Flying Carpet

Headlights

Mont St. MichelBy Marcia DeSanctis

Grand Prize Gold Winner in the Fifteenth Annual Solas Awards

There was danger, even in the presence of angels.

February is not the ideal time for a road trip to northern France, but the moodiness of the sea, wind, and sky appeals to a certain breed of loner like me, drawn to the echoing voids of the off-season. Coastal Normandy is famous for its dramatic weather, and in winter, it grows wilder still, with thrashing winds and squalls of frozen sleet that churn up from the English Channel. The region is a sweep of battlegrounds and fortified castles, stone-cold Norman abbeys, and craggy ports that have hosted centuries of departing and returning soldiers. Here, God and war forge their strange alliance, as they often do, and the backdrop of tempests, tides, and occasional shards of sunlight render it fertile ground for ghosts and their keepers.

I had endeavored to Mont St. Michel to seek some perfect solitude.

Headlights2021-02-28T18:25:13-08:00

Passage of a Revered Teacher and Spiritual Leader

Abbot of Tengboche MonasteryBy Frances Klatzel

The Sherpa people of the Everest region mourn the Abbot of Tengboche Monastery, Ngawang Tenzin Zangbu, who passed away on October 10, 2020. Renowned for his commitment to the sacred valley of Khumbu and the Sherpa people, Tengboche Rinpoche was also well known among trekkers and mountaineers to Everest.

The allure of Everest, the highest (8,848 m) and most famous mountain, moves people of every nationality to visit the once remote Khumbu Valley, the homeland of the Sherpa people on the south side of Everest.

On a ridge in the heart of the valley, Tengboche Monastery holds a special place in the hearts and minds of both Sherpas and world visitors. Sherpas are an ethnic Buddhist people who settled valleys in the Himalaya about 500 years ago but have in the past century earned an extraordinary reputation on mountaineering expeditions.

Over the past sixty years, thousands of trekkers and climbers have paid their respects to the long time Abbot of Tengboche Monastery, Ngawang Tenzin Zangbu. His title, Tengboche Rinpoche, refers to his status as a ‘precious one’ and revered reincarnation of the monastery’s founder. The Sherpa people venerated Rinpoche as a strong unifying force and spiritual protector of the environment and culture of the Khumbu Valley. [read more]

Passage of a Revered Teacher and Spiritual Leader2020-12-21T00:00:24-08:00

The Trip That Took Me

travelers-talesBy Marcie Kaplan

Elder Travel Bronze Winner in the Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards

The Himalayas helped her find intimacy, faith, and reassurance.

I had my first tingly feeling when we were hiking up through woods from a 10,000-foot Himalayan pass to a monastery, and we passed soldiers in camouflage. I expected surprises in Bhutan, a Buddhist country about happiness more than money, and had been surprised by the trail’s red limbs with bulbous, mossy growths that seemed to reach out at me. But I hadn’t expected soldiers in camouflage. My guide, Pema, greeted them, “Kuzuzangbo la,” and continued on, signaling me not to ask questions, I thought, so I nodded politely to the soldiers and followed Pema.
The Trip That Took Me2020-09-03T10:51:06-07:00

Cubana Be, Cubana Bop

travelers-talesBy Tom Miller

Grand Prize Bronze Winner (tie) in the Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards

The best guitar maker in Cuba.

Three events—baseball, Pope Jon Paul’s visit, and the Elián González case—exposed Cuba to the American public far beyond the embargo. Yet it was the improbable success of a handful of aging musicians that exposed a Cuba few knew and expanded the country’s audiences far beyond its bashers or its cheerleaders. The musicians went by the name of the Buena Vista Social Club, their music came from the 1950s and earlier, and their appeal was resolutely apolitical. On a visit to Havana, the American musician and producer Ry Cooder, not finding the musicians he sought, teamed up with Cuban producer Juan de Marcos to produce an album of exquisite sounds from another era.

Cubana Be, Cubana Bop2020-11-30T17:21:32-08:00

Our Ravaged Lady

By Erin Byrne

Grand Prize Gold Winner in the Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards

Little by little, his spirit expanded in harmony with the cathedral.
—Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame


She’s had many lives and here was the burnt offering of another.

Notre Dame’s lace spire sizzled and crumbled as it fell, and the gigantic hole it created became a cauldron. Flames, golden to orange to red, assaulted the lavender-tinged Paris sky, and smoke billowed in gray and white explosions. Silhouetted against glowing cinders, her bell towers stood dignified but unprotected.
Our Ravaged Lady2020-04-17T22:47:20-07:00