Dorothee Soelle and Ernesto Cardenal on Cosmic Love and Beauty

Cosmic love and beauty envelop us according to Ernesto Cardinal. 

Ernesto Cardenal read his poems in La Chascona (Santiago, Chile), 8/1/2009. Photo by Roman Bonnefoy on Wikimedia Commons.

God surrounds us on all sides like the air. And like the atmosphere he emits visible and audible waves, and we are unable to see and hear them unless we are tuning in on the proper channels. Thus the divine waves are all around us, but we are unable to identify them as coming from Him unless we are in tune with them.

Furthermore, all nature is charity, but only the mystic experientially lives this kind of love. God’s love surrounds us on all sides. His love is the water we drink and the air we breathe and the light we behold. All natural phenomena are but different forms of God’s love. We move in His love as the fish swims in the water. . . . His love surrounds us on all sides, but we fail to notice it, as we fail to notice the pressure of the atmosphere.

Cardenal is speaking of our panentheistic experience of Divinity. “God surrounds us on all sides like the air.” We are in God as we are in the atmosphere, which is in fact the sky. Sky is all around us (and within us since when we breathe our breath is actually the sky). We only “see it” as something “blue and up there” at a distance. But we are breathing it intimately every minute. We depend on it for life even though it is usually invisible.  Similarly, sound waves travel through air invisibly, yet we know the “source” when we tune in to the proper channel.

“Waterfalls During Sunset,” by Sachin C. Nair, Pexels

It is the mystic’s task to experience the truth that all nature is love.

Dorothee Soelle connects goodness and beauty.  “The Hebrew word for good, tov, also means fair or beautiful.  Thus God said on creating the universe, “Behold, it is all very beautiful.”  Furthermore, “one cannot love God if one does not know what beauty is.” 

Soelle offers a poem about Ernesto Cardenal.

Ernesto Cardenal,

questioned on how he came to be a poet, a priest,
and a revolutionary, gave as his first reason
love of beauty. 

This led him, he said, to poetry (and beyond);

It led him to god (and beyond);
It led him to the gospel
(and beyond);

Dorothee Sölle at the International Women’s Peace Conference, 1981. Photo by van Smirren/Anefo,  Nationaal Archief. On Wikimedia Commons.

It led him to socialism (and beyond).
How weak a love of beauty must be
that is content with house beautiful;
how trivial a love of poetry
that stops with the text;
how small a love of god
that becomes sated in him
not hungrier;
how little we love the gospel
If we keep it to ourselves;
how powerless are socialistic yearnings
if they fear
to go beyond what will be.

In the Jewish tradition, joy was understood as the most natural response to our having been created, while sadness was deemed a rejection of the gift of life….Joy is not derived from special events or the presents we receive; it involves the mere delight in being alive and gratefulness for the gift of life.*

*Dianne L. Oliver, ed., Dorothee Soelle: Essential Writings (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006), pp. 88f.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, # 347

Banner Image: This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745. Hubble observations have taken advantage of gravitational lensing to reveal the largest sample of the faintest and earliest known galaxies in the universe. Some of these galaxies formed just 600 million years after the Big Bang. Credits: ESA/NASA

Queries for Contemplation

Is all nature charity?  Is joy for you the mere delight in being alive and gratefulness for the gift of life?

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7 thoughts on “Dorothee Soelle and Ernesto Cardenal on Cosmic Love and Beauty”

  1. Avatar

    I have to be honest . . . After having had the wonderful experience of seeing the incredible, joyful, infinite love in Jesus’ eyes at age 23, all I ever wanted was to go Home to God soon! Although it was always easy to get in God’s Presence during meditation, I would quickly lose that deep feeling as soon as my thoughts started taking over. . . So, I longed for Heaven, where feeling separate from God because of my thoughts would never be a problem.
    Throughout the years, I understood I had much inner work to do: staying as fully present as possible, not believing thoughts that brought me down, joyfully accepting whatever happened , etc. Thankfully, I was able to keep Peace, Love and Joy in my heart most of the time. I learned to love mySelf and my Life more and more, and am happy to ‘be here’ for as long as it takes for me to fully enjoy the gift of Life here on this beautiful Earth!

    1. Avatar
      Jeanette Metler

      Thank you so much Vivian and Franck for your very honest comment. I can relate with some of your words, especially the part about learning to love yourself and also the hard inner work involved in this… which does lead one to discovering how to be present to the moment, whatever that may be… accepting both its joys and sorrows and the beauty to be found in the messiness of life.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you so much, dear Jeannette, for your kind words. I, also, enjoy your insights and your sharings.
        I need to bring to the attention of those in charge, that my surname is Franck. I do not have a partner. Have a good evening and week. Love and blessings.

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Vivian, I think you are a remarkable woman to have held on to Jesus since you were 23. More than this you have learned the important lesson of “joyfully accepting whatever happened,” or as St. Paul put it, “I have learned that whatever state I am in to therewith be content.” May God continue to bless your life richly !!!

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I just wanted to take a moment to thank you the creators of these daily meditations and the references that you make to other spiritual writers… like Ernesto and Dorothee that you mentioned today. These spiritual writers, through sharing their personal stories I find to be a form of spiritual mentoring… from one generation to the next… that connects us all, beyond all time and space. It has for me, become an experience of relationship with the great cloud of witnesses, that give testimony to being and living in the reality of the essence and presence of Divine Love, that is, was and ever shall be in our midst.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, well you are certainly welcome! The daily meditations and the selection of writings of other spiritual writers are our “great cloud of witnesses!”–spiritual teachers who resonate with Creation Spirituality.

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