Geologian Thomas Berry talks about the need for “the Great Work” which is “the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence.”

Respecting the Water: The Living Machine in the Wildlands Adventure Zoo in the Emmen, Netherlands, recycles 80-90% of zoo wastewater for reuse by means of plants, filtration, and UV light – a 93% reduction in total water consumption. Photo by Max Baars on Flickr.

“The Great Work,” Berry says, is

not a role that we have chosen.  It is a role given to us, beyond any consultation with ourselves…We are, as it were, thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choices.  The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.

Such a great work will require great spirits, magnanimity, real warriors, and it will require steering our moral outrage and our powers of aggression and competition into positive directions.

Noble warriors are called for.

“Climate Justice Now!” Art by Nissa Tzun, commissioned by Vince Reinhart, portraying climate heroes Greta Thunberg, Quanna Chasing Horse Potts, and Isra Hirsi. On Flickr.

How close is our nobility?  Meister Eckhart wrote an entire treatise on our nobility as humans beings and how “all people are aristocrats” or “nobles.”  He writes:

Who then is more royal than one who was born, on the one hand, from the highest and best that a creature possesses and, on the other hand, from the most intimate depths of the divine nature and its wilderness? 

For Eckhart, nobility means to live one’s life from one’s inner and truest self.  He speaks to the “seed of God” that is in all of us and how we must cultivate that seed to become the royal people and divine people that we are.  Our works will be royal and noble and god-like.

Hildegard of Bingen also speaks to our nobility and paints pictures of the grace that pours into us as a river of gold from Divinity. 

Shelton Prison, Washington State: Native American inmate group the Tribal Sons reclaim their ancestral spiritual practices, drumming and dancing before a Sweat Lodge ceremony. Video by Frank Hopper.

When my book on The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine came out, one response to it came from an elegantly dressed and very tall Native American who approached me after I spoke at a conference in Santa Fe.   He said he had been working in a men’s prison for twelve years and that men in prison are very unwilling to look inside themselves—that they prefer projecting onto others.  He said he had been hunting for a book for years that would get men to look inside—and that my book, which deals with ten archetypes of the healthy masculine, was “the first book I found that got them to look inside.”  And that in doing so, they “found the nobility inside.”

Students meditate in class. Photographer unknown; from Meditation and Yoga Joining Arithmetic and Reading in U.S. Classrooms on

For me this is a powerful story.  We all have nobility inside.  But it takes hunting; and gathering; and an invitation to find what’s there since so many lessons we get from inadequate parenting or churching or schooling or from culture itself barely focuses on our nobility, on our original blessing one might even say.

Are we hunting and gathering for the nobility inside—not just oneself but others?  Are we busy creating models of education and religion, politics and economics and media that carry that same story of our nobility?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation, pp. 524, 521.  Eckhart’s entire treatise with commentary following it can be found in pp. 510-530. 

And from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, p. 419.

Also see Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

Banner Image: “Remembering Nelson Mandela – Madiba Rainbows Of Tolerance: a tribute on the centenary of his birth.” Composite Image by Daniel Arrhakis (2018) on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense that a great role has been given to us today such as Thomas Berry speaks of?  Do you feel the nobility of that call and the growing of nobility around you and within you to get the job done?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God


Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT

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3 thoughts on “Calling Forth Our Inner Nobility”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    A spiritual warrior knows the source of its own existence and is in contact, is in relationship with this source. A spiritual warrior is no stranger in his or her own house. A spiritual warrior understands that most of the world’s problems find their deepest roots within oneself, and knowing this reality he or she learns to take responsibility and stand accountable for confronting one’s inner self and what lies there within one’s own heart, mind, soul and spirit.

    The spiritual warrior as the hunter, hunts down things like ego self-importance, pride, arrogance, ignorance and selfishness… just a few of the many things within the shadow side of one’s humanness. Once these things are hunted down, the spiritual warrior stops feeding into them, which causes these things to weaken and die.

    The spiritual warrior then begins to gather together the seeds of one’s inherent goodness… that are awaiting to be claimed, nurtured, tended to, cultivated, made manifest and resurrected, from within the true nature of one’s divinity, that has been sealed within oneself… there also within one’s humanness… things like love, compassion, mercy and self-giving… the light and beauty of oneself.

    This is how the spiritual warrior as the hunter and gatherer learns to nobly live one’s life from one’s inner and truest self… from the highest and best version of oneself that one already possesses… living from the most intimate depths of one’s true divine nature, while in the wilderness of one’s humanness.

    Jesus was the perfect example of all of this, and he has shown us the way, from death to resurrection life, beginning and lived out in the here and now.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, thank you for your description of the spiritual warrior. And you say, that the spiritual warrior “learns to nobly live one’s life from one’s inner and truest self… from the highest and best version of oneself that one already possesses… living from the most intimate depths of one’s true divine nature, while in the wilderness of one’s humanness”–and then you end with Jesus as our example in all of this. Thank you again for your comments.

  2. Avatar

    I have grown increasingly aware (8th decade now on earth) that the sacred feminine and masculine are one. Discovering this truth and embracing it is the fullness of humanity. }:- a.m.

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