“This evocative memoir flashes back to Swander’s Catholic childhood, the death of her mother, and other events that made her suspicious of opening herself to spirituality. Hers is a tale of discovery.”—Chicago Tribune
While driving home one cold winter night, Mary Swander was struck by another car. The accident left her almost completely paralyzed and in chronic pain, with no medical cure or relief in sight. A lapsed Catholic, without any family to speak of, and now severely disabled, she was suddenly faced with how very alone she was in the world. On the verge of losing all hope, she traveled to New Mexico in search of the alternative medicine that the region is known for. It was a decision that would change her forever.
In this exquisite memoir, critically acclaimed writer and poet Mary Swander recounts her journey toward emotional, physical, and spiritual recovery amid the stark desert beauty of the American southwest. There she meets two unusual healers: Father Sergei, a Russian Orthodox monk who helps restore her faith; and Lu, a curandera, whose herbal remedies help restore her body. As she chronicles her own transcendent experiences, Swander embarks upon an investigation into the history of healing and mystics such as Teresa of Avila, St. Francis of Assisi, and Hildegard of Bingen. Beautifully written and conveyed with sensitivity and humor, The Desert Pilgrim is a meditation on what it takes to restore our faith in the modern world—and how to believe in miracles again.
About Mary Swander
Mary Swander is the author of two earlier books of poems, Succession (1979) and Driving the Body Back (1986). She has published a variety of writing widely, in such magazines as The Nation, The New Yorker and Poetry. Her dramatic… More about Mary Swander
Paperback | $23.00
Published by Penguin Books Jun 29, 2004| 352 Pages| 5-1/16 x 7-3/4| ISBN 9780142196304