The Sense of Wonder, continued, Original Blessing

For me, the sense of wonder is synonymous with the Via Positiva.  In the Via Positiva we are struck by awe—like Rachel Carson and her 20 -month -old nephew were on going to the ocean on a stormy night. 

Storm at Bradley Beach, NJ. Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash.

I had a similar encounter when I lived at the ocean in Marshfield, outside of Boston, and encountered my first storm there.  The wind was so fierce that I had to cling to a house at the sea and look out from behind it.  Had I simply stood looking, I would have been sucked in by the power of the wind and ocean.  That is awe.  As Rilke says, beauty and terror go together.

Another way to keep a sense of wonder alive is to truly enter into the experience behind the term, original blessing.  Every experience of awe and wonder feels original.  It feels fresh and new.  “Newness” is part of Divinity, as Meister Eckhart instructs us. 

Each such experience is also a blessing, that is to say, an extension of the good.  The first page of the Bible speaks of the goodness and very goodness, the beauty and the very beautifulness, of original creation (Gen 1).  The Via Positiva therefore.

“Radiance, Nantes, France.” Photo by Harmishhk on Flickr.

The first chapter of John’s Gospel speaks of the “glory of the children of God” and the light “that darkness cannot cover up” that is inherent in all beings (and today’s physics tells us photons or light waves exist in every atom in the universe).  St. Paul talks of “the new creation.” 

There comes with the Via Positiva a new way of seeing creation, that is to say, existence, nature, the world, self and others.  A way of seeing newly.  Seeing the radiance and doxa that is everywhere present but not always everywhere visible.

It is what Jesus called the “kingdom/queendom of God” that “is among us and within us.”  It beckons us in the song of a bird singing, in the sunlight shimmering off a leaf, in the eagerness of a puppy begging to play, in the contentment of a cat purring, in the shining of a distant star.

Elder and kitten, Junior and Narcissa. Photo by Phila Hoopes. Published with permission.

Meister Eckhart talks about “the grace of creation” and “the gift of creation” and tells us “nature is grace” and “isness is God.”  And “goodness is the proper name of God the Creator.”

Thomas Merton instructs us this way: “Every non-two legged creature is a saint.” 

Indeed, every plant that stands in the light of the sun is a saint and an outlaw.  Every tree that brings forth blossoms without the command of man is powerful in the sight of God.  Every star that man has not counted is a world of sanity and perfection.  Every blade of grass is an angel singing in a shower of glory.  These are worlds of themselves.  No man can use or destroy them.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 57-165.  

And Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 50, 36f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Magic moment, Sant Joan les Fonts, Spain” Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What is your experience and understanding of Original Blessing?  How many times a day do you undergo Original Blessings and in what variety of instances?

Recommended Reading

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.  

A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

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8 thoughts on “The Sense of Wonder, continued, Original Blessing”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today our Queries for Contemplation ask us: “What is your experience and understanding of Original Blessing?” To me, where I am at, at this point in my spiritual journey, Original Blessing is the opposite of Original Sin. The Church tends to use Original Sin to keep the guilt on, and thus our dependance on the whole Fall Redemption approach to Christianity. I however, see Original Blessing, as you mention, as wrapped up in the Via Positiva–with awe and wonder of Nature and the Cosmos–and God said that all that was created was “very good!” And you add these quotes of Eckhart which I too hold on too: “Eckhart talks about “the grace of creation” and “the gift of creation” and tells us “nature is grace” and “isness is God.” And “goodness is the proper name of God the Creator.”
    “How many times a day do you undergo Original Blessings and in what variety of instances?” Many times–when I wake up with my wife in the morning to greet a new day. When I see my grandson when h e comes home from school. When I water and tend to my plants in the morning. When I visit with friends. And when I practice my Lectio Divina…

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    What my experience and understanding of Original Blessing is, is about learning and remembering how to be really present to the presence and essence of the inherent goodness, beauty and light… there to be seen… within the all and the everything of creation… even though at times, with humanity specifically, when this may at first glance be hidden behind distressing disguises… hiding in the shadows.

    For myself and many others, this holy seeing, or sacred sight of being really present to this reality of Original Blessing… to experiencing and understanding this… unfolds, evolves and emerges through engaging in the spiritual practices of meditation, contemplation, and reflection.

    Engaging in these… awakens us to other gifts given us humans, within this Original Blessing… which are a deeper pathway of holy seeing and sacred sight… that being intuition, imagination and then responding to these, through our creativity… which expands our experiences and our understanding of this Doxa, this glorious light and the enherent goodness and beauty of this essence, present in its presence within the all and the everything of creation… the KIN-DOM that lies within… that being the awakened conscious awareness of everything, as ALL MY RELATIONS!

    This Holy seeing, this Sacred sight, and the unfolding of experiencing and understanding this Original Blessing, the reality of this inherent goodness and the light and beauty of this… is continously evolving and emerging… for within every moment of life, there is offered this grace of Original Blessing, and every moment carries within itself the revelation of God within all, for all, and moving through all… awaiting our response.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Thank you for your comment and your use of the word KIN-DOM, which as you suggest is made up of ALL OUR RELATIONS.

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    Thank you Matthew for another spiritual meditation reminding us of the universal mystical wisdom and message of past and present mystics and saints — the Sacredness of God’s Divine Love~Wisdom~Peace~Beauty~Suffering~Joy~Creativity Present within and among us on earth and the Cosmos in All of our ongoing Diverse Loving Oneness Creation~Evolution….

  4. Avatar

    I grew up on and spent most of my life on one beach or another. The water, the sand, and the shore informed my understanding and love of the Life in everything. When I was in grade school we got educational material from places far from the shore and colored pictures of animals I’d never seen or heard of and I wondered where were the lessons about fiddler crabs, gulls, sharks, blue crabs, and redfish! Salt grass, scrub cows, squalls, and hurricanes! About learning to cast a net for bait and mend the net! About the fecund smell of a bayou on low tide!
    THIS is how we know we are loved. And creative. And One with Everything.

    1. Avatar

      Thank you, Olive. This is so beautiful. One year, suffering depression, I spent my days riding my bike to the beach of Pacific Grove, California, contemplating and trying my best to meditate on the sea. I would sit and gaze at the tides flowing in and out. I would watch the seaweed dance in the waves and the sea otters break shells on their chests. I would listen to the sea lions barking. I would lightly touch the sea anemones so that they caressed my finger. In my depression, it was all I could do. I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other, but I did. I sat. I listened. How blessed I was to sit in the lap of Creation. I love Meister Eckhart’s description of God as “the youngest thing there is.” I remember those days with fondness. Even though they were times of deep pain, God and God’s creation were sitting with and beside me.

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        Meditation just happens when you’re at the beach. I think you naturally entrain to the waves curling and ebbing and enter a natural state of meditation. Add to that the smell, the sound(s), the feel of the air—you are truly immersed and become One with the nature of the place.
        In depression, you’re hardly able to define your own shoelaces, let alone the experience of healing—but whether you see it or not, it’s there.
        “Vocatus atque non vocatus Deys aderit!”

  5. Avatar

    Is the Earth dying or is it being made new? Is this what resurrection looks and feels like? Already, not yet? Is there hope in death?

    I choose “Yes,” to it all and continue to live in harmony and beauty, blessed to be blessing even in the midst of suffering and death. }:- a.m.

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