Enter a Monastery Without Walls
Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can bring. Above all, he makes clear that the aim of meditation is to allow us to experience divine contemplation -- the presence of God.
Finley, a spiritual counselor who studied with Thomas Merton, presents a clear introduction to meditating as a Christian. He situates meditation by which he principally means "a form of prayerful reflection, using thoughts and images" in a historic tradition of Christian spiritual practice. The book's first seven chapters examine some major themes of Christian meditation, e.g. "entering the mind of Christ" and "hearing the Lord's voice." Finley is to be commended especially for the way he interweaves theology and practice, as in his examination of the role of the body in Christian meditation. Through meditation, we learn to inhabit our bodies better, he observes, and gain insight into the true meaning of the Incarnation the Word becoming flesh. Another section that deserves special mention is the treatment of "Trinitarian mysticism." Many Christian titles aimed at a broad market skip over the complicated doctrine of the Trinity, but Finley suggests that meditating on the triune nature of the Christian God is crucial. These heady discussions are rounded out by concluding chapters a revision of portions of Finley's 2000 title The Contemplative Heart that are full of practical instruction. The evangelical market may find this title a bit too New Agey, but many other Christian readers will delight in it.
What a great start to learning the discipline of meditation. It has been a wonderful resource on my journey. I felt as though each new section was there exactly when I needed it. It was as if the author knew what questions I would be asking. Highly recommend this book!