Centred around three journeys to Mount Athos, one of the most important places in Orthodox Christianity, this is both a beautifully nuanced travel book and a journey of self-discovery in a world beset by violence and fear.
Mount Athos is the spiritual home of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and for more than ten centuries this monastic community in northern Greece has been a centre for contemplative life, a staging ground for mystical visions and teachings, and a watch tower for Byzantium.
A world unto itself, which has existed almost unchanged since medieval times, the theocratic state of Athos is a spiritual haven which stands in dramatic counterpoint to the contemporary world. Even time is calculated differently here - Athos rejects the Julian calendar and clocks are reset every day to Byzantine time - midnight fails at sunset.
Christopher Merrill travelled to Mount Athos in search of spiritual renewal and a vision of eternity. At this unique intersection of modernity and Biblical tradition he discovered not only the enduring value of faith but also how much Athos has to teach us about the contemplative life, and found that eternity is located in the here and now.
'Journey To The Holy Mountain' is a book rooted in spiritual crisis, which explores a route to salvation hitherto undocumented in a mainstream Western context. Out of spiritual desolation Merrill came to a deepening sense of the religious life, learning to recognise what have been described as "the distinctive challenges and calls" of each monastic hour.
A pilgrimage to the very roots of Christianity, 'Journey To The Holy Mountain' evokes brilliantly both intense religious experience and a place unique in the modern world.