M.C. on Art as Meditation as Incarnational Meditation

Our lives can easily be heady and not truthful since truth comes from all the chakras and our whole self and whole body—not just from the head.  No matter what patriarchy in both academia and religion try to tell us. 

This is one of a series of heart creations by Leslie Richards. This particular painting she paired with Rumi: “In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” Used with permission. To view her art, click HERE.

A well-kept secret is that our hearts are in our bodies.  And our passion for moral outrage also.  M. C. Richards speaks to this when she says:

Incarnation: bodying forth. Is this not our whole concern? The bodying forth of our sense of life? Is this not a sense fully as actual as our sense of touch, which quickens not only in our skin but in our hearts, when we stay that we are “touched” by another’s kindness?

Love is bodily.  That is why proper justice means proper food and clothing and shelter and a living and healthy earth which bears healthy food and incorporates healthy air and water and sunshine.  So many political issues and justice issues are bodily issues.  Body and body politic go together. 

The desire to control other peoples’ bodies is contrary to this.  It is unjust and anti-body.

M.C. Richards’ Most Famous Workshop. Richard Kane on YouTube

Says Richards: “That is what form is: the bodying forth. The bodying forth of the living vessel in the shapes of clay.”  What does bodying forth mean?  Surely it is one way to describe our powers of creativity in their many manifestations from sports to craft-making to singing, to giving massages and so much more. 

Richards underscores how important creativity is and how necessary it is to give it our attention when she says: “We have to realize that a creative being lives within ourselves, whether we like it or not, and that we must get out of its way, for it will give us no peace until we do.”

This is Greg Gude, co-owner of Broome Animal Sanctuary, with his beloved pig Otis. Every Saturday he does a photo shoot with Otis, who is clearly an exceptional pig. Used with permission. To find out more about the sanctuary, click HERE.

Richards’s use of the term incarnation is deliberate. We Christians of the West usually only mouth those words and then return to the safety of our heads.  Authentic spirituality calls for a deep bodying forth, a genuine belief expressed in action born from the holiness of our own incarnation, our bodily natures.  That is how we connect with one another and with all of creation—by way of our shared bodiliness.  Justice and the common good call us.

Richards reminds us that it is “impossible to distinguish between body and soul: between the living being and the shape it takes.” We and our good work is a “bodying forth.”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Deep Ecumenism, Eco-justice, and Art as Meditation,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life, pp, 215-242.

See also Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

Please note: In yesterday’s DM, there was an error. In the first paragraph it said that Matthew studied with Pere Chenu 65 years ago. It should have read 55 years. We apologize for the error.

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

Banner image: “Dance in the Shadow,” a circle dance in Lisboa, Portugal. Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you find yourself getting out of the way of the creative being dwelling within yourself?  Is Incarnation and bodying forth your/our “whole concern”?  What does “incarnation” mean to you?

Recommended Reading

Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life

In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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5 thoughts on “M.C. on Art as Meditation as Incarnational Meditation”

  1. Avatar

    “Bodying Forth Imitating the ‘Small-Self Jesus’ “
    “We make room for the larger self by getting out of ourselves [our heads] and residing with ‘the small-self Jesus’.” — BB 07 14 2023.
    What is the point of Jesus in human form if we are to ‘cosmically’ turn Jesus into another version of the Holy Spirit only for the fact that we cannot see Him? Jesus, born of Mary, did not incarnate so that we could contemplate His ‘largeness’ as God after His ascension. This would imply that Jesus walked the earth so that the message would be that Jesus as God is larger than the little selves being the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of which we are of Him.
    Contemplate this – Jesus is saying, ‘the Way’ is telling us, that divinity resides in His ‘small and humble self’. In being Himself in human form, the ‘small self’ form, Jesus is looking to raise us up in ways that are real but only appear to be a Mystery or not attainable to us. ‘Small self’ Jesus as our confidant and guide will ‘tear the veil’ and reveal the Mystery to us as we walk with Him, talk with Him, listen to Him, love with Him and be at peace with Him. ‘Small self’ Jesus is the paradox of who we believe Jesus to be. In our own visible ‘small self’ form, we are all worthy, rich and divine. If we are to ‘see’ and treat all others in the same fashion, how different will our lives be, how different and fulfilling would others’ lives be? — BB 04 09 2023.

  2. Avatar
    Brigid Cannon, OP

    Grateful for your reflection Bill. If we can remain humble and small following Jesus as the Way the Truth and the Life we will become true disciples of Jesus. We will become fully human and fully alive and nothing delights God more than this.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I find myself engaging in a relationship with the creative being dwelling within myself, rather than getting out of the way. Creativity is a collaborative process, between different aspects of myself… like a sacred dance or an orchestra… where each aspect gets to express itself.

    Incarnation and bodying forth is what the journey of life is about… the continuous unfolding, evolving emergence of converging with all that I Am, and cultivating, nurturing, claiming and awakening to the remembrance of this.

    Incarnation for me, means integration and wholeness of all aspects of Self, both my humanness and my divinity and embodying the fullness of this little spark of the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, God… seeded and sealed within me, learning to live and be a reflection, an expression of this, as best that I can… through a personal, intimate and direct relationship of companionship with this living essence and presence dwelling within. It’s also the sacred union of holy communion, a Oneing With this little spark of the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, God within the all and the everything of creation, experiencing and encountering the incarnation in all creatures, which reflectively mirrors something of myself.

    1. Avatar

      When the Spirit arises within me and I am inspired ‘to write’ that which arises and comes forth, I truly have to get out of the way and act as an interpreter of sorts. My only collaboration resides in the connection, the communion and the experience itself. — BB.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew and M.C. Richards for today’s beautiful DM reminding us, like most mystics do, that our creative being in our hearts needs to Always be Open to the Living Presence of DIVINE LOVE (GOD)~Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Healing~Beauty~Joy~Freedom~Creativity~Compassion~
    DIVERSE ONENESS… within, through, among us in ALL of UNIQUE BEAUTIFUL MANIFESTATIONS of ongoing co-Creation in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT LOVING MOMENT….

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