Sun shining through the New England Fall
In mid-November 2016, Lesley O’Connor, Fionnuala Quinn O.P., Suzanne Ryder and Freda Kenny joined ninety other retreatants at the Garrison Institute, New York, for a six-day, silent retreat during which ‘God is Love: The Heart of All Creation’ was launched.
This is Thomas Keating’s most recent series and it deals with the following themes: cosmology; human evolution; Christ, evolution and all creation; unity consciousness; playing with God; silence and centering prayer; surrendering to Love. Throughout the week, in the midst of deep silence and centering prayer, we were introduced to each theme, in turn.
Centrepiece, where we met for prayer each day
Science And Spirituality – Toward Integration:
Keating’s teachings offer us a view of reality that integrates the sciences, religion and humankind’s place in the cosmos as divine in origin, unifying in purpose, unfolding in its grandeur. The insights of science reveal that creation is not a one-time event but is continuous and ongoing, that every element in creation is interconnected and interdependent, that everything in the universe from the infinitesimal to infinitude is a revelation of God.
View from Garrison Institute of the Hudson River
New Thrust In Evolutionary Theory:
While evolution of the physical world continues, the new thrust or focus of evolution is on the human being and its capacity for wholeness: Evolutionary development as God’s way of creating, suggests that the divine plan is moving humans….to higher states of consciousness and the capacity to see God in everything and to respond to God in every situation according to God’s will.
Variety of leaf colour
Role Of Religion In Contemporary World:
Keating asks what the role of religion is in the contemporary world. Aged 94, and after a life-time as a Trappist monk, Thomas Keating still believes that the development of the spiritual life is the most important thing there is to do in life and it doesn’t just mean our salvation or our healing or our wholeness or our redemption……rather the healing of the whole human condition…. That would involve moving from the level of infantile consciousness to self- reflective, religious consciousness and the possibility of knowing God at ever-deepening levels of consciousness.
Beauty of Creation
Keating’s belief, based on the insights of the new science and of Scripture is that, as humans, we are now being called to spiritual evolution, where prayer is intended to be transformational, where lives are dedicated to God in community, where we become manifestations of God and where all are united in a single consciousness: That they may All be One.
Text: Freda Kenny rsm
Photographs: Suzanne Ryder rsm