Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

by Annie Dillard

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Analyze Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as a spiritual journey into nature.

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As the contemporary Emerson or Thoreau, Annie Dillard typically offers meditations on transcendental themes found by venturing into nature and observing it with keen sight and insight.

Like her predecessors, Dillard sees in nature a manifestation of a higher power that, when attended to properly (with care to observe minutiae), offers a spiritual clarity not available in the world of urban busyness.

Covering each of the four seasons, the book offers essays that connect the plant and animal life near Tinker Creek with spiritual questions about good and evil and the nature of human nature as a thinking and longing creature. Dillard marvels at the powerful tragedy often contained in natural circumstances as well as the good and the beautiful. Both in the opening epithet from Heraclitus and in a latter afterword, Dillard herself connects the physical and the metaphysical in these essays, weaving a tapestry of good and evil, natural and supernatural, present and sublime.

As a first person set of essays, Dillard also shows her own year-long pilgrimage to wisdom in her little wanderings near Roanoke. Like all pilgrims, Dillard offers her meditations as vignettes of spiritual struggle and awakening, coming to see the hand of God in her surroundings.

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