From Publishers Weekly
Here's what John Muir brought on his 1,000-mile trek from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico: a comb, a brush, a towel, soap, a change of underclothing, five books, a plant press and a map. "Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," he wrote. In Philip Harnden's quirky, reflective book Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others, Harnden gives us the lists of objects that famous pilgrims took with them on their travels. Bilbo Baggins wouldn't have strayed from the Shire without his pipe and tobacco (though we learn that he forgot other necessities such as money, a hat and a walking stick). Most entertaining is the substantial list of items Henry David Thoreau brought with him on a 12-day canoe trip in Maine; ironically enough, the man who told others to "simplify, simplify" toted along 166 pounds of stuff. Harnden notes that the book's title is something of a double entendre: it helps us to imagine light, unencumbered journeying, but it also points to the divine Light that illuminates our trail.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Philip Harnden was the publisher of The Other Side, a magazine of spirituality and social action, for a dozen years. A Quaker, he has written on subjects as diverse as the land rights of Native Americans and the spiritual life of Fritz Eichenberg. A former correspondent for Religion News Service, Harnden has also been a commentator on North Country Public Radio. He lives in northern New York State, not far from the Canadian border.