A Ceremony of Sorrow, Hope, Action in the Face of Nothingness

Speaking of Nothingness, as we have been doing for several meditations now, following is a teaching from “The Shalom Report” that I think is worthy of further meditation.  With permission from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, I am pleased to share these teachings and encourage you to go to the full report HERE.   

Apr 13, 2017 Rabbi Arthur Waskow speaks on Interfaith Moral Action in a Climate Multi-faith Service honoring MLK with a call for Climate Justice. IMAC CLIMATE.

It is moving to see various religious/spiritual traditions focusing again on the realities we share—such as the holiness of creation and our role as humans to work to “preserve it in the good” (Thomas Aquinas’s definition of salvation).  Deep Ecumenism urges us to look at traditions other than our own for wisdom and prayer and shared action.

Says Rabbi Waskow:

Tisha B’Av (the midsummer day of Jewish mourning for the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, and of hope for a transformed future) can be focused on the endangered Earth as our Temple. As the ancient Temples were burned by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, so Temple Earth is bring burnt, boiled, broiled by imperious Fossil Fuel Corporations bent on increasing already Hyper-Profits.

Ancient midrash asked, “When was the first chant of Eicha (the first lamenting word of the Book of Lamentations)? And the answer came, “Ayekka!” – a word that has the same root letters and means “Where are you?” It was God’s own wailing outcry in the parable of Eden.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70. Chromolithograph based on painting by David Roberts, 1848. Wikimedia Commons.

“Where are we?” we might ask in the presence of climate change?  Where are our political parties, our media (so often silent about the causes of the wildfires that rage and the floods and hurricanes that roar), our once “supreme court” that just made it more difficult for EPA to do its job and thus buttressed corporate pollution of the planet and the skies. 

Rabbi Waskow:

The Jewish tradition views the Jerusalem Temple as a microcosm of the macrocosmic Earth. To the Temple we brought nearness-offerings to the Breath of Life of minerals (salt), vegetation (grain, pancakes. olives, grapes, wine), animals (bulls, sheep, goats, doves), and human song (psalms). And so the tradition said to fast for 25 hours of the hot midsummer day, the ninth of Av, from the earthy pleasures: food and water, leather and the gentle anointment of olive oil, sex. 

Youth of Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco, protest for Climate Justice, Earth Day 2022. Photo by Peg Hunter on Flickr.

And to chant our grief for the degradation of such joys.

What could be more fitting than fasting and wailing as we live in fires, floods, and famines that afflict ever-swelling regions of Earth, choking asthmatically and dying of strange cancers in neighborhoods of poverty and color subjected to the fumes of nearby burning coal and oil?  

To be continued

See Matthew Fox, “The Cosmic Christ and Deep Ecumenism,” in Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 228-244.

See also Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

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

Banner Image: Roman Triumphal arch panel copy from Beth Hatefutsoth, showing Roman soldiers with Jewish prisoners of war and spoils of the Jerusalem temple. From the Beit Al-Diaspora Museum on the Campus of Tel Aviv University. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

What thoughts and actions awaken in you on learning of ways to mourn Temple Earth and to undergo common sorrow, grief, hope and action?

Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.

This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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16 thoughts on “A Ceremony of Sorrow, Hope, Action in the Face of Nothingness”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you say, “Deep Ecumenism urges us to look at traditions other than our own for wisdom and prayer and shared action,” and we look today at the Jewish Temple as a microcosm of the macrocosmic Earth. And so our Query for Contemplation is: “What thoughts and actions awaken in you on learning of ways to mourn Temple Earth and to undergo common sorrow, grief, hope and action?”
    First of all, as the ancient Jewish Temples were burned by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, so Temple Earth is being burnt, boiled, broiled by imperious Fossil Fuel Corporations bent on increasing already Hyper-Profits. But second, since the Jewish tradition views the Jerusalem Temple as a microcosm of the macrocosmic Earth, then it only make sense that our earth temple is in danger of destruction once again. In reaction to this, you ask: “What could be more fitting than fasting and wailing as we live in fires, floods, and famines that afflict ever-swelling regions of Earth, choking asthmatically and dying of strange cancers in neighborhoods of poverty and color subjected to the fumes of nearby burning coal and oil?” This is a time for fasting and prayer, fasting and prayer, fasting and prayer…

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    The good rabbi featured today speaks of 3 troubling “isms” (symptoms) that plague a country and world which he claims are the source of its current dilemmas. A more accurate evaluation would have identified the primary source of the woes he listed in the Hebrew text that lay there before him, which he did not do. That primary source is separation consciousness, the common human misperception (flaw) that creation and all things in it are separate from the sacred. The origins of the flaw and its multiple “isms,” schisms, and toxic effects can be traced to Genesis 3, not to the misguided power elite. He also did not point to its redemptive solution, only politicized it, blaming those exercising ungodly power. (This only irritates the power elite, inciting them to suppress, censor, or murder the truth talkers — have we not had enough martyrs, already?). Since that day and time, the world has been myopic and upside down in its perceptions and values, placing profits over prophets as evidence for same. Little has changed since the day of that great foundational disconnect — with one exception. There has always been a religious remnant who have been aware of same throughout, called out from the otherwise spiritually obtuse. But mind you, never more than a remnant, either millennia ago, or in modern times. And there never will be, until the Day of the Lord mentioned in both Old and New Testament texts. Save for that remnant having a salutary influence over the infected whole, though never enough to stem the tide overall, the condition of the earth has and will continue to move toward perilous decline. The evidence is in indisputabe. The only thing that can stop it, that can save humanity from itself, is that day declared by the inspired prophets of old. In that day the scales will be tipped. God will bring his judgment against the world’s inbred evil and allow a new creation to flourish. As members of that remnant, or “people of the text,” we’re called to come out from among the worldly and be separate. Not isolated or uncaring, but wise as serpents as to the dirty ways of the world, and the wisdom of locking horns with it. Political and politicized fools can only despise the wisdom of your words. Even rabbi Heschel has called on religious to be “text people,” living, teaching, and modeling the moral and spiritual struggles and triumphs that underpin the sacred classical texts they teach. Rest assured, like a morally cleansing tsunami, the great Day of the Lord is coming, said Jesus, when least expected, “like a thief in the night.” Read the text. As for me, it can’t come soon enough.

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      You have your sermon, Joe. Rabbi Waskow has his. We are enriched by the many different analyses of the dark time we are in and what each of us can do to address it. The more ways we analyze it, the better off we are. Delivered in 2017, the good rabbi’s sermon is even more relevant today. It touches my soul. I find it to be an elegant critique of U.S. culture. Rabbi Waskow’s analysis of why MLK Jr. chose the word “triplets” instead of trio or triad in his famous speech is enlightening. His sermon addresses the pain of many different groups and invokes deep ecumenism and understanding.

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        I’m not knocking the rabbi’s fine sermon, Michele, simply pointing out that it has no long-view of history, no historical context in which to place the “ism’s” or an understanding of same based on the sacred texts. Just offers that these national maladies are unjust an unholy. Profound observations for some, but quite ordinary for others. I’m in the latter group, hoping to hear something that isn’t so obvious, and that I don’t already know. For me, it’s old wine in new bottles, the sacred texts watered down in socio-political terms in a religious setting. Besides, there’s enough paralysis by analysis already today. Too many opinions. Why not reiterate the simple solutions, also in the sacred texts he and others apparently no longer read, or take seriously.

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Joe, I can see given your, understanding of scripture how you would judge what the Rabbi had to say. But what interests me is you say: “As members of that remnant, or “people of the text,” we’re called to come out from among the worldly and be separate. Not isolated or uncaring, but wise as serpents as to the dirty ways of the world, and the wisdom of locking horns with it.” You speak of the remnant here and I remember you referring to the remnant in other comments you have made. The denomination that I belonged to in my fundamentalist days stressed the fact that “WE” were THE REMNANT–in fact my seminary Professor of the Hebrew Bible, Gerhard Hasel, wrote his opus titled, The Remnant. And just who might the men “who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins” be ??? We are told in the 14th chapter of the book of Revelation that these are the 144,000. Are they the remnant ??? They are certainly separate from the “great multitude of every nation, kindred and tongue.” Let us think on these things…

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    For now, Matthew, I’m still dealing in my grief process with the reality and the sorrow like many other sensitive environmentalists and humanists (postdoom.com) for the destruction of Mother Earth and all Her living creatures, including humanity, and all Her diminishing graceful but unappreciated abundance… In our lament of “Where are You God?”, my faith/trust informs me that God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Creativity~Compassion is still within and among us in our daily lives with one another and also grieving Mother Earth, and in our spiritual multidimensions with our ancestors, spirit guides, and angels… Our eternal souls will continue evolving not only here on Mother Earth, but beyond in other spiritual dimensions… Our Beautiful Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

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    A very good meditation as were the meditations on the doctrine of discovery. My problem is, what is the role of God however you define him/her in all this? Where was he/she when popes presumably men of prayer came up with the doctrine of discovery and decided that Europeans were superior to the natives? Where was God when the Supreme Court made the appalling decisions it did? I understand some of the Trump appointees are churchgoers and therefore people of prayer. I ask again, where is God, not where are we?


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    My most common way of mourning is to write, often in poetry. Here is the first half of a lament I wrote back in about 2003. Sadly, it’s still terribly relevant. I could write the same poem today. Maybe I’ll post the other half of the poem here tomorrow…because there are so many lamentations.

    Let’s drill for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge
    Let’s make the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans permanent
    Let’s make sure schoolchildren spend most of their class time on standardized tests
    And lets use the results to cut funding to inner city schools
    Let’s identify the American Teachers’ Association (and while we’re at it, nuns) as terrorist organizations!

    Please stop being stupid before we all die!

    Let’s invade Iran in June and follow that up with Syria and maybe Korea unless they adopt our form of government and get rid of their weapons program, because really, WE are the only people who should have weapons of mass destruction
    Let’s put a measure on the ballot to eliminate Arizona’s Clean Elections Law
    Let’s close Young’s Farm and put in condominiums
    Let’s drain the Big Chino so we can build a housing development the size of Anthem at Granite Dells.

    Please stop being stupid before we all die!

    Let’s not sign the Kyoto Treaty or sign on to remove land mines or sign the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty
    Let’s keep building up our stores of weapons and tell other countries they can’t have them because, come on, face it, they are EVIL nations.
    Let’s tell everyone they need to give up their religions and become Christians
    Let’s choose our battles wisely. For instance, let’s fight to keep “In God We Trust” on our coins.

    Let’s eliminate block grants for urban redevelopment even though they’ve been working because we need to earmark that money to rid out terrorists
    Let’s keep the American people frightened by periodically moving the fear factor to orange
    Let’s keep track of which books citizens check out of the library and what products they buy
    Let’s flip off the Women in Black

    Please stop being stupid before we all die!

    Let’s remember that Jesus was NOT a peacemaker
    We all know he was pro-rich, pro-war, and most of all pro-American!
    Let’s role back clean air standards and call it the Clear Skies Initiative
    And let’s find a “real” balance between corporate needs and the environment
    Let’s make gays and lesbians the scapegoat for what’s wrong with American families
    Oh yeah, single moms too.

    Please stop being stupid before we all die!

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      Michele, your poem lists the egregious decisions you lament for made by human beings who are so driven ,out of touch, & conditioned, probably because of severe wounds in child hood where their true self ,unique identity, as a human being, was not permitted space to emerge, that made them seek power over love. They, of course are to be called to task in their actions so
      that the harm they perpetrate ceases . This next thing I suggest is challenging for me, for all of us…”what we think we see in others also resides to some extent in ourselves. We have all been conditioned and socialized and have become prisoners of our childhood and they could be looked at as saying; “mirror mirror on the wall tell me I am the fairest of them all.” Anyone who doesn’t support them in this repetitive, narcissistic prison they will try to smash/destroy the mirror(you) that we are to each other .If you as an observer/lighted human being, want them to change, do what you can to call them to task in available avenues. Then work on the same you see in them that may be or could be in you no matter how small. Jesus said learn to love your enemies. Your compassion for their ignorance will only increase your compassion for yourself and all of In Buddhism, Avidya is: ignorance, spiritual ignorance, and illusion and we all have some of that remaining in ourselves that block our True Self from fully emerging in our learning to love self and love others as one and the same occurring simultaneously. Eg. Jesus on the cross modeled for us the Infinite Forgiveness of our Creator for those who had murdered him out of their avidya .
      Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” & “Where love rules there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” I wish you well in all your activism.
      The prayers I say often are at my website:


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        Hold on, Darryl. Your arm-chair evaluation of Michele’s response to the evils she names is a bit heavy on the psychiatric side, with a dash of theology (forgiveness) thrown in. Lots of presumption there. And I suppose Jesse James had train robbers illness because his father pistol whipped him one too many times. Nothing a few hugs, a train robber’s support group, and some generous forgiveness can’t take care of, I suppose. Evil does exist, Darryl, though it goes by many medicalized names these days. I’d say at the very leastMichele is sensitive to same, and probably outraged, giving creative expression to same. Overall, a good thing, the stuff of activists. Somewhere between the hasty diagnostics and non sequiters on forgiveness, I do hope you can manage to hear and see God in her.

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          Dear Joe, it was not in my intent to have any harm come to Michele or in any way to negate her sensitivity.
          I do hear and see God in Her. I would value our talking to exchange both of our gifts and vulnerabilities and understand your feedback about my words.
          I do not know how to contact you since that info is not available in this commentary page. You have my website in some of my responses so there is my home phone and email address there as an avenue of our meeting each other. drdarrylpokea.com

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Michele, Your poem is very to the point, and I love the refrain: “Please stop being stupid before we all die!”–and the truth is we could all die and that would include them too !!!

  6. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    In my personal experience, what I have learnt in confronting the coporate abusers and the collaborative management teams within privately owned health care homes for the elders.. is that when the pain, the sorrow, and the grief suffered, due to the many abuses of power and authority inflicted upon the elders and the caregivers becomes greater than the fears that this type of oppression and suppression causes… one must leave this house. This is not an easy step to take, as I once believed that I could bring about the necessary changes for the greater good of the whole, from working within the dysfunctional environment and system itself. This shattered belief also caused me much sorrow, pain and grief. Yet I also knew that if I remained in this house, that spirit of the light of love, compassion and mercy within my soul would slowly continue to be eroded and possibly extinguished altogether. There was also the pain, sorrow and suffering of leaving the elders and my coworkers behind… whom I genuinely and deeply cared for… which was also apart of the grieving process of leaving this house.

    Like the prophet of old… I retreated to the refuge of a cave for awhile… in need of being healed from the trauma of all that I had suffered. I needed the spiritual sustenance that only times of solitude with God can bring… and the clarity of wisdom, which rekindled that spark of the sacred and divine essence and presence of the spirit of love, compassion and mercy within the depths of my soul. Through this transformational process of kenosis… there was a self emptying, a letting go of the victim conscious mentality that had seeded itself within my soul… taking over the garden of my heart and mind… like an evasive weed run amuck. This too, at times caused me much pain, sorrow and grief… releasing energetically all my attachments to the memories of my past… the many stories within my souls journey of encountering the dominating forces of the misuse and abuse of power. Throughout this process of kenosis, there was no room for pretense, from hiding from myself or from God… and in this vulnerable intimacey of being completely exposed… I also realized there were moments in my life when I was not only the victim of this, but also the abuser too. The remnant too, needs to untangle the knots of threads within oneself.

    What came after this was a heightened awareness of the wisdom ways of the true meaning and purpose, value and neccesity of continuing to patiently pursue, persevere, and protect the virtues of love, compassion and mercy… which is the sacred use of the blessing of power and authority given each one of us… and to manifest this inherent beauty and the goodness of this, within All my relations… my relationship with self, others, the all and the everything of creation… no matter where I am, for all of this is Gods house.

    And so now, I have once again stepped out of the cave… and found others, like this community, within these DM’s… that I can walk with!

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      Your story of pain and strength are beautiful, Jeanette. Thank you for reminding us that sometimes, after having done all we can to support the good and work for positive change only to see that the powers that be are immovable, it is time to “leave this house.”

  7. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Jeanette, First of all meditate on the eight of cups… and you know what I mean. Leaving something often brings grief, but you must of sensed that it was time to go. It was strong of you to do it. I see you in the cave with Elijah hearing the “still small voice” and with Jesus in his kenosis. You say that what happened after you went through this process was: “a heightened awareness of the wisdom ways of the true meaning and purpose, value and necessity of continuing to patiently pursue, persevere, and protect the virtues of love, compassion and mercy…” I’m glad that you’ve come out of your cave !!!

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