The divine feminine within us offers compassion and nurturing to our frazzled being. She brings welcome and comfort to the places within ourselves which we can not welcome. She desires to hold those places and aspects of ourselves which we blame for our troubles, those places which carry shame, those places we cannot accept and she lets us know just how precious we are.
As we open to the embrace of the divine feminine within we set in motion the internal alignment of ourselves. Then, rooted in a more whole place we discover a different way of relating with others around us. The embrace of the divine feminine within, met by the divine masculine within, brings about a scared union. This sacred union lets us experience our sovereignty, knowing we do not need another person to complete us, but rather we become free to let love flow with another without grasping for the other or pushing them away.
Some of us live in painful self-imposed exile tormented by negative internal voices and judgments about multiple aspects of ourselves. These voices, these internal criticisms reinforce internal stories of abandonment, loss, why we don't belong, why we are not welcome. These voices, these stories are false, created internally many years ago in some fashion to protect ourselves or imposed upon us by family or society. The internal protective stories helped us survive at one point, but they no longer serve us. The external negative messaging never served us.
The loving divine goddess is here now, reaching her arms to us, offering her assistance, her love, her compassion to unburden us from this self-imposed exile. She longs to come into contact with us so we can experience the grace of her compassion, teaching us how to hold compassion for ourselves. She desires to teach us about healing self-compassion bathed in her love.
As we start to welcome all the banished parts of ourselves, letting go of the judgments with compassion, we can enter into a state of loving curiosity, becoming friends and allies of ourselves. Surrounded by her love, we come to realize we belong, all of who we are, and enter into the family of creation sharing our unique and necessary gifts.
Her gift of compassion, which we internalize into self-compassion, calms our anxiety, tells us deep inside we are OK, and gives us the opportunity to arrive more as who we really are. We are not our internal negative stories, we are much more glorious and fascinating. Take the risk to open to divine compassion as a path to self-compassion.
What do I mean when I say “Divine Feminine?”
"Where are the men?"
There is a powerful emergence of women stepping into their authority, embracing their leadership in the world, breaking the patriarchal shackles, claiming their untamed wildness and it is freaking awesome! As women step into their authentic selves, embodying the divine goddess within them, the question arises, "Where are the men to meet these powerful feral women?" Indeed, where is the complimentary emergence of the sacred masculine? How can there be a divine union of beloveds when only one comes to the feast?
I believe the emergence of the sacred masculine is happening. Born out of the mytho-poetic men's movement, the resurgence of ancient wisdom traditions, the call from the divine feminine for her beloved and the bare necessity of "what now?" as we gaze upon the burning wreckage of wounded masculinity. Men must find a way out of our desecrated inheritance of power abuse, unbridled consumption and crippling insecurity. Men must find a way of power informed and guided by love, a way of compassion with balls. A sacred masculinity which protects, provides and loves deeply. A sacred masculinity integrated with the flow of nature, wise in the ways of connection and tools. A sacred masculinity which is neither apologetic nor arrogant of its muscles and grit. A sacred masculinity which can meet and claim his beloved, sweeping her up in his powerful arms and delight in her without compulsion to control or abandon. A sacred masculinity which is present - wholly.
The journey to sacred masculinity is not easy but absolutely necessary and so worth it! The tools are here, the teachers are emerging, the next steps becoming clearer.
Men, if they so chose for it is all choice, need to take a good look at all they are with deep self-compassion and the intention of healing their wounds or more specifically the stories and beliefs crafted around their wounds. We also need to take a critical look at everything we have been taught about what it means to be a man because most of our societal lessons are shit.
Looking at our interior psychology and questioning our conditioning is a start. Reclaiming the lost parts of our psyche cast into the shadows, forming community, learning how to communicate honestly and from the heart are all part of the journey from wounded masculinity to sacred masculinity.
Sacred masculinity means being connected to a larger world including and beyond our awesome incarnate world of the five senses. Sacred masculinity embraces reverent relationship with all beings. A deep reverence for all. We fall madly in love with our selves and all other beings. The emergence of the sacred comes when we step into the vast expanse of the "other" while simultaneously realizing we are inseparable from the "other". The "other" is us, our friends, our enemies, the spirit beings of nature, the beings of other realms, the beings of the universe. Men walk very differently when they experience the seen and unseen world as living beings to be in relationship with rather than objects to be used.
The wounded masculine can take a few different personas. One, which I am most familiar with, is the collapsed male, another is the abusive male. Both the collapsed and abusive male have deep insecurities which drive strategies and manipulations to control women and cover up their internal shame. (Please humor me here, I realize we are far more complex than two simple models of wounded masculinity, I am presenting a few concepts to ponder.)
The collapsed male or good boy or pseudo-enlightened castrated man has shamefully absorbed the accurate feminist critique, girlfriend's and wive's stories of past sexual and psychological abuse and awareness of objectification, misogyny and patriarchy. The collapsed male vows to never bring harm to womankind by effectively castrating himself, distancing himself from all those "bad men." The collapsed male denies his sexual urges, buying into puritanical restrictions, denying his anger or fire or wildness. He becomes flaccid and apologetic. Sacred masculinity, brought to the collapsed male, acknowledges the harm done to women, but claims his fire, his strength, his balls infused with deep love, respect, kindness and a zeal for justice and repair. The collapsed male who claims his sacred masculinity rises to meet the world which so needs him.
The abusive male goes on the attack, misusing male power sexually and emotionally. The abusive male asserts power to control verses the collapsed male who withdraws power to engender pity or rescue. The abusive male is overtly sexual, drives a big loud car or truck, or works out to pump up his muscles as a show of force. When sacred masculinity emerges within the abusive male, compassion floods throughout him and the desperate need to cover up insecurities through force gives way to strength infused with love and kindness. Opening to sacred masculinity, the abusive male steps down and brings authentic listening while the collapsed male steps up and brings loving forcefulness. Both with the grace of sacred masculinity bring compassion, power and authentic presence. The journey from wounded to sacred masculinity yields worthy beloveds and partners of the divine feminine.
When men, with feet firmly on the earth, with heads held high, with muscles flexed with feral power flowing, enter into relationship, a reverent, sacred relationship with the people and world around them, then the gods and goddesses, and all of creation smile saying, "yes, we know this one!"
Doing "our work", healing our wounds, shedding the lies we were taught are important and the sacred must also be courted. The sacred masculine must arise. Then, the emerging divine feminine within all these gorgeous awakening women will no longer bemoan, "Where are all the men?". Then we may all meet as allies, partners, beloveds set to heal our world.
Blessed Be, Blessings, May it be so,
The world is in great peril largely at the hands of a very broken collective male psyche. This is not hyperbole, the wake up calls around us are resounding. We live in a world of destructive power struggles, unsustainable consumption, mass injustice, poisoning of our environment at a global level, endemic isolation and loneliness, and harm to the most vulnerable be it marginalized people, the poor, the weak or creatures of the earth. I submit this catastrophic situation exists largely as a result of men suffering huge losses to their wholeness and integrity. This broken state of men is presented as normal, as the way a man is, as what masculinity looks like. Masculinity is defined as being strong, free from emotions, competitive with a mandate to win, competency with no tolerance for weakness. Masculinity is defined as a preferred, superior state over being feminine. Masculinity is defined as dominance, control, and order.
The current model of masculinity shuns vast aspects of men's sacred humanness. Boys are taught to not cry. Boys are told creativity, art and flowers are what "girls do." Boys are taught they are better than girls. These shunned parts and destructive stories get tossed into a dungeon of sorts creating a destructive male shadow. The shadow of our psyche, either individual or collective, is a place where split off parts of ourselves exist unknown to our waking awareness, but certainly not dormant. These outcasts in the shadow will insist on recognition in one form or another. The unhealthy expression of these outcasts leaks out as insecurity perhaps masked as bullying, sexual predation, addictions, lack of empathy and many other harmful ways. The resulting unconscious, walking wounded boys in men's bodies seek control and start consuming to feed deep seated hungers and emptiness. Men operate in a "zero sum" game, your gain is my loss. A sense of connection, relationship to each other, relationship to the earth and interdependence does not exist in this current model of masculinity as these are "woman things" and are weak.
We, men and women, have been ripped off. The man blueprint we have been taught is a shockingly hollow shell of what men were intended to be. Men are emotionally and spiritually crippled, metaphorically hopping around on one leg, lashing out or pathetically retreating for reasons they don't even know.
We have a desperate need to redefine what it means to be a man, to redefine masculinity. A great grief cry is emerging from the sustained harm and a response to that cry is also blessedly emerging, A new masculinity is emerging which will replace the deformed and damaged version of masculinity we inherited.
So what does this new masculinity look like? Ah, this is the joy and privilege being offered to us now, to engage in the conversation, look deep into our psyche's shadows, retrieve what was lost, repair the damage with our sisters and bring wholeness back into the world.
In no particular order, the new masculinity will have the following characteristics.
We must forge a New Masculinity, for our children, our ancestors, our community, our humanity, These are exciting times, the time has come, the time is now.
Our culture is obsessed with the light, the shiny, the bright and views the dark with fear or self-righteous superiority. Is not the dark to be vanquished by the light? Are not some things clearly "good" and therefore on the side of the light and other things "bad" and part of the loathsome dark world? Some emotions are viewed as "good" while others are "bad." Spiritual and physical states are categorized as good verses bad. Yet, forcing value judgements of good and bad upon integral parts of who we are has split us into pieces, that which is judged good is upheld and that which is judged bad is cast away, denied, outcast. When we cast away a part of us, it does not simply go quiet, it mutates, adapts and insists on being seen, somehow. We need to consciously hold both the Dark and the Light for our healing and wholeness.
We, as human beings, live within the cycles and vast, beautiful complexity of nature. We sleep and wake, we get wet in the ocean and dry in the sun, we are happy and sad, we are angry and compassionate. Yet being dry is not good verses being wet is bad. Angry is not bad and compassion good. Power is not bad and love good. The fight is not with our nature, the fight is not to get rid of my depression, but to hold my depression with curiosity and compassion. The Dark and the Light are integral parts of who we are.
My therapist would continually ask me, "can you accept that part of you" whenever I was struggling with a "bad" feeling. The wisdom of Buddhist meditation keeps asking me to observe and hold no judgement for all the visitors in my awareness. The poets in their dedication to the truth counsel holding all the guests who visit my rooms. This can only be done with a fierce compassion and a determined spirit to listen to these outcasts, these teachers, deformed, sometimes grotesquely from carrying a great load for me in the badlands. There are some stories we hold which are completely false, holding the dark and the light can help us unmask the lies and claim the truths.
The shadow (another word tainted with moral judgement) of our psyche holds these denied parts. There are great gifts in the shadow if we welcome them, listen to them and hold them. If we cannot hold the dark, if we continue to ignore these outcasts, horrific harm can come screaming out of an unconscious shadow. Witness all the sexual harm rampant in our Puritanical society where sexuality was cast into the shadow before landing at Plymouth Rock.
So if you're struggling with sadness, being pissed off, frustrated, feel like how you want to express your gender is wrong, then good, bring it on, I welcome that. I want to hear about where you genuinely are, in all your vulnerable seemingly screwed up state. There's nothing bad about you. I welcome your struggle with compassion. Embrace all of your magnificence, dark, light, all that grey and the staggering rainbow of colors.
So after all this talk about there's nothing bad about you, there are choices we all make and these choices can bring harm or whole-ing. I prefer to not use the religious or moralistic language of good or bad, but rather view actions and conditions in terms of supporting or harming the whole. The "whole" being all of us, including the earth and her other-than-human creatures. Clearly there are actions we do individually or collectively which cause harm, sometimes egregious harm. The fight at hand is to protest against and work to eliminate this harm in our world, the fight is not denying the dark within us. So yes, cut off the head of the black snake which threatens to poison the water, stop the violence which cuts down men of color, shut down the patriarchy which enslaves women and keeps them "in their place". Reach out to the purpetrators of these harms and help them too embrace the dark which they have denied.
At this time of Solstice, with dark and light doing their dance with each other, I pray we open to the possibility of holding both with reverence.
For those of you like I who have tended to stay in the darker palates of life's spectrum. Some thoughts my brothers and sisters:
There can be a seductive quality of the dark and we can insist on staying there rather than traveling around the whole wheel of life. There can be almost a loyalty we feel towards the feelings of sadness and loss. The neural pathways in our brains may have etched familiar patterns around overwhelm, feeling rejected or being unwelcome.
All these states and experiences are real and a part of us and we don't have to spend all of our time here.
I heard a very wise teaching called the "Four Shields' which describes various aspects or shields of the human experience. Each shield is associated with a cardinal direction, the west shield holding some of what we describe as "dark". A human's path is to develop all their shields, "walk the wheel" many times in their lifetime. Each of us may have different size shields, my west may be large because I've spent alot of time in the dark, the loss, the letting go, the adolescence, but it does not mean I need to stay encamped in the west. I need to travel through adulthood/wisdom in the north, birth/spirit in the east and play/sensuality of the south. Growing all these aspects of who I am is my journey.
So I get the allure of the dark and blessings be to the teachings of the dark. Try the other aspects of life as well. Blessings...
I used to think of attraction in a narrow sense, restricted to physical attraction and possible romance. I am realizing attraction has far more wonderful, mysterious complexities about it. How is it one person lights you up and another doesn't? What shadow pieces may be at play seeking to repeat painful patterns or what soul inspirations are calling to true life purpose and healing? When attraction registers inside of my body, inside of my being, a much larger range of possibilities, beyond romance, are generously being offered for consideration. When I limit my response to attraction to just a potential long term mate, I short change myself and the other.
Attraction may be inviting the emergence of a friendship or the start of a collaboration. Perhaps some joint project wishes to be birthed between two people and the attraction is calling forth the desire.
Attraction can also be a recognition of some quality in the other of an unacknowledged part inside of myself. This is a variant of projection, happening from a place of desire rather than rejection. Rather than projecting some unhealed dark part of myself on the other, I place one of my shining gifts, which I may not even accept, on the other. I can be attracted to someone and what may be happening is they are offering a mirror so I can recognize an unknown brilliant part of myself.
I was on a retreat recently and I was fascinated by the facilitator. She was beautiful, intelligent and articulate. She spoke words of welcome and handled the 70 person room with ease and grace. I felt a powerful attraction arise up inside of me and I was curious about this attraction. I even heard a voice inside of me say, "I'm going to marry this woman." As I reflect more on this attraction, yes she is beautiful and yes a romance would be fun, but what I think is more in play is a recognition of who I am reflected in her presence on that weekend. I recognize in this soulful, powerful, caring, embodied women working to foster community, welcome and honor the sacred, parts of my own soul's purpose. I recognize my own desire and gifts to create space for the wounded parts, confusions and glories which we all bring.
I offer a second example which does not involve a romantic layer to expand the notion of attraction beyond the territory of physical or potential partnership. Years ago, as I was just discovering the power and magic of poetry, I would listen to several men recite poems from heart. Their familiarity and fondness with the poems and their ability to speak to my soul in their delivery was fascinating. I was enthralled and at the same time rejected my own ability to ever "present poetry like those guys." I was given a glimpse of my own gifts in my attraction for these men, yet I was blind or refused to see those gifts.
I bow to attraction, I bow to the stirrings inside of us, the recognition of the movements which draw us together. You are welcomed, you are loved, you have a place here. That radical acceptance, radical welcome, radical recognition of what is holy in you is holy in me, dissipating what Thich Nhat Hanh calls the illusion of separateness.
Attraction can be larger than romance (and romance is wonderful). It can signal the start of a new friendship, brotherhood or sisterhood, It can be the genesis of creative collaborations. It can show us the beauty inside of ourselves if we are willing to look.
Attraction can also lead you into trouble, but that's grist for another blog :-) It's all about being aware and mindful.
I honor the community builders, the people among us who respond to the soul call for belonging and welcome rather than hatred and divide. There is a great cry for connection and compassion as an alternative to the current culture's bankrupt worship of fear and violence.
I received a text from my son's high school letting me know they conducted a lock down drill yesterday morning. I understand preparing for an emergency such as an earthquake drill, tornado drill, fire drill, but when did lock down drills become a regular part of school life? When did the threat of campus violence become such a possibility that preparing for that event became part of our day to day experience?
What does preparing for the possibility of someone on your school campus with a gun ready to shot you do to the formation of a young psyche? Is this the world we want for our children? A world of fear and hiding. Locking ourselves down because danger, real or imagined, lurks about?
What root factors give rise to such violence?
Conversations and soap boxes on this topic launch into gun control, mental illness, first person shooter video indoctrination, broken homes, and on and on.
I would suggest campus shootings, and the larger culture of violence we experience arise from an anger, despair and alienation based on a fundamental break or rupture in the fabric of our connection and belonging. Connection to our own beautiful essence, to each other, to a sense of place, to community and to the greater ecology of creation. At root, an alienation from the secure sense we matter and we have a home here.
This rupture in belonging, being wanted, knowing we are welcome tears at our soul, wounds us to the core, creating a horrific angry "ouch". This anger can either go internally into depression, despair and withdrawal or externally with assault words and actions or to assault weapons aimed at the perceived source of the pain. These assault weapons are not limited to headline grabbing AK-47s on campuses, but also include knives and penises in rapes, excavators in strip mines, and Big Macs washed down with Coke. We are assaulting ourselves with addictions, trying to numb the pain with food abuse, drug abuse, information abuse, gossip abuse. We are assaulting easy targets, women, children, immigrants, people different than ourselves. We are assaulting nature through unrestrained extraction and pollution. All in a blind response to feeling tragically displaced in our own home.
When we no longer have a sense of the other as kindred to ourselves, when we no longer experience our belonging to our core, a black emptiness starts prowling, harming ourselves, those around us and the Earth who sustains us all.
So I honor the community builders. The ones among us who realize we all need each other, we all need to belong and belonging includes the very Earth we walk upon.
"We are all related" from the Lakota phrase, "Mitakuye Oyasin." May it be so, for us and our children's sake. We don't need lock down drills, we need to wake up.
"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic." - Martin Luther King Jr.
We live in very unbalanced times. Male domination of church, state, business, community and family is killing us and taking a huge gouge out of the earth as the male machine flails about recklessly and abusively fueled by insecurity, scarcity and pride.
Books can be written on the harm created, ranging from the personal to the global, by the imbalance of male over female. Let me highlight just two results of male dominated control:
Harm, grievous harm, is happening, individually and on a global basis, largely through the domination of male over female. One does not have to look far, this is a fucked situation and must be addressed. Please do not hear the statistics and go back to sleep.
What Needs to Happen
If we have any hope of creating a just and loving society, women must rise. The necessary rise of women must come in (at least) two forms:
In the limited space of this post, I would like to offer three important pieces in the necessary rise of women.
OK, plenty needs to happen in terms of education, personal development, local and national action. I'm starting the dialog within myself and hopefully those who know me. We have got to wake the fuck up.
Don't go back to sleep. Check out my page on Harsh Truths. We are the resistance.
I am not a problem to be fixed.
I am a glorious mystery to be embraced.
Too often we define ourselves by one experience. We are not one thing, one feeling, one trauma, one failure.
The last 10 years of my life have been a journey to accept all the parts of who I am. The insecurities, the defensiveness, the part who fears abandonment, the poet, the lover, the good man, the wild man. All of who I am.
"Can you welcome that part?" was a favorite question my brilliant mentor and therapist Francis Weller would often ask when I described a defensive reaction or a shameful part of me. "Where is that story located in your body and how do you feel towards it?" a favorite question from my current, soulful, insightful therapist Angela Agenlian-Neuert. "Welcome the outcast brother" is a favorite refrain in my men's circles as we encourage each other to welcome the parts who were cast away so many years ago.
These aspects of our selves which confound us the most present the greatest potential source of our healing. The addictions, the depressions, the shameful feelings, repeated patterns in relationships all can be teachers, pointing to parts of our selves which need compassion, not blame.
For too long I defined myself by my wounds or the vicious internal criticisms which said “Oh if you only weren’t so sensitive, or if you only weren’t so insecure... You would be happy, you would be accepted….” I wanted to get rid of being sensitive or make myself into some macho confident facade. Anything other than what I was feeling.
Embracing all of who I am, the stories, the glorious parts, even the critical parts, has been a huge theme and learning for me. It continues to be an ongoing, perhaps lifelong, practice. We need to look within with love rather than with blame. We need to welcome these wounded parts rather than trying to get rid of them because we think they get in the way of our happiness. As wise people before have stated, “What is in the way is the way.”
Accepting all of who I am is not saying, “I eat chocolate chip cookies 'till my head starts buzzing, oh well, I accept myself”. Accepting all of who I am is being compassionately curious and holding all these parts with respect. “Hmm, I’m eating a lot of chocolate chip cookies, what’s that about? It’s probably not the most healthy for me, but I’m not going to shame myself. What story is happening here?”
Accepting ourselves and holding our brokenness is easier if we have a community who can also hold our brokenness. We weren’t built to do things alone. We need each other and we need to do our own work as well. A balance can be established. We can’t just let someone else fix us or love us into complete wholeness, we need to participate in that loving. The community holds us and our higher adult selves hold ourselves as well. I view the poem at the end of this writing expressing both holding each other and holding ourselves.
I dance most Sunday mornings and still haven’t really gotten used to walking into a large room full of people I don’t know. If I feel fear or nervousness, I don’t suck in my gut and soldier on, I say to myself, “I’m scared” and then envision who is scared inside and let them tell me a bit about their story, what they believe, what they think will happen. I welcome this part (usually a very young one), I listen, I say “I understand where you are coming from, it makes sense and you know what? We’re going to be OK” I may then dance with that part for a couple of songs and then let my adult breathe into the greater dance. In this exchange I understand a little more about the wounds and stories which used to unconsciously drive my behavior and interactions. I bring the wounds and stories into a compassionate conscious awareness. My relationships benefit from vulnerably sharing this awareness which in turn creates greater intimacy.
We need each other
To model accepting ourselves
To love each other
To be held
As I reflected one day on accepting and holding our brokenness the following poem emerged:
Being Held, Being Loved
I attended a community gratitude ritual last weekend. I've been going to this ritual on and off for years. It's so sweet to reconnect with loving people who have been there for me over the years.
I was struck on Saturday morning how the sharing turned to the losses in our lives and how many people spoke of the loss of a mother or father and the grief they were experiencing in the midst of a weekend dedicated to gratitude. This sharing dropped the room down into a soulful, sacred space and people supported each other with compassionate eyes or a gentle hand on a shoulder.
Grief and gratitude walk hand in hand. Our lives are complex and our souls hold many dichotomies simultaneously. Life is rarely all one or the other and actually, our work is to hold the seeming polarities and see the whole; love and power, light and dark, joy and sorrow, grief and gratitude.
Which brings me to a particular piece which has been working in me. The loss of my father. Not just his death many years ago, but the absence in my life as he struggled with his own alcohol fueled demons. Fatherloss - the absence of that father energy and archetype in our lives as we grow up. The absence of a strong, loving, guiding, mentoring, wise man in a child's life. Some of us had this presence and some did not.
I think there is a particular grounding afforded to a person when this energy has been imprinted on our psyche. A sense of a north star, a trust in myself, a rudder to sail on life's turbulent oceans is gifted to us.
In the absence of the father, a wound is formed around belonging around a right sense of who I am. I know for my own situation, I have searched for my own north star, my own rudder, too many times deferring to others to define who I am. A recent awareness has been the shame I felt for wanting things to turn out right as the child longed for his father to stop drinking. The drinking didn't stop, so what the child wanted did not turn out and a shame crept in and stuck to the longing for connection. The adult in me knows that was then and now, a different path can open up.
I have been blessed by wise mentors, Francis Weller being at the top of the list. As well as my clan brothers who alternate between brother and father. Through their love and wisdom I have started to put the pieces together.
Since my Father's death, I've had conversations with him, offered apologies for the anger I held towards him and have tried to reclaim what was lost. This is rich territory.
I've used poetry to work this terrain. I offer the two poems below as part of my own healing and perhaps a piece for you.
Father and Son
Abrazan (Reaching Out)
In Confessions, The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, we discover a man deeply committed to listening to Spirit and responding to Spirit’s call as a powerful advocate for justice. We encounter Matthew Fox initially trying to lay low and be an obedient priest, yet unable to turn a deaf ear to the hunger of the spiritual and marginalized poor. Instead of laying low, Matthew Fox responds to the hunger he encounters, be it in disenfranchised youth seeking relevancy in their spiritual quests, women subjugated within a highly misogynistic and patriarchal church, homosexuals shunned and shamed, or spiritual seekers of all faiths demonized by the political-religious amalgam of right-wing Christianity and the entrenched powerful elite. His response comes from a grounding in the roots of Christian mysticism, the works of great theologians, Fox’s own decades-long scholarship as a theologian himself and personal, embodied spiritual contemplation. Jesus said, “feed my sheep.” Matthew Fox has dedicated his life to spiritually feeding the people and in so doing, has angered many who benefit by keeping the people hungry. The book, Confessions, The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, takes us into a journey of discovery, faith, challenge, great joys and deep sorrows, all in service and response to life breathing herself into being.
Listening, for Matthew Fox, is listening across the centuries in his study of history and spiritual thought, listening to the people in his immediate surroundings and listening to the voice of Spirit within the silence of contemplation. Yet television evangelists and popes also claim to hear the voice of God. How can we trust anyone who claims such insights? I would look to the fruits of the tree. Are fear, mistrust and harm created or connection, empowerment and dignity imparted? I would say the fruits of Matthew Fox’s labor shine above the fruits of his detractors.
Listening without a response is only a half measure. Listening with an earnest response can lead to justice. Justice in Matthew Fox’s life is advocating for women’s rights: the right to the priesthood, the right to education, the right to lead. Justice is the dismantling of homophobia within the community, moving from the harm created by an “us vs them” mentality to a “we are all in god and god is in all of us” awareness. Justice is advocating for the earth, for all creation, for she is who we are, inseparable from creation. Justice is standing by all spiritual traditions for the gifts they bring. Justice takes strength, faith and the willingness to be knocked down, and then get back up again. Matthew Fox’s life is a study in standing for justice despite the cost. This cost has been harrowing for Matthew Fox and worth the subject of a whole other blog (read the book :-) ).
Spiritual renewal or spiritual awakening is accessed through the arts. Spirituality as the recognition and relationship of Life and Spirit indwelling and simultaneously surrounding us cannot be properly described or understood with words alone and by necessity needs the language of art. Matthew Fox recognizes the vital importance of art, poetry, song, dance, and clowning to enliven our relationship with creation and feed our longing for spiritual awakening. Art as the soul’s language is key to making the spiritual experience relevant and alive. The use of art to reinvigorate liturgy as expressed in The Cosmic Mass, a beautiful spiritual ritual midwifed into being by Michael Fox and some other great spiritual visionaries, also deserves a whole blog post.
Somehow in my own experience growing up Catholic, I was exposed to the inclusive mystical Jesus. The Jesus who welcomed women and outcasts, the Jesus who fostered love rather than blind adherence to the rules, the counter-cultural Jesus. I owe a debt of gratitude to Matthew Fox and the women and men of the 60's and 70's who rediscovered and articulated this Jewish mystical Jesus and then evolved the theology of the Cosmic Christ, the expression of the creator in all of creation (us included). Reading Confessions, I reflect on my own, less dramatic spiritual journey, from flirting with the Jesuits at Fordham, to seeking spiritual awaking, to embracing a cosmic, incarnate, creation-based spirituality. I continue to ponder my response, the praxis of my life. I am grateful for the language and guidance offered through reflection on Matthew Fox’s life. His autobiography is truly a spiritual resource for my own journey.
An autobiography traces the formative events in one’s life and the rich mosaic which creates who we express in this world. Hopefully, our true self, our soul shines through in this expression and not the restrictions, shackles, and stories fashioned by others out of fear, ignorance and control. Matthew Fox has listened all his life in an attempt to bring forth a genuine, Spirit-led response, to uplift the young and bring true healing and connection in a world desperately needing community. I would like to close with a famous quote from Thomas Merton who was one of Matthew Fox’s spiritual angels. This quote speaks of faithfulness and humility, both present with me as I read Confessions. Matthew Fox’s life is a testament to listening deeply and responding with courage and faith in service of all creation.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
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Jose Enciso is an engineer by profession, a poet by necessity and a seeker of spirit and soul. He brings a gentle presence and deep respect for the interior journey as expressed through creative and expressive arts. Jose is a skilled group facilitator who is committed to the spiritual and psychological growth of those around him. He trained under Francis Weller to lead men’s initiation groups doing deep soul work and is equally comfortable in managing complex technical projects. Jose is devoted to the emergence of the divine feminine, supporting women and men claiming their voice and power, and rediscovering the soul of masculinity. He is currently working on multiple projects including a book which seeks to encourage everyone to write their own poetry as a discovery of their own soul's truth.