With the anguish playing on nightly news and commentaries, and with hearts the country over broken by thirty-one unnecessary deaths in El Paso and Dayton, and dozens of persons wounded through violence and crazy gun addictions, one might ask: Why are we “stuck” in meditations on the Via Positiva? What good is the Via Positiva consciousness of joy and beauty and wonder in the current climate of grief and loss? Shouldn’t we jump out of our Via Positiva discussions and move into areas of Grief (Via Negativa) and Creativity (Via Creativa) and social transformation (Via Transformativa)?
My answer to this follows. First, many people are debating the political and transformative questions now and such debates are sowing the seeds for awakening creativity and for launching possible short and long term transformations from expanding voting rights to standing up to the NRA and more. And communities are coming together to handle their grief (and we must not forget that the first level of grief is anger).
Second, there is a sometimes subtle but always significant relation of the Via Positiva to the other Three Paths along the mystical/prophetic journey. I will touch on some of these intersections in today’s and tomorrow’s meditations.
- The Via Positiva expands our hearts and makes us stronger and gives us courage to carry on in hard times.
- A great loss such as that of a loved one snatched suddenly from us for no good reason is a great loss because of the Via Positiva. In other words the depths of the loss is proportionate to the depths of our love. It is precisely because we love our sons, daughters, parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, etc. that we fall onto our knees in total disbelief when we hear they have been suddenly snatched away and we feel we have nothing left but memories.
- Furthermore, loss ups the ante on the Via Positiva reminding us of the impermanence and the transitoriness, of our lives. We are reminded: Don’t take for granted. Don’t take the joys of life—the moments shared with friends and loved ones–for granted. That is the mystical way, not to take for granted.
- The emptying and the nothingness of loss and grief do their work of carving a hole in the soul which allows us to connect with others who have experienced emptying. There is a solidarity among those in touch with their own grief that is a valuable resource for what comes next. (What does come next? See tomorrow’s meditation.)
Queries for Contemplation
What is your experience of the relationship between the joy of the Via Positiva and the sadness of loss and grief? Do you resonate with the points made in this meditation?
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
In this book Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology). Here Fox lays out the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.