The Shortest Way Home: A Contemplative Path to God
by Wesley Lachman
Reviewed by Jerry Katz
“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.
In the next two-thirds of the book he considers the experience of our self: “If I really possess nothing at all, then what or who is this self?” Lachman exposes the story of I, showing that one’s true nature is the space of divine presence in which the story of I apparently manifests and dissolves. Who we are is that divine presence, that space, awareness, consciousness. Not our thoughts. Not our story of I.
This is the nondual confession beautifully expressed within Christian contemplative context, full of experiential opportunities, and serving beginners to the contemplative path and to nonduality itself.
Our true nature is known as beginninglessness, the cloudless empty sky. Suffering is experienced as a long haul, scars, and weariness.
Lachman says, “The first step on the contemplative path is just to acknowledge our desire not to suffer, our yearning for something better. The second step is to begin to experiment with drawing closer to our God, our Happiness, by exploring someone made in God’s image: us!”
The Shortest Way Home easily draws you into the quiet atmosphere of the contemplative challenge and toward the realization of what you actually are.