The wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers lies in their experiences of solitude, prayer, community life, work, and care for their neighbors. Their goal was transformation of their lives through openness to the presence and energy of God in Christ. They taught by example and by sharing narratives and sayings that reflect the deep human psychological and spiritual aspects of their journey toward authentic human life. The venue for their transformation was the whole person:God, body, mind, and spirit. They emphasized self-knowledge, humility, purity of heart, and love of God and neighbor. Far from being naïve, their sayings and narratives reflect honest struggles, temptations, and failures. They also demonstrate the disciplines of prayer and meditation that kept them centered in God as their only source of strength.
The daily reflections in Desert Banquet introduce readers to a variety of these early Christian mentors and offer reflections on the significance of their wisdom for life in the twenty-first century.
David G. R. Keller, an Episcopal priest, is adjunct professor of ascetical theology at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He is co-steward, with his wife, Emily Wilmer, of Oasis of Wisdom: An Institute for Contemplative Study, Practice, and Living based in Asheville, North Carolina (www.oasisofwisdom.net). He is the author of Oasis of Wisdom: The Worlds of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Liturgical Press) and Come and See: The Transformation of Personal Prayer (Morehouse Publishing).