Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer (New Edition)


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Paraclete Press (MA)
Publish Date
5.4 X 0.6 X 8.4 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Scott Cairns is the author of eight collections of poetry, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, Philokalia, Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, Idiot Psalms, and Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. He wrote the libretti for The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, an oratorio composed by JAC Redford, and for A Melancholy Beauty, an oratorio composed by Georgi Andreev. His poetry and essays have been included in Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize XXVI, Upholding Mystery (Oxford, 1997), The Best of Prairie Schooner, and Shadow & Light, among other anthologies. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, The New Republic, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Spiritus, Tiferet, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He has taught American literature, poetry writing, and poetics courses at Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and at University of Missouri, where he is currently Professor of English. He also serves on the poetry faculty of the Seattle Pacific University low-residency MFA program in writing. In 1993, he founded the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, and served as its series editor from 1993 through 2006. In 2007, his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was published by HarperSanFrancisco and his translations and adaptations, Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, was published by Paraclete Press; the paperback edition, Endless Life, was recently released, and a new, expanded edition of Short Trip to the Edge will be released in 2016. With Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond, he recorded, Parable, a CD of recent poems. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and was named the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri in 2009. He received the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.


"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, Panorama 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.'" --John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture, Christianity Today

"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...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