I recently read Martin Laird’s Into the Silent Land: An Introduction to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. Laird teaches at Villanova University, and he draws, in this book, on his academic specialty, patristics (the early centuries of the church, particularly the desert fathers and mothers). Into the Silent Land is gentle and wise, filled with sensitivity to lived human experience and with awareness of the healing and transforming power of silence, prayer, and contemplation.

The healing energy of prayer comes from the confidence it nurtures in us that we are “one” with God–in union, communion, with the One who made us and loves us. Laird wrote that the “God we desire has already found us, causing our desire” (p. 9) and “Union with God is not something that needs to be acquired but realized” (p. 10). He makes this point beautifully in the book’s epilogue, where he imagines an older monk’s encouraging a younger one with these words:

You say you seek God, but a ray of light doesn’t seek the sun; it’s coming from the sun. You are a branch on the vine of God. A branch doesn’t seek the vine; it’s already part of the vine. A wave doesn’t look for the ocean; it’s already full of the ocean(p. 139).

God is in us, we are in God. There is “no separation”; we are connected, always, to the Love for which we long, the Spirit for which we thrist, and the Grace for which we hunger.