I met Mony and Alberto somewhere along my path, between a much-needed morning coffee and a yoga class. A run-in with an article in a magazine led me to first meeting them in their home, which then led to a series of serendipitous events that eventually brought me back to their doorstop, this time sharing heart-provoking conversation over tea and steeped perspective, then leaving with three precious gifts in my hands, their books I Am Happy, The Call: Whispers from Within and Walking for Peace, an Inner Journey.
Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso are a gifted couple, both incredible authors with a natural knack for penning inspirational one-liners. Alberto is also a talented visual artist who explores the synergy between spirituality and paintings that speak for themselves. Together this local duo independently established their own publishing company in 2013, Walking for Peace Publishing, in an effort to share their stories and powerful teachings with their global and local community.
Affirmation, the art of proclaiming one’s truth, is among these powerful messages. I Am Happy, their children’s book, was inspired by their daughter Sylvana, in whom they cultivated confidence through nightly thank-you rituals. The book tells the story of “Angela, a little girl who sees the world through the eyes of Love.” Complemented by a sequence of lively, colourful, and emotive illustrations, the book shows Angela experiencing joy in the simple aspects of her everyday life, through the company of her friends (both human and animal), parents, teachers, the environment and even her own reflection in the mirror. Angela routinely practices appreciation and gratitude, two basic principles that form the basis to any spiritual tradition. “We wanted to bring the vision that the world is a safe place, positive and full of good people,” Alberto explained, adding that the book was not only for children but for anyone who seeks to rediscover their innocence and their inner child.
The power of meditation is yet another of these teachings shared through The Call:Whispers from Within, a collection of twenty-seven acrylic on canvas paintings by Alberto, each accompanied by an insightful message aimed to facilitate self-reflection. Far from a literal page-turner, this book asks restraint from flip-happy readers to sit patiently with each picture and contemplate the esoteric symbolism of existential concepts, allowing for a unique experience and one that different readers can interpret in different ways. “And much more than you can imagine” pairs with “Invisible Friends”, a painting of a sentient entity that humans have skeptically come to define as extraterrestrial beings, provoking the thought of life beyond planet Earth and earthly pursuits. This book is not for the weak of heart or mind so you may appreciate the disclaimer to sit down before reading, as it has the undeniable capacity to wig you right out. It reminds us that life is a mysterious journey and that there is so much more behind the veil of visibility that we will ever understand through the filters of our eyes and minds. It inspires the heart to approach each moment with a new gaze, casting a deep-rooted connection to our truth, if we hear our call and let ourselves awaken into it.
For those who have, finding purpose and following a vision can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding learning experiences of all. No matter which way you take, all roads, like the proverbs says, lead to Rome. Walking for Peace, an Inner Journey recounts a remarkable 5,000-kilometer sojourn that leaves from the ancient Coliseum city to the sacred land of Jerusalem, spanning 13 different countries and countless cultures. Newly introduced strangers Mony and Alberto embarked on a 13 month-long adventure brought to fruition by anything other than happenstance.
Together they travel on foot, with boots and strapped-on backpacks, staying in churches, people’s homes and sometimes using abandoned buildings as shelter, courageously globe-trotting like true pilgrims, finding peace and sustainability in the goodness and generosity of others. Becoming friends and ultimately lovers, Mony and Alberto learn to honour their separate callings by walking beside each other, at times departing on their own way only to be reunited again, wiser than ever. They surrender to the mysteries of magic, the laws of attraction and the will to manifest a future in line with their unique visions, trusting in the synchronicity of life’s signs and the greater wisdom that is continuously working in our favour. As Mony puts it, “the greatest journey we will face here is life. Giving yourself permission to trust in your vision, risking leaving what you know for the unknown may lead to getting lost. But if you hold on to what you’ve gained, you will always have what you need to face it. No matter the physical destination, the journey is inner”. Wise words indeed. Ones that everyone can take something from.
You can grab a copy of these reads in the local author section of your nearest Chapters bookstore. You can also purchase them on Mony and Alberto’s website at walkingforpeace.com. Follow them on Twitter @walkingforpeace and Facebook for upcoming events, Soul Portrait drawings and Camino-inspired workshops.
Vanessa Rotondo is an Ottawa-based freelance writer, national spoken word artist and youth outreach coordinator/arts educator. You can follow her on Twitter.