Pilgrimage to Dzhvari is set in the last days of the Communist regime when people from all levels of Soviet society are searching for ways to reconnect with their memories of goodness and truth. A writer leaves her work in Moscow and with her teenage son sets out to visit the few remaining monasteries in the Georgian Caucasus in order to discover the mystical teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In particular, they seek instruction in the Prayer of the Heart, the constant internal repetition of the words, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." For centuries this practice -- known in the West as the "Jesus Prayer" -- has been one of the principal disciplines of monks, priests, and elders of the Eastern rite.
There is a purity and clarity about this simple tale of devotion that is reminiscent of that earlier spiritual classic The Way of a Pilgrim. But this journey is undertaken by a woman at the end of the twentieth century. The eloquence and power of Valeria Alfeyeva's description of the eternal quest for the divine on earth will not easily be forgotten.
Cover illustration by Tim Bower
Cover design by John Fontana