In yesterday’s DM, I cited Jesus who told us to “Behold the lilies of the field” and their beauty.  I offered some examples of our learning to behold. 

Parents beholding their newborn baby. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How important is it to learn to behold?  A lot of the Via Positiva is an exercise, a practice, in beholding.

Behold a newborn baby.

Behold my friend, parent, spouse, grandparent as they die and move on from this home we call Earth.

Behold the stars in the sky from whence we derive and with whom we share so many common elements.

Behold the images and stories pouring to us daily from Webb Telescope.

Behold the intricacies of a tiny flower.

Behold the bee on the flower.

Behold the honey the bees make.

Behold each of the chakras of our body.

“She Who Hears the Cries of the World” Music by Jennifer Berezen, poetry by Starhawk, recitation by Olympia Dukakis. Unanimous

Behold the suffering of the world.

Behold, behold, behold.  There is a reverence to beholding, for beholding is the opposite of grabbing, seizing, owning, controlling, dominating.  (Do fascists behold?)  Beholding implies respect and awe and wonder.

Great mystics know a lot about beholding.  We all carry within us the power of beholding, for we are all (potentially at least) mystics—even if for a while we succumb to the cynicism of a patriarchal bubble that wraps us in its grasp or a capitalist neurosis built on fear and greed and holding rather than beholding. 

We can all return to the mystic in us that treasures beholding and that is one reason to meditate with mystics who understand the power of beholding.  Consider Jesus as above. 

“All Creatures Of Our God And King,” originally composed by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), performed by Maranatha! Music. md1801

Consider Rabbi Heschel who invites us to “stand still and behold!”  That is why meditation and emptying our busy minds and focusing can be so useful (the Via Negativa serving the Via Positiva).  “Be still and learn that I am God.”

Heschel goes on: “Behold not only in order to explain, to fit what we see into our notions; behold in order to stand face to face with the beauty and grandeur of the universe.”  He calls us not to take for granted the beauty of our cosmos, the miracle of our existence.  

If our existence is a miracle, wouldn’t we be fools to go through life and never practice beholding?  Does wisdom—as opposed to folly—require beholding?  Jesus thought so.  

To be continued.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, “The God of Awe, Wonder, Radical Amazement, and Justice,” in Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, p. 5.

See also, Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart.

And Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, pp. 110f.

Banner Image: Field of wildflowers. Photo by JT Ray on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How do you practice Beholding?  Do you find yourself standing face to face with the beauty and grandeur of the universe when you encounter everyday things whether small or large?

Recommended Reading

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

Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.”  — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.  

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

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4 thoughts on “Learning to Behold”

  1. Avatar

    My spiritual practice of Beholding the LOVE~TRUTH~BEAUTY~JOY~PRESENCE~ONENESS… of Our Source~Creator within and among Us in All of ongoing Beautiful CREATION is to learn to quiet my mind through daily quiet meditation prayer and thus developing my conscious openness and sensitivity to the Divine Flow of LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT…

  2. Avatar

    As an introverted, shy latchkey child, I spent an inordinate amount of time alone. Also, as a strongly intuitive kid, the combination of these traits pretty much guaranteed that I would become very comfortable with silence and an inward orientation. It allowed me to naturally, often unintentionally, focus intensely on perceptions, slowing down into quiet repose comfortably. Meditation was something I started doing (occasionally) only decades later.

    That inwardness, my absolute comfort within my solitary self, was a vital aspect of the ease with which I unknowingly slid into a Mystical Revelation. Had I not been grounded in my intuitive “home” inwardly, I would have probably panicked at the gateway of radical ego-abandonment that marks the threshold of Mystical Union.

    For people who want to flow into such natural contemplation, getting comfortable with inward practices like meditation, and learning how brains cogitate on worries and distractions, helps to enhance the inward journey. Get to know the deep nooks and crannies of your psyche, and train yourself to relax. Give it time to settle into habit.

  3. Avatar
    Sara Marguerite Langley

    Did you and Skyhawk “miss out” by not becoming partners for life as long as you want, when you had the chance years ago?

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