We are, rightly I think, looking to our mystic-warriors or mystic-prophets from the past and the present in order to deepen our own callings to stand up to save the earth as we know it and to love the earth more fiercely. Thus we are hearing in this Via Positiva stage of our journeying from the likes of Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Rabbi Heschel, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, Howard Thurman, Bede Griffiths and many other notables who have so much to teach us.
But there is another and contemporary mystic-prophet whom I want you to know about. And she’s alive and well and living in the woods of Colorado! Sort of a combination of Dorothy Day and the Berrigan brothers (who were her friends and mentors). She very much brings together the rich themes of Joy and Justice, the Via Positiva and its relationship to the Via Transformativa in her work and her writings, all of which come from her soul of course.
Her name is Kristal Parks and she holds a B.Sc. in Biology and an MA in Justice and Peace studies and received Buddhist precepts from Thich Nhat Hanh. For ten years she actively resisted nuclear weapons and spent 11 months in prison for her efforts, almost 5 months in solitary confinement. She has worked with Mayan Indians in Guatemala, Hhmong refugees in Thailand and villagers in Africa. Her current passion is defending Elephants.
Following are some teachings from her short but wonderful book where she marries wonderfully the Joy of the Via Positiva with the demands of justice-making, titled Re-Enchanting the World: A Call to Mystical Activism.*
“Our work for the earth, the whale and the honey bee must come out of profound adoration, ecstatic delight and a vision of the bursting splendor that is reflected in the tiniest ant. Such work and actions must be grounded and arising from joy, ecstasy, bliss, humor, delight and freedom. Not fear. Not urgency. Not desperation.” (p. 2)
How wise this is! How thoroughly grounded in the Via Positiva must be all our actions to rebel against extinction.
Kristal cites Thomas Berry who says: “The answer for everything is celebration. It’s the meaning of things. It’s the destiny of things.” (p. 2) Again, “The Universe throughout its vast extent in space and throughout its sequence of transformations in time, is a single multiform, celebrative event.” (p. 82)
She quotes the Dalai Lama: “The very purpose of our lives is happiness and joyfulness. That is very clear.” (p. 16) One can see why the Via Positiva is so foundational to all the others paths along the journey.
And Rumi: “Let the beauty you love be the work you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” (p. 24)
And Teilhard de Chardin: “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” (p. 6)
* Kristal Parks, Re-Enchanting the World: A Call to Mystical Activism (Denver: Celebration Press, 2003). To order this short but powerful and joyful book go to: www.PachydermPower.org and www.KristalParks.com, or contact Kristal directly at KristalParks2@gmail.com.
On joy and justice making, see: Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, 277-292.
Banner image: “Elephant family on safari” Photo by Justin Porter on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Parks that our resistance and alternative work for the planet must derive from “Joy, ecstasy, humor” and not from fear, urgency or desperation? What are the implications of this perspective for our inner work as well as our outer work?
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.
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.