From the time I was 8 years old my dream was to become a medical missionary in some far away land, mistakenly thinking that one person could save the world.
I became a Registered Nurse in 1964. However, after great disappointment in the established practices of my Southern Baptist church, I joined the Peace Corps and went to Northeast Brazil to work in public health and community development. I found myself walking farther away from organized religion and deeper into my own spiritual path.
In 1998, having completed BS and MA degrees in psychology, as well as training as a psychotherapist, I was ready to leave my public policy job for a major environmental organization and go to work on a PhD in depth psychology. While in Santa Barbara, California visiting a colleague, Dr. Howard Clinebell, dean of pastoral counseling for the United Methodist Church, he recommended I look at the work of Matthew Fox and study with him instead.
Somehow in my ongoing thirst for knowledge, I already had found Confessions: The Making of A Postdenominational Priest. That led me to The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. Dr. Clinebell suggested that I add Original Blessings to the list, so I went home to read it too.
Instead of doing what I had planned to do, I filled out an application to the University of Creation Spirituality, because I saw it as the seat of an ecumenical movement to recapture a theology that honors the earth and all its beings. At the center of this movement is Dr. Matthew Fox and his vision of a spirituality grounded with compassion and justice.
This year Matthew Fox has issued Confessions, Revised and Updated: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest. In reading this new version, I come to it recognizing friends and colleagues who are taking the message of creation spirituality into their communities and living it within their vocations. The message is most timely, as surveys indicate that fewer Americans seek their faith experiences in the institutional churches and more find their inspiration in the spiritual path they choose to walk. Matthew Fox's story gives support and guidance for that journey.
At one point, Dr. Fox journals, "There is one vocation and that is living in God's presence. There are different ways of expressing this one life. Some can live in God's presence with others, some with much prayer and some contact with others, others in solitude."
We have benefitted from his decision to live in our presence and to share his thoughts and his sorrows. He was rejected by a church that was not ready for his vision of spirituality, but that is true of most prophets. And he says: "Our work is meant to be--and can be--our prayer. If it is a radical response to life, it is prayer."
Here is a man who chose to pursue an understanding of the religious experience as it is lived in the world. He has not bound himself by the proscriptions of institutions and hierarchies. Some of it was forced on him. Much of it was his choice. But what is evident in these pages that attempt to capture his story, is that he is living his life as prayer. And he is challenging all of us to do the same.
The great German mystic and prophet, Meister Eckhart, said, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." Thank you to Matthew Fox for sharing his life with all of us.