We find ourselves in the midst of four wars that are raging. The war in Ukraine; the war in the Middle East; the war against democracy being carried out in the United States, Hungary, Israel (before Hamas invaded) and, until the last election at least, Brazil. And the war against Mother Earth that we call “Climate Change.” 

A monument to Nelson Mandela (location unknown). Photo by Falco on Pixabay.

That war is a war against the future and all Earth’s creatures, including ourselves.

Can humanity grow up and outgrow war? Isn’t that the accomplishment of Gandhi, King, Mandela, and all who showed us another way to deal with conflict and moral outrage? A practice called non-violence?

And surely Jesus, and all those who teach about compassion, many of whom we have been meditating with in recent DMs. Isn’t compassion the next step of human evolution?

Humanitarian relief arrives in Gaza. Video by PBS NewsHour.

One dimension to compassion is keeping in mind, and practicing the truth of, our nobility as a species and as individuals. I have been struck by the primacy of this teaching about our nobility, and how important it is to keep in mind and alive, as I watch the horrors and devastation going on in Gaza, for example. “Compassion begins at home with one’s own body and one’s own soul,” Eckhart reminds us. 

One lesson I learned from diving deeper into the work of Père Chenu, is his working definition of spirituality: “Our true nobility” he calls it. How important is it to know and be in touch with our true nobility? To teach it? Live it out? Share it? Look for it in others? To find spirituality?

When we lift others up, we uplift ourselves — the definition of nobility. Image of helping hands over the Ukraine flag by Michael Jahn from Pixabay.

Might a sense of our true nobility counterbalance some of the bad images our species puts forward every day on the news in this season of war?

How important is it that spiritual teachers from all the world religions tell us we are capable of compassion and called to practice it? How noble are we?  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 93-102. 

And Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 177-188, 377- 403.

Banner Image: A Londoner assists a homeless man, near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What examples of our “true nobility” do you notice in yourself and others today? Yesterday?

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

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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5 thoughts on “Our Nobility”

  1. Avatar

    Pat McCabe, a tribal elder speaking this weekend at the Gaian conference for The Work That Reconnects, speaks to this NOBILITY, tho in different words, Matthew. She defines it as Omnibeneficence- the human quality of living in ways that benefit the Whole, given an understanding of the interdependence of all things. An example- corn is a cultivated crop, it only exists due to the interaction of humans and the seeds. Apparently the Amazon Forests were also cultivated by our ancestors. This, as well as todays Meditation, inspire me to stay true to this belief- that what we do now, in inter-dependence with all life around us, matters. I pray for the grace to act from a “noble and generous heart”.

  2. Avatar

    One of the dictionary definitions for “noble” is “Excellence”. When I see or hear nobility, I burst into tears. Matthew, when I read your words of today, “the war against Mother Earth that we call “Climate Change”, I burst into tears. What a true and excellent statement! We’re all so sick of the euphemisms around the polluting of the Earth! I think I also cry because, as Mary Daly used to say: We are starving for the truth. We are starving for art. We are starving for good examples and role models. Starving! Recently, I noticed how the actors in the Netflix movie, Nyad, were crying spontaneously when at the end of the movie, Annette Benning was delivering such an excellent performance. So noble.

  3. Avatar

    I am suggesting when we speak of wars , we not forget
    Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. Several armed groups – fighting against government forces and/or against each other’s – are involved in these conflicts.

    Our focus seems aimed at Europe and the Mid-East -Africa also contains communities at war/conflicts. Let us not forget to pray for the people of Africa and for peace to come to be with the people of Africa also.
    Thanks. Peace and All good, Francis

    1. Avatar

      I agree and there are many others places plagued with violence that has not yet escalated or even been noticed. I pray for these every day. There are so many people who have no sense of safety or security, so many refugees. There are also noble people filled with compassion who try to help.

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