September 20, 2020
Dear Unity North friends,
The lesson title for this week is “Mystery & Silence: Via Negativa.” You can find the Sunday lesson by clicking on the link near the end of this letter.
This Sunday we are in Week 2 of a 4-week series of Sunday talks as an introduction to Creation Spirituality so that you can have more understanding of Dr. Matthew Fox before our virtual event with him on Saturday, October 3. The link to register for the Matthew Fox event is here: http://UnityNorthMN.org/Fox
In today’s lesson, I mention that the Via Negativa is important for Unity. I think that is because our approach is positive, focusing on the light, the good, the highest and best. The Via Negativa, though it includes wonderful aspects such as silence, stillness, meditation, healing, grace, and the feminine, also embraces pain, suffering, darkness and shadow. Many Unity people recoil when asked to go into those deep, dark places. Unity teachings, after all, brought many out of negativity to begin with. However, there is a difference in going into darkness or pain by facing it and feeling our feelings rather than wallowing in it. There is a difference in denying a problem, for example, and instead, denying its power over us.
I will always remember an amazing experience I had when I attended the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California, founded by Dr. Matthew Fox. One weekend our instructor was Joanna Macy. She is an environmental activist, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology and an author of 8 books. What an amazing teacher she was!
First, she had us use Art as Meditation, in which we created a mask that we were to wear in our main exercise. It was to be a mask of an animal or human species we were concerned about in our current world environment at the time. Then she called us into a council in which perhaps four people sat in the center with human masks on facing the rest of the circle. One at a time, one of the masked individuals would stand and plead with the humans. For example, Wolf mask said, “Honored Humans, I am here today to plead for my species that is dying out because we are not understood for the noble creatures that we are.” The Wolf would go on explaining the issue, and then the next animal would get up and so on. There were also some trees and plants and even other humans, perhaps a child who was hungry or a woman who was ill from living near a nuclear plant. By the time this went on for a while, many of us were weeping to feel the pain of our planet’s creatures.
Though I had read about it in Matt Fox’s books, this was my first actual encounter with the teaching of the Via Negativa in action, and the Unity Minister in me was in complete resistance. I wanted to stop the process and tell everyone, “Wait! There is a more positive approach! We do not need to go there. We do not need to make people cry. We can visualize and use affirmations and make the difference!" But I finally got it! I surrendered and let myself feel the suffering and pain, the sorrow for what is happening to our environment and the loss of so many beautiful species. I allowed the Via Negativa to teach me about the power and grace to be found in the dark.
We are all in the Via Negativa now in our country and our world. We have lost so many people from Covid19. We have lost jobs, money, housing, and a healthy economy. We have lost the functioning of schools, churches, businesses, and even families. We do not even know the full depth of our losses yet. Some of us are numb, or trying to distract ourselves. But it is important that we face our feelings and feel them, breathe into them. As we do, we find our own healing, our own faith, our own courage and inspiration. Then grace comes calling. The Via Negativa brings suffering but also healing.
Today, I am a Unity Minister/Teacher who believes that it is important to face the shadow, the trouble, the conflict, the darkness, feel our feelings AND THEN do our positive affirmations and visualizations. And meditation can sometimes be a way to bridge both. Facing the dark does not mean we continue to focus on it and give it power, either. We release, let go and let God. That, too, is the Via Negativa.
Love & Blessings,
Here is the link to Rev. Kathy's talk: https://youtu.be/AeXXQRCwveM