To me, one of the greatest gifts from science in our time is its bestowing us with the news of the universe and its 13.8 billion year journey. It is so important to highlight our journey as a species arriving so late on the scene but so amazingly equipped to love the universe, to undergo awe in its presence, to learn about it, and to share what we learn.
Of course these same powers of our species can also be put to evil use: To think only of ourselves, to rape and exploit the Earth and other species (recent studies suggest that thousands of fish species will go extinct in this century as humans continue to warm the planet and to fish excessively).
Still, the universe is astonishing. Our Earth is astonishing. And our existence is astonishing. As Rabbi Heschel put it:
The world is too incredible, too meaningful for us. The existence of the world is the most unlikely, the most unbelievable fact. Even our ability for surprise is beyond expectation…. Who could believe it? Who could conceive it? …The existence of the universe is contrary to all reasonable expectations.
The Webb Telescope is part of that learning and sharing as is so much of recent science’s discoveries of the sacred journey our Earth has taken. All of it can—and must—feed our powers of praise.
The implications of the teaching from Thomas Berry that “ecology is functional cosmology” are staggering. Thomas Berry, like his mentors Thomas Aquinas and Teilhard de Chardin, is a cosmic mystic and prophet who urges us not to get stuck in our grief but to enter a “Great Work” of saving the Earth from ourselves.
Julian of Norwich was no starry-eyed optimist—after all, she lived through the worst pandemic in European recorded history, one that was so severe that Thomas Berry says it killed creation spirituality and the trust in nature’s holiness that was so ancient a trust.
Yet Julian was a champion of praise and nature. “God is the goodness in nature,” she declared. And she knew about awe and the Via Positiva and the energy it bestows on us all when she wrote: “Charged with the quality of reverence and loving awe, we turn ourselves with all our might toward the actions” to which we are guided.”
One such action is to save Mother Earth. From ourselves.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, p. 20.
And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond, p. 102.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Photo by Aldebaran S on Unsplash.
Queries for Contemplation
Are you “charged by the quality of reverence and loving awe to turn to action to which you are guided?” Are we? How is it going?
Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward