This Thanksgiving, with so many challenges besetting us from Climate Change and its deniers, from Impeachment revelations, from hostility toward asylum seekers at the borders, from the Opus Dei asserting itself at the Conference of Bishops as well as the office of the Attorney General and much more, it is quite easy to fall into despair, denial and that which feeds both the personal and collective dark night of the soul.
Hafiz, the wonderful Sufi mystic who was a contemporary of Meister Eckhart, gives us a valuable message for times like ours.
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God….
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor;
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken, mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.*
Yes, the normal response to dark news is to hightail out of town. But it is the prophet in us, the warrior in us, who sticks around to see what the dark night has to teach us, to see what wisdom we can learn along the way from suffering, distress and, yes, evil.
But it is important that the prophet/warrior continues to include Via Positiva food into one’s Via Negativa and Via Transformativa diet. That is one reason we interrupted our meditation on Opus Dei bishops and their enablers to take up the Good News of Rabbi Lerner’s night of being honored.
While we will return to the shadow news shortly, we will also continue to sprinkle in the Good News of mystic/prophets in our midst.
It is especially fitting that we give thanks for them this Thanksgiving. We are grateful that there are generous and courageous truth-seekers working quietly all around us.
You might want to return to some of the good stories and leaders we have been offering in our Daily Mediations on this Thanksgiving Day. Be grateful for these people and movements included in our archives: Sister Dorothy Stang; Ken Feit; Anita Roddick; M. C. Richards; Rabbi Michael Lerner; International Sufi Organization; Lily Yeh; Kristal Parks; Shanti Family in Nepal; Bernard Amadei; Mary Oliver; bell hooks; Audre Lorde; Howard Thurman; and more.
When one chooses to pray the news and not just read or hear it one learns to contextualize the news within all Four Paths of Creation Spirituality within the context of both good news and bad news. One often has to go out of one’s way to find the former.
So: Do not neglect the Via Positiva! Return to it often. Especially on Thanksgiving Day. Fill up on such stories. Make that your Thanksgiving meal.
*Daniel Ladinsky, trans., The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master (NY: Arkana, 1999), 187f.
For the Hafiz poem and teachings about its insights for developing the prophet in you, see the chapter on “Spiritual Warriorhood” in Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faith Traditions, pp. 404-440.
For leaders that bring good news by their life and work (and even death in the case of Sister Dorothy Stang) see the links to DM issues featuring the persons named above.
For breaking “teacup talk about God,” consider Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Useful and Wonderful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God.
Banner Image: Banner thanking the thousands of activists who came to Standing Rock to protect the Oglala Aquifer from the Dakota Access Pipeline: Oceti Sakowin camp, November 2016. Photo by Becker1999, Flickr
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Hafiz that it is time to “break our teacup talk about God”? What are you doing about it?
Meister Eckhart teaches that “the soul grows by subtraction not by addition.” Is that your experience when you hear about darkness in self and society? Is your soul growing in the context of the suffering you—and the world—are undergoing?
Are you filling up on Via Positiva stories this Thanksgiving? Do these feed your thankfulness?
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.
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.