The creation-centered mystics are all about immersing ourselves in the goodness of creation, the blessing of existence, thus immersing ourselves in the Via Positiva.
For example, Hildegard of Bingen writes: “God is the good. And all things that proceed from God are good.”
Meister Eckhart says: “Whenever we talk about God the Creator we are talking about goodness.” And when asked how you can know who is a good person he responds: “A good person praises good people.”
And Julian of Norwich writes: “I know well that heaven and earth and all creation are great, generous and beautiful and good….God’s goodness fills all his creatures and all his blessed works full, and endlessly overflows in them.”
Julian adapts Meister Eckhart’s teaching that “isness is God” when she writes: “God is everything which is good, as I see it, and the goodness which everything has is God.”
To say that “goodness is God” is to reestablish the nondualistic relationship of Creator and creation, an “erotic bond between Creator and creation” as Thomas Berry puts while commenting on Hildegard’s theology.
To lead with goodness is also to reestablish a veritable theology of blessing. For blessing is the theological word for goodness. As Professor Sigmund Mowinckel* put it in his major study on blessing in Israeli theology, “first and foremost, blessing is life, health, and fertility for the people, their cattle, their fields….Blessing is the basic power of life itself.”
For Julian the blessing that our lives are goes back a very long way. “I saw that God never began to love us. For just as we will be in everlasting joy (all God’s creation is destined for this), so also we have always been in God’s foreknowledge, known and loved from without beginning.” Julian is celebrating the original blessing that our existences are.
Science today can vouch for the accuracy of Julian’s theology: Had the super nova not exploded five billion years ago, had the earth not maintained a certain temperature so that water would flow and life emerge, had the ozone not processed out certain levels of radiation, had the original fireball lasted just a few seconds longer or shorter than it did over 750,000 years or maintained a temperature just one degree hotter or colder over that period of time, we humans would not exist. Thus we were indeed loved by the cosmos “from before the beginning.”
Isn’t this awesome?
*Cited in Claus Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 20.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Wrestling With The Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life, pp. 80-82
Banner Image: “The Happiness of the poor children.” Taken in Chupah district, Gialai province Vietnam. Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash
For Deeper Contemplation
Meditate on the goodness of creation and God. An animal? A leaf? A flower? A mountain? A blue sky? Healthy waters? A child laughing?
Read anew Genesis 1:1-2:4. Swim in its affirmation of the goodness of creation AND the “very goodness” of creation that comes with humanity’s arrival. Be with that goodness and very goodness.
Apply Eckhart’s test of a human being’s goodness: Do you praise good people? Doesn’t that imply that you are looking for goodness in others? How can you be a hunter-gatherer after goodness?
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages in substantive discussions with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets on today’s social and spiritual issues on such challenging topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interspirituality, and more.
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.