A Pilgrimage of Paradoxes: A Backpacker’s Encounters with God and Nature
Mark Clavier examines a series of paradoxes that lie at the heart of Christian faith: eternity and time, silence and words, and wonder and the commonplace. In an intellectual reflection on an overnight trek on Cadair Idris in Wales and other wilderness walks, he explores the oft-hidden connections between faith, society, and nature.
Each reflection ranges widely through history, folklore, poetry, philosophy, and theology to consider what these paradoxes can teach us about God, ourselves, and our world. Drawing on the recent upsurge in interest in the personal experience of landscapes and memory, this book invites readers to walk with Clavier in the Appalachians, Norway, Iceland, the Alps, and around Britain as he discovers the ways in which Christianity is profoundly earthed.
By weaving together nature-writing, memoir, social commentary, and theological reflection A Pilgrimage of Paradoxesuses a memorable mountain journey in the ancient landscape of Wales to draw readers into reflecting about what it means to belong.
Perhaps one of the worst things Christianity has done in some of its varieties is to encourage people to think they don’t really belong in and with creation. Mark Clavier has written a brilliant and moving meditation on how he has learned from journeys in the Welsh landscape to see more clearly that redemption is a gift that allows us to inhabit more deeply where we truly are, at home in the grace and mercy of the creator. — Rowan Williams, University of Cambridge, UK
In this personal and wise book, Mark Clavier invites readers on a mountain pilgrimage with poets, philosophers, and spiritual writers as guides. The result is a profound meditation on time, place, and the communities of life that join us to each other and to our world. Come along! — Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School, USA
Mark Clavier loses himself in the rocky beauty of mid-Wales, and finds himself opened up to multiple layers of wisdom and joy. Strands of place, theology and the natural world are all plaited together through the pages of this profound and deeply satisfying book. — Philip Marsden, travel writer and novelist, UK
Read this book and walk with the author on a journey that unites heaven and earth. On his hikes in the Welsh mountains, Clavier encounters not some generic “higher power” but an earthy God, incarnate in both the wonderful and the commonplace. In the process he traces a life that is simultaneously poetic, divine, and deeply humane. — William T. Cavanaugh, DePaul University, USA
Mark Clavier is our delightful companion as we walk into a landscape that speaks of God found in timelessness and time, silence and words, wonder and the commonplace. He weaves memoir with theological reflection, folklore, geology and history, taking discursive routes to explore his paradoxical themes with flair and imagination. — Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, UK
‘An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’: Cranmer’s definition of a sacrament expresses perfectly Mark Clavier’s achievement in this deeply personal yet universally applicable reflection which celebrates the wonderful Welsh mountainscape as a sacrament of God’s timeless presence in creation and in the human heart. — John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, UK
Mark Clavier knows what it is to be lost, to yearn for a transcendent God who remains out of reach. Yet as this wise book relates, he also knows what it is to be found, to encounter God in the common marvels of creation. Read this book and then go for a walk with eyes newly opened to the mysteries that are at hand. — Jeffrey Bilbro, Grove City College, USA
A love letter to God, written in the mountains of Wales, Mark Clavier offers a rare feast of reflections that stir the paradoxes of the imagination towards the God whose creation heals and transforms. An immersion in nature to delight the longing soul. — Frances Ward, St Michael’s Rectory, UK
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