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A vacation destination to a spiritual sanctuary? A while back, I came across this fascinating book, The Holy Mountain Athos describing the Greek Orthodox Monasteries on the Island of Athos (Greece). There are various good descriptions available as to the location and history of the island on the web, but I was looking for something a bit different.
I had heard of this island, where men only monks and recluses, who lead an unmarried life, prayed and lived. This had been done for over a thousand years on this Island. Let’s start with some of the astounding images of wild beautiful landscapes and surroundings untouched by worldly ideas.
Utterly amazing images and the island is a true Christian Orthodox bulwark on the proverbial border between Europe in the Christian sense, and the Islamic world now so much in the news with Turkey, once a secular state charting a course between modernism and secularism on the one hand, and the theocracy so loved by the muslim brotherhood and islamic jihadists on the other.
Where does one find an authentic description of travel to Athos a century or half a century ago? A travel account accessible and believable from a non religious person? The problem was solved for me in a very unusual way. After some time, I acquired this 1930’s book, Seven League Boots by Richard Halliburton shown below, because I loved the early photograph montage cover.
The Greek islands and the Mediterranean held little surprise for him until you read the book chapter about a trip to Mount Athos, which I did by mere chance, long after I acquired the book. I am not so sure the description is full of praise, but authentic it sure is, and that is what matters most to me.
The rest of the story is his travel account full of surprises about his stay on the Island, but it is not very rich in the spiritual sense which I wanted to emphasize in this post. In life as in the book world, you never know how the dots can connect in your story, and I like it that way just fine.
For the spiritual path, I suggest humbly to follow your own. Once you are on it there is no turning back, and perhaps the travel story made me realize how unusual the Island really is. It is a beacon of light in uncertain times, now much needed by the Greeks, and at the cross roads of the Christian and Islamic worlds emphasizing that there is more to life if you look for it.The importance of Greek libraries and manuscripts cannot be emphasized enough and for those interested I recommend you visit this site.