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I just picked up an issue of the Contemplative Outreach News (12/18) that I brought with me to this 2-week marathon gathering of Sisters of St. Joseph. Much of the issue was in homage to Fr. Thomas Keating who left this world last October but is still very present in the hearts of people the world over. Father Thomas was very skilled at articulating what was deepest not only in his own heart but in the hearts of all who listened to him as well. It was not just his words, however, that ignited the flame of love but his presence and his quiet enthusiasm for the love of God that burned in him and caught us up into a deeper place.

When I saw the above title in the newsletter this morning, I understood that whatever description was to follow in the article about Fr. Thomas, it could not capture the depth of the man or his love. I was not disappointed when I read the concluding paragraph.

In my ongoing work to fight homelessness, words are necessary. We connect with the suffering of our brothers and sisters through words. We change policy through words – spoken and written. We deepen our commitment to social justice through writing, reading and conversation. And yet, I will always be drawn back to Fr. Thomas’ teachings on the power of interior silence as the root of prayer and the foundation for our work in the world. (Jeff Olivet)

Yesterday the seven women who sat around our table in the midst of the 100+ Sisters wrestled mightily with the effort of expressing what is deepest in our lives: the meaning of our commitment to God, to one another and to our “dear neighbors” near and far. Several times during the session one of our two excellent facilitators called a “pause” to re-gather ourselves. Each time the silence in the room was profound and each time we began again, sometimes to struggle but also to know the presence of God in our midst as the meaning of all this holy work.