Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality


Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality

Bücher Details

  • Titel:Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality
  • Dateiname: gifts-of-the-desert-the-forgotten-path-of-christian-spirituality.pdf
  • ISBN: 224274385506635
  • Datum des Hochladens: 2020-01-15
  • Anzahl der Seiten: 492 Seiten
  • Autor: Kyriacos C. Markides
  • Verlag: Kyriacos C. Markides

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Überblick:

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende KYRIACOS C. MARKIDES is an internationally respected authority on esoteric Christianity. He has written several books on Christian mysticism including The Mountain of Silence Riding with the Lion and The Magus of Strovolos the first volume in a trilogy on healers and mystics. Dr. Markides is a professor of sociology at the University of Maine where he lives with his wife Emily. Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten. OneJOURNEY to SEDONAIt 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 endless expanse of galaxies billions of them that the Hubble telescope managed to capture on film.'You cannot see the colors now but tomorrow before your workshop we will take you for a long hike' Pat promised. 'You will then understand why we decided to settle here.'When Mary and Joan two former Catholic nuns who had recently migrated to Sedona from the Northwest invited me to offer a workshop 'The Forgotten Path of Mystical Christianity' I accepted at once. Colleagues and friends familiar with that region of the Southwest assured me that Sedona is a dream place and that the beauty of the land is indescribable and 'beyond this world.'There was another reason for accepting their invitation to fly from our home in Maine to Arizona. Southeast of Phoenix at the heart of the Arizona desert lay a recently established Greek Orthodox monastery named after Saint Anthony the first Christian hermit who spearheaded the monastic movement during the fourth century. I had heard unusual and controversial stories about the circumstances that led to the creation of the monastery and being somewhat of a connoisseur and collector of extraordinary tales I decided to go see it for myself. The monastery was set up during the mid-nineties. It was the creation of a venerated elder from Mount Athos the inaccessible monastic republic in northern Greece and the subject matter of my research and writing during the previous ten years.1 A remnant of the Byzantine Empire Mount Athos has served since the ninth century as a refuge for monks and hermits who in that remote peninsula preserved what many consider to be the mystical holy tradition of early Christianity.It was therefore a unique opportunity for Emily and me to combine our journey to Sedona with a six-day retreat at Saint Anthony's monastery. Frequent visits to monasteries have not only been necessary for my research but also have served as a source of spiritual renewal and rejuvenation a balancing act to an otherwise cerebral academic lifestyle. We had contemplated for some time the possibility of visiting the Arizona monastery to hear firsthand the details of how such an unlikely institution popped up in the heart of an American desert. Most important after hearing legends about his charisma and extraordinary 'gifts of the Spirit' we wished to meet the Athonite elder responsible for setting it up.A further bonus of the Sedona trip was the opportunity to reconnect with our friends Philip and Pat who volunteered to give us a lift from the Phoenix airport to Sedona a two-hour drive. Thanks to our mutual interests in spiritual matters and in Cyprus where they lived for a while on a Fulbright scholarship we remained in touch.'Keep in mind that while in Arizona you must drink lots of liquids' Pat warned us after Philip sighing with relief got us out of the airport maze and onto the right interstate. 'The air is extremely dry and your body needs water plenty of it. You will soon find out that Arizona is very different from Maine or Cyprus for that matter.''Sedona' Philip said pointing with his hand in the direction where we were heading 'is more conducive to spiritual work than any other place we have been to. It is really charged with healing energy. You will soon find out for yourself.' After a pause he continued 'We feel comfortable in Sedona because it is a center of diverse religious currents.' Pat added that in fact the whole of Arizona offers itself for spiritual work: 'One feels it in the very fabric of its landscape.' Our friends were deeply spiritual but not 'religious' in the conventional sense.2 They represented the type of people I expected to encounter during my upcoming workshop.'At this stage in our lives we needed a place where we can focus more on our spiritual growth and less on career and worldly achievements' Philip said. Over the years he had heroically managed to fight off melanoma through a combination of organic nutrition alternative therapies and systematic deep meditation. 'After all as you know' he continued 'deserts offer themselves for spiritual work. Right? When we get there you will see what I mean. Sedona is vibrant with spiritual energy.'With such an introduction there was a heightened sense of anticipation about what awaited us ahead. When I mentioned the name of the monastery of Saint Anthony it was all news to them. However Philip quickly added that it did not surprise him that the Arizona desert was chosen as a fitting location for a monastery: 'Whoever created it must have known that this area is a vortex of spiritual energy' he added with a smile as they dropped us off at a cozy inn built several miles above Sedona at the base of a lush and cool canyon.Early the next morning Pat and Philip took us on a two-hour hike through the canyons. As predicted by my friends the outdoor excursion instead of tiring me filled me with energy. After a couple of hours' rest I felt ready to lead the workshop and face the 180 people who had flown in from around the country. Among the participants were a few mainstream Protestants a number of disenchanted Catholics former churchgoers of all denominations New Age enthusiasts holistic health practitioners spiritualists acolytes of Native American shamanism liberal Jews and aficionados of Eastern religions such as Hinduism Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. In addition to Emily and myself there were two more Greek Orthodox a father and his songwriter son who appeared excited that I was to explore with all these diverse seekers the mystical tradition of Eastern Christianity.With the exception of atheists agnostics and doctrinaire skeptics much of the modern American multiethnic and multireligious landscape seemed to be represented. I was fascinated and slightly intimidated. Here was a gathering of mostly professional people many of them disenchanted with the prevailing materialist worldview as well as with organized religion who were in search of 'authentic...

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