Thomas Keating is the founder of the Centering Prayer movement and author of the bestseller Open Mind, Open Heart along with many other books. He lives at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.
Keating is convinced that the contemplative tradition within Christianity seeks to replicate the experience Jesus had with the Father as Abba. Jesus' prayers in secret rooted and grounded his life, and they can do the same for ours. Those who retreat to the "inner room" mentioned in Matthew 6:6 can experience the riches and the abundance of Divine Presence and grace.
Keating writes: "Faith is an invitation to grow out of inadequate ways of relating to God into the reality that God actually is. The Christian tradition is the transmission of the relationship with the living God that Jesus experienced. Participation in his own consciousness of God as Abba is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is not a geographical location, an institution, or a form of government. It is a state of consciousness and of enlightened faith. To enter it, the preconceived ideas and pre-packaged values that we brought with us from early childhood have to be re-evaluated and outgrown." It is fascinating to see him use the terms consciousness and enlightened faith. These have meaning in many other religious traditions as well.
Jesus wanted to expand our ideas of God, and this paperback joins in that mission. Keating writes about the playfulness of the Divine Presence and the importance of the image of God as "a source of the immense dignity of every human being." He salutes the gifts of renewal and transformation given in Baptism and the Eucharist as "a great big kiss in the center of our being" from the Holy Spirit. He also ponders the meaning of misfortune and the danger of being frightened of God as a terrible judge. He concludes:
"God's determination to save everyone (1 Timothy 2:4) is not just to save people in general, but to transform each member of the human family in their innermost being and to bring them to the fullness of divine life and love. God seems to want us to extend every possible means in his power to touch people just where they are. If they have no religion at all, the Divine Presence will try to reach them by some other means."