More Wisdom from Ernesto Cardenal on Creation as Source

As part of our search for the Source and for Sacred creation as the source, we have been drawing on many spiritual traditions.  We continue here the wisdom offered from the Nicaraguan poet, mystic and activist, Ernesto Cardenal.

Ernesto Cardenal. Photo by Jimelovski Platano Macho on Flickr

He says: We have come from the heart of God and are as much a part of him as the fetus is a part of the mother. And we all tend to return to Him as man tends to return to the maternal womb.

In proposing that we are to God as the fetus is to the mother, Cardenal is operating from a metaphor of God as mother. Many changes in our perception of Divinity flow from such a theology. In what ways, as adults, do we seek to return to that divine, maternal womb? A sweat lodge is certainly one such experience. How do other elements of theology and practice change when we acknowledge the maternal side of Divinity?

Invoking the teaching that every being is an image of God (as we saw in a previous DM by Jewish scholar Rabbi David Seiderman) and which is also a teaching of the Cosmic Christ or the Buddha Nature (as we saw from Thich Naht Hanh), Cardenal writes:

Together at sunset. Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

All things have an element of enchantment but also an element of disenchantment and disappointment. The enchantment derives from the fact that all things are reflections and images of God, and the disenchantment is due to the fact that they are only images and not the real reality. They are not God.

The enchantment comes from the experience that every image of God (which is every being) possesses. The disenchantment derives from the fact that things are images only and not the fullness of the Divine reality.

Here, Cardenal tracks the via positiva (enchantment) and the via negativa (disenchantment).

Mother and Child: Warthogs in Uganda. Photo by DrexRockman on Wikimedia Commons.

There is a paradox when we acknowledge the divinity in things but also recognize the limits of divinity in things.  Fullness and Nothingness both speak of the Divine.

Like Thomas Aquinas, who praises God as beautiful and superbeautiful and the cause of all the beauty in beings and the universe itself, Cardenale sees beauty everywhere when he says:

Nothing in the universe is ugly. There is only beauty or a relative lack of beauty, a relative lack of the divine sheen in certain particular things.

         Beauty, joy and pleasure appear in beings in a diluted form, but all things are nonetheless bathed in and illumined by beauty in varying degrees, as though overlaid with a diffuse light. God alone is Light in its purity; He is the focus of all that is lighted.

Trailer of The Dance of Time, award-winning documentary by Christian Spencer “on a unique journey of beauty and into the infinite cycles of nature”

         Things bear in themselves an element of beauty, beauty in greater or lesser degree, but they are not Beauty as such. God is the light that bathes all beautiful bodies, and there is nothing in Him that is not pure.

Cardenal returns to the premodern teaching of Aquinas and Hildegard and Eckhart that God is Beauty itself but that all beings carry their brand of the Divine beauty imperfectly but for real. The light and beauty of the Cosmic Christ emanate from all beings. But no being is the fullness of the Cosmic Christ and the image of God.


Citations from Ernesto Cardenal, To Live Is to Love: Meditations on Love and Spirituality, pp. 88f.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, pp. 336-338.

Banner Image: “Red Deer, Hoge Veluwe National Park, Otterlo, Netherlands.” Photo by Ernesto Velázquez on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Have you experienced the “enchantment” of all things that Cardenal praises? Have you also experienced the “disenchantment” he names?  We inevitably taste both along our spiritual way, don’t we?

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

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.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

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6 thoughts on “More Wisdom from Ernesto Cardenal on Creation as Source”

  1. Avatar

    True, and felt more than understood.
    In an essay, Baudelaire opined that we often weep at beauty because we sense it’s transient, just as Matthew writes. We crave the eternal perfect and love, in our little way, what is limited, passing. Like the song “My Funny Valentine.”

    George Marsh

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear George,
      Thank you for writing and giving us the quote from Baudelaire. In relationship to what Matt has written in this meditation, Baudelaire and Lorenz Hart (My Funny Valentine) are writing about temporary beauty, beauty that is a reflection of God, but not Beauty itself. The transience of our limited beauty, even our ability to behold beauty is in our nature – like fireflies glowing and fading on a summer’s night. Other forms of nature are the same. They are always changing. THe only constant is the Divine.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      FOr the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    Just signed up to subscribe. Have and have read multiple time Matthew Foxes books, for years and did some workshop with him through Unity School of Christianity conference, plus a couple of lectures at U.W. in Seattle many years ago. As a retired elder now I am looking forward to rediscoving all this wonder material coming on the web sight and learning about new books. Blessings on Your work and Thank You! The Rev Christie Logan, Ret.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Christie, Welcome back!
      We are glad to have you participate in this new offering from Matthew!. I believe you will find what you are looking for, and more as you consider these meditations, photos, videos, book suggestions, and comments.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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