Odysseys with Wholeness

Nicola Mary Christensen-Johnson

Shifting - The Pathway of Metanoia

An Online Resting Place

Sunday 26 May 2024

Bornholm, the 1st of May 2024

Tomorrow, I turn 65 and will reach the official age of retirement according to the Swiss legislation. In January I received a congratulatory message from the Embassy in Stockholm where I am registered as a Swiss citizen living abroad. They reminded me to take the necessary steps for drawing my state pension and offered their assistance. At first, I put this information aside because I was reluctant to enter the labyrinth of administrative procedures without unravelling a robust Ariadne thread to see me victoriously through the maze and on to the path of simplicity. It was only at the beginning of April, having walked out unscathed from a French financial labyrinth that I felt compelled to look into the forthcoming threshold taking me out of what is called ‘active life’ – vie active – active referring here to being operational in the labour market. For statistical purposes, the period of active life begins the month we turn 18 and ends upon reaching 65. More prosaically this is the period during which Swiss citizens contribute to the state pension system whether or not they have employment.

Much to my surprise my contemplations were not at all interested in preparing me to enter what I perceive as a labyrinth. That will happen in due time. Deep inside me, I know that I am a very resourceful person who will walk through the jumble of requirements with ease and gracefully pass any hurdle that presents itself. I know who I am and what I want. At this point, I honestly don’t know what shape my ‘retirement’ will take, if any. I am approaching the gates of the unknown and unpredictable future with an unexpected sense of aliveness and expectancy. This has nothing to do with the sedate and opulent life promised by the luxurious pension schemes designed for the baby-boomers.

My cogitations kept returning me to the first threshold, my entrance into the official period of active life. Who was that young woman, aged eighteen, entering womanhood and adulthood? What were her dreams and aspirations? What was she doing? I was immediately propelled back in time and space to the summer of 1977 which I spent in Vienna. I had gone there to brush up my German before taking the final examens giving me access to university, the dream I had been nurturing since I was six-years-old. It was part of a linguistic exchange I had set up privately with the help of a friendly neighbour. I was to go to Vienna for five weeks and travel back with an Austrian correspondent who would then practice her French in Geneva. The original plan fell through because the young Austrian woman had a breakdown shortly after I arrived. She was packed back to her aristocratic family to rest and pull herself together. As a result, I was offered an extended stay in the most incredible settings, at the heart of Vienna, with a family active in the highest intellectual and artistic circles of Vienna: a dream come true!

I have been remembering every detail of the seven weeks I stayed in Vienna, avidly entrusting the surfacing memories in my journal and creating an altar with the memorabilia I have from that magical summer. I have revisited my academic aspirations at the time and smiled at their sinuous trajectory, remaining faithfully on target despite, or maybe because of, outer circumstances. I have recollected fluent conversations in German with amazing people and even thinking in German towards the end of my stay. I have watched myself climb up Leopoldsberg, the last foothill of the Alps, elegantly sliding towards the Danube.

I could lyrically go on forever reminiscing about my time in Vienna and how formative it was in ways that I can now fully appreciate, each unfolding expression of the unknown self, reflecting the blessing of a maturing woman. But let’s return to our contemplations and experiences with an odyssey with wholeness.

Before coming to Denmark, I lived in Strasbourg for a few years and spent many hours walking on the banks of the Rhine. My first experience of being carried by the flow of a majestic river was in Vienna, walking on the banks of the Danube presenting shades of grey that did not live up to its claim of being blue. Following my inner promptings, I have peered into an atlas to trace the slow eastward fall of the Danube from the Bavarian Alps towards the Black Sea, and then that of the Rhine starting its course, almost at the same longitude but to the south in the Swiss Alps, to then flow out westwards into the North Sea. I have since discovered that there is a canal, opened in 1992, joining up the Rhine, the Main and the Danube and it is possible to sail on a luxury cruiser from the North Sea to the Black Sea. I suddenly woke up to the potential of fluvial navigation in-land and its importance in our histories and geographies.

The second wave of expansion in wholeness is carried by the element of water which, as John O’Donohue reminds us is the “vehicle and idiom of all the inner voyaging that keeps us alive”*. In the April session dedicated to expanding and jumping into the frothy waters of the pathway of introspection, the element of water was explored through the seas. Together we set off to sail the unknown seas and courageously rowed through the treacherous and bewitched seas where alluring voices attempt to convince us of our unworthiness and unlovability.  We sailed past the drama triangle quickened by the danse macabre of the victim, the perpetrator and the rescuer towards the empowerment triangle enlivened by a fluid conversation between a creator, a challenger and a witness.

In the May session, we will go inland and draw on “the courage of a river to continue to believe in the slow fall of ground, always falling further towards the unseen ocean” * as we surrender to the ebb and flow of life carrying us from object-subject attention to objectless awareness.

* Excerpts from In Praise of Water by John O’Donohue from Benedictus. A Book of Blessings. London: Bantam Press, 2007, pp. 91-93.

Practical Information

The salon is open on Sunday 26 May 2024 from

  • 7:00 to 11.00 Pacific Time
  • 10:00 to 14.00 Eastern Time
  • 16:00 to 20:00 Central Europe Time


Guests are welcome to drop in at their convenience even if full attendance is recommended to benefit from the elemental transformational powers lodged in an odyssey with wholeness.

There will be two pauses along the journey and, at the end, an open space for sharing our experience of walking down the pathway of metanioa 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.

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$