Pilgrimage 2013

This will be the English site for information on my 2013 pilgrimage from the Yukon to Switzerland. Find some background info on this page. For the blog entries along the way, click here: Pilgrimage

After twenty years in Canada, and most of it in the Yukon (or at least based in the Yukon), I feel called to spend more time in Europe. I am grateful for all the opportunities in life that had been given to me on this side of the ocean. However, there is a part of me that misses aspects that I remember from the other side of the water. That is what this planned journey to Europe is about.

The core element of my journey is to live for a while in an established, intentional community. I have an invitation from the monastery in Rapperswil to live with the  brothers, sisters, and guests there for three months. My initial plan was to leave after the Christmas holidays with Celia’s family in Chicago and fly to Europe to spend the winter months leading up to Easter in the monastery. However, the brothers and sisters invited me for the March to May period.

Kloster Rapperswil – an oasis of contemplation on the shores of Lake Zurich, but close to the people in a metropolitan area.

What was I to do with that? I found it wasteful to travel more than halfway across the continent for a visit, then return to the Yukon. Only to cross the continent again within weeks. And then, the light came on!

I have time to take it slowly. What a gift! Now the plan is to continue from the holiday visit by train to the east coast of the United States. In mid-January, I will catch a freighter vessel in Philadelphia that will take me to Europe, more precisely to Antwerp in Belgium. From there, I would like to hike, bike, or take the local public transport for my journey into Switzerland. That will leave me time to really experience the way, the opportunity to meet and connect with people along the way, and to hopefully find some cues to my question as I go.

My journey will start in Whitehorse. I will be flying with Air North – the Yukon’s airline to Vancouver. From there, I will be travelling with Horizon/Alaska Air via Seattle to Chicago. These are the fast legs of the whole trip.

After the visit in Chicago, Amtrak will take me by train to Philadelphia. Ever since I first came to North America, I wanted to take the train across the continent. I have yet to do that, but this will be a first taste of a twenty-hour train ride across the eastern United States. I will be stopping over in Washington DC for a few hours, maybe long enough to get a first impression beyond the railway station.

In Philadelphia, I will have time to visit and experience a city with a long Quaker history. I have yet to make concrete plans, but Pendle Hill is one of the destinations there.

I will be staying in a community linked to New Monasticism: The Simple Way. I am very curious to learn and experience how this group embraces a monastic lifestyle in a marginalized part of the city.

Around mid-January, the vessel I have booked a passage that will be arriving in Philadelphia from its run around the globe (Pearl String Service). It is a cargo vessel from the Rickmers Linie fleet. It continues onward to Europe, with the next port of call being Antwerp.

M/V Rickmers Shanghai (photo credit: Rickmers Linie)

If you are interested in crossing the oceans on freighter, this agent in London, England has to expertise to help you find one: The Cruise People. There is also a office in Canada: The Cruise People Ltd.

From Antwerp, it is only about 750 kilometres to Switzerland. I will have about five weeks before going through the gate at the monastery in Rapperswil. The general route so far is from Antwerp in Belgium via Maastricht in the Netherlands to Mainz in Germany. Then follow more or less the Rhine river to Basel.


In Switzerland, the journey will take me for a visit with my siblings, and hopefully a stopover in another intentional community, the Sunnehügel in Schüpfheim. The last leg of the journey will follow – in reverse direction – part of the Swiss connectors to the Camino (Way of St. James).

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