From the Bottom of the Pond

From the Bottom of the Pond

The forgotten art of experiencing God in the depths of the present moment

" the highest form of prayer...without the act of listening words remain mere verbiage. A gem of a book." Watkins Bookshop Recommendation


This is a book about knowing God. It is for those for whom just believing (or not believing) is no longer enough. Through personal experience, anecdote and story, a priest shares an ancient, but neglected aspect of Christian prayer. Contemplation takes us into the depths of the present moment, the only reality there has ever been and so the only place where God can be found. It takes us at different times into mystical oneness with the All, into profound self-knowledge and reveals love in the midst of the world. Contemplation is the universal experience at the heart of all religions. It is the place where their differences fall away and their uniqueness is celebrated. From the Bottom of the Pond seeks simply to be helpful. It says nothing new, but says it in a new way; a way rooted in our western culture and history. It suggests that the essence of the great and wonderful enlightenment teachings of the East was always here, hidden in plain sight.


The sub-title of this gem of a book,the forgotten art of experiencing God in the depths of the present moment, really says it all. The author starts by reminding us of the wonder of being present as a fragile sentient being in the midst of this vast cosmos. This capacity for wonder depends on being rooted in the present moment. This rootedness, known in the Christian tradition as contemplation, is regarded as the highest form of prayer; but as the author shows, it is also paradoxically the basis of all other forms of prayer; for without the act of listening words remain mere verbiage. ~ Watkins Review,Recommended title

Don't just pick this book up, read it and read it again. It’s the best Christian book I have read in years. This is a book that will inform, delight, and teach. It needs to be heard. It has the potential to light up Christianity. This is what happens when God is happening. It’s a brave book, expressing what it feels like to feel God. It shines a light on God in the midst of life, in the detail and the dirt, and it should be on every Christian’s reading list. Revd Peter Owen-Jones, Anglican Priest, author and BBC TV presenter of The Lost Gospels and The Battle for Britain's Soul. There is an important distinction between the outer, institutional, side of religion and its inner spiritual-experiential side. The latter is the living heart of religion. This book is a very helpful account of this in its Christian form, with practical advice about the art of immediate awareness of the divine presence, and of the effects of this in life as a whole. I commend it both to church people and to the large number of non-church people who are concerned about their own contact with the Ultimate. ~ John Hick, Emeritus Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, Claremont Graduate University, California; philosopher, theologian and author of many books.

The manager of a well-known spiritual bookshop calls this book “a little gem”, and so it is. Slim, spare and focussed, it deals with what it calls “the forgotten art” of experiencing God in the depths of the present moment. Quakers might not feel it is a forgotten art – it is, after all, what we try to do at every Meeting for Worship – but we all know how hard it is, how elusive. Simon Small, a priest, writes from the Christian tradition but he wears the specificity of his faith lightly. He manages to combine a poetic sense of the grandeur of the experience with an analysis of its particularities, and what gets in the way. In a chapter on contemplation and time, he writes of the ever-present “tug to the next moment”. How familiar that tug is, how hard it is to resist, how hard not to continue being the author of our own continuing fantasies which pull us away from the present – a present that is the only reality. Like the experience itself, the book slows us down to look at the details of how we live; of how we might free ourselves to experience God in this way. This way of life might, as he says, not be for everyone, but he has made reading about it very generally accessible. From the Bottom of the Pond reminds me of the famous little book by the seventeenth-century French lay brother. Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God. Both are slight, and for the same reason: they are dealing with a simple truth about a simple way of life. Simple, and one of the hardest things in the world. ~ Jennifer Kavanagh, London West Area Meeting, The Friend

I love this book because it is twenty sticks of spiritual dynamite in a little package. I thoroughly enjoyed the gentle and subtle way the author helps us to remember the important spiritual tools that matter most in these troubled times. This simple how-to is honest, direct and I feel can help many find their way back to the path of light. I was especially impressed with how he could take a subject that under many circumstances would be open to rigidity and explain it in such a non-threatening way that even the most fearful of us can see God in everything. I would recommend this fabulous messenger to anyone who has been looking for a wide and comfy bridge between religion and spirituality. Thanks Simon, this little read has it all. ~ Riki Frahmann, Mystic Living Today (

This is a book about prayer and contemplation. It gives advice on how to pray and how to lose oneself in contemplation in order to find oneself in the reality of the moment where God can be encountered. Although the author is a Christian priest whose spirituality is grounded in Western culture, he draws on the traditions and experience of the Eastern religions to enlighten and to teach. He admits that true prayer and real contemplation are difficult to achieve and require much patience and practice. In a wide-ranging survey the author draws from his own experience and that of others. With this book the reader will learn the best way to focus the mind so as to arrive at that state which gives peace and stillness and true communion with God. ~

Simon Small
Simon Small Simon Small devotes his life to exploring the awesome mystery of existence. He would describe himself as a member of the Jesus tradition ...
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