Because this was the limit of my expectations, I was all the more surprised and bewildered when many years later I came upon a permanent state in which there was no self, no higher self, true self, or anything that could be called a self. Clearly, I had fallen outside my own, as well as the traditional frame of reference, when I came upon a path that seemed to begin where the writers on the contemplative life had left off. But with the clear certitude of the self's disappearance, there automatically arose the question of what had fallen away--what was the self? What, exactly, had it been? Then too, there was the all-important question: what remained in its absence? This journey was the gradual revelation of the answers to these questions, answers that had to be derived solely from personal experience since no outside explanation was forthcoming.
Bernadette Roberts is also the author of The Path to No-Self: Life at the Center, What is Self?, and Spiritual Journey Recapitulates the History of Religion.
In 1990 Andrew Krivak-poet, yacht rigger, ocean lifeguard, student of the classics-entered the Society of Jesus. The heart of Jesuit training is the Long Retreat, thirty days of silence and prayer in which the Jesuit novice reflects on the Gospels and tests his desire for the priesthood.
For Krivak, eight years of Jesuit formation turned out to be a long retreat in its own right, as he tested all his desires-for poetry, for travel, for independence, for love-against the pledge to do all "for the greater glory of God." And in this deeply affecting book the long retreat becomes a pattern for our own spiritual lives, enabling us to embrace our desire for solitude and perspective in our own circumstances, the way Krivak has in his new life as a husband, father, and writer.
The search for God is finally the search for oneself, St. Augustine wrote. Krivak's story pushes past the awful stories of scandal in the Catholic Church to reveal why a modern, forward-looking man would yearn to be a priest. Unlike those stories, it has an happy ending-one in which we can recognize ourselves.