Exuberance, Exultation, Belonging: Moving Beyond Shame

My apologies for a mistake I made in my meditation on Earth Day.  But it’s not so bad a mistake–it’s sort of a positive Freudian slip if you will.  I confused the words exuberant (from Thomas Berry) and exultant.

“Ode to Joy Flash Mob” Video by CD Tube.

It’s not so bad a mistake for two reasons: First, exuberant and exultant are almost synonyms.  Here are their meanings: Exuberant: joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic; produced in extreme abundance; plentiful and profuse.  The opposite is sterile.

Exultant: filled with or expressing great joy or triumph: Jubilant. 

Second, one enhances the other so we all got a two for one—we are charged to be both exuberant AND exultant over existence, over the news of our blessed home, Mother Earth, and the 13.8 billion year journey that brought us all here. We are invited to share our exuberance and exultation on behalf of the cosmos, our mother, as well.

Unknown man gripped by shame. Photo by Russ Allison Loar. Wikimedia Commons

One way our ancestors talked about celebration is honoring the Sabbath. An invitation to take a day off for letting things be, tame our compulsion to control and always be in charge. Thomas Aquinas says the number one thing we celebrate on the Sabbath is: Creation.

We have been meditating lately on the topics of shame, shaming and being shamed, and the price we all pay when patriarchal culture leads with shame and not with gratitude and excitement about our existence. 

And that shame and aggression born of shame have a lot to do with deep feelings of not belonging

But we do belong. We belong to Mother Earth and to the universe that birthed her and us over a 13.8 billion year gestation period. We belong to the soil and the trees and the flowers that have fine-tuned the oxygen for us. We belong to the sun and the moon and the tides that brought life from the ocean to the land. 

“The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks. Wikimedia Commons

We belong with our pets and four legged ones everywhere, to the birds that sing to us and strut their beauty that we can admire, to the rivers and lakes that invite us into their presence. And so much more. 

And we belong to one another, we are social animals, we want to get along and need to get along, and joy and celebration is intrinsic to our celebrative nature. They are far more natural than hating, projecting, lying, and packing guns out of fear of one another.

See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth. 

And: Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.

See also: Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

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

Banner Image: Papua New Guinea soccer fans enjoying the game in support of the Pacific Partnership 2011, a five-month humanitarian assistance initiative. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Grandin. Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Queries for Contemplation

If feelings of not belonging are behind shame and aggression, how best to enhance our sense of belonging?  How do you deepen your sense of belonging?

Recommended Reading

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.

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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7 thoughts on “Exuberance, Exultation, Belonging: Moving Beyond Shame”

  1. Avatar

    Sing along with others – Joy to the World – Three Dog Night – Songwriters: Hoyt Wayne Axton

    Jeremiah was a bullfrog
    Was a good friend of mine
    I never understood a single word he said
    But I helped him a-drink his wine
    And he always had some mighty fine wine

    Singin’ joy to the world
    All the boys and girls now
    Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
    Joy to you and me

    And if I were the king of the world
    Tell you what I’d do
    I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the war
    Make sweet love to you

    1. Avatar
      Cheryl M Burton

      I always think of the name of this song as Jeremiah was a bullfrog. My teenage friend Mary was a fairly good singer and she loved this song when it first come out in the early 1970s. She would burst out the first line that always stuck with me as the name of the song. Thanks for the memory reminder❤️

  2. Avatar

    All this time
    The Sun never says
    To the Earth
    “You owe me.” [Shame on You!]

    What happens
    With a love like that,
    It lights the Whole Sky.”


  3. Avatar

    Most genuine spiritual traditions, including Indigenous spirituality, in human history and around the world have taught us through the lives of the mystics, saints, shamans, and all genuine spiritual seekers that through deepening our faith, meditation/contemplative prayer in our inner worlds, we can transformatively experience and integrate our divine nature and Loving Diverse Oneness with our ongoing Divine co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution of our physical and non-physical multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos on our eternal spiritual journeys… Cosmic Consciousness of our True Heart Selves~Eternal Sacred Souls in the Sacredness of the Eternal Present Moment….

  4. Avatar

    I am facing the casualty of the hurt we inflict upon each other. The hurt like a bruise on my psyche and heart. How do I deal with the denial that is sucking the life out of us and the Earth? What do I do?
    Get back to living in love?
    How? Do? I? Do? It?
    Than I ask Christ
    I ask Mother Earth
    And like always, I receive their same answer. They give me their love, their strength.
    It heals me. I belong again. I am made whole.
    Then I read your daily meditation Matthew and listen to the words of the elders, saints, the indigenous, wise and humble ones and the comments contributed
    and ever so quietly their words and acts
    of love float into me like a feather
    and lift me up.
    Rise my little one, rise,
    I love you. We love you.
    And in this love I feel peace, a sense of belonging like I’ve never known before.
    I belong with God.
    I belong with Mother Earth.
    We belong together. God and the Earth want us to feel loved. I want them to feel loved.
    We belong like feathers on the wing
    of a dove.

    There is a song, I Release Control, written by Alexa Sunshine Rose, that goes like this:
    “I release control
    and surrender to the flow of love
    That will heal me.”
    It never fails! It always does!
    I am learning that only love,
    a willing open heart can overcome the wrong we do,
    the hate, ignorance, greed, denial,
    one act of love at a time until the end of time.

  5. Avatar

    I most Belong when I walk the beach. When I walk beside the river. When I feel the sun on my back as I tend the garden. When my dog snuggles against my back in the cold night. When I open the door in the early morning and hear the birdsong and my cat greeting me from her sleeping perch. When I make a special trip out to the waterfall on a snowy day. When I listen to the Silence.

  6. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Belonging… the daily practice of choosing to reach out, cultivate and nurture connection, in courageous, compassionate and creative ways.

    Belonging… recognizing and acknowledging the reality of all the interconnections, interrelationships and interdependencies that we are all apart of, within the great Webb of Life, and choosing to engage in this sacredness of Oneing With the all and the everything of creation.

    Belonging… choosing to remain open in heart, receptive in mind and surrendering in soul, to the reality of BEING loved TO love… through all the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the tears… all that breaks us open to discovering the blessings of the inherent beauty within the mess, and the nature of our imperfect love unfolding, evolving, emerging within the journey of life… as we continuously converge in sacred communion with the mystery of this holy union of being human yet also incarnate with the living Spirit of the Divine.

    Belonging is a choice of responding to what already is, was and ever shall be… for what God has joined together, no one can tare asunder!

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