Having meditated on evil for two weeks, we are now invoking gifts that the mystics give us to combat evil. Yesterday we considered the primal question posed by Howard Thurman about what it means to be a human being. He elaborates on the answer from yesterday when he says: A human being “has to feel that he belongs to his total environment.” Notice his sense of cosmology here, the “total environment” is that to which we belong—not a particular tribe or party.
To be human one needs
…a sense of being an essential part of the structural relationship that exists between him and all other [humans] and between [her], all other [humans] and the total external environment. As a human being, then, she belongs to life and the whole kingdom of life that includes all that lives and perhaps, also, all that has ever lived. In other words, he sees himself as a part of a continuing breathing, living existence. To be a human being, then, is to be essentially alive in a living world.
To be alive and in touch with all our relations, past, present and future, our ancestors and those yet to come—not just our human ancestors but “the whole kingdom of life.” Clearly this cosmic sense gives one perspective when human strife cut off from the whole can render our lives so small and narrow. Thurman calls us to be part of a “continuing breathing, living existence…alive in a living world.”
He develops this theme further for it was a cherished refrain for him. He urges us to recognize the great mystery–That life is alive! He urges us not to take life for granted. He says:
Life is alive; this is its abiding quality as long as it prevails at all. The word ‘life’ is synonymous with vitality.
Because we can so easily take life and living for granted, we need a bigger perspective.
We are so conscious of the fact of each individual expression of life about us that the simplest and most wonderful fact of all is passed by. And what is that? The fact that life itself is alive, has the persistent trait of living — that any and all living things continue to survive as long as that essential vitality is available to them.
How deeply Thurman’s teachings resonate with those of the twelfth century mystic Hildegard of Bingen who says the Holy Spirit is the “Life of the life of all creatures.” And furthermore,
Holy Spirit is
Root of all being….
Radiant life, worthy of all praise,
The Holy Spirit resurrects and awakens everything that is.
See Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, pp. 210, 215.
See Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. 26f.
Banner Image: “Crocuses in Snow” Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay
Queries for Contemplation
Do you, along with Howard Thurman and Hildegard of Bingen, recognize the Holy Spirit as the “Life of the life of all creatures”?
What follows from that? What difference does it make to you and to the world we live in and the way you live in this world at this time in its unfolding?