In upcoming Daily Meditations we will be discussing for a while our experiences of the Divine.
Early in my writings I wrote about ecstasies as our experience of the Divine. Julian of Norwich speaks of Oneing. Meister Eckhart speaks of Breakthrough: “In Breakthrough I learn that God and I are one.” Mystics testify to our experiences of oneing, ecstasy or breakthrough as experiences of God.
In listing some ecstasies that practically all of us share in common and might find recognizable, we see that they are integral to our relation to creation and nature so I call them natural ecstasies or creation ecstasies.
The first of the natural ecstasies we can all recognize from our experience is nature itself. Says poet Bill Everson: “Most people experience God in nature or experience God not at all.”
How often, how easily, we can fall into ecstasy while sitting by the sea learning to vibrate with it; or walking barefoot on an earthen field with sunshine on our backs; or finding a lone spot with the pine trees at the peak of a mountain; or catching the fragrance of lilac bushes in our neighbor’s lawn at springtime; or gazing up at lightning-bug-like stars flickering in a black summer night sky; or listening to the rain; or the forest. One can go on and on detailing experiences of nature that are ecstatic ones.
Ecstasy or “standing outside of ourselves” is so real that we truly come to believe what is the fact: that we are the sea; we are a part of the stars; we are of the earth.
Today’s cosmology has instructed us that we are literally made of the stuff of the stars, the sea, the earth—we share in common with the entire cosmos and all in it atoms and molecules and a common 13.8 billion year history in arriving where we are.
I recall listening once to some young men who enjoyed hunting and fishing. When I pushed them to articulate more fully what it was they loved about these sports, they explained that it was not the actual gaming of the prey so much as the communion with nature. “Getting up before dawn, stalking in fields, where only you and early morning dew and the animals exist”–in short, hunting and fishing become occasions for nature ecstasy for many in our culture.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Whee! We, Wee All the Way Home: A Guide to a Sensual, Prophetic Spirituality, pp. 45f
Banner Image: “Man Looking Up” by Lucas Piero, Pexels
Queries for Contemplation
When and where do you experience ecstasy?
Do you give yourself regularly the time and space to be with those experiences in a deep and receptive way? How does that change you?
Can you recognize a God experience in your experiences in nature? What difference does that make in your life and prayer life?
One of Matthew Fox’s earliest books, this title explores the importance of ecstasy in the spiritual life. Fox considers the distinction between “natural” ecstasies (including nature, sex, friendship, music, art) and “tactical” ecstasies (like meditation, fasting, chanting); he names the spiritual journey as taking us from ecstasy (Whee!) to a community consciousness (We), to our battling forces that prefer control to pleasure shared or justice (wee).