One only turns 80 once so I figure it might be worthwhile to reflect on the moment.  Especially since we are honoring the birthing dimension to the season at hand.  

Intergenerational conversation between Matthew Fox and Jerry Maynard on creation spirituality, activism, and being an Artisan of the Horizon. Originally posted to YouTube by The People’s Priest.

Having a birthday on the Solstice is a special gift–a deeper meaning to one’s birthday emerges amidst the dark time of winter and the Christmas season.  The sense of silence looms large, as does a mood of Advent anticipation.  An anticipated great Coming.  

This sets the ambiance somewhat for the coming of the big 8-0.  For me, 80 years does signify age and eldership.  Yet I don’t feel old; I am blessed with decent health both physically and mentally and for that I am deeply grateful.  I never felt old in my seventies, but to me 80 sounds old.  Though I don’t intend to take it all that seriously—or literally.

Matthew Fox with his father

I think of all those who did wonderful things with their lives and never grew to be anywhere near 80.  I think of MLK Jr., martyred at 39 years of age leaving behind an astounding legacy of accomplishment by his activism, speeches, writings, preaching and courageous leadership–all in so few years.  It is a marvel.

I think of what Thomas Aquinas accomplished by his courage and intellect and hardiness and dying at forty nine years of age, having written for only twenty years of his life, yet having gifted us with so many profound and amazing writings that attempted to steer religion to embrace science and non-dualism, joy and justice together. 

Front door of the University of Creation Spirituality in downtown Oakland, CA. Photo taken from the official UCS Facebook Page which can be found HERE

I find myself looking back to the graces I drank in from family and nature and school days in Wisconsin and then from years of training in the Dominican order (how rare for males of my generation to undergo an authentic 700 year rite of passage!) and their sending me to study my favorite interest—spirituality—in Paris where I encountered wonderful mentors such as Pere Chenu who named the creation spirituality tradition for me.  

I am grateful for what followed as well–writing, teaching, retreat and workshop leading, launching ICCS programs in Catholic women colleges (three) with a pedagogy that honored both rationality and mysticism, then starting my own university.  I am moved still by students and faculty so eager to learn and teach who together created a very alive community, going on to do wonderful things. 

Matthew Fox public protest echoing Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

Of course I remember battles too with popes and inquisitors but that was all part of the learning process as well and few are the changers who do not disturb the guardians of the status quo.  Enemies are inevitable if you value transformation.  One thanks them too for making one stronger and purifying one’s intentions—and for bringing one’s work more into the public domain even if unintendedly so.

I look to the future and am eager to contribute. 

All in all, on this 80th birthday, I anticipate more intellectual and spiritual fun amidst encounters to disturb the peace.  Thanks to all who have brought me this far.


See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominatinal Priest.

Banner Image: Matthew Fox joins ministers across traditions to celebrate the Eucharist at a Cosmic Mass.

What are you thankful for as you look back on your life?  What does the winter solstice mean to you?

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30 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on my 80th Birthday”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew Fox and greetings from Devon UK for your birthday. I have only just discovered your work via the Julian of Norwich Shift network workshops and am so grateful to encounter such erudition and vision that echoes my own convictions. I am avidly reading more of your books. Thank you for sharing so much of your wisdom. May you stay forever young!!

  2. Avatar

    The words Happy Birthday feel inadequate to the thanks and well wishes I extend to you Matt.
    For me Matthew Fox IS the most important, relevent person for our times. You have passed on such wisdom, passion and guidance to countless people in your life.
    I believe Thomas Merton described Eckhart as his life boat ? To me you have in the last 25 years, and in particular the last year, been mine.
    Hard Times Require Furious Dancing- and what a DJ you have been !!!Weaving lots of themes for us all to challenge,inspire and lead us in this Cosmic Dance of Connectivity.
    When they write the history books in the future, I, as I,m sure other’s are ,am convinced the magnitude and wisdom you have passed on will be recognised for what it is.
    No thank you,s do enough justice to the work you have done in this eighty years
    often we wonder how are children will turn out in this world.
    I want to be like you when I grow up…

    1. Avatar

      Happy 80th Birthday Matthew!
      I attended a presentation of yours several years ago in Sarasota, but only discovered your daily meditations in the past year and they have helped me get through both the pandemic and the political turmoil. At 80, you are still full of fire and are not afraid to strongly say what you think. I don’t know how you’ve managed to write so many books! You have opened my mind to creation spirituality and taught me so much about your heroes such as Julian of Norwich, Thomas Aquinas ,and Meister Eckart.
      Thank you and may you have a wonderful birthday celebration!
      Candace

  3. Avatar

    The day of your birth is most certainly a time of celebration! The magnitude of the contribution that you have brought to this world is felt far and wide. May you receive an equal abundance of blessings now and always. I am sending a most sincere thank-you.

  4. Avatar

    https://astronomy.com/news/2020/12/jupiter-and-saturn-will-form-rare-christmas-star-on-winter-solstice

    What a glorious celebration awaits you, Matthew Fox! And this is only a miniscule taste of What-is-Yet-To-Come!
    Your Birth Day lives! Your birthing lives on! Praise to the Christ who births in all of us! Praise to the Christ who lives in each of us! Praise to the Christ who reigns from the inside-out, and from the outside-in! Joyous Advent-Christmas Birthday, Matthew Fox!

    I never knew you lived and grew up in Wisconsin! What a treasure! Wisconsin is, always has been, and always will be my home, too! “NATURE!” I feel all the more deeply connected to you now! Perhaps you know of what was The Bridge-Between Retreat Center in Denmark, WI, begun by Sr. Caroline Sullivan, O. P. What a blessed environment!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtfully beautiful reflection on the gift-of-your-life this 80th year! An 80 year life, and an 800 year-occurrence — surely the number “8” of infinity is significant here! It is worthy of pondering.

    NAMASTE + Bless + SHALOM
    Linda

  5. Avatar

    Happy Birthday Matthew Fox!
    Lots to celebrate today! Thank you for sharing.
    Enjoy this special day and best wishes for continued good health.
    Deirdre
    Fairhaven, MA

  6. Avatar

    Happy Birthday Matthew. May the day and year ahead be full of blessings for you. Thank you for you deep wisdom and for being a prophet of creation.

    Vincent O’Grady
    Cork, Ireland

  7. Avatar

    Happy birthday, Matthew from the Emerald Isle on this solstice day! I am so thankful for the light you have shared, especially through the wonderful books you have written. When all the conditioning had been stripped from my faith practice I found myself alone and feeling most vulnerable. Then, through you, I discovered the path of deep ecumenism, creation spirituality, and Meister Eckhart became my lifeboat too! I am forever grateful. I now work as an Interfaith Minister in Ireland, dancing to the sun each morning and walking with confidence in my faith knowing I am not alone; there are people like you and so many others throughout the world who walk the creation spirituality path. So, on your birthday, a little love, and a large, thankfulness!
    Kevin (Mallen)

  8. Avatar

    I am so grateful for you Matthew Fox, and for your life that has been a light for me to re-discover the Creation Spirituality path where I’m learning to walk in beauty. Through your teachings, you are a true spiritual elder to me. I celebrate you, your birth day, on this day of the longest night. May we all continue together to birth beauty with the Divine source! Happy Birthday!
    Neewe,
    Brent

  9. Avatar

    Happy Birthday Matthew! Thank you for your passion for justice, discipline, intellect, mysticism, and and compassion! You have helped radically reshaped life with your writings! My two cats are named Eckhart and Aquinas! This last book on Julian was phenomenal! I continue to be amazed with what the Spirit is doing through you! I give thanks for your life!

    1. Avatar

      Well said, Ed. From me too, a very Happy Birthday, Matthew! We are blessed to have you amongst us. It seems so right that you were not only born on the Winter Solstice when light returns to the world but also that your 80th birthday happens on the night of this Great Conjunction. Ed, I love that your two cats are named Eckhart and Aquinas!

  10. Avatar

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Matthew (Tim) …..thank you for all that you do to keep the Spirit alive and juicy. The light penetrates the tomb at Newgrange telling us the ancients believed in an AFTERLIFE, an AFTERLIGHT..

    Happy Christmas and More fun in ’21. Steve Shimek (Jim) and Lil Lewis

  11. Avatar
    Zane Martin Schaefer

    Yes indeed! The Happiest of Birthdays to you Mathew Fox!
    Your words today are especially appreciated as you encourage us all to reflect on our lives and to be truly grateful!
    Being a part of your spiritual “family” has been a blessing that I never could have imagined. Thank you so much for finding relevant and meaningful words to guide our spiritual journeys!
    Zane ?????

    PS 80 is the new 50! ???

  12. Avatar

    Happy Birthday, Matthew. How wonderful to be born on the darkest day of the year so you are part of the universe that gets brighter and brighter every day following. You will never know the good you have and will spread all over the world. Thanks so much for teaching us about Creation Spirituality and introducing us to Eckhart plus many many more wonderful ways we can know and love the Divine and the Divine in each other and, indeed, the Divine in all of creation.
    May you and your lovely dog have a fun day. I send you Gratitude, Peace and Joy and many Blessings.

  13. Avatar
    marlene Everingham

    Heart filled gratitude, Matthew, on this special Birthday!
    Reading Original Blessing changed my life, beginning with finding the door to The University of Creation Spirituality. How heart warming it is to see that door, bright and more beautiful than ever!! Thank you for sending that current photo! Your good work has blossomed in unimaginable ways!
    Thank you Bless you , and a beautiful Birthday!
    – 80 is a “giddy”number. I am 86 and say “come on in! The water is fine!

  14. Avatar

    Dear Matthew,
    Happy Birthday! Your life and writings have comforted me through many, many years!!❤️? I join everyone in saying a heartfelt thank you for your dedication and mentoring throughout my journey. I would have been totally alone at times if I hadn’t been in one of your many wise and thoughtful books. God bless you always for all you have meant to so many of us!!! Enjoy your day and know you are greatly loved.
    Daphne Thacker (72)

    1. Avatar

      “few are the changers who do not disturb the guardians of the status quo”

      This wisdom has been your blessing to me on your birthday

      Many blessings in return

  15. Avatar

    Happy Birthday, Matt! You have been an amazing and inspirational mentor to me and to so many others lost in dull and compromised religious paradigms of the west – a voice of reason, clarity, and justice, and also a voice in support of the immense importance of mysticism and mystical consciousness. Thank you for having the courage of being so deeply who you are and inviting that same from all those you cared for. May your birthday be celebrated with love and joy, and may your coming decade be full of new and wonderful surprises.

  16. Avatar

    So glad you’re still HERE. Happy 80th birthday! I remember well the two times you came to Rockford, Illinois at Jim Robert’s behest. I’m enjoying my course on Julian of Norwich and I have a question that will keep you ever young. See you after the holidays – on Wednesday. As a recovering Catholic you’re naming Original Blessing meant so very much to me.

  17. Avatar

    Thank the Mystery we call God for your being. I am 85, and for years was stuck at Level 3 of Fowler’s stages.
    I am an Edmund Rice Christian Brother in Australia, and I believe I lived in unthinking compliance to what I thought then was the mind of the Mystery. Something magic happened when one turns 80. It seems as if the old stuff just drops away, and now I have the time and the space to really work on what really matters – the place of love in my life and how I show that to others.
    I thank you Matthew for your life and your facing paradigm shifts in your life. I once said that there is no synchromesh in a paradigm shift. It’s hard learning how to shift gears without too much stripping the gears.
    I am on a journey and I praise the Mystery for your accompaniment.
    Your best days are ahead.
    No matter what your past you have a spotless future, and thankfully so fo I.

  18. Avatar

    Thanks to all for the many messages of support and good will bestowed on me in this column today and also in emails sent to the DM address. Greatly appreciated, I assure you!
    Gratefully,
    Matthew Fox on my 80th

    Eckhart: “I am younger today than I was yesterday and if I’m not younger tomorrow than I am today I would be ashamed of myself.”

  19. Avatar

    Hi Matthew! I want to “ditto” every comment of these women and men, CS sisters and brothers, who have so affirmed you and sent you Birthday Greetings!!. About being 80, so true, not FEELING 80! You are two days younger than me (18th) and I thought of you more than myself on that day knowing you would be having the same kind of birthday soon! So you had my prayers on the 21st as I wondered in awe at the conjuction of the “Christmas Star” and how providential that was for you…..a lovely THANK YOU” to you from the Cosmos!!” Thank you, Matt, for ICCS, a path that greeted me in 91-92 and gifted me with the CS tradition that I searching so hard to find. Thank you for your books and wisdom and bringing to so many of us the joy of the mystical tradition in Christianity SO needed. Our own Dorothy Stang SNDdeN , your beloved Meister Eckhart, Rev Chenu, Hildegard, loveable Thomas Acquinas are smiling on you plus all the “unemployed angels” . Thank you for your new book, Julian in a time of pandemic. We love you!!! carol shoup sndden 91-92

  20. Avatar

    Matthew, I have followed you for so many years I feel I know you even if you don’t know me. How surprised I was to find that you and I and Dr. Faucci, of covid19 research fame, all share the same birthday month! Like you, my life has been full, exciting, adventurous with moments of great joy and dark sadness. I share with you the experience of living in a religious community (25years) for me. What wonderful aspects of life and moments of wisdom I have had through this early life choice. May your life continue with many blessings and much joy. A little late in coming but to approach such a famous person and share these thoughts took some courage! On this last day of 2020 with all its sadness, I thank God for the joy of living during these days nevertheless!

  21. Avatar

    Oops, in my earlier comment, I forgot to mention the fact I am 80 also and thanking God for this long and happy life. Dr. Faucci is also 80 in case that is not a known fact.

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