Healing dualisms can occur in art as meditation. M. C. Richards comments:
Life is bipolar. Everything contains its opposite…. Because of the law of polarity, if we devote ourselves too exclusively to one pole, our world will tend to go flat. It is not a formula we are involved in, but a mystery.
The centering process is itself dialectical and can unite what we inherit as separate. The potter pushes the clay and is pushed by it: the writer writes ideas, but is also formed by them. The same holds for students (who are also teachers) and teachers (who are also students). From this dialectical process, the birthing actually takes place.
Richards in her writing
…pushes as far as I can push, to birth and death, life and death, getting them centered, unseparated…. Always I try to go toward, not formulation, but organism.
Art as meditation teaches us the “discipline of freedom.” Freedom is not the same as “anything goes”–it is “freedom with order,” as Pablo Casals so fervently insisted. A freedom born of discipline. Says M. C.:
Pottery has helped my poetry because I was less instructed in the handicraft and therefore less inhibited. I permitted myself a kind of freedom in the use of clay which I would not have known how to find in the verbal world.
This freedom to play is won by hard, determined work. It is the freedom to feel again.
We must be able to have fun, we must feel enjoyment, and sometimes long imprisonment has made us numb and sluggish. And then we find out that there are, paradoxically, disciplines which create in us capacities which allow us to seek out freedom…. We become brighter, more energy flows through us, our limbs rise, our spirit comes alive in our tissues.
We learn to respond and to yield.
We redeem (our energies) not by wrestling with them and managing them, for we have not the wisdom nor the strength to do that, but by letting the light to shine upon them.
Our “responses are values,” says Richards, born of discipline.
Discipline is hard and sometimes unpleasant but this too art as meditation teaches us—to persevere.
The discipline comes in when we have to pay attention to what we don’t like, aren’t interested in, don’t understand, mistrust… when we have to read the poetry of our enemies—within or without.*
*From M. C. Richards, Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person, pp.96, 116, 5, 22, 35, 64.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 232-238.
See also Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.
And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image “Offering Bowl” Pottery by the late poet/storyteller/artist/permaculture designer Bonnie Ann Burnett. Published with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
Discipline and paying attention to what we don’t like within or without: How important is that on your spiritual journeying?
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 Fundamentalism, Living in Sin
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