bed, causing it to shake. Eventually, the fit subsided, and the bells of a far-off Gothic cathedral began to ring softly, growing to a roaring octave like that of a waterfall.
The bells continued to ring, seemingly on a loop. The man tried to throw the covers over his body but couldn’t move due to fear-induced paralysis. With nothing left to do, he cried out to an unknown force, call it God, the universe, Buddha, or whoever might be listening.
The Holy Transfiguration Monastery: Rest & Renewal
The man stood in a dimly lit wooden chapel. The flickering flames of candles cast a warm orange glow on the walls adorned with intricate icons. He was taken aback by the serenity and holiness that emanated from this humble space. Three years ago, he could have never fathomed that he would find himself in a monastery seeking solace and union with God.
In his youth, he believed that philosophy and art would free the world, and he considered himself above all traditional religious beliefs. Despite years of searching for answers in books, traveling to far-off lands, and sitting at the feet of new-age gurus, he found himself more fragmented and lost than ever before.
Amid his confusion, Christ appeared before him, offering him an escape from his inner turmoil, saying, “It doesn’t have to be this way. Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
A group of bearded monks in black habits entered the chapel at dawn, chanting psalms as sunlight streamed through the windows. The Divine Liturgy was about to begin, and the celebrants were ready to welcome the Son of God into their midst and praise the Risen Lord as the Sun of new beginnings rose to greet creation.
One of the younger brothers adjusted his beanie, crossed himself before leaving the chapel, and began to ring the bell to call the remaining brothers, some hermits, and others who were slow to awake, to prayer. The man remained in the back of the chapel with closed eyes and felt torrents of peace flowing from the center of his being.
He sensed his person slowly being drawn into Love itself, and a smile of joy and deep abiding peace formed on his face. In his hand, he held a white stone with a new name written on it. A name God gave the man in confidence. The bells echoed within his soul and he heard a direct phrase:
Do not fear the unknown, for you are known by your Father in heaven.
All was well, he was in his right mind, and the pilgrimage of life had only just begun.