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Excerpted from Handbook for the Spirit by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield (Editors). Copyright © 2008 by New World Library. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Anything that has 'being' is holy."

  Matthew Fox, "Creation Spirituality"
in Handbook for the Spirit
Part 1

There are many paths to God. Four in particular correspond to what I name in my theology "The Four Paths of Creation Spirituality." Divinity is present for me in all four paths.

The first path is the Via Positiva, or the experience of divinity as the blessing of creation. It's what Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century theologian, called "is-ness." I can pick up a blade of grass and experience its twenty billion-year history and its color, shape, and form. Artists can do this: They draw a blade of grass and capture its divinity. We can feel awe when we experience the planet, or a dog, or a friend. Anything that has "being" is holy. God dwells there and speaks as revelation. This experience of divinity is a very simple thing. It's omnipresent. The problem is our consciousness: We need to simplify our consciousness to experience this omnipresence of divine awe in all things, to return home.

The second path, the Via Negativa, is that of darkness, of emptiness, of nothingness, of absence. This is a very important experience – when we suffer or experience the suffering of others, when we doubt or let go. In the process of letting go, there is always a sinking; and in sinking we never know when we're going to bottom out. But as Jesus said, "I am the Way" the way of sinking is itself a divine experience. It takes a lot of trust. The darkness is also a kind of revelation of divinity, but it can't be put into words. Ultimately, it's silence. With that silence comes a union with God.

The third path is called the Via Creativa, or the Creative Way. This is an explosion. Eckhart invented the word "breakthrough" to describe it. This is when we bottom out, when out of the darkness or through the dark tunnel comes the light. From the story of Jesus' crucifixion (the Via Negativa) comes Easter Sunday Resurrection (the Via Creativa). The stone is rolled away, the tomb is opened. In the sinking process we've been so stripped and emptied that we're ready for something new. Path three is this newness – this creativity.

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