The Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross
Many of us learned about meditation from spiritual directors or books. We practiced a reliable form of meditation for some years with varying degrees of success. Over time, however, our prayer slowed down and became simplified. We didn't find many new ideas to occupy our intellect and our emotions quieted down. In time, many of us experienced a crisis in our prayer life; our prayer became so simple that it almost disappeared. We tried different forms of prayer, but we seemed to be reaching a dead end. Throughout all of this, we were never told that our prayer was developing naturally and positively. What we were experiencing was not a dead end but the threshold of a new way of prayer. What we needed was an experienced guide to show us the road ahead.
Enter John of the Cross! He encourages us to see that the place we came to is a necessary state of our progress in prayer. John teaches us that we come to contemplation not by struggling harder to pray but by calming remaining quiet before God. He encourages us to realize that we have not come to the end of the road but are being made ready to be transported on a wonderful journey. There is no better or more encouraging guide for us on this journey than John of the Cross. The entire focus of this book is quite narrow; it concentrates on John's teaching about the beginning of contemplation.