"Today it is not nearly enough to be a saint, but we must have the saintliness demanded by the present moment, a new saintliness, itself without precedent." -- Simone Weil
"The saintliness demanded by the present moment..." What is "this" present moment? Perhaps, this present moment can best be defined as a time of "great division": it seems that the "I" is no longer emergent: it is fully entrenched as "righteous opinion": everyone has one: the "I" is now "Opinion"... And! It is worth fighting over: separation without end! Rich versus Poor, Right versus Left, Religion One versus Religion Two, White versus Black and Brown, Male versus Female, Here First versus Here Later, Heterosexual versus Homo / Bi / Inter / Whatever-sexual, Mine versus Yours, Not Climate Concerned versus Climate Concerned... Afraid versus Not Afraid... and On and On... Is this not "the present moment"?
If "division" is the fundamental problem, wouldn't the solution then be the celebration of the differences? By dwelling on the differences, aren't we actually amplifying them? And doesn't this amplification, in a profoundly shocking way, become for us "our" reality? We are all guilty of privatizing reality: as if we are the only "I" that matters in a universe of "I's"... It is as if we are all de-volving into the proverbial self-oriented teenager: stuck in an endlessly repeating "Groundhog" day (see Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day")...
"The saintliness demanded by the present moment..." Besides an adult ability to honor and celebrate differences, doesn't this present moment require of each of us an unparalleled turn towards the practice of active compassion? This, more than anything else is what turns us from "self-oriented teenager" into an adult: becoming an adult is really not about going to college, getting a job, making money, having sex, or buying things: an adult is one who can "walk a mile" in his brother's shoes: an adult is one who sees in her sister her very self: it is this very precise miracle that marks us as an adult: we have learned the supreme value of every single "other": this, and really only this, is the "saintliness demanded by this present moment: anything else will only be, in one way or another, more of the same: compassion is the "difference maker" that insists there be "no difference", no "separation": we are all worthy of the very best: we are all worthy of love and loving...
Who first? Why not you and I together?
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.