A Pilgrimage Beyond Belief is a spiritual narrative of one man’s calling to the life of monastic devotion. It is both an adventure story, in which the author, Dennis Slattery, travels into the world of monastic settings, and a journey into the interior geography of his personal history. We accompany Slattery as he sets off on a three-and-a-half-month pilgrimage during which he struggles with his identity, his role as father and husband, teacher and believer, as well as the life and death of his alcoholic father. Throughout his stays at twelve monasteries and retreat centers, Slattery seeks the refuge of the monastic life where silence and solitude open an extraordinary window on the human soul. Living within the prayerful daily routines of such settings, he recovers parts of himself that he had forgotten in his quest for professional success.
His pilgrimage is “beyond belief” not in the sense that it is “unbelievable,” but rather in the sense that, although he does already believe in God, he comes to a powerful new awareness of God’s real presence in his daily life. Slattery’s journey evokes life’s most profound questions and his rich Catholic heritage, enriched with wisdom drawn from contemporary and classic spiritual writers like Thomas Merton, Julian of Norwich, and Thich Nhat Hanh. He attempts to bring a monastic sense of space to the reader, which one can enter outside the structure of a formal retreat. And for those considering embarking upon their own spiritual retreat, an appendix is provided with descriptions of additional retreat centers, and suggested reading to enhance contemplative solitude.