Two days ago in our daily meditations, we spoke of how winter and the darkness “contain their own wisdom and lessons, one of which is silence and quiet and repose.”
What does repose mean to us today given the busyness of the internet and of work and of living in a consumer-driven society? How rare—or how common—is repose? And does repose matter?
Repose is about finding some peace amidst struggle and strife, work and busyness. Repose is at the heart of our inner work that in turn feeds and even steers our outer work—or ought to.
Meister Eckhart devoted an entire sermon to the topic of repose. His following teachings are so valuable in this time of winter and advent amidst so much strife and struggle and cynicism of our era. I call this sermon “How All Creatures Experience the Divine Repose.”
Eckhart begins by citing the book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus: “In all things I sought rest.” (Si. 24:11)
Says Eckhart: These words are written in the book of wisdom. [The book of Sirach is one of the wisdom books of Israel.] We wish at this time to explain them as if the eternal wisdom were conducting a dialog with the soul, saying: ‘I have sought repose in all things’ and the soul replies: ‘God who created me has rested in my tent’ (Si 24:12).
Eckhart tells us that “the divine countenance, by its divine nature, maddens and drives all souls out of their senses with longing for it so as to draw them to itself.”
All souls are driven mad by the divine beauty and the taste of one’s own divine nature. But what is this divine nature to which we are so madly driven? “The divine nature…is repose,” says Eckhart.
The book of Sirach that Eckhart cites says this:
Over the waves of the sea and over the whole earth,
and over every people and nation I have held sway.
Among all these I searched for rest,
and looked to see in whose territory I might pitch camp. (Si 24.6f)
If our origins are divine and “the divine nature is repose,” then clearly repose is intrinsic to our nature. God is “seeking to draw all creatures with him back again to their origin, which is repose.” God also “enjoys the divine nature, which is repose.”
It is not just in humans that Divinity seeks repose, but among all creatures. For God “loves himself in all creatures. Just as she is seeking love for herself in all creatures, she is seeking also her own repose in them.” To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 380, 383-385.
See Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, “golden tent” pp. 76-82
Queries for Contemplation
Is it your experience also that the divine countenance, by its divine nature, maddens and drives all souls out of their senses with longing for it so as to draw them to itself? What follows from that?
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.
Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.