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Unexpected Tranquility

The Monastery

SWITZERLAND | Thursday, 28 May 2015 | Views [13293] | Comments [4] | Scholarship Entry

Mont Salève, like many things in Geneva, has a bit of an ongoing identity crisis over whether it is Swiss or French. Technically, the mountain, which sits just outside Swiss lines and casts its shadow on Geneva, belongs to France. But I couldn’t find public transit directions to the mountain on any French tourism site. Instead, it was the Swiss tourism site that told me to take a city bus from Geneva to reach the mountain.

Once I got off the bus and started walking towards the cable car, I didn’t even notice the point at which I crossed international borders - it was only when I saw that the price of a baguette in a shop window was displayed in Euros rather than Swiss Francs that I realized I had entered France.

At the cable car station, I joined the line behind a paraglider. Ahead of him were a few twenty-year-olds wearing body armor and carrying mountain bikes; they were going to spend their day racing down the mountain at breakneck speed, until finally cycling back to their homes in Geneva. And me? I was just going for a leisurely hike to see what was supposed to be one of the best views of Geneva.

I wasn’t disappointed by the views; they were spectacular. But what really took my breath away was what I found at the top of the mountain. Here I came across a low building with a simple wooden door. Small triangular flags strung between trees fluttered in the breeze. From inside came a low murmuring sound.

Leaving my shoes in the small pile of footwear by the door, I went inside. I found myself in a small room, lit by a few candles and the sunlight that streamed through the windows. In front of me were the last people I’d expected to see: a group of Buddhist monks. Their chanting was the sound I had heard earlier, their voices blending together to create one harmonious tune that filled the room and spilled out onto the mountainside.

Looking around, I saw some of my fellow hikers had taken seats on cushions that had been laid out on either side of the room. I joined them, still marveling at what I had found. If I didn’t know any better, I could have thought I was in Tibet.

My first thought upon seeing the monastery had been that it seemed out of place on this mountain, the playground of paragliders and mountain bikers. But as I closed my eyes and felt the vibrations from the chanting fill my chest, I realized it wasn’t out of place at all. On this mountain of questionable nationality, the little slice of Tibet was right at home.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

Comments

1

Hmmm ...

  ruthibelle Jun 8, 2016 1:55 AM

2

I must commend your writing, quite pictorial. I felt as though I was in the Monestery listening to the monks humming with you. Great stuff.

  Laryx Ochieng Jun 20, 2016 9:47 PM

3

Goodness, a worthy winning entry, loved the way you set this up. Great story telling!

  Emma Newland Jul 15, 2016 3:33 PM

4

This was awesome -- I love the closing paragraph. Punch right to the feels.

  Leah Quackenbush Mar 3, 2017 6:20 AM

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