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Meeting Father Thomas was, for me, sheer delight and somewhat discombobulating. He'd come to give a retreat in northern Kentucky maybe ten years ago, and the night before, we three Centering Prayer friends caravanned from Louisville to stay at the retreat house. Later that night we crept quietly down to the bottom of the stairs, in our PJ's, as he was speaking to a fund-raising dinner at the end of the hallway. We clutched each other with glee like children catching Santa Claus, peering through the railing, hoping to heck we didn't giggle and get caught!
The next morning, dressed properly and seated at tables, we awaited his arrival with the others. His entrance into any room must've been startling, even for those with no knowledge of him. He was a HUGE energetic presence, seemingly seven feet tall in his flowing, hooded habit. He crossed the room in no time to meet each one of us--suddenly he was at my side, a looming colossus, while I fumbled madly for my name tag! With a wry grin and a that soul-piercing tone he quipped "That won't help you now." We prayed with him in our circle that day, he blessed our palms with oil; he will always loom larger than life in the open spaces of this heart.