My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

When pilgrims become tourists - before travelling home from Eastern Turkey

 After the astonishing sights of Dara, we have to return to the monastery to pick up our bags before setting off for lunch in Mardin, to the same restaurant as yesterday; it was so good.

Then we’re all off for some final shopping in Mardin's colorful markets, this time exploring those down the hill below the main street, especially busy today because this is the second day of the four day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

Finally we make our way back to the cay and baklavas café for another sweet indulgence. The lads there are so pleased to see us back. We have a wonderful welcome and sad good bye as we must not be late for the coach taking us to catch our flight at Mardin airport to Istanbul and thence to Heathrow and home.

One day I will go back to this region to further explore the many treasures it has to offer. There was so much we could not see or do in the time available to us, whether as pilgrims or as tourists. I pray that the Christian communities in this beautiful part of Turkey will continue to flourish. There are mixed signs, but overall I believe there is hope.

And I do mean hope, which we must not confuse with optimism. Optimism is passive. We believe that something better will happen.
Hope is far more than that. It is a firmly held conviction that it is worth taking action to improve something; and it is grounded in spirituality and faith.
 Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: ‘I've never been an optimist. I've always been a man of hope - I am a prisoner of hope…hope holds on even when things are seemingly doomed and dark.’ ‘We must,’ said Martin Luther King, ‘accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.’

A rare photograph of the photographer - at Dara
Thank you for reading my blog of our wonderful pilgrimage to East Turkey. I trust you have enjoyed it. Next year I shall report back on another pilgrimage experience, this time planned for Georgia in the Caucasus region of Eurasia where Western Asia and Eastern Europe meet. It promises to be another inspiring and fascinating trip.

Finally I would like to thank both McCabe Pilgrimages and Southwark Diocese who made this possible for me.


  1. Thanks for a wonderful read: have been there is virtuality!

  2. so glad you enjoyed them Marie. Watch this space for my next series - on my pilgrimage to the Holy Land!

  3. This has been a wonderful and enlightening set of blog posts. I have copied all the links in a computer file labeled "Eleanor Stoneham in Turkey." Thanks for sharing.