March 12 — laughter from the 14th century -Meister Eckhart

Monday, March 12, 2018

“laughter begets liking,
and liking begets joy, and joy begets love”

Meister Eckhart, a German Dominican, theologian, philosopher and mystic, was known for his scholarly writings and for sermons addressed to ordinary people as well as to women and men more visibly active in Church life.   Eckhart died just twenty years before the peak of the European pandemic known as The Black Death which killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s people.  One might be inclined to set his intuition about the identity of God as embodied in laughter and affection as an antidote, before the fact, to address the terrified and violent fears that convulsed Europe in the mid-14th century;  the living worked to bury the corpses of some 100 to 200 million of those who died around them.  A grim time badly in need of the rebirth of Europe’s sense of humor and playfulness.

How, in the midst of 2018’s blaming and anger and fear, does a university challenge its students to risk the terrors of self-discovery and of attention to the whole fabric of human behavior while encouraging in those same students a resilient sense of humor about that same human condition?   It is a teacher’s great challenge and one of the graces that strong mentors offer their students and students, with their resilient capacity for surprise, offer their faculty and one another.

This saying of Meister Eckhart might make a good short text to read out loud in front of your mirror as winter grows overlong and stirs one’s less attractive sides when under pressure.  A university’s life grows from daring hope that all of its citizens — faculty and students and staff alike and, yes, one’s neighbors too — carry in themselves the inner stuff to find their voice and engage the real world.   Meister Eckhart reminds me of a 20th century mystic, Thomas Merton (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968)   who wrote in one of his contemplative works a brave statement of wonder for hard times:  “There is no way of telling strangers they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Have a blest day,

john st sj

Today’s Post — This saying is attributed to Meister Eckhart.

Indeed I say, the soul will bring forth Person
if God laughs to her and she laughs back to him.
To speak in parable, the Father laughs to the Son
and the Son laughs back to the Father;

And this laughter begets liking,
and liking begets joy, and joy begets love,
and love begets Person,
and Person begets the Holy Spirit.

Meister Eckhart  (c. 1260 – c. 1327)

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

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