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The Shortest Way Home: a contemplative path to God Paperback – April 7, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

This clearly written introduction to the contemplative way actually mediates the spaciousness of which it speaks. I felt my own consciousness, my own experience of life, becoming more spacious as I read it. ~ Marcus Borg, Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University, author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time and The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith.

This book is excellent. No words are wasted, no persuasions needed, no high level of sophistication required--just a readiness to travel simply and truthfully--and that is how Wesley leads you. This could only be written by one who has been there. ~ Richard Rohr, Franciscan, Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico and author of Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.

This book is a real surprise. Beneath its apparent simplicity, a subtle mind is clearly at work. Stepping-stone by stepping-stone the author builds a fascinating bridge between familiar Christian reference points and the classic awareness practices of East and West. ~ Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest, Teacher and Advisor to the Contemplative Society of Victoria, B.C., and author of Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.

The author offers us a wonderfully succinct and lucid introduction to contemplative self-understanding and practice within a Christian framework. The many practical exercises he suggests along the way give the reader an opportunity to test their own experience of contemplative awareness. I believe it expresses the authentic heart of contemplative understanding and practice, which upholds a liberating awareness of our true self and life in God. ~ Tilden Edwards, Episcopal founder of Shalem Institute, Bethesda, Maryland and author of Living in the Presence: Spiritual Exercises to Open Our Lives to the Awareness of God. --~ From the back cover

With a sweet, relaxed clarity and economy of expression, Wesley introduces selflessness and spacious awareness on an interfaith basis to Christian churchgoers and other readers.

It is a wonderful book. In its blend of simplicity and thoroughness, it is reminiscent of the works of Meister Eckhart. Wesley developed the content based on Joel's teachings [Joel Morwood is the Spiritual Director at the Center] as well as his own teaching experience at Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon. He expresses appreciation to both of his spiritual communities.

In defining two approaches on the contemplative path, devotion and wisdom, Wesley chooses to focus on the wisdom path, saying it is devotion that gives us perseverance.

Step by step the book moves from the beginning to the end of the spiritual path. It illuminates our need to investigate for ourselves, from within, as the moment-to-moment observer, witness, and experiencer. The title refers to Realization of our inherent Divinity, True Nature, and the Kingdom that is always before us. In each chapter, Wesley recommends a practice or two under the heading, You find out.

I love the book. It explains many of the concepts on the path that can be confusing to new practitioners. I think this would be an ideal addition to the Foundation Studies reading list [at the Center]. Although it emphasizes Christian teachings, the practices and their results are universal and inclusive.

Wesley has included comments in the bibliography to indicate the accessibility of various resources. Of the 73 footnotes, three refer to talks or articles by Joel. Many refer to Christian contemplatives and mystics, and many to the Bible (New Revised Standard Version).

Though Wesley considers his slim volume introductory, he covers each principal step toward Recognition of our natural but forgotten union with the Divine. --~ Sylvia Hawley: Center Community News, The Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences

To follow this shortest path to home is to take a slow and gentle walk with Wesley along his contemplative trail of quiet, gradually-developing, ever-growing insights. His chapters are very short, and each ends with a brief "you find out," a directed pause for the time to try out the truth opened to you, the reader, in that chapter. We begin to realize how our lives are so involved with what Wesley describes as "the story of I." Then may come the gradual understanding of the need to change self-important thoughts into a deep awareness and an experiencing of all that surrounds us in God's world. This is a thoughtful unfolding of understanding how those contemplative experiences will lead to (or can change) beliefs and then can open one to union with a cosmic God. --~ Marion Leslie: The Central, Newsletter of Central Presbyterian Church, Eugene, Oregon

About the Author

Wesley Lachman is a practicing contemplative. He has a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University and a B.D. in theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. A retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he teaches spirituality at Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon, and is active in social concerns. He studies the contemplative path at the Center for Sacred Sciences, an interfaith spiritual center in Eugene. He and Sharry, his wife, have two daughters and three grandchildren.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: O Street Publishing (April 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979141605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979141607
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,676,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Wesley Lachman is a practicing contemplative. He graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University and a B.D. in Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. A retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he teaches spirituality at Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon, and is active in social concerns. He studies the contemplative path at the Center for Sacred Sciences, an interfaith spiritual center in Eugene. He and Sharry, his wife, have two daughters and three grandchildren.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Katz on November 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Contemplative prayer is simply a wordless, trusting opening of self to the divine presence." ... "If you begin to walk this path your heart will love it," writes Wesley Lachman.

Wesley Lachman is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and still teaches spirituality in the Church. He is a student at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon. He is a father and grandfather.

About a hundred pages in length, The Shortest Way Home is a smooth read. The chapters are short; at the end of each one is a contemplative exercise allowing the reader to practice what was read. The table of contents has a consistent structure, each chapter featuring a duality: Suffering and Happiness, Belief and Experience, Existence and Impermanence, and so on. The author seamlessly includes quotations. In this example is revealed the point of the book:

"It is a path that must be walked or practiced, and yet it leads to where you already are. `It is a journey from a place we have never been to a place we have never left.' It can begin with some rational description such as found in this text, but the mystery of God is its true end." The quotation-within-the-quotation is from John W. Groff, Jr. All quotations are referenced. The bibliography is carefully selected and annotated.

The first third of the book considers the experience of the world. Lachman says, "Trust your own direct experience of life." He shows how everything is dissolving moment by moment including what we assume of ourselves and God. "How did we ever delude ourselves into thinking we could find lasting happiness in our possessions when we are losing every one of them?" He asks; we contemplate, remembering to trust our experience and to open to divine presence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joyce on October 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Lachman, in this short, deceptively simple book, takes you step by step on the contemplative path from the Christian perspective. I like his description of contemplation, ending with the statement that it is "simply to be aware of what is going on, in contrast to thinking about it or getting lost in a train of thought." Without mentioning Buddhism, I thought he explained the concept of no self very well using Biblical references. In the early part of the book it bothered me that Lachman used the words God and Christ without saying what he meant by these words. However he does finally define them (and Holy Spirit and faith), and very well in my opinion. If you are feeling the desire to explore the path of contemplation and wish to do so in a Christian heritage, Lachman's book is a good way to begin.
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really liked it. Have ordered 2 copies for gifts.
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