Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer (New Edition)  -     By: Scott Cairns
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Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer (New Edition)

Paraclete Press / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

Poet and literature professor Scott Cairns ran headlong into his midlife crisis while walking on the beach with his Labrador. His was not a desperate attempt to recapture youth, filled with sports cars and younger women. Instead, Cairns realized his spiritual life was advancing at a snail's pace and time was running out. Midlife crisis for this Baptist turned Eastern Orthodox manifested as a desperate need to seek out prayer.

This new, expanded edition of A Short Trip to the Edge is the story of Scott's spiritual journey to the mystical island of Mt. Athos. With twenty monasteries and thirteen sketes scattered across its sloping terrain, the Holy Mountain was the perfect place for Scott to seek out a prayer father and discover the stillness of the true prayer life. Includes both maps and photographs.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1612617328
ISBN-13: 9781612617329
Series: Paraclete Poetry

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Publisher's Description

Poet and literature professor Scott Cairns ran headlong into his midlife crisis — a fairly common experience among men nearing the age of fifty—while walking on the beach with his Labrador. His was not a desperate attempt to recapture youth, filled with sports cars and younger women. Instead, Cairns realized his spiritual life was advancing at a snail's pace and time was running out. Midlife crisis for this this Baptist turned Eastern Orthodox manifested as a desperate need to seek out prayer.

Originally published in 2007, this new edition of Short Trip to the Edge include photos, maps and an expanded narrative of Scott's spiritual journey to the mystical peninsula of Mt. Athos. With twenty monasteries and thirteen sketes scattered across its sloping terrain, the Holy Mountain was the perfect place for Scott to seek out a prayer father and discover the stillness of the true prayer life. Told with wit and exquisite prose, his narrative takes the reader from a beach in Virginia to the most holy Orthodox monasteries in the world to a monastery in Arizona and back again as Scott struggles to find his prayer path. Along the way, Cairns forged relationships with monks, priests, and fellow pilgrims.

Author Bio

Scot McKnight, Ph.D. is Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard Illinois. He is the award-winning author of The Jesus Creed, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, The Real Mary, Embracing Grace and Praying with the Church. Scot lives with his wife, Kristen, in the Chicago suburbs and has two children, Laura and Lukas, and two grandchildren.

Editorial Reviews

We have heard about pilgrimages of lands and terrains; distances and heights. What about the practice of prayer? In this book, Scott Cairns does both. Calling Mount Athos (Agion Oros) in Northern Greece a "Holy Mountain," Cairns has been making trips to encounter the meaning of being "inhabited by a holy presence." It is also the readying of the heart to encounter God not only in the speedy race of life but also the slowing pace of reflectiveness. Given time, even the slowest would eventually make the turn. Even the highest mountain would be climbed.

....I appreciate this creative description of the learning of prayer. By infusing prayer throughout the book and the humility to keep learning how to pray, this book enables us to read it prayerfully. Many times, we read with the purpose of mining information. Due to the constant rush for deadlines, busyness with many other activities, and the incessant demands on our time, we can fail to listen to that soft whisper of God. There must be a reason why Paul teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). As children of God, our heavenly Father often wants to reach out and touch us. When we pray, we are more sensitive to this outreach from heaven to earth. We are more open to sense the touch of the Spirit in our hearts. We learn best to pray when we let God lead and guide us. The way that Cairns describes his learning is something we can all learn from. For all the detailed descriptions of his pilgrimage, do not miss out on his reflective moments that leave him wanting more of God, more pilgrimages, and more prayer.—Conrade Yap, Paranorma of a Book Saint

This is a revised edition of a book published in 2006, chronicling the author’s first three pilgrimages to Mount Athos in northern Greece. Since then, he tells us in the preamble to the new edition, he has returned 17 times (!). An adult convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, Cairns is best known as a poet, and he writes with a poet’s eye for luminous detail and impatience with cant. That adds freshness and a wry authenticity to his heartfelt account of the life of prayer. "It is not, finally, my prayer that I’m after," he writes, "but the prayer of the Holy Spirit in me, praying . . . connecting me to Christ and, as it happens, his existential Body, the church."  From John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture.—Christianity Today, June 2016

In Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer, poet and literature professor Scott Cairns recounts a series of trips to Mount Athos, a peninsula in northern Greece that has been home to a number of Eastern Orthodox monastic communities since the Byzantine era. The original edition of the book, published in 2006, described the first three trips that Cairns made to the Holy Mount. This new edition, which includes helpful photographs, maps, and an epilogue, confirms that the initial account was not just a travel narrative in disguise or a temporary solution to a mid-life crisis. As the epilogue reveals, these trips have become regular events in the last decade. A self-confessed "slow pilgrim," Cairns has developed a good amount of momentum by this point, having now made eighteen trips in his ongoing "pilgrimage to prayer."
Most intriguing in Short Trip is its apprehension of beauty in terms that are both spiritual and physical. Cairns engages all of the senses in his pursuit of a life made prayer. The deep stillness that he gains from worship is "sweet" and "delicious" (161). Indeed, the poet is able to understand the psalmist’s command to "taste and see that the Lord is good" in what for him is an entirely new way. These moments of embodied apprehension are disquieting as well as pleasing, conveying a sense in which pilgrimage vivifies and overwhelms at the same time. Cairns develops a fear of God that "draws rather than repels." The Divine Liturgy offers a "vertiginous beauty." The adjective "appalling" captures the scandalous effect of these clarifying moments. Glimpses of metaphysical reality reveal God’s "appalling ubiquity," as Cairns discovers the irony that distance enables us to see what is already shockingly near (67). Such discoveries represent the benefits, as well as the challenges, of accompanying the pilgrim on this Short Trip to the Edge.—Jeffrey Galbraith, The Englewood Review of Books

Impressively well written, organized and presented, this new edition of "Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer" with its photographic illustrations is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from first page to last. Informative, thoughtful, written with insight and inspiration, "Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer" is unreservedly recommended reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.—Jack Mason, Midwest Book Review

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