We have been speaking of Evil and how its opposite is not so much the Good as it is the Sacred.
One rather recently new category of people is astronauts and cosmonauts. A number of them report how their journeys to space opened up their sense of the Sacred. Astronaut James Irwin walked on the moon on the Apollo mission and reported afterward about looking back at the earth.
That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart.
This parallels Julian of Norwich’s vision of seeing a small ball in her hand which she was told was all creation. She commented on how it seemed so fragile that it could fall apart. The answer she received was this: “It is kept together by love.”
Irwin continues, “Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God…” He came to call the moon “a very holy place.”
Edgar Mitchell described his experience this way:
On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.
And on seeing earth, he comments: “My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.”
Russian cosmonaut Boris Volynov talks of what seeing a sense of the whole did to his psyche.
During a space flight, the psyche of each astronaut is reshaped. Having seen the sun, the stars, and our planet, you become more full of life, softer. You begin to look at all living things with great trepidation and you begin to be more kind and patient with the people around you. At any rate, that is what happened to me.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 66f.
And Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond, p. 40.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Earthrise, taken December 24, 1968 by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders (photograph: NASA.gov)
Queries for Contemplation
What would it mean if these testimonies from space truly coursed through decision-makers in various countries from which they come?
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.