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A Day Like No Other

I awoke on Wednesday, November 4, with no small measure of fear and trepidation. I was responsible to lead Shalem’s “Prayer for the World” at 8:30am and had been afraid for weeks that we’d be in exactly the situation in which we awoke: no clear result of the presidential election and an incumbent that was already claiming victory and threatening to do whatever it would take to ensure that result. My heart was heavy with emotions I still struggle to name.

The previous week I had read in Richard Rohr’s Daily Reflection a portion of “Fr. Thomas Keating’s Last Oracle.” I discovered that this work was dictated two years ago to one of his fellow monks who sat at his bedside during his last days. In my imagination, he is perched on a chair, close to Thomas’ head, with a notebook and a pen in hand just waiting for pearls of wisdom to come forth from the wise one. Thomas’ words spoke to me powerfully in the moment I read them and I decided to use it as the reflection for “Prayer for the World.”

I printed it out and felt ready—until my alarm went off on November 4. This was a day like no other I had ever experienced, perhaps that we, as a nation, had ever experienced. I started searching for something about “liminal space” because that’s what it really felt like. Maybe I should address that with my reflection. Nothing magically appeared in my Google search results that evoked an “ahhh—this is it!” response in me. So I re-read Thomas Keating’s final message again, on that day, in that liminal space I found myself, our nation and the world. And there it was—“ahhhh—this is it.”

I should have known that this man, one of our generation’s most important wisdom figures, wouldn’t fail me in my/our moment of need. And so I offer it to you here, figuring that Thomas’ timeless wisdom will be a balm and a challenge, no matter what the future holds for us.

Dear friends: In the universe, an extraordinary moment of civilization seems to be overtaking us….It’s a time of enormous expectancy and possibility.

We are called to start—not with the old world contracts, now that we know that they are all lies—but [with] what we know as the truth…. So I call upon the nations to consider this as a possibility: that we should begin a new world with one that actually exists. This is the moment to manifest this world, by showing loving concern for poverty, loving appreciation for the needs of the world, and opportunities for accelerated development. We need to find ways to make these really happen. I make this humble suggestion, that now arms-making is of no significance in the world. It hinders its progress.

This will allow and offer the world the marvelous gift of beginning, [of] creating, of trusting each other, of forgiving each other, and of showing compassion, care for the poor, and putting all our trust in the God of heaven and earth. I leave this hope in your hands and hearts, coming as a real inspiration from the heart of God. What does [God] care about who has this or other lands, when the power to begin with the truest history is coming from religion as expression of the Source that has been realized for centuries? Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Indigenous, and Christianity—all religions—oneness is their nature. Amen.*

*From Thomas Keating, Fr. Thomas Keating’s Last Oracle (Contemplative Network: 2020), transcription (October 2018), YouTube video.

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