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 the words, at-one with both the whirl of atoms and the spin of galaxies... everything has it's 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 -- and 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 recite the Three Refuges:
I take refuge in the Holy One. I take refuge in Love. I take refuge in Service for Peace and Justice.
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"...
Mindfulness Training Four:
Aware that looking deeply in the nature of suffering can help us nurture compassion and discover the Way of Love in our present circumstances, we are committed to a personal identification with those who suffer so we can understand their stories and situations deeply, and help them transform their suffering into hope and peace.
Week four of a profoundly personal / spiritual project together gives us pause: we are no different from anyone else! Life is a maelstrom of passion and conflict, of questions and darkness -- and, thanks be to the Holy One, at the very same time an oasis of possibilities and quest, of dreams and self-effacing courage...We pause to reflect upon our own journey's: many, too many, years separate... then our discovery of the Other and our coming together... our first kiss (which rocked the Universe to it's Higgs boson particles)...
our wedding, our twin sons, and then our daughter... our friends over the years, some gained and others lost... our work with children and the homeless... and still we dream! And still we dream of many lifetimes and adventures together!
One of our chosen symbols for our marriage and our love is that of a chalice, a cup to hold and then set loose infinite possibilities. Our lives together are meant to liberate the other into becoming "an agent for transformation" and to find both the strength of perseverance and the radical witness of courage. As awareness seeps into one's bones, and then into and through the marrow, the truest response to the pain and suffering that devastates lives and is threatening to destroy this precious Planet, is the Way of Love: the breaking and opening of our hearts to unleash the power of compassion and a personal identification with the "Other" -- whomever She may be. Compassion and identification are the two primary "tools" in the belt of the mystic / activist. With them fully available and activated, becoming "agents of transformation" is within our reach -- without them, we will only fool ourselves and others, and cause still more pain and harm...
We wonder what is in the news? A quick glance reveals these headlines: Landlord fights "White Only' pool sign ruling; Human Rights Watch criticizes Alabama immigration law; Inequality in the US - the top 0.1% gaining even more than top 1%; Threat of malnutrition dire in Africa's Sahel region... taking refuge in the Holy One, in Love, and in Service for Peace and Justice breaks one's heart -- and it just keeps right on breaking, leaking out all over the place...
Three Stories: 1. Two women, farm workers, showed up at our House asking for food for their families. A few questions later, they revealed that they both had been working for a labor contractor. Together, they worked from sun-up to sun-down. The contractor gave then one check -- which they showed us -- to split for their days' work: the check totalled one dollar. There were a number of deductions made... 2. We organized a free health clinic at a migrant farm worker camp. The volunteer doctors were dispersed in a number of the small housing units. The families would make the rounds for diabetes screening, eye exams, PAP smears, etc. I wandered the camp visiting throughout the evening. Every time I passed one of the units, a young girl would come to the door and ask if I wanted to come in out of the cold wind. After a while, thoroughly chilled, I accepted her invitation. she was overjoyed to be able to offer me something from the little they had, would I like some hot chocolate and a pastry? I said, thanks for asking, but I was fine and just glad to be getting warm. I could hear her puttering around in the kitchen, and a few minutes later, she came out of the kitchen with a steaming cup of chocolate, and the gooiest Mexican pastry I could have ever imagined. Ah, but the look on Her Face! She was as radiant as the most beautiful summer day... 3. A couple had been reading our newsletter for some months and was curious about our stories of farm worker children. Could I take them with me to a farm worker camp? They went with me that Thursday, following me in their car. We arrived, I parked, and they parked facing the Santa Lucia Mountains across the Valley. "M" volunteered to distribute the beans, rice, and other items in the back of my truck -- I went off to play ball with the kids. later, "M" came up to me, she had finished, and she and her husband would be leaving. As I was walking her to her car, she asked if I was curious why her husband never got out of the car -- I really didn't think about it, probably figuring he was just shy. "M" stopped in the middle of the dirt parking lot and pointed to a ranch house in the distance. She said, "My husband grew up on that ranch. He drove by this camp everyday of his life -- and he never knew it was here."
Just say the Word
And every border
Will vanish this very night.
We could tomorrow all wake up
And not know if we're coming or going.
Then we might finally understand:
We are all, each one of us, aliens
Until our pilgrim hearts
Find their rest in Your embrace...
"La Illaha, Il Allahu"
We think we are many,
But we are really only one...
(Just say the Word...)
Another story: It was nearing the end of time. There were huge crowds waiting in line, each one hoping to make it through the Pearly Gates. There was a steady movement forward -- no one seemed to be going away! Whew, maybe there's hope for all of us... slowly, whispered instructions were being passed back all the way from the front of the line, "Just say that you're a friend of Dorothy Day's. Pass it on." (Thanks to Milton Mayer for another version of this story from the February 1981 edition of "Enthusiasm" the paper of the Viva House in Baltimore).
An Alternate Fourth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of how my heart thrills to love, I will focus my daily intentions and actions upon living in solidarity with all those for whom to live means to suffer. I will listen deeply to hear their stories and their wisdom. I will walk with all of my sisters and brothers into our mutual liberation.
Question for the Week:
How would you re-imagine America if every cultural / social / economic / political / religious institution sought the full development and liberation of every person? (We know this to be a "big" question -- but if the big questions are never asked, how will we ever change course?)
Practice for the Week:
Review the pages of "Light on the Path"; pick a quotation that especially resonates with your mind, heart, life, and vision; write it down, make as many copies as you can, tape / place the copies wherever they might catch someone by surprise; sign them from "Occupy Love"...
"We were just sitting there talking when Peter Maurin came in. We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form, saying, "We need bread." We could not say, "Go, be thou filled." If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread. We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us... And somehow the walls expanded... The most significant thing about The Catholic Worker
is poverty, some say. The most significant thing is community, others say. We are not alone any more. But the final word is love... We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship." --Dorothy Day
'Tis a gift to be simple,
'Tis a gift to be free,
'Tis a gift to come down
Where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves
In the place just right
'Twill be in the valley
Of love and delight. -- An old Shaker hymn
"The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, 'What are you going through'?" --Simone Weil
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." --Philo
"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself." --Anais Nin
"...What I want and all my days I pine for is to go back to my house and see my day of homecoming. And if some God batters me far out on the wine-blue water, I will endure it, keeping a stubborn spirit inside me, for already I have suffered much and done much hard work on the waves and in the fighting. So let this adventure follow." --Homer, Odyssey
With love and December blessings,
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.