We have been meditating on how love overcomes fear and courage is born of a big heart, a loving heart. Loving something more than the fear of death—advice from MLK, Jr.—can mean loving something more than losing one’s job. This might serve as a fruitful meditation for all of us including politicians.
There may be times when issues arise that a good conscience has to vote on that may not be popular back home with one’s constituency. Being voted out of office for following one’s conscience is not the worst fate in the world. That’s called losing one’s job.
Years ago I was expelled from my community of 34 years for following my conscience as a theologian and remaining with the Institute of Creation Spirituality that I had founded and grown along with many wonderful and diverse faculty that was reaching many people and serving an important need in reinventing education and spirituality.
That mini-death was not the end of the world for me. It opened up other doors to a broader community of seekers and it led to our founding a more independent University of Creation Spirituality.
Pain is involved but one learns to move on. Life has its surprises, but as Eckhart put is, “God’s exit is her entrance.” Letting go can lead to new things.
Loving something more than the fear of death can also mean loving something more than losing one’s reputation; or just plain losing. It includes a willingness to let go. Courage includes expanding one’s heart (and mind) but also it means risking, and risking often requires a willingness to let go. Courage includes a willingness to risk.
Talking about courage and holiness means talking about fear. Fear in itself is a danger alarm that can save us. If one meets a bear in the forest and is not afraid, one may not engage the imagination and speed to have to solve the existential problem at hand. But fear has another side to it as well. Fear can choke us, close us down, paralyze us, and it can result in social hysteria including scapegoating, blaming, and hate.
Fear is very much in the air and on the air these days and promises big ratings and fat earnings for some media outlets.
True prayer, as Lakota teacher Buck Ghosthorse taught me, is standing up to fear by making the heart strong. Fear triumphs when our hearts shrink. To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 296ff.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: A display of remarkable courage. “U.S. marshals escorted Ruby Bridges to and from school” in New Orleans in 1960 as desegregation becomes the law of the land. Wikipedia, public domain.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you undergone Eckhart’s experience that “God’s exit is her entrance”? What did you learn from that?
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics
Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)
Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self