The Journey – Spirituality, Pilgrimage, Chant
By Dr J. Richard Smith
Darton-Longman-Todd – £9.99
Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.
The Journey is a book ”about being whole and is for anyone on the pathway to physical and psychological well being after illness, or seeking greater spiritual fulfilment.”
That all royalties generated from its sale are being donated to the charity, Womb Transplant, is in and of itself, most, most commendable. There again, one will always learn from having taken a long journey – the more in-depth, the more arduous, the more philosophical or strident, the better.
Indeed, every now and then, a book depicting a journey such as this will come along and make a difference. The sort of difference that can be life-changing and positively over-whelming. There have been a few over the years, perhaps one of the most definitive in recent years was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – a magical fable about learning to take note of what it is your heart is telling you – which has since gone on to sell over thirty-million copies worldwide.
Moreover, Richard Smith is one of the world’s leading gynaecological surgeons and a specialist in cancer survivorship; fertility-sparing surgery for women with cancer. A few years back, a major health scare forced him to question his belief in his own personal invincibility and as a result, come to terms with the reality of mortality. An inner search led him to read the spiritual classic The Way of a Pilgrim, and with the guidance of his priest, to start practising contemplative prayer, pilgrimage and chant.
Hence, the kernel of this book, that in essence, fundamentally revisits Smith’s actual journey of discovery. A prime manifestation of which conjures the physical as well as the spiritual well-being: of the challenges and wonders of pilgrim paths to ancient sites such as Jerusalem, Assisi, Iona, Patmos and Mount Athos. Not to mention the hidden truths inside Smith’s own heart and soul – truths all the more underlined by the words of the brilliant, Carl Gustav Jung: ”The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego, and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach” (The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man).
Can’t argue with that; just like one can’t really argue with (most of) The Journey.