Life is a maelstrom of passion and conflict, of questions and darkness -- and thanks be to the Holy One, also an oasis of possibilities and quest, of dreams and self-effacing courage...
A symbol for the Divine Feminine is that of a chalice: a cup to hold and then to set loose infinite love and possibilities... Our lives are meant to liberate "the other" into becoming an "agent of 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 blue 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 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...
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 them one check -- which they showed us -- to split for their days' work: the check totaled 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 small housing units. The families would make the rounds for diabetes screening, eye exams, PAP smears, etc. I wandered the camp 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 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 were 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, figuring that he was probably 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 every day of his life -- and never knew it was here."
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 was 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).
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.
How would you re-imagine America (and the world) if every cultural / economic / political / social / and religious institution sought the full development and liberation of every person?
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 anymore. 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 anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship. -- Dorothy Day
The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, "What are you going through? -- Simone Weil
The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself. -- Anais Nin
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.