Another response to our recent Cosmic Mass at the POWR in Chicago came from an older man who came up to me afterwards, said this was his first TCM, and cried on my shoulders.
Another came from Meshi, a serious practitioner of the Red Path of the Lakota people and a multi-year practitioner of the Sundance. He opened our TCM drumming Lakota Prayers to the Four Directions and ended it with a “Farewell” to the same spirits (“angels” if you are a Christian). He said to me, “Matt, now I know what you are doing.”
Later, I asked him what he meant because I don’t really know what I am doing, I am simply following Spirit as I feel it is leading me. He said: “You are taking the sweat lodge and spreading it to a broader audience. There are four rounds to a sweat lodge after all, not unlike the four Paths to the Cosmic Mass.”
A panel met the day after the Mass with some leaders of the TCM including Meshi and also Michelle Jordan, an African American song leader and ordained minister of the Church of Religious Science. Skylar Wilson has been director of the TCM the past ten years and identifies as a Sufi and works as a wilderness and rites of passage leader.
Mariko Middleton is active in the Order of the Sacred Earth and busy these days rediscovering the story of her people, the indigenous ones of Okinawa, whose history at the hands of the dominant Japanese culture is not unlike the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas and elsewhere.
Ellen Kennedy led the spiral dance at the TCM and also led a workshop on sacred dance. And Mary Plaster created the many large puppets of Earth, Sky, Water, Air and the small lit lanterns of various critters that brought festivity to the Mass.
“Liturgy” means “the work of the people” and a Cosmic Mass is very much that. A variety of people with a variety of talents, from a variety of traditions but with one thing in common: A hunger to bring the experience of the Divine alive in ritual.
See Matthew Fox, “Ritual: Where the Great Work of the Universe and the Work of the People Come Together,” in Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 249-295.
Banner Image: Giant puppet representing the Sun, beside a projected galaxy image at the Cosmic Mass, 2023 Parliament of World Religions. Puppet and photo by Mary Plaster. Published with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you attended a Cosmic Mass? Indigenous rituals? Burning Man? A Mass at church? What does ritual do for you? What can it do for a community? Why does Malidoma Some say “there is no community without ritual.”
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter