In the beginning was the Image. -- Fritz Eichenberg
The world will be saved by Beauty. -- Dostoevsky
Moon climbing the black sky -- what is one breath?
When sitting in rapt wonder at the beauty of the moon climbing the sky, perhaps huddled beside a lover and a campfire, the Earth, the Universe, and all that She holds within Her can seem overwhelming and so filled with grandeur that one is "reduced" to awe and a kind of emptiness -- maybe a sort of "pregnant pause" will come upon one -- a pause that can suddenly awaken one to the subtle power of one conscious breath... One Love...
"One breath" is every breath, or our last breath. Every breath is the Holy One, our Beloved Friend, breathing the gift of life into us and into every living creature... every breath and every life presents us with an astounding opportunity to revere and adore... Dorothy Day wrote that "the saints are those who know how to love, whose lives were transformed by love. The desire deep in the heart of every one of us is to love, to love in such a way that all things become new, that there is a new song in our hearts."
In the ineffable silent space between the incoming and the outgoing breath is where the Heart may enter the Light of the Holy One -- almost as if from the inside out, the upside down, from the smallest or most fragile, and only then on into the grandeur of the Infinite One, the Holy, the Beautiful One. In the ineffable silent space, in this Place, one may hear the Heartbeats and feel the Breath of the Holy One on the nape of one's neck and see all creation shining with an almost unbearable Light... "I belong to the soul of the Beloved. I have put duality away, I have seen that the two world's are one; One I seek, One I know, One I call." (Rumi)
I created your soul with a capacity for loving -- so much so, that you cannot live without love. Indeed, love is your food. -- St. Catherine of Siena
We pause here to remember one whom we had the pleasure and joy of working with for a few years... at first, she was "just" the bookkeeper... her head always focused on the computer screen, focused and determined. After a while her eldest daughter started volunteering, always with a radiant smile, but shy... then a USC Immersion Group showed up for a week... both Debra and Mary showed up for our USC vs. Dorothy's Place softball game... after much coaxing, Mary finally picked up a bat... one slow pitch later, the ball was sailing into the deep outfield and Mary was charging around the bases. Steadily after, Debra and her family were "charging" into our hearts...
Stories of a constant practice of kindness abound, and a business office became the beating heart of a Soup Kitchen... Irene walked up the stairs for a good word to inspire hope... Raul came for inspiration to enter a recovery program... Kalei dropped by for a listening ear... Maurice would drop in because it was the one place where he could escape judgment... And then it came time for Camp St. Francis: would Debra's daughters, Mary, Savannah, and Carmen each like to be group leaders? Enthusiastic Mary was ready, but Savannah and Carmen were beleaguered with doubt... nevertheless, they all showed up... Carmen soon had to go home... but Savannah stuck it out: and day-by-day, she blossomed into a caring and self-confident leader... then she began babysitting for Robert and I to actually go on dates -- what a luxurious gift! Needless to say, she fell in love with Donovan, Devin, and our wild Rose of Sharon, and became part of our family...
Then the Holidays rolled around and Debra had to take a second job to provide the gifts she wanted for her family and friends -- while at the same time securing donations and volunteers to offer a Christmas Celebration for hundreds and hundreds of children at Dorothy's... all done without fanfare, simply because she was "aware of suffering" and her heart had been opened by Love... and to top everything off, months ago she took a homeless woman home with her to be part of her family...
We continue our reflection with another thought of the importance of opening and surrendering to Love -- and how very "different" the prophets, saints, rabble-rousing radicals, and world scriptures read when seen from the "vantage point" of the "disadvantaged": all those persons who have been marginalized by others with power! The luxury of "faith" meets head-on its complicity with injustice! The luxury of "faith" meets head-on the struggle that is solidarity and the Living Presence of the Holy One still alive among us!
We realize that there are no easy answers -- just as there is no "guarantee of success". But there is a way as there is a task: scattering the little seeds of paradise as you / we go about our daily lives. Here in this moment we can choose to be fully present and alive with our possibilities a blessing and a gift for all those persons we will encounter. To "scatter the little seeds of paradise" means to live without either the need or desire to judge another being! What a blessed relief! We don't need to judge! We don't need to manipulate reality to suit our ends (wow, what an exhausting use of energy)! We can choose to be free -- talk about "wonder and awe"!
If we wish to become "Companions of the Way", we must quiet down our scalawag minds, and practice kindness and compassion -- we must live "target free" from now on. The deepening dimensions of this practice opens the heart to visions of Beauty everywhere, and Justice is then known to be our personal responsibility... the Beloved Community relates everyone and everything to this conscious commitment. "The end is the creation of the Beloved Community." (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
The Seventh Mindfulness Training:
Aware of being here now, I am choosing to live with an everyday consciousness of having surrendered my mind, heart, and life over to the Beauty that is Love. I will make the actions that flow from this surrendering the story of my life.
How can we cultivate a culture of compassion and kindness in our homes, schools, workplaces, and all about us in the world?
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.