The Via Positiva–What We Can Learn From the Works of Creation

All of the quotations today come from the book that started it all: Original Blessing, lauded as one of the “20 books that changed the world” in New Age Journal‘s Annual Source Book for 1995. Geologian Thomas Berry wrote that it offers “a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world…a remedy for the deep personal and cultural pathologies …which have led us to assault the natural world in such a disastrous manner.”

Nature overtaking the ruins of the church of St Dunstan-in-the-East in the heart of London. Photo © Chris White, Adobe Stock.

What do these nuggets of wisdom from Original Blessing say to you right now?

Creation itself,
and not just books,
is a source of truth and revelation.

The word ‘humility’ comes from
the word humus or earth.
In the creation tradition, then,
to be humble means
to be in touch with the earth,
in touch with one’s own earthiness,
and to celebrate the blessings that
our earthiness, our sensuality, and our passions are.

When you build your basic understanding
of the universe on nature’s cycles
(as the creation-centered tradition does)
rather than on a mythical past state of perfections
(as the fall/redemption tradition does)
you learn to reverence change and process. 

“The Fall and Expulsion from Paradise,” fresco painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. Wikiwand.

The fall/redemption tradition
tends to identify death with sin,
as if death came into the world as a result of sin.
But a reasonable meditation on creation
would not come to this conclusion at all.
In fact, what we learn by examining nature is
that all things have their cycles
of life, death, and transformation. 

In nature, in creation,
imperfection is not a sign
of the absence of God.
It is a sign that the ongoing creation
is no easy thing.
We all bear scars from this rugged process.
We can—and must—celebrate scars. 

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 37-38, 59, 85, 110-111

Banner Image: Resurrection: a dead log becomes an ecosystem in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Phila Hoopes, used with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

Contemplate these quotations and choose the one which resonates most clearly with you.

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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5 thoughts on “The Via Positiva–What We Can Learn From the Works of Creation”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Creation itself, is a source of truth and revelation. This has definetely been my experience in encountering and engaging in relationship with the all and the everything of creation, as my KIN-dom.

    I resonate deeply with the redefined meaning of humility as, being and living in touch with the Earth and one’s earthiness… celebrating the blessings of this… learning reverence, through the natural cycles and processes of life, death, change and transformation.

    Appreciate the liberating truth… imperfection is not an absence of God! It is a sign of the nature of creation… continously unfolding, evolving and emerging as one converges with this beautiful, yet rugged process… all the while the living Spirit of compassion… touching, healing and celebrating the scars. The image that arises is that of Jeshua resurrected, meeting with the disciples… inviting Thomas to touch his scars, which no longer bleed, but rather are mirror reflected, as apart of the Cosmic Christ story, our Evolutionary Dance as Carol Kilby names it.

  2. Avatar

    Reverence change and process…Does change first require recognition in order to reverence? Is there a need to see or hear a difference to be able to experience grace?

  3. Avatar

    “ … all things have their cycle of life, death, transformation… “ I would add rebirth…

    This quote reminds me that we’re usually conditioned in our limited dimension by our concept of linear space time. In mystical quantum consciousness, I believe we become more aware of the mystery and creative newness of the dimensions of Eternal Divine Loving Present~Now… As we become more consciously aware of our evolving Souls, we’re transformed/rebirthed into our “True Heart Self~Divine Eternal Soul~Cosmic Christ Consciousness” within our Beloved co-Creator~Source’s Living Evolving LOVING COSMIC ONENESS….

  4. Avatar

    “Imperfection” is not the absence of God. God gave us tools: curiosity, the ability to learn, free will. and the ability to honor God and Her/His Self-in-Creation, or to stumble or turn away and then experience the effects of that. Mysticism, (panentheism), is all about honoring the transcendent One Who encompasses, within Her/His Being, all of Creation and Who teaches a Path of learning and growth. It includes the pain of stumbling and wandering far from the “rules of righteousness.” It’s why Jesus loved the prodigal son, the outcasts, and sinners. Jesus saw beauty, humility and majesty in the outsiders, and proclaimed their equality.
    Mystical Truth also proclaims the majesty of God’s Creation, not as any shamefully repugnant vestigial filth but as God’s loving, continually transforming artwork and chosen home for Her/His plants, animals, and humans, all within God’s Self-Being.

    Also, if people create inequality and seize wealth, they: 1) violate the Bible’s/Jesus’s declaration of universal rights and equality, 2) covet the rightful food, property and wages of those with less power, and 3) they worship themselves rather than God, putting their own self and wants above those whom God/Jesus demanded be honored as equals. When they defile nature, they declare their contempt for God’s Self-In-Creation. They make themselves into their idols.

  5. Avatar

    The fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil although a myth is an observable one we all participate in. We can get a good from an evil act. THis knowledge is what we were never to know. The Tree of Life is the fruit we ate as well. The freedom we have to live in both trees is the purpose of spacetime in our evolutionary pursuit. The Tree of Life is the fullness of Life we all yearn for. The knowledge of the good we can get from our unjust acts is best described as the universal acts of death and destruction for the benefit of the individual, groups, Governments and Institutions that pusues the ego of self importance. This then gives us the power over others. The accumulation of wealth in land, artifacts, property and money. We all participate in this injustice, some more and some less. The Tree of Life is the invisible Spirit of Truth that gives each and every single creature an equal and equitable relationship of self importance. The power we have is the ability to help each other to achieve this goal. This then will give us all the wealth of the fullness and abundance of Life in our evolutionary Omega point as it was in the Alpha, or beginning. How we achieve this justice of interdependence is first by forgiveness as we all participate in this evil we pray for deliverance from. Then by way of Food for all living things. We then can follow the Spirituality of Creation by simply living.

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