Thomas Aquinas reminds us that beauty and harmony go together and that God is praised as “wise and beautiful” because all beings “are full of every divine harmony.”
My dog was just asking me to let her out. Putting her out the door, I looked up to the sky: birds were doing their dance of harmony in the blue sky with sun shining. Squirrels were running along the top of the fence. My dog was eager to join the beautiful outdoors.
I return to Aquinas who says, “harmony is characteristic of wisdom which orders and measures things.” Harmony is present in nature’s affairs even if it appears absent from human goings-on. Yet we strive for it, justice is the making of harmony. And we are eager for it. Harmony. Beauty. Goodness. Wisdom. We are made to ingest such food.
Harmony and beauty, says Aquinas, apply to our bodies as well as our souls. It is part of being in a healthy state whether of body or of soul. Disharmony is the opposite of health.
Julian had her way of saying the same thing. For example, she meditated deeply and often on the wisdom teachings in the Bible and I believe especially on this line from the Book of Wisdom: “Wisdom is the mother of all good things.” (Wisdom 7:11f.)
I think her writings on the motherhood of God derive both from her own experience as a mother but also from the Wisdom teachings such as this one. “Wisdom. Mother. All good things.” No wonder, her theology is so steeped in a search for and a sense of goodness. And the motherly side of Divinity. In her hunting/gathering for goodness, she comes to these conclusions:
The first good thing is the goodness of nature.
God is the same thing as nature.
The goodness in nature is God.
God feels great delight to be our Father.
God feels great delight to be our Mother.
The mingling of both well and distress in us
is so astonishing
that we can hardly tell which state
we or our neighbor are in—
that’s how astonishing it is!
Like Julian, who saw the entire universe in the palm of her hand the size of a hazelnut and saw it as sustained and permeated by love, Aquinas says this:
God cannot hate anything—no hatred of anything can be ascribed to God. God wills things because of their likeness to divine goodness, and this assimilation constitutes the good that is in each and every thing.
Indeed, “God did not make things except on account of good, for which reason it says in Genesis 1: “God saw that it was good.” Thus it is clear that a good thing is pleasing to God.”
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is “the love whereby God loves creatures and imparts to them the divine goodness.” Goodness arrives by way of Spirit; and Spirit arrives by way of goodness. No wonder Julian was drunk with goodness as well as Spirit.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 102f., 119f.
And Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, p. ix.
Banner Image: Mossbrae Falls, United States. Photo by Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash
How important is harmony in your life? Do you agree that Spirit arrives by way of goodness?
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him. He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French). He gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond
Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.” –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.