For people drawn to a life of contemplation, the dawning of luminous awareness in a mind full of clutter is deeply liberating. In the third of his best-selling books on Christian contemplative life, Martin Laird turns his attention to those who are well settled in their contemplative practice. An Ocean of Light speaks both to those just entering the contemplative path and to those with a maturing practice of contemplation. Gradually, the practice of contemplation lifts the soul, freeing it from the blockages that introduce confusion into our identity and thus confusion about the mystery we call God. In the course of a lifetime of inner silencing, the flower of awareness emerges: a living realization that we have never been separate from God or from the rest of humanity while we each fully become what each of us is created to be. In contemplation we become so silent before God that the "before" drops away. Those whose lives have led them deeply into the silent land realize this, but not in the way that we realize that the square root of 144 is 12. Laird draws from a wide and diverse range of writers-from St. Augustine, Evagrius Ponticus, and St. Teresa of Avila to David Foster Wallace, Flannery O'Connor, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Wright-to ground his insight in an ancient practice and give it a voice in contemporary language. With his characteristic lyricism and gentleness, Laird guides readers through new challenges of contemplative life, such as making ourselves the focus of our own contemplative project; dealing with old pain; transforming the isolation of loneliness and depression into a liberating solidarity with all who suffer; and the danger of using a spiritual practice as a strategy to acquire and control.
Martin Laird is a gracious host; he presents the rich fare of the Christian contemplative tradition in an authentic twenty-first-century vernacular, and in so doing invites the reader-who could resist such an invitation?-to enter into the banquet of silent and loving communion with the living God. * Carol Zaleski, Professor of World Religions, Smith College * A beautifully written, thoughtful and honest account of what it means to face oneself and our shared world in the silent depths of prayer. And so encouraging! A powerful reminder that the simple, daily, moment-to-moment practice of paying attention can heal and transform, can help bring us closer to God and to one another. The one thing necessary. * Douglas E. Christie, author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind * In this his third volume on contemplative prayer, Martin Laird once again combines acute scholarly citations from the contemplative tradition with memorable narratives from his own direction. But this time he plumbs new depths of insight: the section on prayer and depression, in particular, is unique in its wisdom and insight. This is new modern classic, and will stand the test of time. To be read and savoured again and again. * Sarah Caokley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge * Once again, Martin Laird has given us a book on the contemplative journey that is without verbiage, mystification, or sentimentality, both intensely challenging and enriching, and anchored in realism. His writing on this subject is simply in a different league of seriousness from most other books on 'spiritual' practice. * Rowan Williams, Master, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge *