In this season of winter and darkness and advent, we continue our meditation with Meister Eckhart on repose, keeping in mind the Biblical statement that forms the basis of his teaching: “In all things I sought rest.” (Si. 24.11).
All things? Does Wisdom or God seek repose in all things? Eckhart takes this Biblical insight very literally. Says he:
If I were asked to give valid information concerning what the Creator’s aims were when he created all creatures, I would say: ‘Repose.’
If I were asked for the second time what the Holy Trinity was seeking in all its deeds, I would answer: ‘Repose.’
If I were asked for the third time what the soul was seeing in all its motions, I would answer: ‘Repose.’
If I were asked for the fourth time what all creatures were seeking in all their natural efforts and motions, I would answer: ‘Repose.‘
For Eckhart, it would seem that repose or peace or silence lie at the heart of all creation and of the Godhead as well. The Creator and the Trinity are seeking repose in all their deeds and works of creation and the human soul too seeks repose in all its movements. He gives the example of the eye:
People never open or shut their eyes without seeking repose. Either they will cast something away from them that hinders them or they will draw something to themselves in which they will rest. People do all their deeds for the sake of these two things.
When the eye is shut it is for the sake of repose, but when it is open, it also responds to the light and color that come to it. Thus, he can say that people “never open or shut their eyes without seeking repose.”
Another example he gives is meditation and he cites St. Anselm:
[First] withdraw a little from the commotion of external deeds. Second, flee, and counsel yourself before the storms of thoughts that also bring great unrest to the soul. Third people can request nothing more precious than repose.
Here Eckhart equates repose with meditation and being still. He adds:
God neither heeds nor needs vigils, fasting, prayer, and all forms of mortification in contrast to repose. God needs nothing more than for us to offer him a quiet heart. Then he accomplished in the soul such secret and divine deeds, that no creature can serve them or even add to them.
Here eternal wisdom enters the soul and:
on this account our Lord says: ‘I shall lead my bride out into the desert and shall speak there into her heart’ (Hosea 2:14). This means in the wilderness, away from all creatures.
To be continued
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 380-382.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
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Queries for Contemplation
How do you offer God a “quiet heart’?
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.