Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven--A Pilgrimage” as Want to Read:
Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven--A Pilgrimage
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven--A Pilgrimage

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews

While walking on the beach with his Labrador, poet and literature professor Scott Cairns ran headlong into his midlife crisis. A fairly common experience among men nearing the age of fifty, midlife crises are usually manifested in the form of sports cars and younger women; not so for this Baptist turned Eastern Orthodox. Cairns had a realization that as the advancement of

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by HarperOne
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Short Trip to the Edge, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Short Trip to the Edge

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 22, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
Scott Cairns is an amazing poet, but he also can hold his own with prose. This story chronicles three pilgrimages he took, two to Mt.Athos -- "The Holy Mountain" of Orthodoxy, and one to St. Anthony's monastery in Arizona, founded by a monk from Mt. Athos.

Cairns basically was looking for an experienced spiritual director to help him find his way to a more substantial life of prayer. Instead of finding one personal guide, he was able to experience a lot of the richness of his tradition as well as
Skylar Burris
I enjoyed a poetry reading that Scott Cairns gave at my church a few years ago and also listened to a thoughtful sermon (lecture?) he preached there, and intrigued by both I picked up a copy of his spiritual autobiography. I enjoy reading spiritual autobiographies in general, and because I have never read one from an Orthodox (big O orthodox) Christian, I was looking forward to this one. I have to admit, however, that I found it very slow plodding. Maybe coming from a western Protestant backgrou ...more
Aug 31, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Just from the point of view of good storytelling it was excellent. Possibly because I've met the author and heard him talk about this journey was helpful as well. It was extremely well-written and I felt like I could follow him as he traveled from monastery to monastery seeking his spiritual father.

Many Orthodox who are actively pursuing the goal of theosis long for a spiritual father as a guide, and Mr. Cairns was no exception. While his publicist has decided to call this sud
Evan Hays
Dec 28, 2014 Evan Hays rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, devotional
I have over the years been trying to read more about Orthodox theology--in part because my in laws are Orthodox but also because it is beautiful and teaches me to be a better Christian. This book is another excellent addition to those books. This one is particularly good because it is written by an American and gives a very warm and personal view of his journey as an Orthodox Christian visiting Mt. Athos seeking help to know how to "pray without ceasing".

Cairns is a poet and writer by trade, and
Aldon Hynes
Jun 25, 2017 Aldon Hynes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
This is an absolutely wonderful book; a poetic faith-journey memoir. While I have not been to Greece and am not Eastern Orthodox, so much of this book resonates strongly with my own faith-journey.

Disclosure: I have known the author since 1975, when he was a Baptist teen preparing for college.

I purchased my autographed copy of this book at a poetry reading in downtown Seattle in 2008. For a variety of reasons I did not read it until 2013.

When I finally opened it, I assumed it was going to be an autobiographical travelogue of Scott’s first visit to Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain in Greece which is inhabited by Orthodox Christian monks in various monasteries. What I did not realize is tha
Jul 06, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it
Read this after seeing Scott at the Festival of Faith and writing. I have long admired both Scott and the Eastern Orthodox Church. I'm very comfortable with the idea that much of our theology emanates through each person. It's not that I don't believe there are larger doctrines to contend for that rise above a person and her story. It's that we mostly understand theology through people. Anyway, I've long wanted to know more about the Orthodox Church through Scott since I've read his poetry for s ...more
Samwise Grangee
Oct 28, 2013 Samwise Grangee rated it really liked it
Eastern Christianity is a religion that works beyond the walls of the church. Cairns' memoirs of his trip to Mt. Athos both show how the beauty of Orthodox liturgy overflow into the everyday life of an Orthodox layman. He not only gives a comprehensive overview of all the major themes of Orthodox spirituality one is likely to hear dropped in conversation (theosis, noetic prayer, komboskini, etc.), but he also vulnerably and strongly invites us into his own spiritual life during this time. Cairns ...more
Michelle Kidwell
Dec 15, 2015 Michelle Kidwell rated it it was amazing

Short Trip to the Edge

A Pilgrimage to Prayer (New Edition)

by Scott Cairns

Paraclete Press


Pub Date Mar 28, 2016 

I was given a copy of Short Trip to the Edge A Pilgrimage of Prayer by the publishers and there partnership with Netgalley for my honest review so here it is...In 2006 Scott Cairns first published Short Trip to the Edge an account of the first of three pilgrimages to Agion Oros or the Holy Mountain. This edition of the book includes beautiful black and white photos of the pla
Apr 26, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
A friend said she didn't like this book because she couldn't get past the fact that no women are allowed on Mt. Athos. And I suppose that makes it challenging to imagine going where Cairns goes, but I still enjoyed his openness in talking about his spiritual journey and especially enjoyed the last trip and final chapter where he finds joy in community and learns to keep going despite not finding the spiritual father that he'd hoped to.
Michelle D.
Jul 23, 2014 Michelle D. rated it it was amazing
This book contains many spiritual gems. I enjoyed Prof. Cairns writing style as well. It is hard to describe such a holy place and people, and he succeeds in making the reader feel like they are there on the pilgrimage along with him. I especially enjoyed the section where his son accompanied him on a trip there. Since I will not be traveling to Mt. Athos, I am glad to get such a glimpse into life on the Holy Mountain.
Nov 14, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
"The Church in the East has taught me, albeit very slowly, that the Christian faith is not at its core a propositional faith; Christianity is not, finally, about what we think. It is about what we are, and what we are becoming. It is necessarily an embodied faith, a lived faith, just as God's love is necessarily an embodied, enacted love, an incarnation."
May 02, 2012 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, one of the best books I've read. As Frederica Mathewes-Green states, "Cairns is the ideal guide (to Mt. Athos)- relaxed, invitingly conversational, and often amused, but always evoking the awe that these mysteries deserve."
Skylar Burris
A bit dry. I enjoy his poetry and generally like spiritual autobiographies, but this did not provide me with quite the narrative poetry or spiritual depth I had hoped.
Sep 20, 2010 Crystal marked it as under-consideration
Shelves: memoir
Kirk Manton
Feb 21, 2016 Kirk Manton rated it really liked it
A must read before his book Idiot Psalms
Todd Putney
Jul 05, 2016 Todd Putney rated it really liked it
Great book about the author's pilgrimage to Mt Athos in Greece.
Hans Schmidt
Jan 12, 2016 Hans Schmidt rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and poetic story of reflection, discovery, humility and change. I am now hoping to take my son to Mount Athos when he is a bit older.
Britt rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2013
Noel rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2016
stephen m mccollum
stephen m mccollum rated it it was ok
Feb 06, 2017
Liz Denson
Liz Denson rated it really liked it
Mar 17, 2015
Joline rated it liked it
Aug 22, 2014
Graham rated it really liked it
Apr 18, 2014
Ben rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2013
Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2013
Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2007
Andrew rated it liked it
Dec 28, 2014
Ken Sowinski
Ken Sowinski rated it it was amazing
Sep 27, 2013
Mary Khoury
Mary Khoury rated it it was amazing
Aug 27, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
  • Beginning to Pray
  • Illumined Heart
  • The Inner Kingdom
  • Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition
  • The Philokalia, Volume 4: The Complete Text
  • Wounded by Love
  • Orthodox Psychotherapy
  • Great Lent: Journey to Pascha
  • Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father: Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father
  • In The Spirit of Happiness
  • The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Cistercian studies 59)
  • God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church
  • Miracle Detective
  • The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way
  • The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism
  • The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
  • Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith

Share This Book