Looking past fear to the wild possibilities of wonder

by Gisele Theriault September 30, 2018

Looking past fear to the wild possibilities of wonder

In Stromboli you live with a very big presence of the volcanoes. When you look way up at night you see rows of little lights of trekkers going to the mountain peak to look into the craters of fire, if they are lucky. Several times a day most days in the village you hear and feel a rumble of activity. It alone is powerfully haunting. If you are in a boat on one side of the sea at the right time you can witness her breath of fire. These moments hold a force that is humbling. You even see it in the faces of the locals who live with it.

We agreed that we would trek up one day before leaving, I really wanted to. As the time got closer to the end of our visit, my fear was taking on many faces. My knees became cranky just thinking about it. I was aware that I wasn’t very comfortable with heights and the fear of all the possibilities that could go wrong wanted to be heard.

We decided to go up on the second last day of our visit. On that day we awoke to big clouds over the mountain peak. If the weather remained like this, the guides will not take you. Please dear beautiful clouds, suggested my hesitation. :)  We checked back in late morning and were to arrive for departure at 3:45 if all was well. The afternoon sky cleared and my anticipation to witness this sacred site silenced my fear and off we went.

We had an amazing experienced guide whose love and respect for the mountain gave me ease. We were well directed with what requirements we needed, including: what kind of boots and socks, changes of clothes to accommodate for how much you will sweat and the temperature drop at the peak, walking poles, headlights for the evening, food provisions and water.

Once we were off and in a group of maybe 20 people, the focus was one foot in front of the other and in single file. As long as I didn’t look up or down too often I would be fine. The footing was demanding enough to keep my attention present.

We reached the summit at sunset. The sun was quickly descending through a dance of clouds. The volcanic activity was loud and was even more intimidating not seeing where it was coming from. We replaced our wet shirts for dry ones, added an extra layer of warmth, and were given masks in case it got smoky. In a short time the cloud cover cleared and you could see molten lava moving within the five craters while the full moon was rising on the other side.  We sat for over an hour in absolute awe and exhilaration eating the remains of our provisions with cameras ready for any activity that may occur.

The force of these eruptions happened consistently, like a concert projecting red hot earth hundred of feet into the air and was like nothing your eyes or ears have ever witnessed. Nothing you ever forget. It was a magnificent reminder of the preciousness of existence.

We left the peak on the other side of the mountain and skied the sands for the first hour, which was sometimes up to our knees. We skied this terrain without headlights, being guided only by the reflection of the full moon. Whaaooooooo!!

 It’s a week now since this experience.  As my exhausted aching body returns to normal, my heart and soul continue to expand with awe for the significant gift it is to be alive, wide awake and fully present.  


Once again this year we’re happy to support Mindfulness Challenge 2018, the Centre for Mindfulness Studies’ “meditate-athon” to raise funds for mindfulness for the disadvantaged.

Enjoy an incredibly diverse program designed to awaken the senses and cultivate resilience, led by Lama Rod Owens, Dr. Zindel Segal and others. Please join us in making a real difference in people's lives!


When:         Sunday, November 25
Where:       Toronto  | Oakville  | London | Oshawa  | Kitchener | Virtual


Wishing you all the courage you need to follow your true heart. Life is precious and short.

With love, a bow and a smile,


Gisele Theriault
Gisele Theriault


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