Joy and Justice go together so rightly! Creation: Our Common Ground of Being and Joy

By Matthew Fox, June 8, 2021

Creation and its sacredness bind us together.  To meditate on creation reminds us of our common ground which is a holy ground. “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy,” says Rabbi Heschel.  All else depends on being.  Being here.  In the universe.  To be here is such a privilege, a sacred presence, a sacred opportunity.

This is one reason Joy and Justice go together so rightly.  To fight for justice in any sphere—eco, gender, racial, economic, social—is to fight that the joy of existence, the joy of being, is everyone’s to imbibe.  Justice is about sharing the joy.  The via positiva and the via transformativa are fused in a common destiny–joy is the springboard and energizer for justice-making; and justice-making returns people to their “birthright of joy” as Julian of Norwich put it.

This is also why all religions have creation stories to tell their young and it is from these stories that we learn lessons of how to live wisely.  The Genesis creation story in chapter one tells us time and again, almost like a mantra, that creation is good and very good.  A blessing therefore (“blessing” being a theological word for “goodness.”). 

Meister Eckhart calls God “the ground of being” and this was Thich Naht Hanh’s favorite name for the divine.  (He acknowledged getting it from the German theologian Paul Tillich who in turn got it from Eckhart who lived 700 years before him.) 

Says Eckhart, “All that exists rejoices in its existence.”  And, “Everything praises God.”  

Rabbi Heschel talks about “the immense preciousness of being [which] is not an object of analysis but a cause of wonder.”  Eckhart says, “God is isness” and “creation is the giving of being.”  Furthermore, “God is like nothing so much as being.  To the extent that anything has being it resembles God.” 

Tufted gray langur (Semnopithecus priam) stroking a Grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura) at Yala National Park – Sri Lanka. Image by Senthi Aathavan Senthilverl on Wikimedia Commons

Every creature loves its own being–when “caterpillars fall from trees, they crawl high on a wall in order to preserve their being.  So noble is being.”

All creatures have being in common, and from the perspective of being, no beings are superior or inferior.  We are all one at that level.  And we are all interconnected.  Being allows life to happen.  Eckhart writes,

God’s isness is my life.  If my life is God’s isness, then God’s isness is my isness and God’s mode is my mode, neither more nor less. 

Furthermore, joy follows, for “all that exists rejoices in its existence.”

A moment’s gentle interaction with a cicada. Photo by Nicki Dugan Pogue on Flickr.

There is an equality of being, for “God loves all creatures equally and fills them with his being,” Eckhart writes: “And we should lovingly meet all creatures in the same way.” 

Here we have a foundation for a truly ecological view of the world. 

Heschel makes the same point when he observes:

…within our wonder we become alive to our living in the great fellowship of all beings and we cease to regard things as opportunities to exploit.

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