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Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic: A Chat with Matthew Fox

 

 

Matthew Fox has been one of my dearest friends for 25 years as well as a beloved mentor and inspiration. We have worked together innumerable times and I continue to be amazed at his focused mystical brilliance and the ceaseless flow of amazing work that has poured from him. His latest book, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, is one of his greatest, and in this masterwork, he dives deep into the sacred and joyful vision of one of Christianity’s greatest mystics, a woman who spent most of her life working in the black plague that killed two-thirds of Europe.

He shows us how Julian never gave up on her vision of essential joy, gratitude and celebration without ever shirking the real agonies and sufferings of life which she saw exploding all around her from her anchoress’s cell in the middle of Norwich.

I beg you to give yourself the gift of this book. I have just read it for the second time and have found it to be thrillingly inspirational because Julian’s vision is a marvelous feminine evocation of the true Christ consciousness that blesses the Creation, reveres and sanctifies the body, and responds to evil with a passion for justice, while aligning itself absolutely with essential goodness, joy and gratitude.

You will find that your spiritual fortitude will be ennobled by Julian’s and that she is offering us in the middle of our raging pandemic exactly the vibrant and luminous soul wisdom we need to keep steady and pouring ourselves out in acts of service and compassion.

Whenever I finish a new book, the first person I send it to is Matthew, because for so long our work has been so unified in its passion for the mystics, its prophetic understanding of the chaos and crises of our time and in its determination to keep offering realistic maps of transformation and rugged paths to active hope.

When Matthew responded to Radical Regeneration with tremendous joy and praise and even included parts of it in his great book on Julian, I was profoundly moved and also relieved because as you will find out, when you read it, Radical Regeneration is a very unflinching work, sober and ferocious as well as exalted.

I was also profoundly heartened, because if the greatest living Christian mystical theologian recognizes and salutes this book of mine and Carolyn’s, then it has a great wind of grace behind it and the imprimatur of someone who everyone in the spiritual world with a brain and heart recognizes as one of a handful of great living teachers.

It was with great joy that I asked Matthew to have a conversation with me about Radical Regeneration from our respective hermit studies. And as you will see, the conversation flowed effortlessly and covered a waterfront of issues. The major issues of what I call our Global Dark Night and what he calls the Dark Night of the Species.

As you will also see and hear, the conversation takes place in sacred friendship and communion and in the real robust happiness that comes when two warrior midwives get together and share the divine wine that has kept them mischievous through a long and sometimes agonizing struggle.

I am deeply honored by Matthew’s support for all my work, deeply grateful for his radical understanding of the vision of transfiguration that is at the core of Radical Regeneration and deeply hopeful that our conversation will inspire you not only to get and meditate on our book but to dive deep into mystical practice and compassionate action as a way of rooting your life in meaning and radiant purpose, whatever the hell or heaven erupts in the obvious unfolding madness of the intractable crises that will either wipe us off the face of this earth or so embolden and ennoble us that we are reborn as a unified divine human race dedicated absolutely to living in harmony with all sentient beings.

I will be releasing over the next weeks conversations on Radical Regeneration with other major figures. (You have already seen the conversation Carolyn and I had with Dahr Jamail, who is one of the greatest writers on the environment and a human being of the deepest humility and warmth.)

These conversations (available on my Facebook page) are my gift to you to help you enter the atmosphere of the death and rebirth evolutionary crisis that the whole world is now inescapably in, so please use them to fire up your grounding in divine presence, ennoble your will to stand for truth telling and justice and inflame your unconditional joy at the glory of the creation and at all the gifts it provides for us, even in times of a raging pandemic and the last depraved actions of a mad wannabe king.

Nothing should swerve us now from endeavoring to find the rugged realistic strength and wisdom that we are all going to need for the healing of America and to meet the challenges of all the crises that have been perfectly organized by the Divine to shatter our full selves and birth us in awe and trembling into the next level of our evolutionary destiny.

As we approach what has always been my most favorite American feast, the feast of Thanksgiving, let us make sure that we give thanks at the deepest imaginable level for four things:

  • For the fact that the Divine is real.
  • For the original blessing of being born with a pearl of divine consciousness.
  • For the fact the fact that democracy has held under extreme depraved pressure.
  • For our sacred friends who have been with us, listening to our rants and ramblings and sustaining us with their faith and humor through the long and frightening ordeal of these last four years.

As we give thanks, let’s also make sure that we rest and recuperate and regenerate in the arms of being. None of us in this hectic time do this nearly enough. One of the things we are going to have to learn is that true sacred action springs as much from inner peace as from a passion to see and make the world right.

This inner peace that is the sublime gift of being to us is the source of all stamina, all just perspective, and all true balanced noble energy. Give thanks for it and cultivate it so that your celebration on Thanksgiving, however limited it has to be in the circumstances of the pandemic, can be your most nourishing and grateful ever.

Here are words of Julian of Norwich to fill you with truth and joy, as you put your arms in invisible embrace around your family and friends and the whole of a suffering America and world.

Thanksgiving is a true inward awareness charged with the quality of reverence and loving awe; we turn ourselves with all our might toward the actions our Beloved guides us to, rejoicing and giving thanks inwardly. Sometimes the soul is so filled with gratitude that it overflows and breaks into song and this is what it is singing: Beloved, thanks be to you. Blessed are you, O God, and blessed may you always be.

May your soul this Thanksgiving break into song and may the rapture of that song floating on true awareness give you the strength to rise to your real greatness in the year ahead.

Blessings and love to you and your beloveds as this holiday season begins,

Andrew

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