Meister Eckhart had a lot to say about bringing our inner work to our outer work so that our work becomes “an enchantment.” In work we become “fellow helpers with God’ bringing about a “new creation” and we emerge as co-creators “in everything we do.”
Eckhart reminds us that our work culminates in our becoming “fellow helpers with God.” Being fellow workers with the Creator, we are busy bringing about the new creation. We emerge as co-creators “in everything we do.”
“I have often said: ‘The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out; for if you want the kernel, you must break the shell’… When the soul finds the One who gathers all things into itself, there your soul must stay. Who ‘honors’ God? He or she who intends to honor God in everything he or she does.”
Everything we do–all our work and activity–is an honor to God if it comes from within self and from within God, if it is born of our breakthrough and rebirth in God. Then the work and the Word become so closely united that the work is accomplished “divinely in God.” Then we no longer accomplish things with grace but divinely in God. Thus the soul is in a wonderful way “enchanted and loses itself.”
Our work is more than work, it is an enchantment. A divine act of creation and re-creation which is also a recreation. It is compassion on the loose.
Hildegard of Bingen also honors our work and instructs us in how we can honor it as well. For her, the way we build our lives, our cultures, our work worlds, our physical and psychological worlds, must be one with the universe. We must take our moral living and working from the universe and not the other way around.
We have here a rich instance of Hildegard’s rejection of anthropomorphism. Humanity derives beauty for creativity not from isolation but from the universe itself. For her the work of God is the work of the cosmos and she paints (or dictates to be painted) three pictures to that effect which are reproduced here. God’s work is microcosm (humanity) and macrocosm (universe) working and creating together. There is no dualism between them.
As one scholar, Heinrich Schipperges, puts it: For Hildegard “all civilization on earth is fascinating: the ploughing and harvesting of fields, the construction of a house and the shaping of a vessel, the work of a smith and the creation of an artist, the thriving of earthly activity and all threats as a result of failure, the terror of guilt and the quagmire of sin—and day-by-day and hour-by-hour, the inevitable decision making of human beings in all their actions.”
If you would like to hear some of Hildegard of Bingen’s vocal compositions, click here.
See Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: Meister Eckhart’s Earth-Honoring Spirituality, pp. 493f.
Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 60f.
Queries for Contemplation
Are there times when you experience your work as an “enchantment and lose yourself” in it? What are those times? How can you multiply them?
Do you see your work as related to the work of the cosmos itself? How is that so? What difference does it make? Do you see yourself at work as a “fellow helper with God?” How so?
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them. “If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.