“The journey toward self-knowledge begins from confusion and doubt.” What part did confusion and doubt play in driving Michael and Deborah on their journey?
How does the fact that Deborah has had mostly Jewish friends in her life and Michael has had mostly non-Jewish friends foreshadow what happens to them on their journey?
In chapter 1, Michael says, “But back then when the river flowed by itself, I couldn’t imagine that a gentle ripple contains a raging force and that the other side of the moon holds no light.” How does this eloquent statement describe Michael’s journey?
Michael asks his clients, “You’re watching an instant replay of your life. What would you do differently? What choices would you have made or not made?” Turning this back on Michael, what choices do you think he might have wanted to change in his life? And then, making it personal, in your own life, what might you have done differently or what alternative choices do you wish you had made and why?
Regarding riding bike in the cold rain in Belgium: “Intense experiences like this force you to dig into yourself, to discover a level of mental toughness and resilience you didn’t know you had.” When in your life did you “dig into” something tough and come out on the other side more tough and resilient?
How do you think Michael and Deborah’s habit of daily meditation helped them on their bike odyssey? Have you tried meditation and found it to be helpful in your life?
Michael and Deborah’s journey is enriched by the people they take the time to meet along the way. Which relationship do you think is the most meaningful to Michael? Which one is the most meaningful to Deborah? Describe a time that you took a risk to get to know someone new. Did it turn out well or not?
Many stories seem to have a theme or at least allude to the fact that people go to Paris to “find themselves.” Why do you think that is? Did Michael and Deborah “find themselves” in Paris?
In the days before Deborah leaves for Sweden, Michael is frightened but chooses to make the most of each moment, choosing “love over fear.” Is he successful in this conscious choice? How has this lesson exhibited itself in your own life OR how could this lesson change the way you feel about a difficult circumstance?
Sweden was a turning point in the odyssey, a fundamental test of love, loyalty and trust. What impact do you think it had on the trip and on Michael and Deborah's relationship?
Were you surprised that Michael did not press Deborah to tell him what happened in Sweden? Do you think he handled it well? If you were him, would you have wanted to know what happened between Deborah and Niels?
Were you able to predict how this around-the-world bike tour/soul-searching trip would end? What hints along the way led you to predict the ending?
Which experiences/conversations were especially important in Michael’s journey toward acceptance of his Judaism?
Why do you think Deborah is so drawn to meet her Lebanese family even though she needs to face danger to do so?
In chapter 18: “We find our truth by leaving the family. Not by staying glued to it. It’s how we learn to breathe on our own. Deborah’s Kab Elias cousins find their sense of belonging within the family. It’s their respirator.” Which side do you tend to lean toward? Do you need to leave the family to find yourself, or do you find yourself within your family?
What thoughts and emotions arise in you regarding Michael and Deborah’s interaction with Deborah’s Lebanese family? What do you admire in these people?
Food is a major theme in Michael and Deborah’s journey. What stands out to you as a food that sounds especially good or especially bad? Do you feel inspired to up your game, culinary wise?
What do you think Michael would have done had Deborah decided to not convert to Judaism?
19. The author says in the note to readers: “I share this story with you in the hope that the lessons we learned will inspire each of you to love with more passion, to take more risks for the truth, and to give of yourself to others as others gave to us.” After finishing this book, do you feel inspired to love more, to risk to find truth more, or to give more of yourself? How might that look in your life?
In chapter 21, Deborah’s conversation with the artist Yehoshua: “I want to know how and where you ask God for guidance. Do you scream to God to hear you? Do you whisper? Or do you walk in silence and invite God to join you in your meditation?” “I do all of that. I let my heart decide. I let my thoughts drift, and when the spirit moves me to speak or shout, I do. Sometimes I’ll go for thirty minutes and sometimes for hours. Trust God is there.” Do you find parallels in your own spiritual journey? Is your style more to scream, whisper, or be silent when conversing with God? Or is the whole idea of attempting to converse with God one that doesn’t resonate with you?