What happens when you put 15 creatives in the same plane, train, bus, or automobile for almost two weeks, where they are not just sightseeing but being asked to reflect, observe, and create? My wife Becky and I have just finished conducting the first ever tour where our company, World to the Wise, partnered with the Journey Arts Collective, led by Brett Mabury. A professional musician, composer and arranger, Brett also serves as a mentor of other artists to accompany them on their…well, journey. Journey Arts Collective seeks to gather creatives into a community – not unlike some of the creative communities in days gone by (the Lost Generation comes to mind), helping them counter isolation and spurring each other toward artistic and spiritual growth. A mutual friend introduced Brett and me a couple of years ago, and I learned that Brett had wanted to take artists to Europe for years. When he heard of the World to the Wise cultural tours Becky and I have been leading since 2010, Brett wondered if it might be a good fit to partner with us on what could potentially be the first of several such adventures.
One of the challenges of taking any group to some of the world’s most interesting places is planning the time in such a way that people take in a full palette of sights and experiences without becoming completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Jet lag is not our friend in this regard. So even though we didn’t packed in as much as we might normally on one of our World to the Wise tours, the time with JAC has been exhausting but exhilarating.
Brett’s intentionality about making this trip a pilgrimage and not just a sightseeing tour made every stop that much more meaningful. He had prepared a booklet for each participant containing exercises and reflections to be done at strategic points throughout each day. From Sacré Coeur cathedral to Notre Dame, from Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny to the Musée d’Orsay, each artist was enriched and challenged in his or her creative and meditative life while marveling at the amazing sights and sounds of Paris.
My long-time friend Jim Beise was also on the trip, doing what he has done for over 15 years: mentoring creatives. His nine years of experience and contacts in Paris made our time there that much more meaningful, as he arranged a number of get-togethers where our group was able to interact with local creative – which in Paris means a number of internationals as well, not just Parisians.
Coming soon – Part 2, where we are invited on a private tour of a 750-year-old cathedral to see things that are never open to the public!