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Liturgical Press

Oasis of Wisdom

The Worlds of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

David G. R. Keller

Oasis of Wisdom
Oasis of Wisdom

ISBN: 9780814630341, 3034

Details: 210 pgs, 6 x 9 x 3/8
Publication Date: 04/01/2005

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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.

The Rev. David G.R. Keller, Ed D, is the former Steward of the Episcopal House of Prayer at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. He currently leads contemplative retreats at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, and at The Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, California. Along with Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, he has formed and facilitates The Contemplative Ministry Project.


Well written, inspiring, and provocative. It allows the desert mothers and fathers to speak for themselves; it provides a context for their sayings that neither ignores nor dismisses but acknowledges the differences with our own place in history, nevertheless retrieves the wisdom of these holy men and women in a manner attractive to contemporary longings.
Catholic Books Review

Keller acknowledges the obstacles to a modern spirituality but invites us to overcome them and make the journey into our own hearts. He is to be congratulated on opening up a world often seen as accessible only to monastics and professional theologians. This is a rewarding book on which to meditate and ponder.

This book, itself, in its organization and in its thought, is truly helpful and fresh, giving gentle nudges towards a deeper understanding of our own lives, using the time-tried wisdom of the Christian tradition. I recommend it highly, and with thanks to the author.
The Newsletter of the Friends of Saint Benedict

Mentored by outstanding scholars of the field, Father Keller guides us carefully and surely into the amazing world of desert spirituality. Its Fathers and Mothers, through his writing ministry, offer us today their transforming wisdom. This rewarding book is not just for information or edification--though it provides an abundance of both. It calls us, through its deep insights, to journey ourselves in pilgrimage into the mysterious desert of our own hearts, to encounter there the God of mercy and love.
Fr. Robert Hale, O.S.B. Cam., Professor of Spirituality, Graduate Theological Union

. . . Of the making of books there is no end, as the Preacher, said, but to find grain among the chaff is a gift.
Theresa Margaret, C.H.N., Hermit, Iconographer Llyn Peninsula, Wales

There is so much that resonates (and stirs my conscience) on every page, and so much that is relevant and helpful here and now in very practical terms, not only for solitaries like me, but also for anyone committed to God, and indeed anyone searching for commitment, for we all have the need for solitude in our spirit, whatever form of life we live. It is full of wisdom , not only that of the abbas and ammas, but your own. It is a book to savor and re-read. Indeed it is one of those rare books where a paragraph or even a sentence or phrase is enough for the time being.
Theresa Margaret, C.H.N., Hermit, Iconographer, Llyn Peninsula, Wales

Recommended for all theological collections.
Catholic Library World

This present book, by David Keller, has wonderful qualities-readability among them-that allow the newcomer to this genre a gentle entrance into a small and very tight pocket of Christian spirituality.
The Newsletter of the Friends of Saint Benedict

David Keller's Oasis of Wisdom takes us on a pilgrimage to the desert sands of Egypt where we encounter a way-of-life, a spirituality much different from our own. He shows how the desert elders can be worthy mentors, teaching wisdom that can transform our lives. Keller is a seasoned guide, a person who is not only familiar with the history of the desert Christians but able to show the reader its relevance for today. He posits two deserts: the one of modern society, which lacks ‘water,’ and the one of the desert Christians, which provides it. Living in an age in which many thirst for vital connections and meaningful lives, Keller shows how the knowledge of our spiritual roots can help us discover life-giving water (cf. John 7:38).
Edward Sellner, Author Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends

The author succeeds in his twin aims of highlighting the lives and spirituality of the extraordinary holy men and women and answering the question he poses, `What is the significance of their experience and wisdom for our lives today?'
The Midwest Book Review

Oasis of Wisdom is a serious and engaging spiritual journey.
Catholic Library World

Oasis of Wisdom is recommended to those of the monastic life, oblates, and those who want to deepen their spiritual life. This book also shows what early Christianity has to offer compared to other Eastern religions or New Age religion, how mystical and practical Christianity is. A person does not have to leave Christianity to find this.
Gregorian Book Review

Highly recommended for anyone seeking a deeper understanding in the theological and spiritual as well as the historical lives of early Christians.
The Midwest Book Review