Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fr. Thomas and Fr. Laurence Conversing

After a full day of giving presentations and dialoging, signing books and interacting with scores of people, Fr. Thomas and Fr. Laurence in their generosity were gracious enough to respond in an intimate setting to a question: What relevance does the contemplative dimension of life have for the modern world given its considerable financial, ecological, social and other problems?


Hearing Fr. Keating and then Fr. Freeman speak to approximately 400 and then both in conversation, I was delighted yet again at their wonderful light touch and humor. We are close to them as we read their books, but there is a whole new dimension of understanding when we are actually with them. We give thanks for their willingness to be with us.

As I began to print boarding passes and realize the Conference was coming to an end, it was comforting to think we still had tomorrow's morning session and the final Ecumenical closing Liturgy to savor. As I waited for the elevator, I heard a woman saying, "You, know, I'm really glad I came." In my heart I echoed, "YES"!

Vivien Michals

Essence of Joy

Posted with the permission of Penn State Essence of Joy choral director Anthony Leach.

A Sea of Faces

It started at the airport . . . Oh, my, there is Cherry, Eileen, Maru, and continued at the hotel! Everywhere I went there were familiar faces. After 25 years in this blessed community, the friendships made become rich and deep, and each is so precious. Greeting everyone was a new/old adventure come to life! Finding those you knew was easy the first couple days. "Let's sit together at lunch, at dinner . . . " It was a small lake of those to whom you are connected at a deep level, those whom you love.

Then came Friday night . . . the lake overflowed into a Sea of Faces! The richness was multiplied over and over. Our spacious prayer room overflowed and filled a second large room, our somewhat cozy meals tripled in size . . . it was totally awesome! New faces, new name tags to scan, new members of the community with whom to exchange. It was exhilaring! Add all this to all of you out there traveling with us . . . how blessed we all are!

Community and the Contemplative Life


On Friday afternoon, Pamela Begeman provided a stunning glimpse of the lastest topic in the Contemplative Living series--Community and the Contemplative Life. She approached the topic in the manner of Lectio Divina, by inviting us to ponder scripture, graphic images, and quotes from Fr. Thomas. Each spoke to underlying unity of the Body of Christ.

I have included a few of the quotes and images below.

•Based on
–the third theological principle of Centering Prayer - it is ecclesial in its effects, building communities of faith
–25 years experience of an evolving global community

•Flow of booklet:
–Begin from one’s experience of Oneness arising out of daily practice
–Moves to the experience of Oneness through Communion,
–… to the experience of the mystical Body of Christ,
–… to the Communion of Saints,
–…. to Oneness with All That Is – a manifestation of the Trinitarian experience.

I urge you to live in a manner worth of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,

striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit

through the bond of peace:

One Body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith,

… and one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
--Ephesians 4:1-6

"How to become infinitely diverse and infinitely unified is the goal of Contemplative Outreach.”
– Thomas Keating, Sept 25, 2008

More to follow...

Discovering Community

Here are two images of contemplative community. One, the silence of a group before dinner and the second, a workshop led by Pamela Begeman on exploring the meaning of contemplative community through scripture, prose, images and life experience using the prayer practice of lectio divina (divine reading). Click on the photos to see them up close.

Forgiveness - "By Our Wounds We Are Healed"

This afternoon featured workshops with Pamela Begeman on "Community and the Contemplative Life," Anne Mazza, Timothy Koock and Margie Tomlinson presenting the "Introduction to Centering Prayer," and Fr. Carl Arico, in his always entertaining and enlightening style, presenting on The Practice of Foregiveness - A Way of Life. Here is a snippet of Fr. Carl's workshop taken "on the move."

30 Seconds of Silence

The dinner this evening marked a transition from the "business" aspect of the conference to the weekend of spiritual enrichment with Fr. Thomas and Fr. Laurence and the greater Pittsburgh community. This transition was marked by a dinner and musical performance. The performance this year was from "Essence of Joy," a choral ensemble from Penn State who performed "sacred and secular music from the African/African American traditions." Before dinner there was silence, a time to go inward and open to the greater life in which we participate.