Can the Creator of all lure poetry out of a stone? So begins the first of eight poems found in The Secret Embrace that mirrors the unique spirit of its Trappist author, Thomas Keating, composed before his 2018 transition. Such mirroring nuances his contemplative bent, his life-long intimacy with his God, and his willingness to allow Him to reshape his psyche, not without the pain of being flayed alive. 

Such incessant inner work informed his service to others:

Abbott of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, his willingness to change, and to change often, created divisions among his monks, even leading his resignation as Abbott in 1982 after twenty years of navigating his community through the perils of the Vatican II Renewal. Freed from “his cage,” as he described that responsibility, he listened even more intently for direction. Co-developing Contemplative Outreach, Inter-faith dialogue, writing, and retreat work filled much of his remaining ninety-four years.  

I imagine the simple words of the poems in this special collection quickly etched themselves upon his spirit: his final response to the Great Lover in his life through whom he viewed the totality of life, with no separations of any kind—only embraces.

Interfacing each poem is a watercolor rendition of the sea by Charlotte M. Frieze, seen in its transformation and transcendence.

An inspiring read/contemplation for those special moments…