A return to the dark is also a return to our origins. Most of us were conceived in the dark, lived our first nine months in the dark, and were from all eternity in the dark heart of the Godhead that preceded the creation of fire and light.
The dark mystery of the Godhead calls us all to dare the dark—just as the light of God invites us into history and into the light.
Part of darkness is the absence of words and images and the presence of silence. Silence beckons us from the dark. “What preceded the Word?” asks the poet and potter M. C. Richards. Silence and the receptivity that listening to silence brings about.
The poet Rilke wrote: “Being silent. Who keeps innerly silent, touches the roots of speech.”
The inner journey of silence and darkness that is the Via Negativa invites us to enter the shadow, the hidden or covered-up parts of ourselves and our society. In doing so, we confront the cover-up that often accompanies evil in self or society.
“It is part of an unjust society to cover up the pain of its victims,” notes theologian Dorothy Soelle.
Letting go of cover-up and denial allows one to actually enter into the darkness that pain is all about. Since both despair and apathy arise from the cover-up of anger, this journey of letting go is also one of going deeper than the despair, apathy, bitterness, and cynicism that can create such resentment in our souls and society.
Such despair and cynicism are very much alive and well in our day and are trumpeted on social and mainstream media.
We all undergo what the mystics call the “dark night of the soul” because we are all mystics and we undergo deep darkness some of which is positive and some of which is negative. Entering the dark constitutes a necessary part of the journey beyond despair and numbing.
Joanna Macy writes: “Experience the pain. Let us not fear its impact on ourselves or others. We will not shatter for we are not objects that can break.” Darkness is deeply communitarian: “We are in grief together,” she tells us. When the heart is broken, compassion can begin to flow through it.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, p. 20.
Also see Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, pp. 140f.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Grieving Woman.” Photo by x1klima on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you learned, are you learning, to dare the dark? Do you think society around us is also learning this hard lesson? What lessons does it teach you, both positive and negative?
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.
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