In light of the Webb Telescope and the potential for humanity awakening anew to a new and shared cosmology, we continue our meditations on the sacred cosmos and Earth as seen through the poetry of John of the Cross, sixteenth century reformer and mystic.
He instructs us that “the most exalted delight of all” that the soul enjoys is “the whistling of love-stirring breezes,” occurring as an “unveiling of truth about the divinity and a revelation of divine secrets.” A “tranquil” night comes along—not a “dark night”–in which “the spirit elevated to the divine light is in quiet.”
He calls this “the rising dawn” that occurs “at the break of day.” One’s eyes are opened to an “unexpected light.”
There follows “silent music” in which
...the soul becomes aware of Wisdom’s wonderful harmony and sequence in the variety of God’s creatures and works. Each of them is endowed with a certain likeness of God and in its own way gives voice to what God is in it.
It follows that creatures are not an obstacle to the divine, but become “for the soul a harmonious symphony of sublime music surpassing all concerts and melodies of the world.”
The soul calls her Beloved “silent music because in Him she knows and enjoys this symphony of spiritual music.”
A “sounding solitude” is “almost identical with silent music” because human faculties “can receive in a most sonorous way the spiritual sound of the excellence of God, in Himself and in His creatures.”
“Each of the blessed in its own degree of glory gives” gratitude and praise “continually to God.” This praise is like music since “each one possess God’s gifts differently, each one sings His praises differently, and all of them together form a symphony of love, as of music.”
Indeed, all creatures, higher and lower ones alike, according to what each is in itself has received from God, raise their voice in testimony to what God is.
Indeed, each in its own way, bearing God within itself according to its capacity, magnifies God. And thus all these voices form one voice of music praising the grandeur, wisdom, and wonderful knowledge of God.
John recognizes these teachings as “the meaning of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Wisdom, when He said: “The spirit of the Lord filled the whole earth” and “this world which contains all things has knowledge of the voice.”
In fact, “all things give testimony to God. Thus the “silent music” and “sounding solitude” are the “Beloved” also.
But so too is “the supper that refreshes, and deepens love.” For “supper affords lovers refreshment, satisfaction, and love.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing From Global Faiths, pp. 110-113. Translation from Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, pp. 462-474.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Flowering desert in the spring, Namaqualand, Goegap Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa. Photo by Winfried Bruenken on Wikimedia Commons
Queries for Contemplation
What teachings found here from John of the Cross move you to love and to action?
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit