Oasis and Banquet in the Desert

Oasis Of Wisdom: The Worlds Of The Desert Fathers And Mothers Paperback
by David G. R. Keller [Liturgical Press, 2005]
The life and wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers is not only retained in historical volumes, but has been a constant presence throughout the development of the church. A formative influence since the time of the early Christians, this wisdom has the power to transform and nurture even today. Using six fundamental aspects of desert monastic life as windows—The Cell, Patience, Praxis, Labor and Time, Solitude and Silence, and Humility—“Oasis of Wisdom” reveals the world that created the wisdom of early Christian monastic men and women. With this experiential approach to learning, Keller goes beyond simple reflection by providing substantial historical background, including the environment of solitude, ascetic disciplines, labor, and daily life experiences. Touching on the social, religious, political, and linguistic influences of the culture, it is an ideal introduction for modern readers with limited backgrounds in theology or church history. Oasis of Wisdom is ideal for those seeking spiritual mentoring or a discipline of prayer, and will appeal to those from all denominations and backgrounds, from those new to church history to oblates. The richness of this ancient wisdom will challenge modern Christians to catch the spirit of the desert elders and join in their struggle to live an authentic human life. Chapters are: “Politeia: The Monastic World of the Desert Fathers and Mothers,” “Oikoumene: The Inhabited World Surrounding the Desert Fathers and Mothers,” “Sunrise to Sunrise: The Daily Lives of Early Egyptian Desert Elders and Monastic Communities,” “The Cell: Meeting God and Ourselves,” “Patience: Learning Not to Run from God or Authentic Human Life,” “Stillness and Silence: Being Present to God, Ourselves, and the World,” “Praxis: An Ascetic Vocation that Forms, Nourishes and Guards the Soul,” “Praxis and Labor: The Sanctification of Daily Life,” “Humility: Making Christ Tangible,” and “Two Deserts.” Also includes an introduction and a bibliography.

Desert Banquet: A Year of Wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers
By David G. R. Keller [Liturgical Press, 2011]
desert banquet
The wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers lies in their experiences of solitude, prayer, community life, work, and care for their neighbors. Their goal was transformation of their lives through openness to the presence and energy of God in Christ. They taught by example and by sharing narratives and sayings that reflect the deep human psychological and spiritual aspects of their journey toward authentic human life. The venue for their transformation was the whole person body, mind, and spirit. They emphasized self-knowledge, humility, purity of heart, and love of God and neighbor. Far from being naïve, their sayings and narratives reflect honest struggles, temptations, and failures. They also demonstrate the disciplines of prayer and meditation that kept them centered in God as their only source of strength.
The daily reflections in “Desert Banquet” introduce readers to a variety of these early Christian mentors and offer reflections on the significance of their wisdom for life in the twenty-first century.

“”Theodore of Pherme said, ‘The man who has learnt the sweetness of the cell flees from his neighbor but not as though he despised him.’
“The cell is not an escape from life or other people. Modern society conditions us to remain connected with other people all the time. Cell phones, text messaging, and e-mail are great innovations in communication, but being in constant ‘touch’ with others can deprive us from being in touch with ourselves. The ‘sweetness of the cell’ is intimacy with the One who loves us unconditionally. We can be ‘who we are’ without the expectations or judgments placed on us by others or ourselves. Seeing ourselves as God sees us helps us see others as God sees them. Amma Sarah prayed often that ‘my heart may be pure towards all’ and Abba Poemen said, ‘Teach your mouth to say that which you have in your heart.’ The ‘sweetness of the cell’ is the source of civility, honest dialogue, and valuing our neighbors for themselves and not simply for our benefit. They are with us in the cell.””
david kellner
David Keller is co-founder and director of The Contemplative Ministry Project and is a Steward of The Oasis of Wisdom. He is the author of “Oasis of Wisdom: The Worlds of the Desert Fathers Mothers”; “Come and See: The Transformation of Personal Prayer”, and “Desert Banquet: A Year of Wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers”. He collaborated with Fr. Thomas Keating, and others, to produce “Spirituality, Contemplation, and Transformation: Writings on Centering Prayer”. Formerly steward of the Episcopal House of Prayer at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN, he is now Adjunct Professor of Ascetical Theology in the Center for Christian Spirituality at the General Seminary in New York City.

For Oasis of Wisdom. An Institute for Contemplative Studies, Practice and Living see http://oasisofwisdom.net/
“Oasis of Wisdom…
…is a placeless place offering resources, retreats, and guidance for people who live busy and responsible lives. Our path is rooted in the life and wisdom of Jesus, the Christ, yet we honor and are richly influenced by other religious traditions.
Our institute offers simple opportunities to become more centered in a world that scatters our attention and lives. Our purpose is to offer resources, opportunities for spiritual growth, guidance, and to listen, not to coerce or control.
We are called to be:
• persons of prayer, through a regular practice of contemplation,
• committed to growth and transformation in Christ through openness to the Holy Spirit,
• and compassionate in our relationships and use of the earth.
We have no centralized facility; our programs and ministries take place in a variety of venues.”


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