In yesterday’s DM we cited Thomas Aquinas who speaks of “getting drunk” on God’s house or the universe. This is a special way of talking about what the mystics call the Via Positiva, that experience of the deep-down beauty of existence, of our planet, of being alive, of love of life in spite of all its demands and challenges. A springboard to wisdom since “awe is the beginning of wisdom” as Rabbi Heschel reminds us often.
It is about generating a gratitude and reverence that emerge from awe and wonder that is well summarized in Meister Eckhart’s simple words: “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”
Clearly, Thomas Aquinas is in every way a mystic and champion of the Via Positiva. He invites us to be the same. And it all begins with an astonishing and ecstatic experience that we call the universe. As he teaches, “the most excellent thing in the universe is not the human—it is the universe itself.” And we are all here to serve the universe. This information, were it internalized, might stop all narcissists in their tracks.
The new news of the universe from Webb Telescope can surely assist in that process. Scientists say that “a new era of astronomy has begun” and that the Webb telescope “could revolutionize human understanding of the universe.”
Can it also revolutionize human understanding of ourselves? After all, we are the child of the universe and we are blessed as a species with a radical curiosity about our origins. Every human tribe has created its creation stories and for most of our existence, before human solipsisms took over in the modern era, we have built our ethics and rules for human behavior and getting along, i.e., survival, around our stories of creation.
Thomas Berry tells us that recovering a sense of the sacred can only happen by immersing ourselves into our “new sacred story” of the universe.
We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary sacred reality. We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us.
As an ancient meso-American teaching puts it: “To be human one must make room in one’s heart for the wonders of the universe.” Does the Webb Telescope and the discoveries that will follow assist us to make room in our hearts for the wonders of the universe? One hopes so.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 361.
And Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 9-15.
And Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, p. 3.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Stargazing.” Photo by Chris Leggat on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
What do you learn from the ancient teaching that “to be human one must make room in one’s heart for the wonders of the universe”?
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
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