We have been meditating on work and spirituality and we are remembering a woman who worked very hard at her very public job for seventy years for all the world to see.

Princess Elizabeth pledges herself to the service of all her people on her 21st birthday. She kept her pledge to the end. The Royal Family Channel.

My first memory of Queen Elizabeth was when I was 12 years old and our family went to a friends’ house to watch her coronation on TV (we did not have a TV then).  She has been a queen to most Englanders and millions of other people in the Commonwealth and around the earth ever since.

My heart goes out to those who have lost the only queen they have known and are feeling a deep loss.

Many words and tributes to Queen Elizabeth are emerging.  Bishop Marc Andrus of the Northern California diocese praised her for a recent missive she sent to Anglican bishops from around the world meeting in England urging them to address climate change and the rights of the poor.  And for her genuine faith that she practiced sincerely and that sustained her through her years. 

From the United States to South Africa, New Zealand to Ukraine, the world has come together to remember the Queen. Channel 4 News

An article in the Jesuit publication America praised her for her courage in being the first monarch to visit Ireland (where understandably there is still much hurt and trauma from the wounds of the British empire days).  In doing so she is said to have exemplified a kind of forgiveness for the murder of her close relative Lord Mountbatten by the Irish Republican Army. 

In a eulogy by a Roman Catholic archbishop in Belfast today, she was praised for her acts of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants during bloody times.

I honor her as a strong and smart woman who committed herself generously to her work and sense of duty and vocation.  I also liked her keen interest in animals and nature, especially dogs and horses and the outdoors. 

“Queen Elizabeth II in her own words” – a retrospective of her 70-year reign. Guardian News

She reigned through times of the dismantling of the British Empire and the emergence of a Commonwealth of nations in its place.  She did it with grace and graciousness.  (Now is not the time to discuss morality and empires, though clearly we are living in an Age of Reckoning around slavery, colonialism and empire building in America, England and other colonial powers as well.) 

She knew the limits of her very limited role.  No doubt the future of the monarchy in England will evolve and become even more limited now that her era has passed. 

We praise her for her strength and devotion to her vocation. We hope our dedication to ours is equally generous.

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work.

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

Banner Image: Queen Elizabeth in Berlin, 2015, giving her famous wave in her signature bright colors. Photo by PolizeiBerlin on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

What are your memories of Queen Elizabeth?  What did she and the role she played mean to you?

Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

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15 thoughts on “A Thank You to Queen Elizabeth”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today in our Queries for Contemplation you ask us what are our memories of Queen Elizabeth? Speaking for myself I have never been that interested in the English monarchy, and the only real memory I had is how the Queen was in her relationship with princess Diana, and then again with Meghan Markle–although I know in a general kind of way that she was a stabilizing influence during times of tremendous change. Then you ask us: “What did she and the role she played mean to you?” Really not much, because I was more focused on who was running our country. And I agree with you that this may not be the time to talk about empires, we surely need to in, as you say, “in an Age of Reckoning around slavery, colonialism and empire building in America, England and other colonial powers as well.” The difference I see is, that it is no longer colonial powers ruling the world but corporations and those who control their money.

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    A a person of African descent — whose people have been horribly colonized by the British empire, are still experiencing its effects, and are due reparations — I think now is always a good time to talk about morality and empires.

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      Yes, and I would include the US as another empire in its history of violence towards Indigenous peoples, Blacks, Hispanics, and other people of color. Tragically, ignorance and racism still exist in America, even against Mother Earth, especially as evidenced by most members of the Republican Party. We are still not One nation under God. Like most Western industrialized countries, we have a history of being spiritually separated from God on a personal and social level, as evidenced by our history of destruction of Sacred Mother Earth with its consequent existential environmental and climate crises we are all facing around the world. In the remarks by John Kerry in today’s DM, he said about 20 of our world industrialized countries have contributed to most of the earth pollution that have created this existential crisis for humanity and all living creatures. Queen Elizabeth in her own way cared about and served humanity.

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    I’m moved and illumined by Matthew Fox’s celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s courage and faith as a leader. And I deeply respect her loved ones need and right to mourn their beloved. At the same time, I believe now is always the time to speak of the millions of people, mostly Black, who are currently suffering and dying in very great numbers as a consequence of Britain’s violence and the cover-up monarchy has provided and still provides. I think all of us human beings, the world over, are to some extant tangled up in sticky nets of myth and oppression, which rob us of precious life, and unless we can each feel free to name the nets, whenever we may need, I don’t see how we can hope get everyone free.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Arden, I think what he was saying was , that in the context of this short meditation it isn’t the time or place to deal with those questions–because there’s not enough space. But Yes, as I wrote in my comment, it is time to discuss these things now, meaning in the present–and maybe Matthew will do that for us…

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    Suzanne Hetherington

    I hope this proves to be a time of opportunity whereby King Charles III will find it in his heart to embrace the virtue of epikeia (knowing when to suspend the rules…thank you Matthew for that in your recent webinar), and use his influence on the world stage to speak out even more fervently from his passion for the environment, and recognise publicly that restorative justice for the lands and people trashed by our empire is fundamental.

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    Marlene DeNardo
    Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

    Wed, Sep 14 at 10:26 AM

    “Now is not the time to discuss morality and empires”
    I disagree, Matt. I think that now is precisely the time to speak to the whole story of the beneficent leader of an empire that destroyed and subjugated many African, Caribbean and other peoples. Yes, it is good to express sympathy for her death…but not without telling the whole story and, quite honestly the continued show of royalty and class that we see every day on the TV hypnotizes people’s consciousness & is counterproductive to a nonhierarchical world we hope for.

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    I have always admired her for her dedication to her country, her God, and her duty. She gracefully accepted the mainly peaceful dismantling of the empire. She acknowledged some of her mistakes, notably about Diana. She rightfully guarded the privacy of her inner life and feelings, never expressing her personal political beliefs–and she was criticized for this. But I think she felt that she was a leader to hold the nation together and avoid the divisiveness that is part of politics. I think that she proceeded from a deep sense of duty and strong spiritual values. Her Christmas messages were inspiring, especially during Covid. As a human being, she made many errors, and it would be wrong to deny the impact that colonialism/empire had on so many people, who are rightfully angry. But it would be equally wrong to deny her the respect that she so painfully earned, in my opinion. She basically gave up her own personal life and inclinations for a higher good, in her eyes.

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    I have long thought thought that many modern popes and other religious leaders could take lessons from Queen Elizabeth. She was steadfast in doing her duty as she felt God had called her to her duty, and she did not pontificate on political matters, or pronounce on the shortcomings of others. She knew her role and embraced it with energy and humility. Was she perfect? No. Did she comprehend the damage colonialism had visited on many British colonies? No. But I think most of us could only hope to do as well as she did.

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    Dear Matthew,
    She was in the vanguard of women who actually were listened to and taken seriously, and she did it with grace. I learned a lot from watching the series “the Crown” about how she prepped for her speeches, how she worked with her Prime Minister, and how she was intelligent, gracious and respectful in the ways she interacted with people. She did the best she could with the various political crises she had to face. It was not an easy job. After watching the scenes with her sister’s heartbreak over not being allowed to marry whom she wished to marry, as well as the Duke of Windsor’s history, and knowing so many monarchs in history being forced to marry someone in order to help retain power or political advantage, I am glad for her that she got to marry the man she wanted to marry. If the Austrian prince Rudolf, son of Kaiser Franz Josef had been allowed to discern and to choose his own consort, he would not have committed suicide, and WW1 might have been averted. Interference by the state or church in that issue is one of the real harms that can happen. I found it very poignant that Prince Philip was interested in the spirituality of the men’s group he formed with the help of the Episcopal pastor, and that it really helped him to become more able to bear the burdens of the job of royalty.

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    the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury. : something done or given as amends or satisfaction. : the payment of damages :
    What the crown did to India etc
    What the popes and monarchies did to the world etc

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