Customer Review

117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow food for the soul., 11 July 2008
This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
Every ten years or so, a small book appears and slips into the mainstream of life: it is simply `there' to take up and read or disregard. But gradually, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendation, it becomes what it was always meant to be: slow food for the soul, a contemporary spiritual `classic'. `Into the Silent Land' is the latest such offering on the table of life. To those who know their need and are alert to what gives lasting nourishment, this little book - just the right size for pocket or rucksack - has an almost sacramental capacity to bless and confirm, to lure and encourage.

After all, `God does not know how to be absent,' declares Augustinian friar and author Martin Laird. Inviting us to journey with him `Into the Silent Land' he sets out to describe a spiritual landscape with which we so often struggle but within which we are created to thrive. Slowly, we can recover the practice of contemplation by which we come to know ourselves as we really are: nothing less than love outpoured.

Lest this seem too abstract or only true for certain `special' people, we are reminded that the sense of separation from God and one another is the great lie. Thanks to the constant video of noise and distraction passing before us, we allow our attention to be stolen and the awareness of our deepest identity erased. We forget the simplest of truths: we are already one with God. `All we need is to experience what we already possess.' But, like the deep-sea fisherman we are blinded by ignorance: we insist on `fishing for minnows while standing on a whale!'

However, `it is the gift of the Christian contemplative tradition to address this problem by exposing the lie' and introducing stillness to the mental clutter. By drawing wisdom from the treasure house that is the Christian mystical path - in stories and images both practical and poetic - Martin Laird reaches out to us through his own distilled experience, wearing his profound learning with elegance. Whether beginner or long-term pilgrim, he does us all a great favour by pointing out that it is only by letting go the `paste-up job' we call `self' that we come to the real flowering of our identity.

`Into the Silent Land' is simultaneously pole-star and compass, journey and destination. It engages body, soul, heart and mind - all are involved, all matter. There is nothing ethereal about this path, nothing that denies the wonder and mystery of who we are. As the delightful story that is the Epilogue suggests: the answer to the questions `Who am I?' and `who is Jesus Christ?' is profoundly simple... but who am I to deprive you of the gift of reading this book for yourself!
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Location: Scotland

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