Henri Houwen bases this book on the teachings of St. Anthony and the Desert Fathers (and Mothers). They were hermits, ascetics, monks and nuns who lived in the Egyptian desert beginning around the third century AD. Nouwen describes connecting to God via three stepping stones:
Solitude-learning to be alone with God, a place of conversion where the old self dies and the new self is born, where one is filled with God’s merciful presence.
Silence-the discipline by which the inner fire (Holy Spirit) of God is tended and kept alive; solitude practiced in action; full and rich rather than empty and hollow.
Prayer-standing in God’s presence with the mind in the heart; unceasing prayer is a rest in God in the middle of intense daily struggle, where there are no divisions or distractions and we are one with God.