Speaking of festivity and celebration, I am moved by Yeats’ simple poem:

“Laughing Sisters.” Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

We must laugh and we must sing,

We are blessed by everything

Everything we look upon is blessed.

This speaks to me of Original Blessing if anything does.

We have been considering Air and how Air is an original blessing worthy of our regular praise.  Along with Earth, Fire and Water.  Puppets assist us to remember.  Paying attention is key, as Mary Oliver insists.  It is our basic prayer for gratitude is such and we have to pay attention to allow gratitude to return and to flow among us.

There is a “must,” and imperative built in to Yeats’ observation to sing and laugh.  Laughter and singing is not just fun, it is necessary.  From them derive the energy to keep up the struggle in hard times and good times.  Moreover, everything we encounter is blessing us, not just the positive experiences but the negative ones too.  Even evil has much to teach us and also develops us and demands the best of us to combat it. 

The a cappella trio LordSong sings the Sydney Carter hymn “Lord of the Dance.” Gaither Music TV

There is a lot of blessing going on if it is true that “everything we look upon is blessed.”

As Heschel reminds us, God is not just the God of creation but the God of merriment and joy.  And such celebration derives from a place of holiness.

I love the phrase, “Festival of Faiths.”  What other Festivals are we deserving of and needy for?  A festival after all is about group praise.  How about the following?

Festivals of cuisine.

Festivals of clothing, garments, costumes.

Festivals of languages.

Festivals of music.

Festivals of various visages.

Ethiopian feast on the occasion of a school opening ceremony. Photo by Matthew Spiteri on Unsplash

Festivals of rituals, ceremonies, liturgies.

Festivals of funerals.

Festivals of marriage ceremonies.

Festivals of Lights (especially in the month of December)

Festivals of fast days.

Festivals of saints.

Festivals of humor.

Festivals of life.  (Merton says “Life is a festival.)

Festivals of animals.

Festivals of children.

Festivals of rites of passage.

Festivals of independence days, breaking free of being colonized.

Festivals of thanks.

And more, many more.

Occasions to dance, sing, and give thanks.

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing.  

And Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, pp. 68-70.

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

Banner Image: PunarPusam festival procession, Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple in Singapore, 2013. Photo by budak on Flickr.

CORRECTION: In yesterday’s DM, Mark A. Steiner was incorrectly described as a graduate of Matthew Fox’s creation spirituality master’s program. He writes: “I first brought Matthew to Louisville in 1991. In 1997, Catherine Browning, Gale Harman and I formed Cultivating Connections which supported the Creation Spirituality Connectors network. I went on to offer programs and conferences around CS, the Universe Story etc. until 2021 when I closed shop.”
We apologize for the error.

Queries for Contemplation

What do Yeats’ words mean to you?

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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9 thoughts on “Yeats on Celebration, Praise and Festivity”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you begin by reflecting on the “Original Blessing” there is in Yeats’ poem which says: “We must laugh and we must sing, We are blessed by everything, Everything we look upon is blessed.” You say there is a “must,” built in to Yeats’ observation to sing and laugh. “Laughter and singing is not just fun, it is necessary. From them derive the energy to keep up the struggle in hard times and good times. Moreover, everything we encounter is blessing us, not just the positive experiences but the negative ones too.” You say that, “We have been considering Air and how Air is an original blessing worthy of our regular praise. Along with Earth, Fire and Water.” Interestingly enough, William Butler Yeats was a member of a mystical order called, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn–and the four elements of earth, air, fire ,and water were used in their rituals. You say that you love the phrase, “Festival of Faiths.” Then you ask, “What other Festivals are we deserving of and needy for?” And you then list a number of suggestions: Festivals of cuisine / Festivals of clothing & costumes / Festivals of languages / Festivals of music / Festivals of rituals & liturgies* / Festivals of funerals / Festivals of marriage ceremonies / Festivals of Lights (in my town they have a Festival of Lights parade in December) / Festivals of saints / Festivals of humor / Festivals of life. (Merton says “Life is a festival”) / Festivals of animals / Festivals of children / Festivals of thanks–and of course we know what Eckhart said about saying Thank you… Paying attention is key, as Mary Oliver insists. It is our basic prayer for gratitude is such and we have to pay attention to allow gratitude to return and to flow among us. Let it be so.
    *See my book: Liturgies of the Earth.

  2. Avatar

    Today I woke up wanting to find out more about the sacred masculine and the green man. I wandered through the internet rather uselessly until I finally realized that I had a wondrous source of thoughtful information here in the Daily Meditations! There is a search option to explore all the amazing thoughts and history and tying it all together with wisdom and love. Wow! Thank you!

  3. Avatar

    Beautiful meditation Matthew on God’s Spirit of Love, Life, Creativity, Beauty, Joy, Gratitude, Celebration , and Blessings of Compassion. I’m reading Francis Weller’s book, “The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief.” He reminds us that on our human spiritual journeys, that there is also an “… intimate bond between grief and gratitude, sorrow and intimacy.” This would be part of the via negative in Creation Spirituality.
    “In this lyrical handbook for mastering the art of grieving, noted psychotherapist Francis Weller reveals the new vitality we encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss. Those who work with people in grief, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, who mourn the ongoing destruction of our planet (and ongoing injustices/suffering in the world – DM), or who suffer the accumulated traumas of a lifetime (including facing our own mortality – DM), will appreciate the transformative insights presented here through story and poetry… He shows us that the greatest gifts are often hidden in the things we avoid, and offers powerful tools and rituals to help us transform grief into a force that allows us to live and love more fully.”
    God’s Spirit of Divine Love is also indeed Compassionate, Merciful, Healing, and Transformative….

  4. Avatar

    “Everything we look upon is blessed.” If we could remember this every moment of every day, life would be the spectacular journey God invites us to have it be. When I need a shot in the spirit of enthusiasm and joy, I turn to the dance number “Rocka My Soul” by the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe. I suggest that you save this video for when you also need to a shot of joy. It reminds me that even when we are apart, we can be together and we can dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkYzCSsDCEM

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Hello Susan,
      Thanks for reaching out! You can find more information about every day’s banner image in the endnotes, just above Matthew’s video teaching. Let us know if you have any further questions!
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

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