A Birthday Prayer from Matthew Fox

Posted by – December 25, 2015
Categories: Guest Post Spirituality & Religion

Guest post by Matthew Fox, author of Confessions

We need to remember that Christmas Day is not so much a birthday party for the baby Jesus in the year 2015—an exercise in nostalgia, certainly—so much as it is a birthday party for the Christ in all of us, the Buddha nature in all of us, the image of God in all of us yearning to come alive and be born finally—throwing off the shackles of history and fear and lack of self-worth to take on the dignity and the responsibility of being grown-ups, of being God-like, of being compassionate, of being fully alive.

Today, with this is mind, I share with you “A Birthday Prayer,” a simple reflection I penned a year ago:

  • What is a birthday?
  • A reminder of our gift of the moment of existence.
  • A God-moment therefore.
  • For “Isness is God.” (Meister Eckhart)
  • A moment of gratitude therefore.
  • Can we—each year—in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, in joy and in suffering—give thanks at least for our existence?
  • Suffering exists.
  • And disappointment.
  • And betrayals.
  • And death of loved ones, of hopes, of dreams, of relationships, of accomplishments, of aspirations… but existence goes on.
  • Without existence we would feel none of these losses and none of the depth of pain that loss brings.
  • We would have no energy
  • and no reason
  • and no desire
  • for grieving.
  • Even grief, even loss, praises Existence.
  • But the bright side and shining side of existence also beckons us to celebrate our being, our being here, our being here now, our holy isness and the day of our coming into being, our birthday.
  • The relationships, friendships, shared toil, shared laughter, shared stories, our lovers, our spouses, our children, our grandchildren—and their joys and their dreams and their accomplishments and their hard work, inner and outer, and their support and their healthy criticism and their holy touch and hearty embrace and sharing of wisdom.
  • The more-than-human relationships also—the moon in her multiple phases at night, the sun rising to start a new day, the sun beaming its gifts of light and warmth and power for growing things at midday. And the sun setting, cooling, sending off living colors in the sky as it disappears for one more night.
  • The stars at night, the nebulae and constellations, the Milky Way and peaceful darkness when the universe speaks to us in all its silence and grandeur, though it is busy, ever busy, birthing supernovas and stars and galaxies and witnesses their life and death and resurrection as well. Yes, witnessing countless and mammoth birthdays.
  • And the animals—the dogs and cats and horses and birds and reptiles and bears and whales and dolphins and fishes and sharks and giraffes and lions and tigers and elephants and porcupines and pigs and cows and chickens and hippos and … and … and … 
  • Who cannot say thank you for their beauty, their stamina, their wise ways and distinct gaits, their companionship and personalities and eagerness to live and love and strut their being and beauty while they observe and hunt and rest and nurture their young and live by their DNA, the habits instilled in them over time that carry wisdom and memory and fields of grace?
  • This we give thanks for on our birthday as well.
  • And the planets and the trees and the flowers.
  • And those we have loved who have left us.
  • And those we have worked with for long hours
  • of struggle and collaboration and accomplishment.
  • And for our enemies who keep us alert and awake and on guard and teach us not to take for granted and how diverse life and people and so called promises can be.
  • And for the Earth and her bountiful, generous, and diverse gifts from fruit to nuts, from grapes to wheat, from rice to grass-fed lamb and goats and sheep and cattle.
  • All this and more we celebrate on our birthdays—everyone from one to eighty-nine and beyond.
  • And we say thank you for our minds, our consciousness, our awareness, our knowledge, our curiosity, our teachers,
  • our poets,
  • our writers,
  • our musicians and their musical gifts to us,
  • our insights, our muses, our angels, our intellectual companions alive or deceased,
  • our ancestors,
  • our scientists,
  • our storytellers,
  • our therapists,
  • our ritual leaders,
  • our comedians,
  • our dancers,
  • our magicians,
  • our clowns,
  • our filmmakers,
  • our potters,
  • our painters—all who awaken and inspire and bring color and expansion to our souls.
  • Birthdays also speak to our Nothingness,
  • our frailty,
  • our forgetability,
  • the utter gratuity of our existence,
  • the darkness,
  • the dark night of the soul,
  • the silence, the departures,
  • the endings,
  • the farewells,
  • the impermanence of it all.
  • For Isness and for Nothingness we give thanks on our birthdays.
  • For our holy isness
  • and our holy nothingness
  • and our capacity to taste both deeply
  • and remember hotly
  • we give thanks this Birthday Prayer.

Excerpted from Confessions by Matthew Fox.

Tags: Matthew Fox

About the Author

Maren began her publishing career as an intern at Counterpoint and Soft Skull Press, where she stayed on for more than four years as a publicist and web coordinator. She joined the NAB team in 2015 and is still stoked about it—she gets to read her Rob Brezsny horoscope (Scorpio)​ before anyone else! Maren lives in Oakland with a monstrous Maine Coon and spends the majority of her spare time convincing him to not eat all of her houseplants. Sometimes she has time to write, paint things, garden, or repair furniture.​