This weekend we celebrate the first national holiday of Juneteenth, the culmination of the freedom of slaves in the USA (on paper at least).  It is a holiday and holyday long overdue in the larger community, commemorating a keystone in Black American history. 

The Grandmother of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee, discusses the significance of this national holiday. Posted by Lifetime TV.

Juneteenth is to that community what the Exodus from Egypt was and is for Jewish people.  A day of victory, celebration and remembrance of a great liberation.  

Just as Exodus has inspired enslaved people of many diverse cultures and periods throughout history, here’s hoping that Juneteenth does the same.

I search for the reasons behind slavery and behind genocide toward indigenous peoples in the Americas and beyond and I think the themes we have been following recently in our Daily Meditations hold a key to it all. 

Blinded by hands of adultism, a girl grasps the globe, which is suffocating in plastic wrap. Photo by ArtHouse Studio from Pexels.

Let us not forget the enslavements we call speciescide or ecocide that our culture is involved in even today insofar as we deny climate change and our moral obligation to take responsibility for the extinction spasms that are happening all about us in the oceans, forests, soil, rivers, lakes, and among so many species whether four-legged, winged, finned, insects or birds. 

Is there a common denominator to these tragic stories of genocide, slavery, ecocide and extinctions?  Sadly, I believe there is.  It is our neglect of the sacredness of nature—human and other-than-human. 

Is this not what all creation stories are in essence telling us?  That we did not make nature; nature made us.  Nature preceded us, we now know, by 13.8 billion years.  We are nature’ s guest.  Have we been good and grateful guests?  Or have we been punishing our host/hostess, nature, for inviting us here?  Have we projected onto nature our own self-hatred in place of awe, wonder, reverence, and gratitude?

A vulnerable person, subject to the pollution of an unfettered marketplace. Photo by Jawadur Rahman Srijon from Pexels.

If humans think we are #1 and that the rest of the earth creatures are here is to serve us, feed us, make our industry prosper or entertain us, that is the beginning of the downward slope.  But the creation stories of the world do not tell us that this is the case.   Rapacious stories of the unfettered marketplace and empire-making and unfettered ego and greed sell such stories and values as these.

The truth is this: Slavery was an economic thing but it was also a bad religious thing, it was the “discovery doctrine” from 15th century popes that encouraged Christian kings and queens to take what they wanted from African peoples because they were not “redeemed by Christ”; and from the American lands and peoples because they were not knowledgeable about salvation from Christ, etc. 

Slave trade in Africa, via Wikimedia Commons.

Behind slavery and genocide is not only advanced armies and military but also a religious consciousness that leads with redemption and not gratitude for creation.

Creation Spirituality leads with creation and says all peoples grateful for existence want to thank the Creator.  Thanking is very different from conquering in the name of redeeming.

How might history have been different had a creation spirituality accompanied 16th century European explorers and missionaries?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 109-124, xxxviiif.

Banner Image: Juneteenth Celebration at Emancipation Park in Houston’s Fourth Ward, 1880.  Reverend Jack Yates is pictured on the left and Sallie Yates is pictured in the center toward the front in a black outfit. Wikimedia Commons.

Meditate on how a religious consciousness that leads with the sacredness of creation including all of nature and all humans results in a different historical outcome than has been manifest by slavery and by genocide and by ecocide and matricide and misogyny.  Consider the religion Julian of Norwich espoused, for example.

Recommended Reading

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.

Upcoming Events

Join Matthew Fox for a thought-provoking 7-week course: Answer the Call for an Uncommon Life Through the Mystical Teachings of St. Hildegard, Tuesdays, 6/15 to 7/27. While the course has begun, registration remains open, with recordings of past classes available. Learn more HERE.

Join Rabbi Rami Shapiro and Rev. Matthew Fox for a 1.5-day Virtual Teach-in on “Cosmic Wisdom and the Divine Feminine: Lost Insights for an Emerging World.” Friday, June 25, 4:00 PM to Saturday, June 26, 2:30 PM Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Enroll HERE.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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8 thoughts on “Juneteenth National Holiday, 2021”

  1. Avatar

    I believe that all injustice arises from fear and self hatred that is then projected onto the “other”. It is a denial of the sacredness of oneself and thus a denial of all creation.

  2. Avatar

    It is wonderful how my deep love for all of creation has deepened by reading both books about Julian and Aquinas! I am forever grateful for my new understanding, and how lovely and easy it is for me to relate to God as “Jesus, my Mother and my Father,” whose Consciousness is everywhere, and in everyone and everything, inside me and inside everyone in this incredible Universe of ours! And re-learning all about Joy and Jubilation, delighting in the One who delights in me!

    Thank you, Matthew! And I must thank you for making it possible for me to listen to your first class on Hildegard this morning. Absolutely delightful! I know I will listen to it again and absorb Hildegard’s wisdom and love more and more as I come closer to my own reunion with my Beloved Anam Cara!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Vivian, you are right. Matthew’s books on Julian and Aquinas do make it easier for us to relate to God as Jesus, our Mother and our Father.” And yes, it is a time for Jubilation and SHEER JOY (another of Matthew’s books!)

  3. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew Fox! The question you asked at the end of your reading is so important. What would our earth & spirituality look like today if Christianity & Europeans Explorers had taken a different path in the 16th Century? The answer is to look at our society in a different way today, both ecologically and spiritually.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Karen, I’m glad that Matthew has made us think about the “What if” of the 16th century, but as you say, “The answer is to look at our society in a different way TODAY, both ecologically and spirituality.” (my emphasis)

  4. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    You ask what would it be like if this vision became a realty, this vision that God intends for all of humanity. The word that keeps coming up to the surface from the depths is…. resurrection. Resurrection of our true divine nature within our humanity… created in God’s image and likeness…. the resurrection of heaven on earth. Faith is the things hoped for, that have yet to come into being. What seems impossible to our limited vision… is made possible through God’s vision. Is it not this reality that God is awakening all of humanity to… to have faith, hope and trust in… to participate in the co-creation of becoming. Yes, there are evolutionary and revolutionary labour pains in this new birth… yet we are midwived through it all… compassionately, mercifully and lovingly in so many mysterious ways beyond our comprehension.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, the word that came up for you was “resurrection.” The word that came up for me was “hope,” because in your comment you reminded me of the text in Hebrews 11:1 where it says, “Faith is the things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.” In your comment you either quote it from a different translation than mine, or have paraphrased it yourself, but all the same it made me think of the fact, that after saying that all of the people of faith that are listed, died without receiving the promise, it said that God would provide something better! Also read vs. 13-16

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