"Nikos Kazantzakis [in The Greek Passion] tells the story of an English monk who all of his life had dreamed of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There he would walk around the Holy Sepulchre three times, kneel, and come back a new man. Through the years he'd dreamed of leaving his monastery with its old yew tree in the cloister yard — making his way on foot from Canterbury to Rome along the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena. He'd cross the rocky terrain of Greece to follow the Templar Trail through the dry expanse of Cappadocia. He'd visit cathedrals and the tombs of saints, coming at last to the old city of Jerusalem.

"Through the years the monk had prepared for the trip, putting away money that he received as alms. Near the end of his life he'd finally saved enough to begin his journey. Taking his staff in hand, he opened the monastery gates and set out for the Holy City.

"But no sooner had he left the cloister, than he encountered a man in rags, bent to the ground, picking herbs on the side of the path. 'Where are you going, Father?' the man asked. 'To the Holy Sepulchre, brother. By God's grace, I'll walk around it three times, kneel, and return home a different man.' 'Ah, that's wonderful! I hope you have enough money to provide for you on your way.' 'Yes, God be praised,' said the monk. 'I've been able to save thirty pounds for the trip.'

"The man then hesitantly responded, 'Can I ask you something crazy, Father? I have a wife and hungry children at home. I'm searching everywhere for food to keep them from starving. Would you consider giving me your thirty pounds, walking three times around me, then kneel and go back into your monastery?' The monk thought for a long moment, scratching the ground with his staff. Then (with a divine absurdity) he took the money from his sack, gave the whole of it to the man, walked three times around him, knelt, and returned back through the gates of his monastery. "He came home a new man, of course, having recognized the beggar as Christ himself — not far away at the Holy Sepulchre, but just outside his monastery door, in a place he'd never have thought sacred. He'd discovered a great desert truth — that the holy is where you least expect it, that the desire for the trip is its own fulfillment, that he'd been drawn all along to transformation, not tourism. He greeted the old yew tree in the cloister yard, took a deep breath, and returned to his work."