On the Origins of Joy: Who Is Our Beloved?

Recently, I sat for an interview with Andrew Harvey for a course he is teaching on Joy. I have great respect for Andrew, who is busy bringing forth a Christ Path that incorporates essential wisdom from Christianity and other world spiritual traditions. 

Children feel joy in a petting zoo: A boy with a Gulf Coast native sheep at Zoo Atlanta. Photo by Mallory Simon. Wikimedia Commons.

Andrew was very close to the monk Father Bede Griffiths, and was with him when he died. They had a lot in common since Andrew grew up in India and Bede adopted India as his home for 50 years of his life.

In our conversation about Joy, he stressed how my teachings on moving from theism to panentheism, ground Joy in an intimacy which is so needed in this time of a global dark night.

Our conversation built along the way. I shared an insight from Thomas Aquinas that “love is the cause of joy.” He gives this example, “everyone takes joy in their beloved.” 

Dancing the Joy of Togetherness. Video by Masaka Kids Africana.

So Who, What is our beloved? Is it another person? Can it also be Mother Earth that sustains and nurtures us? The Universe that birthed even Mother Earth? The Creator who births the universe, Earth and all creatures on it? Can it be a dog or cat or horse with whom we live closely? A friend? How many beloveds do we have?

Can it be a poem or poet? A song or piece of music or musician? A painting? A tree or rock or bird or animal?

If “everyone takes joy in their beloved,” then we can say that “Our beloved is that in whom we take joy.”

The joy of walking in a beloved garden: Lily Pons Water Gardens, Buckeystown, Maryland USA (named after the beloved opera singer). Photo by Craig Shipp on Flickr.

For Aquinas, love and joy constitute the basis of all attraction—love is the origin and joy is the end result. Who is joyful? The only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love. Are we living in love? Is our culture instructing us to do so?

Or is hatred more a sign of our times in culture, politics and media currently?   

In a previous DM, we spoke of playing with dogmas as in a sandbox. We offered the Trinity as one example of a universal and everyday archetype. Here lies another Trinity: Goodness, Love, Joy. Love after all is triggered by goodness and Joy is born of Love.

A call to love is a call to joy. A call to join this 13.8-billion-year creation is an invitation to both joy and love. How are we doing?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 37f.

See also Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 116, 118, 120, 433.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Who wouldn’t feel Joy upon seeing these best friends? Photo by Pankajdhiman2310. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

How do you ground yourself in a Trinity of Goodness, Love and Joy? And how do you bring that forward in your work and citizenship and what you are leaving behind?

Recommended Reading

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

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

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9 thoughts on “On the Origins of Joy: Who Is Our Beloved?”

  1. Avatar

    The Trinity that I aspire to includes Love, Joy and Peace. ‘Goodness’ then becomes a by-product of all. Without an inner silence, an inner calmness from a deep peace within, our love and joy cannot be complete.

    All ‘we do’ is brought forward in universal consciousness and there is no legacy that we ourselves have to leave behind. Leave behind for who, for what and why? Do we believe ourselves to be leaving existence at the moment our physical body expires? How was this ever a teaching of Jesus? What did we learn from Christ’s earthly passion, if not our eternal existence in body and love? That is our reality and the only legacy worth holding on to, is it not? Jesus’ passion and example to follow are designed to make our love, joy and peace whole and complete. Any earthly legacy we build for ourselves is merely a sign or monument to our temporal ego. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    There is a song ???? What the World Needs Now is Love ❤️.
    It is so true today. Thank you for today’s meditation.

  3. Avatar

    Describing God as a Trinity of Goodness~Love~Joy helps me feel God’s PRESENCE even more within, through, and among Us because God is Beautifully Present in All His~Her on going Flow of Creation of LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT in All Our Beautiful UNIQUE BELOVEDS in Our Sacred Mother Earth, the COSMOS, and All the Spiritual Realms and Beings…

  4. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    These words, “You must HUNT, for love, goodness and joy!” really spoke to me. How are we to HUNT, for this? Mathew states by looking for it and seeing it. I would add also to this the other sensory aspects of our human sensual nature as well; those of listening, feeling, tasting and smelling; tempering these with the gifts of our spiritual sensory aspects of our sensual soul nature; that being our intuition, imagination and creativity.

    These are the tools that the true hunter carries within one’s quiver of the heart. No matter the target, be it the light, the dark, the positive, the negative, life, death… one can experience and encounter the love, goodness and joy to be found… when one draws upon these sensory aspects within both the heart of our humanity and our soul divinity.

    When you engage in the hunt with this conscious awareness, the many dark arrows that we experience throughout our journey, are transformed into the light arrows of acceptance, openness to diversity, expansion of all aspects of one’s true self, soul connections, and the reality of the sacredness of our interconnections, interrelationships and interdependencies.

    These light arrows then turn into the rainbow arrows of what it truly is to be and live in a covenant relationship with the living essence and presence of the Spirit of love, goodness, joy and what we call the fruits of the holiness and wholeness of our true soul/self.

  5. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson

    dear Fr. Matt,
    I am so looking forward to being with you celebrating St. Thomas in Orvieto, and “playing in the sandbox” of ideas; and dancing around the altar in a joyful way, in honor of St. Thomas. I like the trinity of Goodness, Love, and Joy, and also Consciousness, Energy and Bliss, for that feeling of swirling beings sharing what matters and what lasts. Getting to process, and flow, has been a long haul. But now we are here, and there is a good feeling about this flowing joyful, playful, loving energy as we head toward the future. It was very moving to me to find that one of Teilhard’s last words was “Omega”. The God of the future calls us forth, to bloom fully! Thank you for giving us words and helping us understand the huge universe God has made! I got out the big picture from the National Geographic about SPACE, and put it up so I can see the cradle of stars. It is amazing! THANK YOU!

  6. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    The Trinity of goodness,love and joy is so meaningful. That which is good cannot help but attract love and love cannot help but find joy in that relationship. This speaks to the deepest meaning of this Trinity. Another Trinity I have found so helpful is that of life,love and light. Life-Father. Love-Son. Light-Spirit. This is the Sacred Circle the ONE. The ALL.

  7. Avatar

    This idea of the beloved being found on many fronts is such a beautiful one. I have a great admiration for Wendell Berry who finds joy through community, connection with Christ, through nature, his marriage & kids and then it bubbles over into his poetry which exudes joyfulness. So perhaps finding joy within leads to finding it externally through all the facets of life.

  8. Avatar

    Yes! Thank you for this meditation, who is our Beloved. Andrew Harvey is passionate about Rumi, as i discovered in one of his lectures.

    As i think about who is my beloved, i think of who and what i cherish most who love and cherish me!
    I find God loving me through them and God loving them through me to include song, birds, trees and dogs.
    So my beloved is Big Love, my name for God, who is very Love Itself, who permeates Creation.

    When i recognize God’s presence in nature’s beauty and human loving-kindness, the awe i experience and the gratitude i feel brings me joy, as does the presence of Love in me when i create paintings on my IPad or write in my journal or make a book.

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