Part of the inner work necessary in a time of pandemic is resisting the temptation to fall into despair. This is why the teachings of Julian and of other creation spirituality mystics is so important to bring our souls and our work alive today. One feeds the other.
I remember the morning that 9/11 happened and we had class scheduled that day at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California. We happened to have a visiting Native American woman elder with us that day (we had two and sometimes three Native American teachers on our faculty as well).
She said this to us:
Beware of dwelling too much on this event. The media are busying playing the tape over and over and over again. This is the worst thing for your soul. In our tradition we know that replaying evil or trauma is very dangerous. It robs you of the freedom to respond and to create and even to offer healing.
And that is the entire point about our listening to Julian of Norwich at this time of pandemic. First, that she lived through something like this—only scarier because they lacked science—and STILL she insists on the Via Positiva. Return to Goodness. The goodness of God and the goodness of creation and of life and existence.
This does not mean that one goes into denial about evil. But it does mean one cannot and should not dwell on evil alone.
That is why there are FOUR PATHS to our spiritual journey and not just one.
The Via Negativa not only includes loss and grief but it includes meditation that teaches letting go and emptying. It is good at a time like this, a time of many letting goes, including of course learning to live with fear and uncertainty while putting distance between fear and ourselves.
The Via Creativa also speaks loudly to us today—what can you/we give birth to, as an offering to heal?
What is your vocation in all this? What gifts do you bring to the table?
And of course the Via Transformativa calls us anew to address the sufferings so many are undergoing.
A time like this deepens our sense of vocation or calling and to return to that calling in a new time—why are you/we here? What can we accomplish together?
BUT: And this is All-Important! RETURN TO THE VIA POSTIVA. I cite Alice Walker in the opening to my recent book on The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times who says: “Hard times require fierce dancing.” Yes! Tough times require MORE JOY and MORE PASSION for living and MORE biophilia. Otherwise we succumb to necrophilia and we lack the passion and moral imagination for acting effectively.
See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, pp. 17-54.
See also Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times.
Banner Image: Singer/percussionist/author/educator Alessandra Belloni performs a spinning dance in the Tarantella tradition with her musical ensemble. This dance was used during the time of the plague to heal people and as a release from overpowering fears of death. From AlessandraBelloni.com.
Queries for Contemplation
What lessons do you take from the Native American woman elder instructing us not to play tapes of trauma over and over in our head?
What lessons do you take from Julian of Norwich’s teachings in the heart of the bubonic plague to return to the source that is goodness? How does that lead to and inform our action?
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit