A little fish swam up to his mother and asked: "Mommy, what's this ocean I hear so much about?" She replied, "You silly, it's all around you and in you. Swim up onto the beach, lie there and you'll find out!"
Similarly, a kitten asked his mother, "Mommy, what's this air I hear so much about?" She replied, "You silly, it's all around you and in you. Stick your head in the lake and you'll find out!"
Finally, there was a beginner on the spiritual journey who went to a spiritual director and said: "What is this God I hear so much about?" Reply: "He is all around you and in you."
A prayer of silence or being quiet is the way to discover and experience this reality, whom we call God. A person in absolute silence forgets himself or herself, and he or she just desires God's presence - His love, His touch, His words, His embrace and above all, union with Him.
It is meeting reality in its simplest and most direct form. It is not extraordinary that God is within and wants to speak to us; we need only to search within ourselves and discover that He may be calling us to a mystical life. Contemplation, although the highest form of prayer, is not an elite, lofty endeavor for special 'holy' people. It is for ordinary, happy, uncomplicated people who enjoy being with God. It is a long, loving, listening, joyful look at the real God, at our real self, at real people and at the real world.
The act of contemplation is very simple, subtle, supernatural, loving, pure, divine, and deep. It is as a ray of darkness that gives light. There are three signs that will direct us to contemplation; a) no longer is meditation (which was once helpful) enjoyable, b) attentiveness to meditation is impossible and c) there is a pleasure just being alone with God.
Acknowledging these three signs, with the coordination of a few efforts, just as one might prepare for an athletic competition, the door to contemplation can be opened.