We ended yesterday’s DM with the sentence, “Appreciation matters.”  Rabbi Heschel said that “humanity will not be saved by more information but by more appreciation.”

Joanna Macy, writer and teacher of eco-spirituality, counsels us to embrace our pain about the world as a way of deepening our connection to it. Living Forest Farm

Are we teaching appreciation in this time of facing our own and millions of other species extinctions?

The great poet Rainer Rilke advised us to “walk your walk of lament on a path of praise,”

Yesterday, we heard from a reader who is undergoing lots of grief about the demise of Mother Earth as we know her, the extinction of so many species, with our own on the block as well.

Grief is a sign of our times—at least it should be.  We should not leave it hidden and unattended-to.  Much of the anger in the world today might be unconsciously due to not getting our grief out.  

Shamanic drumming, Spain. Photo by Viktor Vito Tomić on Unsplash

Good rituals do that.  We need more and more ceremonies to assist us in this grief, rituals like we have been devising in our Cosmic Masses for over 25 years, and others as well.

One such ceremony one can do at home is to take a drum and beat it 15 minutes a day allowing any sounds that want to come out to come out from our third chakra (the gut).  This is an ancient shamanic practice, and it works.  

Grief calls for our attention today.

But so too does the Via Positiva, our Joy and Gratitude and learning still another time not to take for granted.

Another sign of our time is to wake up to not taking the health of our Earth for granted.  To learn to praise anew.  To recover therefore the sense of the Sacred which has been missing for so long in our academic and political and media discourse.  

“Falling in Love with the Earth” by Thich Nhat Hanh, for the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Awakened Nature

As Thomas Berry says, 

It has been said, We will not save what we do not love.’  It is also true that we will neither love nor save what we do not experience as sacred….Eventually only our sense of the sacred will save us.

This is why we are trying to counterbalance the obvious sadness we feel as we face our own possible extinction and that of so many other creatures with the Good News of the mystics.  

The Via Positiva needs deepening as grief becomes our daily food.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics.  

And Charles Burack, ed., Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, pp. 90-131, 212-218.

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

Banner Image: “Tree Hugger.” Photo by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Have you learned to walk your walk of lament on a path of praise?  Are we learning this together? 

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

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12 thoughts on “Grief and Praise, Walking Together”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You say today that: “Grief is a sign of our times—at least it should be… Much of the anger in the world today might be unconsciously due to not getting our grief out. Good rituals do that. We need more and more ceremonies to assist us in this grief.” Then you mention the Cosmic Masses that I have taken part in, and have put on with other students from UCS, as well drumming, learning not to take our Earth for granted, learning to praise anew, and to recover a sense of the Sacred. Then you ask us if we, “Have learned to walk your walk of lament on a path of praise? as Rainer Rilke said? Yes, but I probably do more lamenting than praising, unfortunately. And yes, I believe we are learning this together? In our on-line comment section–which hopefully we are translating back into our daily lives and check into starting your own: Creation Spirituality Community.

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    Two of my favorite quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke within my wife and my article: Returning to the Heart of the Healer Within:

    SHE EMBRACED THE DARKNESS OF THE WORLD also WITHIN HERSELF as do the Laya meditation practices:

    ‘”Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.”

    She also balances herself and others as she says: ” You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness that you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the hour, the birth of new clarity.”

    Ranier Maria Rilke teaches us that Luminous Consciousness continuously nudges and lights our understandings that we ourselves birth.

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    Less information, more appreciation…yes, yes, yes….and this even as we “walk the path of lament” . Thank you for these beautiful meditations, so heartfelt. Food for the soul.

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    Before you delete this, please consider the following: (a) great idea to shorten length of commentary responses, (b) suggesting that the word count on 1000 characters (including spaces) is “roughly 200 words” is not quite accurate. Try it, it’s much closer to 150 words, unless you’re for selecting for 6th or 7th grade writing, (c) it’s your website, so utilizing a count that includes spaces is entirely your call. At the same time, piano makers don’t count the space between keys as keys, nor do dentist’s the space between teeth as teeth, nor do baker’s consider holes in a donut, and hence don’t charge for them. Neither do publishers in tallying word counts. If readers are to be “charged” for empty spaces, then in the tradition of mystical silence why not remove all the letters and leave the empty spaces. After all, that’s where God dwells, in the space between things like breaths, words, thoughts, and actions.

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    Lamenting and gratitude touched my soul as I walked in the deep woods. Caressing the deeply etched bark of the oak tree I experienced the enduring strength of loving life, amidst both its sorrows and joys etched into the memories of our flesh. I heard the sound of the drum in lament and praise echoing through the forest, its melodic rhythms played by the woodpecker and the old white pine. I saw the uprootedness of the fallen, due to the stormy winds of change beyond our control… the heaviness of grief caught in the branches of another holding a sacred space to land. I gazed into the lamenting eyes of the deer who’s silent stance awakened me to the gentle pathways of quiet contemplation and the wisdom that leads us through grief, into the enchanted forest of becoming grateful for all that we experience and encounter… as being sacred parts of the the whole. Lamenting and praise flow from the one stream of love.

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    Thank you Matthew for another beautiful meditation, especially about integrating our lamentation with gratitude. The two enclosed YouTube videos about the Love and sacredness we feel about Mother Nature and All Her creatures and blessings, including ourselves, remind us to continue to be grateful daily (every sacred moment), even during our collective grief process. Joanna Macy is one of the 85 humanists who Michael Dowd interviews in his website (postdoom.com) who have worked through denial and reaching acceptance each in their own unique personal spiritual journey. Joanna’s most recent book is “A Wild Love for the World,” ed. by Stephanie Kaza. You, Matthew, even have an essay in it, “Our Compassionate Nature.”
    My favorite enclosed YouTube video is “Falling in Love with the World,” and I plan to forward it to my spiritual friends.
    Blessings ?❤️??

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    Thank you, Matthew, for your meditation on lament and gratitude. Thank you also for letting us see you search for Derek Wolcott’s words on the subject. As an almost eighty-year-old myself , I identify with your word search, but I choose to think that we sometimes can’t summon words because they are imprinted in our hearts.

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    I’m grateful for this post. I’ve been looking at books I can buy that tell me how to deal with this constant pain, and here it is: Walk with Joy.
    Except . . .
    I have great grandchildren who are little children with big dreams — will they ever be able to achieve them?
    I have grandchildren who look forward to bringing their own children into the world — what might those babies have to suffer?
    My house is in an area that, this year, is a full 10 degrees above what it normally is for this time of year. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve had to do to my gardens to try to coax a few vegetables to grow in this heat. South of me, people are experiencing water rationing that is unheard of in this country—or anywhere else I know of.
    The Colorado River, one of many, is drying up bringing economic devastation to several states.
    People in Pakistan are drowning in unheard of flooding.
    I agree that Joy and Appreciation should alleviate the suffering—but where do I find them? In knowing I am among the last of my species to praise Gaia and appreciate Her?
    It’s bittersweet. Because every day when I’m outside and hearing birds and watching fawns and nursing calves and clucking chickens I actually DO experience joy—but it is immediately overshadowed
    Because I know what’s coming.

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