TALES OF MONKS AND MIRACLES ON
THE TRAILS OF MOUNT ATHOS, GREECE
As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, John McKinney had a professional purpose for his trip: to hike around the Holy Mountain and write about Mt. Athos as a hiking destination, a spiritual adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. What he encountered there instead was an epiphany that changed his life and a colorful collection of wise Greek monks, who taught him that on this amazing path we call life, we’re often compelled to change direction.
His friend Spiro joined him on the journey and they were truly the hiking odd couple. Spiro was a tenderfoot, John an expert hiker. Spiro was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian and fluent in Greek, whereas John’s faith was shaky and his Greek was terrible. Spiro believed in the wonder-working powers of the saints and icons, while John was a skeptic who doubted all miracles.
By turns reverent and irreverent, John narrates his progress and setbacks on the trail and within himself, as well a series of miraculous events, including the adoption of his son that took place on – and off – the Holy Mountain. Hiking the Holy Mountain is a powerful one-of-a-kind story of saints and icons, ancient traditions and modern-day faith and family.
Both as travel narrative and as spiritual reflection, Hiking the Holy Mountain takes the reader to a place where heaven and earth meet, where one encounters miracles on a mountain trail, where holy men shoot ouzo with wandering pilgrims, and where saints hear the supplications of those reluctant to pray. This is the best kind of travel writing because it recognizes the fact that the most important terrestrial journeys explore the geography of the soul. And it is the best kind of spiritual writing because it points us to the God who meets us as we traverse the trails of life on earth. -Ben Daniel, author of Thoughtful Christianity: Faith and Action in the Way of Jesus