The release of pictures from the new Webb Telescope (JWST) at this time is a day to celebrate humanity’s creativity, curiosity, eagerness to know where we come from (and maybe hints of where we are going) and how unique or lonely we are in our vast universe.
Father Sky is coming to life like nothing before. Might this presage a new and deeper understanding and practice of authentic masculinity? One that takes us beyond guns and war and politics of control and power-over and empire building?
Great mystics of the past have ruminated on the greatness and urgency of this moment. Howard Thurman put it this way:
It is natural that man should concern himself with beginnings. This is a part of the curiosity of the mind. Without it there would be no exploration of the world and there would be no growth….Contemplation concerning origins is a part of the curiosity of the race.
Thomas Aquinas says that our greatness as a species is that we are “capax universi, capable of the universe.” We want to know the whole and not just the part. This is what wisdom is about—the whole and acting from the whole and not just the part.
Seeing and knowing the universe gives us context. It can also give us perspective, perspective on all the folly that we are currently engaged in. It can also arouse gratitude, deep thanks that whoever we are and wherever we come from and whatever ideologies we carry within us, it is special that we are here. Where? In this universe of two trillion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, and on a planet, Mother Earth our home, that is beautiful and generous and welcoming to all of us.
Aquinas urges humans to get beyond our own hurts and wounds and petty agendas and look at the big picture.
Our bigness of mind, our vastness of intellect and imagination that JWST attests to, all urge us to look out into a world so much larger than ourselves. It is not enough to live in the worlds we make. We must consider the world that makes us. This can grow our souls and with the growing of our souls there comes more courage (or “big heart” in French), more creativity, more joy.
Aquinas marvels that we are capable of such a reach at all. “Other beings take only a limited part in being. But the spiritual being is capable of grasping the whole of being” and “embracing the whole of being.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, p. 203;
and Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 20-22.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: In an enormous new image, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals never-before-seen details of galaxy group “Stephan’s Quintet” –interacting galaxies triggering star formation in each other and gas in galaxies being disturbed, as well as outflows driven by a black hole. Tight galaxy groups like this may have been more common in the early universe when superheated, infalling material may have fueled very energetic black holes. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
Queries for Contemplation
Might JWST assist us in expanding our consciousness and our gratitude and and wonder and moving beyond hatred to self, others, Mother Earth and the rest to fulfill our promise as a spiritual species that puts love first?
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit