Meister Eckhart on Work and Spirituality

For Eckhart, work is an absolutely essential ingredient to living and expressing our spirituality. Our work is noble; it is spirituality; it is divine. For it is the bringing about of the kingdom of God and the new creation wherever we live and wherever we work.

Mary Magdalene by Iconographer, Br. Thomas Steffenson SSF. Piece was commission on behalf of the Order of Mary Magdalene. To commission an Icon, please visit: Society of St. Francis.

Far from competing with spiritual activities, our work actually brings us closer to God for we are placed in time so that we come closer to God and become more like God through “pursuits” that are enlightened by our works that are done from within the Compassion and Justice that God is.  These “convey us just as close to God and they are just as beneficial as all the joys of Mary Magdalene in the desert.” There is no longer any conflict between contemplation and action for those who are bathed in the true meaning and origin of work.

Indeed, our works “overcome the evil times” insofar as they bring about the new time, the end time, the new creation and are immersed in realized eschatology. They bring about a time of light, not darkness; joy, not sadness; peace not discord. For a bright life is indeed too small for there to be in it any darkness that veils or overshadows eternal happiness for an exalted spirit. For this exalted spirit our works become the new light that accompanies the dawn of the new creation –light was the first of Gods’ acts of creation in Genesis—and the new light becomes our activities and work.

Walking in the Light of the Cape Town sun. Photo by YUXUAN WANG on Unsplash

For those whose activities take place in the light of the new creation, their light is their works and their works are their light. Called to become sons of God, we are also called to become sons and daughters of light and creation, who enlighten the world and whose reason and activity is itself enlightened.

 “The light will be with you only a little longer now.

Piece entitled, “Childlike and Playful” by Richard Reich-Kuykendall who is an artist, author, and graduate of Matthew Fox’s University of Creation Spirituality.

Walk while you have the light,

or the dark will overcome you;

he who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.

While you still have the light,

believe in the light

and you will become sons of light.” (Jn. 12:35-36)

Eckhart combines this admonition to “walk in the light” with the warning from Paul that it is our lives and our activity that constitute this “walking” and this redeeming of our often evil times.  “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord, be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. This may be a wicked age, but your lives should redeem it… be full with the Spirit… so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God…”(Eph. 5:8-10, 19, 20)

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 587f.

Banner Image: A woman taking a stroll in the light. Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Are you learning to bring together your work and your life in the spirit?  Your inner and your outer work that bring light and life to the world? 

Be with the words above of Eckhart and John and Ephesians–admonitions to do just that, to “redeem a wicked age” by bringing light to it.  Let the words wash over you and through you.

Recommended Reading

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.

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3 thoughts on “Meister Eckhart on Work and Spirituality”

  1. Carol Kilby

    Yes Mediterranean Elkhart! Being older, I am more able to live an integral life than once upon a younger time. However, there must be some way of honouring there is a time for every season. Then we would not put one woman against another. Matt’s book on The Reinvention of Work does this brilliantly. Contradicting social and religious dualism that sees work and spirituality as 2 separate rooms, he lays out jobs and professions as sacraments. Revolutionary!

  2. Pingback: Closr to God?

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Closer to God?,
      Thank you for writing and sharing your appreciation and distraction. That’s part of the the elusive balance, isn’t it – attention vs distraction? Resisting distractions increases our focus and dedication, when we let it. Its a spiritual practice all its own.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

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