The bridge

Recently the monk at acimmonk.com decided to remove the Cloister (forum for discussion) from his site. To many of us this might seem quite surprising; many of us had become regular ‘whisperers’, or at least regular ‘lurkers’. Jamie’s gift to us was a magical world that we could explore and participate in via the many different rooms, nooks, abbeys, chapels, grotto’s, scriptoriums, and so forth. It was a wonderful time for many of us, and for now this phase is over.

There was, of course, a time before the forum was created, a time when a visitor strolled through the blog pages and writings in a quiet and solitary fashion, and to this meditative, true cloister, the monastery is returning. In the European tradition, the cloister was a place of quiet and reflection, where monks and nuns could stroll in the formal gardens or under the stone arch ‘ambulatoire’, crossing each others’ paths, acknowledging the presence of the others, but without engaging in conversation. It was a place of meditation, and inner harmony. Over time, the monk wished to return to this original idea that had been the first seed of the monastery at its inception.

For those of you unfamiliar with managing website forums, the task of moderating and organizing the participants is truly formidable. It is a serious investment that requires a great time commitment. A number of us had noted Jamie’s increasing absences from writing and whispering, corresponding with the rise in the number of whispers and the explosion of discussion rooms. In essence, it was one or the other. There was not time for both. While we greatly missed his participation, we were delighting in the freedom of personal expression offered by his site. We have done that; now we need to turn the page and let him do what he does best: write and learn, and communicate with us as a teacher and brother.

Please do not have an unkind thought toward him. He has offered us a great deal over time, and if he has taken something away now, it is only to give more of what is truly valuable. We shall not miss it. On the contrary, I think we will all be deeply grateful for this turn of events, for the time we will be allowing him to do what he does best. He will still be the same generous, giving person, but sharing something more than just a place for us to voice our thoughts.

It was only yesterday that he mentioned to me the possibility of making a link to my site. I hesitated, understanding the sudden time commitment this could bring. The site was not ready; I was not ready. But it was clear to the admins and myself that it would only be right to provide an alternate venue for the cloister participants. If you do not find all the pages ready, if ‘Paulo’s World’ still looks rough around the edges, then know that this was not planned! It will still take a little time before I’ll be fully happy with the welcome I would like to provide you. ‘AcimVillage’ was created at 1am last night, so it is just waking up, bleary-eyed, from a short night! The bridge is still under construction. I rushed out this morning taking pictures of my local area that I would like to include on the site, but that will take a little time. I’m still a slow-learning website novice.

Whereas Jamie’s lifestyle is that of a monk, mine is that of a hermit. Whereas Jamie’s theme is monasterial, mine is more old European-style villages and countryside (basically like where I live). I discovered ACIM in 1988, and moved to the south of France in 1990. My first encounter with other students was at Ken’s academy in 1999, after which I returned straight back to France and my country village and have stayed here since. I have tried to leave several times, but something always steered me back here. My first real interaction with other students was through Jamie’s site, and it remains today the only place I retreat to for ACIM company. It is a rather solitary existence over here, one that has taught me a great deal about coming back to basics, time and time again. I always thought I was missing something in the world by not integrating more. And then the words would come back to haunt me, “The only thing you are missing is My Presence.”

Paulo and the Magician was born in the space of quiet that fills my life over here. It was written in a stone cottage in my village which dates from the 13th century (it used to be the gatekeeper’s house of a Templar fortified castle). My moving into this ancient little house was completely unexpected. At the time I occupied the house it had neither heating nor hot water, neither kitchen nor bathroom, and I arrived one fine day in the middle of winter! But it was one of the most extraordinary times of my life, one that I still try to recreate today. This is where Paulo began life. He is truly a product of the 13th century, infused with the timelessness that pervades all things, everywhere. Please feel welcomed to his world.