The Mystics on Joy & Thanks (Whatever the News)

Joy is bigger than and deeper than humans hating one another and themselves and even Mother Earth.  Joy trumps our sadness when we can learn to let go.  

The Dalai Lama reveals insights into human behaviour and values that impact our happiness in Western society. The Happiest

As Meister Eckhart puts it, “the soul grows by subtraction and not by addition” and “we sink eternally from letting go to letting go into the One.”  We are capable of sinking into the One, the Source of all Joy. 

That is what the mystics remind us.  Consider the following:

“Sheer Joy is God’s and this demands companionship.”  Here Thomas Aquinas tells us his understanding of why the universe exists at all: for the sake of sharing the divine joy.  As Thomas Berry said in yesterday’s DM, celebration is the bottom line of the universe.  Aquinas tells us there is an “original goodness” that we are here to share. 

A life of shared joy and grief: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter kiss at the Democratic National Convention, 1976. Their 77-year marriage transitioned on 11/20/2023 with Rosalyn’s death at 96. Wikimedia Commons

And it follows that “joy is the human’s noblest act.”  Are we in touch with our nobility?  Are we acting our noblest acts?

Joy is deeper than sorrow and grief.  It exists not by banishing suffering but by going deeper.  The Via Positiva sustains us when the Via Negativa tends to swamp us and take over.

Julian of Norwich reminds us that “the first good thing is the goodness of nature” and God is “the very essence of nature” and “the goodness in nature is God.”  She did not reveal these things during a prosperous and happy time but while living through the bubonic plague which was killing one out of two or three humans including most likely those in her own family.

Louis Armstrong, who was raised in poverty and struggles after being abandoned by his father, nevertheless reminds us “What a Wonderful World.” Soulful Sounds

She also taught that the entire universe is kept together by God’s love and that we are all born into “a birthright of never-ending joy.”  And that “God loves all creatures” and “to behold God in all things is to live in complete joy.”

Our Joy is deeper than our sorrows and what causes sorrows and who causes sorrows.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp.33f., 118-120.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 33-44.

And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 40, 101.

Banner Image: Sharing joy through simple things. Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash


Queries for Contemplation

Have you experienced Joy that is deeper than Sorrow and sustains us in times of sorrow?


Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.


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3 thoughts on “The Mystics on Joy & Thanks (Whatever the News)”

  1. Avatar

    The Source that causes me to possess joy is the beauty of the living essence of Spirit present within all of creation. This beauty is deeply inherent, often seeming to be hidden, for it resides within.

    To really experience this beauty, one must learn to silently observe, to seek truth, to listen with compassion, to intuitively perceive and empathically feel; responding to that which lies beneath the surface.

    Through this engagement of being and living in sacred relationship with, one begins to experience the lifting of the veils, the unfolding, evolving emergence of this beauty, this living essence of Spirit within the all and the everything of creation.

    As one converges with this, one truly begins to emote gratitude for the gift and respect for the giveaway of the diverse manifestations of the essence of Spirit, present within all that exists and the beauty of this; which fills one’s heart with joy, and the wonder and awe of the mysterious Source of it all.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew and DM Team for the two enclosed beautiful DM videos on Joy!

    JOY and sorrow are indeed mysterious and paradoxically interrelated aspects of our human experience and spiritual journeys… With Faith and gratitude in our deep Source~Co-Creator’s Divine LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS and COMPASSION, we’re able to consciously integrate our human and Divine Natures within our hearts~Eternal Souls with one another, with our beautiful Sacred Mother Earth & all Her creatures and graceful abundance, and with All our Sacred physical and non physical Spiritual multidimensional-multiverse evolving COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  3. Avatar

    The human experience of joy is valid. Everything said about joy is relevant. If a huge lifeless rock in the desert saw a bird on its surface. The consciousness of the rock could say I wish I could die, so that I could live, for a while like that bird.Therefore it is observable that all matter has a greater living experience of interdependence of Life, that is equal and equitable to joy.

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