How do we get the sense of the sacred back once it has been lost? We have to go beyond the human, to the bigger context of creation itself, the universe itself–all 13.8 billion years of it–that have brought us into existence and made this moment possible.
Thomas Berry put it this way:
We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred [notice wonder, awe = sacred] only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary sacred reality. We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us.
Sr. Dot knew the awe and wonder and sacredness of the universe. Who can live with eyes and heart open in the Amazon rainforest for years and not know of sacredness? Aquinas says:
The most excellent thing in the universe is not the human. The most excellent thing in the universe is the universe itself. And all creatures are here to serve the universe.
We have to look with new eyes like Jesus said: “Metanoia.” Change of heart. Change of consciousness. Move beyond what Pope Francis has rightly called the “narcissism of our species”—“I think therefore I am”–to the fuller truth, The universe exists and acts and continually creates including our sun, moon, Earth, soil, trees, rivers, plants, animals–and ourselves….And therefore we are.
We have to fall in love all over again with the Earth, with the Universe, with existence. “Existence is the miracle.” (Rilke)
This is what Sr. Dorothy knew. And rejoiced at. And her hero, shero, St. Hildegard of Bingen too. “There is no creature that lacks a radiance.”
Père Chenu, the grandfather of Creation Spirituality who named that tradition for me when I studied with him in Paris in 1968, talked about “continuous creation” and “continuous incarnation.” Recognizing continuous creation and continuous incarnation are intrinsic to recovering the Sacred.
Mary Oliver knows it too. The Cosmic Christ. The holiness of the river, the stone and the rock in her powerful poem, “At the River Clarion.”
I just realized a few weeks ago that Père Chenu died at 95 years old the eve of Sr. Dorothy’s death (Feb. 11, 2005)—today therefore– which was also the day Nelson Mandela was released from jail after 27 years. Père Chenu, namer of CS and Sister Dot, practitioner and martyr of creation spirituality, both returned home within 18 hours of each other.
See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing.
See also Matthew Fox, “Living Words and the Cosmic Christ: Hildegard meets Mary Oliver,” in Fox, Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint For Our Times, pp. 11-24.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Batik tapestry honoring Sister Dorothy Stang, created by her brother Thomas Stang. Photo by Thomas Stang. Published with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
How important is it in your opinion that we recover a sense of the sacred? Do you agree with Thomas Berry about how to go about doing that?
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
Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century
Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.