Howard Thurman talks frequently about how our spiritual journey is about becoming “stripped to our literal substance before God.” Often war and other crises do that to people—it strips us to the literal substance of ourselves before God. We become who we truly are, or commit to being.
From war there emerges the best and the worst of ourselves. In the former category we see cooperation and, on occasion, true generosity and authentic sacrifice and courage. People forget themselves for others and for the sake of a larger and greater good. Bravery and courage are on display.
Consider the brave people of Ukraine, being led by a courageous president and courageously doing their best to protect their children, even when it means fleeing the country amidst much chaos and uncertainty.
Consider the courage of those who stay behind to fight even when the odds in the short run are not with them.
Consider the bravery of the journalists who dare much to give us the reality of what is taking place on the ground. And the bravery of Russian people who dare arrest by protesting such an unjust and savage war. And the willingness of other countries to break ties with Putin’s Russia so that he will forfeit the financial means to maintain his war and/or the future of occupying a country.
Consider those helping one another–the young and the aged and the sick, and even the animals–who are suffering and brave grave dangers to do so. Many are also making sacrifices such as boycotting businesses and products associated with Russia, or putting up with higher prices of food and gasoline. All in order to stand with Ukraine.
Sometimes it takes a breakdown for a breakthrough to happen and for the best of ourselves to step up. We learn who we are and what is truly “the literal substance of ourselves before God.”
We learn what Meister Eckhart teaches about breakthrough: “That we and God are one.”
See Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 291f., 302-312.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: “Woman with Dead Child,” by German artist Kathe Kollwitz, whose son died in WWI. Marked with CC BY 2.0.
Queries for Contemplation
What are the occasions when you became “stripped to your literal substance before God?” What did you learn from that experience?
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.