The story of Carmel before Teresa enables us to understand the tradition, the story of her life and what was precious to her. Imagination is a key word if we want to talk about the Carmelite story. The Carmelite story is about a journey from Western Europe to the Holy Land and back to the West. This journey is a pilgrimage – a journey in time and space but also a journey of inner discovery. The goal of the journey was the mountain that is Carmel and Jesus Christ to whom they owed total allegiance. Welch expresses some of the fundamental elements of the tradition thus:
The Carmelite tradition speaks to those who long to be apart, to separate from a smothering existence. The tradition offers the lure of wilderness, mountain retreat, vast expanses of desert. In solitude, in a place apart, we searchers hope to hear our heart’s desires more clearly, to reassess life, to dream, to be nourished by hidden springs, to meet the One whom others speak of with great assurance. Those who are drawn by the Carmelite tradition are often pilgrims to places unknown, trusting the testimony of others who have taken the same ancient path.