Week of 1/1-6/2024: Grace, Creativity & Viriditas, plus Sad News in Academia

January 1, 2024: Can Grace Mark this New Year, 2024?
We have been exploring the concept of grace—in the Iranian fish seller and his countrypeople who began to dance and sing in public in spite of the law against it; in the generous message from Kurt Vonnegut to students, encouraging them to be creative in whatever way possible; and in the words of theologian Karl Rahner, who equates the Christmas story with grace. In the midst of many troubles, our species is also gaining a new understanding of creation and this graced universe of two trillion galaxies. This universe is a blessing and we are blessed to live here. In this new year, can we commit to calling in Grace, and awakening one another to the divinity shining in all of us?

“Tree Hugging.” Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

January 2, 2024: More Reflections on Grace
In this challenging and difficult time on the planet, can we take in these words of Thomas Aquinas? “The greatness of the human person consists in this: that we are capable of the universe.” He also says, “Grace is nothing else than a beginning of glory in us.” Furthermore, says Aquinas, Grace is a radiance of the soul…. Grace dwells in the substance of our souls, rendering them like God and partakers of the divine nature.

January 3, 2024: Alex Grey on Viriditas, Greening Power, Grace & Creativity
Alex Grey is a notable artist of our time with whom Matthew was blessed to have worked on several occasions. One time Matthew invited him to teach at a Cosmic Mass, the theme of which was creativity. Alex chose to set up an easel on the platform and he began to create a painting there on the spot! What a blessing. Meanwhile, in 2023, Alex birthed a new painting on greening power or viriditas. Both hands and eyes play a central role. Meister Eckhart gave us this profound piece of wisdom: “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

“The Green Hand,” a painting by Alex Grey in homage to Hildegard’s concept of Viriditas. Published with permission.

January 4, 2024: A Sad Day & Important Lesson for Harvard & Academia
Claudine Gay, the first black woman to become president of Harvard University, resigned, only eight months into her job. Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania had also recently resigned, and Sally Kornbluth, the president of MIT, is under pressure to follow. All three were judged as not being sufficiently proactive against antisemitism on campus. All three answered questions to a congressional committee according to advice from a law firm rather than speaking from their hearts. Albert Einstein said, “I abhor American education” because it honors only the “rational brain” (his words) and avoids the “intuitive brain” which is where, he insisted, values come from. 

January 5, 2024: Alex & Allyson Grey, Hildegard, and Grace For a New Year
Several years ago, Alex and Allyson Grey opened the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in upstate New York. Matthew was invited to speak and offered the following: We are all blessed to be sharing the planet today—endangered that it is—with Alex and Allyson Grey. Why is that? Because their inspiring gifts of art and their generous dedication to creating sacred space highlights the marriage of creativity and spirituality, which in turn ignites hope and empowers individuals and communities alike. He references Aquinas who said that “the same Spirit that hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation … hovers over the mind of the artist at work.” Matthew continues: “CoSM is a testimony to the power of art to awaken and to heal and to bring alive the sacred….”

Alex and Allyson Grey at the TEDxMaui 2013 Welcome Reception. Photography by Jessica Pearl.

January 6, 2024: Hand and Eyes and Grace in Alex Grey’s Homage to Viriditas
Alex Grey told us that his new painting, Green Hands, was an homage to veriditas, a concept celebrated by Hildegard of Bingen. As in Grey’s painting, Hildegard often paints beings with multiple eyes. In her painting which Matthew calls “Original Blessing: The Golden Tent,” the tent has many eyes in it. Hildegard explains it thusly: I saw the greatest and most serene brightness, like a flame with very many eyes and having four corners turned to the four parts of the world. Matthew tells us, “Compassion is not just a feeling for the suffering of others,” but also a call to relieve that suffering, thus the primacy of hands in Hildegard’s work.

“Original Blessing: The Golden Tent.” Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias.

Banner image: Spider, as a weaver of webs, is symbolic of creativity. And Spider Grandmother is a key deity in the creation stories of the Hopi, Dineh, and other tribes of the Southwest. Photo by Rhett Maxwell on Flickr.

Recommended Reading

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

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4 thoughts on “Week of 1/1-6/2024: Grace, Creativity & Viriditas, plus Sad News in Academia”

  1. Avatar

    In mentioning the word God we must include a living God. We then can also refer to Grace as a living Grace. Life then becomes the Grace and the Spirit of consciousness in all matter. The interdependence of this consciousness is the way evolution progresses towards the complexity of matter to its living Grace in the fullness of Life. “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. “Into your hands I commend My Spirit”. “May they be one, as You and I are One”. ” Forgive them, For they know not what they do”. The Injustice in the knowledge of Good and Evil is knowing what we are doing to get the Good out of an evil action for some of us. We are forgiven because we don’t know what we do in the injustice and lack of interdependence in the Spirit for all of us.

  2. Avatar

    I can appreciate what Caroline Myss recently said in her video about Grace — we come to the edge, meet “a fear that’s saying this is as far as you know yourself.” And we must become aware of how we may resist or freeze…and despite our fear, we meet Grace with Grace, and unlock a new level of power.

    The Living Presence, the glory, pushing us to the edge, to give love is to respond to the flow of unconditional love given to us…which Matthew defined as Grace…to give Grace is to respond to the Grace given freely to us. To respond is to move and act, despite the paralyzing fear, and the edge of “this is as far as I know myself”

    And to reach farther out, bare myself, and meet the power of love, within myself and outside of myself.

    As Matthew says, worship should be adventurous…inspire wonder and awe

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