You say you don't want to follow a mess of rabbit trails. You want a specific answer, and you have decided where the answer must lie. If you do not follow "the rabbit trails" for at least a little while, but search instead where you have already cast your intellectual seeds, you will only come up with what you already know. And you are here because you are searching for something new.
That said, there is also such a thing as following too many rabbit trails for too long, and it's easier than falling off a log to do that with this particular subject matter. My suggestion, and you will ignore this if it doesn't appeal to you and that's fine, is that you go ahead and see where one or more of the bunny trails take you. Take a look around. You can always go back home if you wish.
I also heartily second Daniel's recommendation for heart-centered prayer. For questions of the heart, why ask the head?
I wish you much good courage, faith, joy, and good fortune on your journey. You may not always like where it takes you or where other forumites take your questions (we like to follow philosophical and anecdotal tangents, that simply happens with internet forums), and especially then you have my best wishes - wherever, however you find yourself in the end.