In this memoir author Kimberly Meyer and her daughter go on a pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of Felix Fabri, a medieval Dominican Friar. They travel from Venice to the Mediterranean, through Greece and Cyprus, reaching Israel and crossing the Sinai Desert and finally arriving in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt. In each location Ms. Meyer juxtaposes notes from Fabri’s trip with her own impressions, as well as some ancient and modern history of the regions. Read carefully and you will learn a lot!
Personally Meyer finds herself in a liminal place — her daughters are on the cusp of growing up and leaving home, and she is rediscovering herself as an individual. She says:
“I think what drew me to retrace Fabri’s medieval journey was in part a hope that I might see briefly into that unseen, enchanted realm, like catching a glimpse into the unknowable lives of others from the window of a passing train. I was caught in this earthly pause between two eternities. But if I could know that this pause in which I was watching my own erasure in the growing bodies and shifting faces of my daughters –images of me–was only part of an immortal pattern of reality that did not change, this might allow me to let them go.”
Unfortunately, despite visiting and pondering the significance of many religious sites, Meyer is not a believer, and her travel does not make her into one. Her trip moves her physically, but not spiritually. She tells a Muslim who questions her about her beliefs,
“… I did not know if I believed in God, but I supposed that if God existed, He would be one spirit that pervades all things.”
She also mentions that she does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, except in the sense that we are all children of God– and God to her seems to be a rather impersonal, universal spirit.
VERDICT: THREE STARS. At the core, this book is a travelogue. It will help you visualize the settings of many Bible stories, but don’t expect to be enlightened spiritually.