A Cosmic Homecoming & Other Spiritual Insights from Ernesto Cardenal

Yesterday, in continuing our meditations on generosity and expansiveness as signs of holiness in the 21st century, we invoked Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal.  He is author of Cantico CosmicoThe Cosmic Canticle, which is an epic poem celebrating the new creation story and human and Nicaraguan history.

In this memoriam for Ernesto Cardenal, he shares some of his glorious cosmic poetry. PBS NewsHour

My video which accompanied the DM yesterday actually ran twice this week by mistake and I apologize for that on the one hand.  But on the other, maybe there was a reason for that.  I think my mistake may have been a “happy accident” because in that video I was sharing Cardenal’s thoughts about love and nature and God and the human heart, and I think his thoughts on such important subjects are worth hearing more than once.

So in this DM, I invite you to spend some more time with Ernesto Cardenal’s deep and creation-centered spiritual teachings. 

The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot. Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2006. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

For example, he tells us that all the appetites and anxieties of humans, our eating habits, our sexuality, our friendships, are one single appetite and one single anxiety to achieve union with one another and with the cosmos….This cosmic homecoming is what Christ wanted to reveal to us in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Notice how he takes for granted our relationship to the cosmos and how integral it is to all our yearnings or appetites.  Like Thomas Aquinas, who said that “the greatness of the human person consists in this: that we are capable of the universe,” we seek a “union with one another and with the cosmos,” the poet tells us. 

He is naming the unio mystica and this constitutes a “cosmic homecoming” such as Jesus was speaking of in the story of the Prodigal Son.

The modern era aborted our relationship to the whole and to the cosmos when religion and science split.  But we can put that behind us now and rejoice at the cosmic homecoming of science and spirituality, cosmos and psyche reuniting.  Poets like Cardenal are a big help in assisting us to grow our souls, expand and live generously.

Another observation from Cardenal follows.

We have come from the heart of God (says Ernesto Cardenal.) Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

We have come from the heart of God
And are as much a part of God as the fetus is a part of the mother.
And we all tend to return to God
As humanity tends to return to the maternal womb.

Notice he is speaking here from a metaphor of God as mother.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 335f.  

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 21-24.

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

Banner image: Wonder and union with the cosmos. Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize a “cosmic homecoming” in the story of the Prodigal Son?  What difference does that make in your keeping spirituality alive in your life and work in the world?


Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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6 thoughts on “A Cosmic Homecoming & Other Spiritual Insights from Ernesto Cardenal”

  1. Avatar

    Eternal acceptance is always there with its light on, waiting for us to return after the realization that all of our thoughts, deeds and efforts are but a short dream and drama that we awaken from. — BB.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I do recognize the return of prodigal humanity as the cosmic homecoming to the maternal womb of God as Mother. In Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son, hidden in the deep shadows of the upper left hand corner of the painting, which most people miss and which Henri Nouwen never touched on in his book… is a woman, the only woman hidden in the painting. This woman, hidden in the depths of the dark shadows was the one thing that long fascinated me the most in this painting.

    Recently the Spirit of the Great Mother has been speaking to me of this homecoming to the maternal womb of God as Mother, through the nesting of a particular bird, known as the Warbling Vireo. This bird creates a free hanging basket nest in the swaying branches of oak trees. Her distinctiveness, is her song, her voice, which becomes more complex as she matures. She feeds upon caterpillars, moths and dragonflies. All of these reflections within nature, have become beautiful symbolic metaphors; imaginatively and creatively intuited, revealing and making known to me the wisdom of what I call nesting in the maternal womb of God as Mother… in this season of my life… which I am writing of in my journal. I’m truly amazed at the insights rising to the surface of my consciousness!

  3. Avatar

    Matthew, thank you for re-introducing us to the spiritual poetry of Ernesto Cardenal. Besides the short YouTube interview of Ernesto in today’s DM, there are other interviews and readings of his poems on several YouTube videos. I watched a good one of a tribute a few years ago
    to Ernesto and Liberation Theology by Vanderbilt University where he recited nine of his poems and they were read in English by some of the theological students.

    The “cosmic homecoming” of the Prodigal Son symbolizes to me the eternal spiritual journeys of our unique eternal Souls on Sacred Mother Earth and through all our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos to the eternally Present Evolving Loving Diverse Oneness of our co-Creator~Source with-in and among Us….

  4. Avatar

    The two segments quoted from the Canticle are elegant artistic expressions of the mystical, Neoplatonic Logos/Word. It was interesting to see the reference to a Sutra, which also clearly influenced Cardenal’s understanding of mysticism. He evidently pulled inspiration for his mystical poetry from several mystical traditions — and recognized the universality of this type of mysticism.

    As for a “cosmic homecoming,” I recognize my own mystical experience, and every single other “Neoplatonic” mysticel experience, no matter which faith, no matter how “dualistically” its mystics expressed it, as expressions and messages of the soul/Soul’s “homecoming” to, and recognition of, its loving, radiant origin in the One/God, as demonstrated to it through the most utterly complete, unlimited, deepest, most radical, most awe-inspiring, “return” via unitive, mystical transformation. And yes, embracing the universe is always, absolutely part of the mystical unfolding within the radically non-dualistic ONE.. The mystical Word/Logos is very much a loving, exultant, intimate birthing into Created Being.

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