"We cannot attain the presence of God. We're already totally in the presence of God. What's absent is awareness," writes Richard Rohr, a popular retreat master and author of The Good News According to Luke. In this masterful defense of contemplative prayer, God is presented as a lover who receives and forgives everything. Rohr challenges us to clean the lens we put before our eyes so we can see more clearly. This practice is what the Zen masters call "wiping the mirror."

The author salutes the value of the beginner's mind, which he calls "a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger." Rohr plumbs the Christian tradition of being nothing and finds in it a superb reliance upon God's grace as the source of all good things. He challenges us to see that our greatest cross is "to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality." And he celebrates the Eastern ideal of big mind — a unitive consciousness. Rohr also locates axial meaning in the religious movement of descent — we can learn from suffering and loss; it does not have to destroy us.

Best of all, this contemplative teacher advises us to be humble: "God can most easily be lost by being thought found." The process of Christian sanctification compels us always to be ready to see the world and our own situation anew.