Looking back over our trajectory a bit, I see that we have journeyed through the Four Paths of the Via Positiva, Via Negativa, Via Creativa and Via Transformativa over the last several months. 

Kim Vanderheiden’s “Lady Justice” re-envisions the classic image. Piece originally posted HERE.

While embarking on the Via Transformativa the Solstice season arrived with its celebrations including Christmas and Chanukah, both of which promise Light in a time of darkness.  So we spent some time meditating on that and that evolved into a discussion of our work in the world and the need to transform our professions and our work worlds. 

We have shared some teachings from the mystics of old on work and spirituality and contemporary mystics and prophets of how they are changing their professions, a theme that has been weaving in and out of our meditations practically from the start last Mothers’ Day.

Bushfire Aftermath. Photo by Tatiana Gerus on Flickr

Now in this new year and new decade of 2020 we find ourselves, it seems to me, staring again at lots of darkness descending upon our species and our planet at this time. 

Consider the ongoing onslaught against Mother Earth, most recently manifesting in the immense bush fires in Australia, fires that are engulfing millions of miles of forest and, we are told, destroying half a billion animals, many of them rare and unique to the Australian continent.  And the killing of dozens of human beings along with the destruction of thousands of homes and businesses.  Ours is a time for grieving.

“Funeral for Our Future – Service conducted by Stop Adani Melbourne and friends…after Adani announced they would be proceeding with the Carmichael coal mine… in the middle of an extreme heatwave and catastrophic fires across Queensland.” Photo by John Englart on Flickr

And still we have the prime minister of Australia waffling about the reality of climate change and lording over the largest exporting coal country in the world.  Denial reigns among politicians down under as well as in the United States.

We are also witnessing and facing up to the demise of democracy in the US and in many places in the West.

And we spent a nervous time after the assassination of an unscrupulous Iranian general by the United State to see whether that act would lead to a world war in the Middle East.  So far cooler heads seem to have prevailed in Iran but of course the response is not complete.

“No War on Iran” Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait, marches with hundreds more in NYC against war on Iran. Photo uploaded to Flickr by Debra Sweet

These three crises speak to all of us.  Darkness speaks to all of us.  The powers of darkness are no longer hiding but becoming more and more stark. 

Thus we will be considering in the next season of our Meditations some reflections on our human capacity for darkness, for evil.  It is time to meditate on evil in our times.

A while ago I had the honor to interview Lorna Byrne, an Irish peasant woman who has had the unlikely experience her entire life of seeing and communicating with angels. 

Rev. Matthew Fox interviews Lorna Byrne, in San Francisco’s Grace Catherdral. Lorna describes many of the angels packed in the beautiful cathedral.

When I asked her about the “bad angels” or “evil angels,” her response was quite striking.  She said: “The bad angels get all the headlines.  They are the daily fare of our newspapers and broadcast news.  Therefore I refuse to talk about them.  I will not give them any more air time.” She is alerting us to the truth that we must not overly focus on evil itself but on ways out of evil. 

For this reason we will not be meditating exclusively on evil in upcoming meditations but we will be weaving in and out between Evil and the Sacred. 

Ken Nwadike gives a free hug to a police officer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Photo on the Good News Network; Video through the Free Hugs Project.

It is dangerous to give evil too much attention.  We do not want to feed its narcissism and eagerness to make headlines. Evil should be addressed in pieces, not in large chunks. 

And the Light, the better news, must always be in front of us feeding and nurturing and motivating us.  So we will be weaving Light and Dark, the Sacred and Evil, in some upcoming meditations.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, p. xxii

Banner image: “Candlelight Vigil” Photo by Keith Trice on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

What are the implications of learning not to dwell on Evil incessantly but to mix Light and Dark, the Sacred and Evil?  Do you resonate with Lorna Byrne’s teaching that evil gets all the headlines?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.

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3 thoughts on “Weaving Work, Light and Darkness”

  1. Avatar

    I could really use some help with the use of light and dark used here this year. As a white woman standing in solidarity with people of color, I cringe with the association of dark with evil. I trust it’s not our intent here to offend our racial sensibilities, so, what language can we bring into this space to distinguish between these concepts? Maybe Matthew has clarified this before but I’m too new to this site to have heard it before?

  2. Avatar

    Wouldn’t it wonderful if our journalists and broadcasters could embrace the teaching of today and not give evil so much attention!

  3. Avatar

    Susan, i understand your question and don’t yet have an answer either. As a children’s textbook writer and editor, I once tried to get the publisher to remove the word “fair” as a descriptor for a pretty princess. They didn’t see my point and left the word in. We need to look at all our language and see where it is unconsciously racist and see what we can do to stop hurting people. (Of course this doesn’t even begin to address the issue of equating physical beauty with loveliness.)

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