In his foreword to this pilgrimage memoir by Dennis Patrick Slattery, Thomas Moore writes: "Tasting the monastic life can be a spiritual practice. It keeps alive the value of community, solitude, and a focus on spiritual issues. Such a practice is especially meaningful in today's world, so materialistic in thought and so frenzied and loud in style. Silence and solitude are major attributes that commend the life." Slattery is a poet and professor in the Mythological Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California. Feeling that his soul needed ritual and renewal, he decided to visit 12 monasteries during his sabbatical in 1998, spending no fewer than five days at each. He wrote in his journal the five "R" words that were to serve as a canopy of his pilgrimage: rest, refuge, restoration, renewal, and retrieval. And then Slattery, a Catholic, read William Blake's comment: "The human mind cannot go beyond the gift of God, the Holy Ghost." He began his journey calling for the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, sustain, and direct him.
Slattery savors silence, prayer, the natural world, animals, the movements of the hours, and the challenges to stay with the moment and not be distracted. He reveals the special blessings at each of the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers. Best of all is Slattery's appreciation of the desert and what he learns about silence there.