J. Dana Trent
Upper Room Books, 112 pages
Thomas Merton once said all Christians should be content with being beginners. Life is beginning again and again. Those in the Reformed tradition might call this sanctification: the life-long process of growing in Christ that is only complete in our death. The author of this very practical manual begins with her own experience coming to the practice of meditation as a skeptic, wary of gimmicks. She describes how she moved through reluctance to acceptance that led her to regular discipline. Few of us can escape the rattle of a noisy culture and only the wisest know the perils of a noisy world. In such noise it is nearly impossible to hear the still, small voice of God — let alone the voice of our own longing for peace and participation in God. Dana Trent has developed this manual to help Christians distinguish between prayer and meditation. She skillfully guides readers through 40 days of experimentation with five forms of meditation: lectio divina, breath meditation, centering meditation, loving-kindness meditation and devotional meditation. Each is accompanied by the daily examen. Individuals, small groups and even families can easily follow her guidance. The activist might ask: Why read this book when so much needs to be done in the world? One only need look to Thomas Merton for an answer. Or perhaps to John Calvin, who said our prayer should be a frequent as our breathing. J. Dana Trent is a wise and experienced guide for all of us, including the skeptics.