In Kyriacos C. Markides’s newest book, Eastern Orthodox mysticism meets Western Christianity as the internationally renowned author takes readers on a deep journey back in time to unveil the very roots of authentic spirituality.
In his previous book The Mountain of Silence , Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively conversations with Father Maximos, the widely revered charismatic Orthodox bishop and former abbot of the isolated monastery on Mount Athos. In Gifts of the Desert , Markides continues his examination of Easter Orthodox mystical teachings and practices and captures its living expression through visits to monasteries and hermitages in Greece and America and interviews with contemporary charismatic elders, both male and female.
Markides’s pursuit of a deeper understanding of Orthodoxy takes him to the deserts of Arizona and a stay at a new monastery in Sedona; to the island of Cyprus and a reunion with Father Maximos; on a pilgrimage to holy shrines aboard a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea; and finally to the legendary Mount Athos, home to more than two thousand Orthodox monks. Markides relates his journey and reflections in a captivating style while providing important background material and information on historical events to give readers a highly accessible, in-depth portrait of a tradition little known in the West.
Gifts of the Desert will appeal to a wide range of people, from Christians seeking insights into their religion and its various expressions to scholars interested in learning more about the mystical way of life and wisdom that have been preserved on Mount Athos since the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Schism that separated the Eastern and Western Churches. Perhaps most important, however, is the bridge it offers contemporary readers to a Christian life that is balanced between the worldly and the spiritual.
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|Title of eBook: Gifts of the Desert|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Doubleday Publishing|
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Gifts of the Desert
JOURNEY to SEDONA
It was dark when we entered Sedona, named after the wife of the nineteenth-century postmaster who helped keep the settlers in contact with the rest of the world. The relatively few neon lights testified to Sedona's reputation as a "New Age mecca," a center for alternative health practitioners and a mosaic of new religious movements. As we drove slowly through the downtown area to get a first glimpse of the place, I felt for a moment as if I had just entered Corinth during Saint Paul's time.
All the street lights were unusually dim, offering minimal illumination for pedestrians. Our friend Pat, who, together with her husband, Philip, had picked us up at the airport explained that the city council, wisely, had passed ordinances to protect the night from artificial light pollution. People could still look up and gaze at the Milky Way and experience the massive presence of the mountains, mute and silent, surrounding the desert town.
"Too much luminosity at night obstructs our capacity to reflect and contemplate our relationship to God and our place in the universe," Philip announced as he pressed the brakes at a stoplight.
His comment brought to my mind an experience I shared with my wife Emily during a visit to the Sivananda Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island, Nassau. I had been invited there to give a presentation on the lives and teachings of Eastern Orthodox saints and sages. Among the speakers was an astronomer who showed slides of outer space taken by the Hubble telescope. We were profoundly moved by what we saw, awed by the magnificence and beauty of the physical universe. One stunning photo showed an