Light on the Path
We begin: "In the name of the Holy One, Boundlessly Compassionate, Boundlessly Merciful... Beauty within Beauty within Beauty."
The Holy One speaks: "Come to me my Beloved, my Love, dearest one of my Heart. Come to me..."
We rest in these words, at-one with both the whirl of atoms and the spin of galaxies... everything has its being within this Call, "Come to me, my Beloved"...
This Sacred Mystery expands and deepens as the Call of the One, becomes the Call for the Many... The Holy One speaks: "Come to me my Beloved... and bring All the Others with you. Leave no one behind, for I would abandon no One -- so you must bring everyone with you."
The whirl of atoms and the spin of galaxies become as a soup-ladle, lifted and poured out upon the Bread that is your Body, to likewise be lifted and given to the world, given to those who hunger for justice and who thirst for hope... everyone will find their safety, their health, and a joyous homecoming for their heart, lifted up by the wings of the Holy One, "Come to me, my Beloved... everyone is wanted..."
Centered within this Holy Secret, relaxing into the pregnancy of Breath, we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I thank You." We let that awareness deepen and expand to include our loved ones, our communities and regions, all living beings and all inanimate things, until our awareness has included this entire precious Planet. We let that awareness then receive the terrible weight of all suffering within our lives, within our loved ones, our communities, regions, all living beings and all inanimate things, until our awareness has included all suffering on this precious Planet. We breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I bless You"... we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I will remember You"... we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I will give You reason to hope"...
We take up the Mindfulness Trainings because in our moments of Awareness we know that we will forget... and in our frequent states of forgetfulness we need light on our path... we search out many sources and they are all true, deep, and good: Yeshua has stories and counsel, Rumi has poetry for the mid-night soul, Dorothy has a strong hand and a potato-peeler to share... Thich Nhat Hahn, our brother, suffered war and exile and the blessedness of return and teachings of peace. From the once-napalmed forests, fields, and villages of Vietnam (napalmed by American planes and chemicals), came the liberating insight that we are all One, that with this precious Planet, we all exist in the steady state of "inter-being"...
First Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by fanaticism and intolerance, we are committed to the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation as we learn to look deeply and develop our understanding and compassion.
We quickly glance at a few headines in the news -- to center our Awareness in the real Reality of Now -- and we read: "Iran Protesters storm British embassy in Tehran"... "Norway gunman found insane by psychiatric evaluators"... "Anti-violence activist slain in Mexico"...
Aware of the suffering, and yet, and yet, we remember the words of Fr. Bede Griffiths, "We become ourselves as we enter more deeply into relationship with others", and "The ultimate goal of humanity is a communion of persons in love." And so the little awareness invading this moment of our lives resurrects the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our mind's eye. Like Moses of old, Martin gathered a people and shepherded them across a great divide with an example of grace in action and in words, "Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude"...
This first mindfulness training jerks the chains of our opinions and justifications tight around our necks! We are tempted to choke on our righteous rage: "I have suffered! I am right! You need to change!" But wait! But wait! Awareness is an open invitation to "look deeply" -- and that "look" inevitably leads to a little awakening, like a ripe fruit dropping from the tree above, "Ah! Now that my head hurts I see that I have a choice. Do I curse the tree, cut it down, or eat the fruit?" We choose to eat the fruit, and "look"! Our minds are beginning to change!
Awareness leads to a small awakening which then becomes an invitation to action: another quick internet search. So who has suffered and chosen to use that suffering as a vehicle of change and service? Here's a short list: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Matthai, the Dalai Lama, and Azim Khamisa. And from the rfkcenter.org these words from Desmond Tutu: "When God created the world, God did not create one set of rules for black people and another for whites. God did not say that the tall, or the blue-eyed or the big nosed were superior. God did not say women were better than men, or that only heterosexuals would go to heaven. Prejudice and discrimination are psychosis invented and perfected by people."
* Did you know that only an international outcry prevented Uganda from passing a law making homosexuality punishable by death in certain circumstances.
* Did you know that the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights presented the 2011 Human Rights Award to Frank Mugisha?
* Did you know that Mr. Mugisha is a gay human rights defender in Uganda and the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda?
Of course, searching the internet cannot truly be called an "action" -- nevertheless it can provoke thought, that deep look that leads to sacred conversation... "Do you remember the look on Gaby's face... ah, wasn't that a perfect moment!"
We had just finished a work-day with some homeless folks who were planning with us what their new home would be like... knowing ourselves not to be anyone's savior, we had been meeting with these folks for over a year hammering out our feelings and the details of what it would mean to live together (www.thedorothydayhouseofpeace.com). We were all together on a walk-through of what would become our home. The folks who'd been in tents or shelters for years couldn't believe in the possibility of a "welcome home"... the folks with a little sobriety under their belts wondered about living with someone else who was "planning" on quitting as soon as a home was just "around the corner"... and then all the issues of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, health, and work-ethic were suddenly magnified as we sat together in the dining room...
And then there was Drag Queen Gaby: former Party Girl (still looking over her shoulder) and former addict (still looking over her shoulder) with no idea whatsoever of where or how she fit in this brutal world... carrying in her handbag the sure knowledge of never having been accepted or "good enough", along with a heavy dose of fear of more rejection. Gaby plops down on the sofa just as a bit of sun fell through the sky-light upon Her Face: she looked up at Michelle and I and said, "I think I want to do this!" She knew that we saw her as she now saw herself, not as "Drag Queen Gaby", but as "Free Being Gaby" and she was "good enough", and in fact, it never was about being good enough. It is instead all about the love we refuse to keep locked up inside of our tiny hearts! Everything is about the love we give away in the building of communities of justice and peace.
An Alternative First Mindfulness Training:
"Aware of my desire to love and of the possibility of building Paradise upon this precious blue Planet, I commit my life to this sacred work. I will to live as an agent of transformation.
I will help in the building of a new world of justice, equality, peace, and liberation for everyone, everywhere!"
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy, Capetown, June 6th, 1966
"We have to fight injustice, and we can fight it in many ways. The best way is the way that can bring justice, not create more injustice... if you are calm and you get the right vision, you are going to succeed in bringing change into society." --Thich Nhat Hahn
With love, and December Blessings to All,
Michelle and Robert
"In the Name of the Holy One, Boundlessly Compassionate, Boundlessly Merciful... Beauty within Beauty within Beauty."
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.