Odysseys with Wholeness

Nicola Mary Christensen-Johnson

Surrendering - The Pathway of Kenosis

An Online Gathering

Sunday 28 July 2024

Sunday 4 August 2024

Bornholm, the  4th of July 2024

The corn sown less than a month ago is rapidly sprouting and soon the house will be enclosed by  a forest of corn stalks and rustling foliage protecting the cobs from the assaults of summer heat and straining winds. Already the wildlife that peacefully lived in the shelter of the previous thick hay has adjusted its feeding habits either coming closer to the house or moving towards other pastures. In the morning I diligently sit at the kitchen table to capture whatever urgent thought has sailed through the night or during contemplative stillness, yet my mind is immediately drawn to the pastoral scenes unfolding on the lawn and terrace. A few days ago a couple of hares enjoyed a vigorous mating session at my feet, totally at ease, and not at all put off by my presence, even making eye contact. They now sit leisurely on the lawn nibbling the daisies or clover flowers. They have given up trying to munch the deceptively appetising-looking leaves in the corn field: too fibrous and chewy is the look they gave me when I asked.

The nesting starlings have left and the barn swallows fly undisturbed under the roof to scoop up the first hatch of flies. A couple of bobtails hop from stone to stone with their fledgling teaching him to catch the flying insects skimming the ground. They even had a go at a couple of butterflies fluttering by. The youngster spent the first two days out of the nest plaintively calling for them to feed him and, occasionally, they obliged him. When it first found itself stranded on the cobbles in the courtyard, it remained motionless, frozen on the ground,  apart from its tail bobbing madly. The parents would hover above it, tempting it with food, encouraging it to open its wings and fly up on to the roof out of reach of the prowling cats eagerly combing the farm buildings. Crows make a raucous appearance shortly after sunrise and pick at the lawn to unearth bugs and juicy beetles. The lawn is now full of small craters where they have been digging up worms. The bird bath has become a big attraction with each species taking its turn. Clearly, when it is crow time, all the other birds respectfully keep their distances chirping from the roof top to give the all clear. And, finally, the larks have settled in the corn field where they will no longer be disturbed losing their nests and young to the necessity of regularly cutting the hay.

Meanwhile, on the seas of the odyssey we are now sailing the third wave of unfolding in wholeness: waking up.  Awakening on the pathway of conscious love carries us up the crest of the wave, and surrendering on the pathway of kenosis accompanies our graceful home-breaking into nothingness and wholeness. In June we walked down the pathway of conscious love twice so as to fully appreciate, and understand, that to awaken is always an act of courage, in particular if we are to open up to true love, new and deeper desires. As we discovered from the beginning, conscious love is ruthless in its determination to crack open our hearts. We get there by trusting the interplay between light and dark, learning to flourish in intimacy and honouring our wholehearted participation in contemplative stillness and heart-centred actions. The unapologetic mercilessness of true love means that walking the pathway of conscious is an intense experience, to put it mildly, where we will inevitably crash into various forms of turmoil waiting for our loving attention. At times, it feels like tentatively reaching an edge only to be pushed over the rim of intelligibility into the unknown.

Following the itinerary of shamanic inner voyaging, the third wave is conveyed by the element of Air. Each morning, I bless the air as part of my first contemplative practice using John O’Donohue’s poem In Praise of Air [1] followed by David Whyte’s essay on Shyness [2] with a musical background of sacred music by Olafur Arnalds and Ola Gjeilo. When I first discovered the blessing of Air, I was fascinated by the introductory verse: Let us bless the air, benefactor of breath, keeper of the fragile bridge we breathe across. I was mesmerised by the image of a fragile bridge and found myself adding on keeper of the fragile bridge we dream across.

What is there for me to know about this fragile bridge, the articulation of breathing and dreaming which feels so natural, yet remains elusive refusing to be framed in words other than through poetry and imagery? When I get to the essay of shyness I always pause, in silence and stillness, on David Whyte’s first words “Shyness is the hallway of presence …” Then, I breathe in and listen to the affirmation “Without shyness we cannot shape an identity ripe for revelation.” This is the gateway leading me closer to the fragile bridge so that I may understand its nature and how it presents itself to me.

In Chapter Five of An Archaeology of the Personality I recount the story of breaking my leg on the last day of the skiing season and finding myself bedridden for two months and then having to learn to walk again without a limp. That story, spanning over four months, frames the genesis and formation of my experience of powerlessness. There is a dark side to the story when I lose my sense of dignity and encounter the worlds of hopelessness and despair and, fortuitously, there is also a light side when, alone in my bed, I discover the gateway leading to the realms of imagination and boundless creativity. The story ends on Hampstead Heath in London where my father promises me some coveted book money if I can walk over the bridge in the gardens of Kenwood House without limping. I muster all my determination to achieve this task only to realise that it is an ornamental bridge that cannot be cross. This not only bewilders me – that my father could play such a mean trick on me – it also leaves me feeling homeless and out of touch with this encounter with reality.

Over the past weeks I have returned to this memory stored in my body resurfacing regularly in various guises and disguises. I have a picture of this ‘fragile bridge’ on my desk and I have been drawing it using ephemeral techniques: dry pastels, very watery aquarelles. Slowly I have come to realise that the incident with my father in the gardens of Kenwood House has shaped my relationship to money and the way I take what I consider to be my place in the unreal and unsane financial system that undergirds our societies and cultures. The scars have morphed into obsessive and compulsive thoughts around money supported by a money-obsessed culture and my allegiances to the distorted understandings it foments. These thoughts have addictive qualities and are difficult to suppress, in the same way I am battling to get rid of the flies buzzing around me.

Powerless in front of an impassable bridge, it is as if I crashed into the money-based reality construed by my family and larger context, temporarily wiping out the realm of imagination that had been replenishing me while my leg healed. Since this realisation, I have been wondering and pondering. How might I undo the fallacy I have been harbouring and unwittingly feeding? How might I work with my fear-based, shame-filled, obsessive thoughts around money? How might I breathe across the fragile bridge, dream across it? What is it that I need to remember to finally cross the bridge and free myself from the distorted understanding forged in baffling childhood experiences?

The answer is twofold. It is to remember first that the realms of imagination visited as a bedridden child have never left me and that they have always provided me with much solace and consolation, strength and courage to stay on the pathway of conscious love. It is to know that in contemplative stillness I can welcome my obsessive thoughts on money by creating a money free zone and seeing them for what they are, that is, thoughts that arise and fall away however tenacious they might seem to the troubled and bewildered self. Surrendering on the pathway of kenosis provides the perfect walk for emptying myself of my obsessive thoughts and freeing myself from acquisitive habits. To do so with companions, as we are discovering with each gathering, transforms the breakdowns into breakthroughs since – where two or more gather in my name, love prevails and the field of mercy opens up.


[1] from Benedictus. A Book of Blessings. London: Bantam Press, 2007, pp. 54-56.

[2] from Consolations. The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2014, pp. 153-155.

Practical Information

There are two options for walking down the Pathway of Kenosis

Sunday 28 July 2024 and/or Sunday 4 August 2024 from

  • 8.00 to 12.00 Central Standard Time
  • 10.00 to 14.00 Eastern Time
  • 15.00 to 19.00 Eire/UK
  • 16.00 to 20.00 Central Europe Time


There will be two pauses along the journey and, at the end, an open space for sharing our experience and, only if this feels relevant and judicious, for disclosing our art forms.

The participation fee ranges between 250,00 DKK and 500,00 DKK with tiered pricing catering for different financial circumstances. The fee covers the two sessions.

Tickets are on sale via the Webshop and can be bought at any time. Please select the amount according to your possibilities. After payment you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link giving you a direct access to the meeting room.

Budget Price Standard Price Benefactor Price
250,00 kr. 350,00 kr. 500,00 kr.
33 € 47 € 67 €
£ 29 £ 40 £ 58
37 US$ 51 US$ 74 US$
49 CA$ 69 CA$ 98 CA$