This book focuses on discussions between a holy pilgrim and a true Gerondas. It begins on mount athos, the center of greek orthodoxy. It feels as if one is actually there. The descriptions are magnificently drawn. If you are interested in the Prayer of the Heart, this book is for you. It goes deep deep into discussions on prayer and other very important things such as an argument against buddhism, hinduism and the like, and why prayer of the heart is different and better. Truly a classic, the above professional review dude said it all, im just here to raise my hand and say hey this book rocks.
A priest spends an evening (and well into the night) discussing the theory and practice of the Jesus Prayer with an experienced Elder on Mt. Athos. I was reminded of the style of the 'Conferences' of John Cassian, with the eager young disciple seeking wisdom from the experienced monk and wringing out every last piece of insight. The unnamed Elder is a luminous figure; gentle, wise and full of the Spirit. His teaching is obviously derived from genuine experience. We are led systematically through the methods of praying the Jesus Prayer, its benefits and dangers, and the rich rewards that await those who persevere in bringing their heart and mind before God in humble expectation. Probably like most readers I was disappointed that the author cast a veil of silence over the Elder's description of his own vision of the Uncreated Light, but as he points out in the preface, even this silence is edifying.
By the end, we indeed feel that we have spent a night in heaven. Mt. Athos is described as a regained Eden of beauty and divine silence. The thought that such a place, with such inhabitants, still exists in the world today moves me with awe at the grace of God.
This book is an excellent read for those who want to learn more about the Jesus prayer, how to do it and it's impact. I strongly reccomend the guidance of a priest while going through "A Night in the Desert" so that growth in the area of implementing this powerful prayer is handled responsibly.
This book contains an invaluable and lucid explanation of the Orthodox prayer life. It shed light on much that was puzzling to me. I would strongly recommend this to any Orthodox Christian. It is also a way to demonstrate to non-Orthodox the depth of Orthodoxy. Taste and see that the Lord is good.