A slight (96 pp.) but sensible and pointed meditation for Christian ministers. With the failure of so many social-action programs in the Sixties and Seventies, and the growing trend toward cultivating the interior life, it's only natural that Christians in America should be hearkening back with renewed interest to the classics of ascetical and mystical theology--and in particular to the radical, world-denying teachings of the men and women who fled to the Egyptian desert in the 3rd and 4th century. Thomas Merton gave considerable impetus to this revival, and now Nouwen, another ecumenically-minded Catholic priest born in Europe but domiciled in the US, has taken it up. He builds his reflections around the story of the hermit Arsenius who heard a divine voice bidding him to ""flee, be silent, and pray."" This triple injunction is at least as old as monasticism itself and perfectly familiar--not to say a venerable clichÃ‰--to older Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy. But for younger people engaged in a typical hyperactive American ministry, and for Protestants in general, Nouwen's treatment of solitude, silence, and prayer should prove quite helpful. While this is not a how-to manual, its approach is thoroughly realistic. Nouwen avoids the extremism characteristic of much desert spirituality, and thoughtfully, gracefully pleads for its modern relevance.