Meister Eckhart and
the Rapid River

Today I offer reflections from one of Meister Eckhart’s sermons, which I title: “The Holy Spirit, Like a Rapid River, Divinizes Us.”  

“Waterfalls During Sunset,” by Sachin C. Nair, Pexels

Eckhart writes: “There is a river whose streams refresh the city of God, and it sanctifies the dwelling of the Most High.” (Ps. 46:4)

He continues: “The rapid or quick-flowing river has caused the city of God to rejoice” (Ps. 46:4).  We should pay attention to three things in connection with these words.  First, the ‘rapid river’ of God; next, the city to which it flows; third, the advantage that comes from this.

“Saint John says that from all of those who have faith enlivened by divine love and who prove it by their good works living waters will flow (cf. Jn. 7:38).  In this way, he wishes to point to the Holy Spirit. 

“The prophet, however, does not know because of his astonishment what he should call the Holy Spirit because of the Spirit’s quick and wonderful deeds. Therefore he calls him an “intoxication” because of his quick emanation, for the Spirit flows just as completely into the soul as the soul empties itself in humility and expands itself to receive him. 

“River” by Rudolf Kirchner, Pexels

“I am certain of this: If my soul were as ready and if God should find as much space in it as in the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, he would just as completely fill it with this ‘river.’  For the Holy Spirit cannot keep from flowing into every place where he finds space and he flows just as extensively as the space he finds there….”

“What is this “city”?  It is the soul, a city that is secure on the outside and united within as the “unity of its citizens.  So also should the soul be into which God is to flow.  On the outside the soul is preserved from encumbrances and on the inside it is united in all its powers….

Sunrise on the Cannonball River and the Oceti Sakowin camp, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Photo: Thane Maxwell

“If I speak God’s work, then I am a co-worker with God, and grace is mixed up with a creature, that is with myself….

“Human beings should be communicative and emanative with all the gifts they have received from God.  If human beings have something that they do not bestow on others, they are not good.  People who do not bestow on others spiritual things and whatever bliss is in them have never been spiritual. 

People are not to receive and keep them for themselves alone, but they should share themselves and pour forth everything they possess in their bodies and souls as far as possible, and whatever others desire of them.”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 363, 365, 367.
Banner Image: “Waterfalls Between Trees” by Rifqi Ramadhan, Pexels

For Deeper Contemplation

Meditate on how water flows in the world and how it fills empty spaces. See its motion as a metaphor of how the Spirit moves in our lives.

Consider how emptiness invites the Spirit to fill it. Consider how emptiness invites the Spirit to fill it.

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.

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5 thoughts on “Meister Eckhart and <br>the Rapid River”

  1. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery Raftery

    My Emptiness has been soothed and massaged with the visit
    of Holy Spirit in this meditation. Also, Ps. 46 blesses me today.
    Thank You, Anne Marie

  2. Avatar

    My practice of ’emptying out’ these last few months makes ready the river/Holy Spirit to fill the spaces.
    The metaphor is very helpful. I am challenged to share the activity of the Spirit in my life (not an easy thing for an introvert).

  3. Avatar

    World renowned prophets, especially including Dr. Vandana Shiva and Tom Goldtooth, are promoting the rights of nature, both are on the Executive Committee of the Global Alliance For The Rights of Nature. Promoting the rights of nature is now a global movement. An increasing number of court rulings and legislation worldwide are recognizing rights of nature to be protected and preserved. Rivers are in the spotlight and court rulings on the rights of rivers are the ones setting precedent. Mr. Goldtooth’s traditional Bdewakantonwan Dakota homeland’s land base is the badly named “Rum” (Wahkon) River Watershed in Minnesota. I am a Bdewakantonwan Dakota rights advocate leading the movement to change the name of the “Rum” River. Rev. Matthew Fox has giving his support for this name-change effort. I am also seeking legal personhood environmental rights for this river and have recently corresponded with Goldtooth and Shiva-who are interested in my work. Rivers seem to be taking the lead in this rights-of-nature work of the Holy Spirit.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Thomas, I send my deep gratitude for the work of the rights-of-nature movement and for the important advocacy you are doing for the Wahkon River in Minnesota. Giving nature a voice in its condition certainly suits the concerns of Creation Spirituality which encompasses the spiritual community of all creatures of Earth – including rivers. Thank you for lifting us up and giving us a direction to apply our prophetic action.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

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