Meister Eckhart says this about our work: “God and the soul are very fruitful as they eternally do one work together.”  He explains how this comes about:

The ‘he’ of God and the ‘I’ of me share one ‘is’ and in this ‘isness’ do one work eternally.   

“At 145 feet tall and 50 feet wide at its base, the Tree of Life [in Disney’s Animal Kingdom] is home to over 300 meticulously detailed animal carvings throughout its massive trunk, gnarling roots and outstretched branches—invoking the diversity, beauty and interconnected nature of earth’s many creatures.” Photo by Dave Pearce on Flickr

To speak of God working in us and through us and our work is to speak of what Eckhart calls the “one work” of the universe.  All work in the universe is connected, all 13.8 billion years and all 2 trillion galaxies of it.

A cosmology teaches us that there is only one work going on in the universe, the “Great Work” of creation itself—the work of creation unfolding, the work of evolution or creativity in the universe. If we consider the big picture, we can see that there is only one work in the universe. The universe itself is a single ongoing drama, and we and our work are part of it.

All energy is one; indeed, energia is the Greek word for work.  Physicist Erich Jantsch puts it this way:

“Love above all – my son and I.” Photo by Kay on Unsplash

Meaning emerges from a sense of connectedness. If we ask somebody for the meaning of his ambitions, his hectic life and his grabbing, we usually hear that it is not for himself, but for his children, that he suffers all this. This is already an act of self-transcendence…. The need for meaning proves to be a powerful, autocratically factor in the evolution of human consciousness—and thus indeed of the evolution of [humankind] and the universe.

The poet Rilke speaks of “the great work” and of the gap we feel in our work lives, cut off as we are from the Great Work:

For somewhere there is an ancient enmity
between our daily life and the great work.
Help me, in saying it, to understand it.

Working alone but endlessly connected. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Just being able to name the reality of a Great Work in the universe has the power to restore our dignity and to restore dignity to our work. The last line of this passage from Rilke also contains a kind of prayer, the hint of a persona, presence in the universe that attends to our honest yearning to understand. The Great Work is the Great Mystery. We need prayerful help in understanding so great a mystery.

The ancient Scriptures of India celebrated this same sense of the one Great Work of the universe. In the Bhagavad Gita we read:

If ever my work had an end, these worlds would end in destruction, confusion would reign within all: this would be the death of all beings…. All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of Nature; but the person lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.

Our work links us to one another; but also to the universe; and to time.  And to the Divine, the Holy Spirit.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 61, 63-64.

Banner image: “Flammarion.” Wood engraving representing the scientific or mystical quests for knowledge. First published by Camille Flammarion, 1888; Color : Hugo Heikenwaelder, 1998; Changes: Jürgen Kummer, 2010. On Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you derive meaning from your connectedness in doing work that benefits others?  Is this how you manifest your love of others? 

When (and if) the coronavirus runs its course will you bring that wisdom to your work in new ways?

Recommended Reading

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

Your Music Your Way Summit

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3 thoughts on “Our Sacred Work, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew, for guiding us through a meditation on work at a time when so many are deprived from their usual work. In my reflection I realized that at this time our work is to stay at home and if we must go out for groceries or medication, to stay six feet apart and to wash our hands for 20 seconds when we return home. A small price to pay for our own health and the health of others. A small price to pay for lightening the load of thousands of health care workers who selflessly put their own lives and those of their families at risk every day as they do their dangerous work.

  2. Avatar
    Marcia Greenwood

    Thank you for your continued daily meditations to inspire and lead us in these uncertain times. I was really interested in the first illustration in this meditation. Could you tell me where it comes from and who created this illustration? Thanks.

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Thank you, Marcia! The banner image is titled simply “Flammarion” for astronomer Camille Flammarion, the author of the book in which it first appeared (L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire), in 1888. It’s a wood engraving said to represent the scientific or mystical quest for knowledge.
      The image was hand-colored by Hugo Heikenwaelder, 1998; further changes were added to the digital file by Jürgen Kummer, 2010.
      The image is on Wikimedia Commons ( – you can learn more about it here:

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