So poet and journalist Christopher Merrill tells us near the beginning of this gripping account of the transforming pilgrimages he made to Mount Athos, in Greece, in the aftermath of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. “It was time for me to come to terms with the way my life had turned out: the love I had squandered, the misgivings I had about my vocation and my faith, the dread I felt at every turn.”
In despair and out of a longing to end his spiritual desolation, Merrill became one of a handful of visitors permitted entry to Mount Athos–a mysterious land that for more than a thousand years has been the secret heart of the Eastern Orthodox Church. There, amid the beautiful terrain, the ancient rhythms, and the spiritual rigor of this holy place, he found a haven in dramatic contrast to the rest of the world.
As Merrill’s story unfolds, we, too, hike the rough trails of Athos, exploring a place and a way of life scarcely altered since medieval times. We share encounters with monks, wolves, and spiritual seekers; visit Athos’s twenty monasteries, where exquisite art treasures are sequestered; make our way to lonely hermitages that clutch the cliffs above the sea. And like Merrill, we come to consider existence in a new and different light.
Part journal of personal discovery, part meditation upon the history and traditions of the contemplative life, Things of the Hidden God takes us where the temporal and the eternal intersect, where community and solitude coexist, and where centuries-old practices provide insight for how to live today.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 8.53(h) x 1.08(d)|
About the Author
A literary critic and journalist, his work has been translated into sixteen languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He and his wife, the violinist Lisa Gowdy-Merrill, have two daughters, Hannah and Abigail.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a record of the encounter of the poet, Christopher Merritt, with himself, while on several pilgrimages to Mt. Athos in Greece. The Anglican Merrill brushes up against Eastern Orthodoxy's deep sipiritual life as well as its scruples against women and non-Orthodox. Merrill is a fine writer, and I felt I journeyed with him over the very hilly landscape, by locked monasteries, and experiencing the liturgy sometimes from afar, and then up close.