In yesterday’s DM, I praised Pope Francis’s recent synod for its round tables where everyone sat—pope, cardinals, bishops, archbishops, lay people, young and old.
I pointed out how Sara’s Circle, not climbing ladders, is the future. Such a form renders joy and justice more possible and easier, since one can see each other’s eyes and also the smiles or suffering on one another’s faces.
Cardinal Cupich of Chicago said that the recent synod represents “a new way of being church.”* Were round to prevail in a future version of church, that would surely be the case.
Black Elk celebrates the holiness of round when he talks of the “sacred hoop” that constitutes the universe and all its many communities. Also,
Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….The sky is round, and…the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars….Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….Even the seasons form a great circle.
Meister Eckhart echoes Black Elk when he tells us that “being is a circle for God.” He calls the soul a “circle of the world,” and invites humans to be a “circle…filled with the spirit of the Lord.” He says, “heaven runs constantly in a circle,” and he connects heart and heaven, psyche and cosmos this way:
Where should we begin? Begin with the heart, which is the noblest part of the body. It lies in the center of the body from which point it bestows life on the whole body….The spring of life is placed in the heart.
Black Elk tells us that “understanding must be of the heart and not of the head alone.” This brings “peace upon the earth, not only among people, but within them and between the whole of creation.”
* Gerard O’Connell, Cardinal Cupich on the synod, women deacons, giving bishops job reviews and why ‘LGBTQ’ was left out of the final doc. America: The Jesuit Review, October 29, 2023.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 215f.
See also Matthew Fox, “Sexuality and Compassion: From Climbing Jacob’s Ladder to Dancing Sarah’s Circle,” in Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion, pp. 36-67.
Banner Image: These concentric-circle terraces in Peru, are believed to have been used by the Inca as an agricultural research station. Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash.
Queries for Contemplation
Why do you think Black Elk tells us that birds with round nests practice the same religion as Native Americans do? What questions does that raise for practicing your own religion?
Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward
A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity
A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography
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