A small desk, in a corner, on the second floor of an apartment overlooking Main Street... the rising sun shines in the window creating a fierce glare sufficient for raising the dead of "forgetfulness"... into the flow of "remembrance"...
A cadre of friends are pictured on the wall: West Coast Tribal Beauty, the Man of La Mancha, Walt Whitman, John Steinbeck, Ani Difranco, Utah Phillips, Che Guevara, Georgia O'Keefe, Robert Bly, Gary Snyder, Alice Walker, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Kennedy, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, David Ligare... books line the shelves, files are stacked, papers are piled... "Poets & Writers" sits next to the computer...
Why share this photograph and glimpse into my life? The transformation, both personal and global, that "mystic activists" are seeking is, truthfully, a very big thing: but daily life is "mundane": the search for truth and beauty -- and expressing the results of such a search through words -- is a digging into and through guts, bone, the flotsam of mind, and only occasionally on into simple consciousness where "words" primordially exist as "One Word"... and love flows endlessly... Most of our words and works obscure the truth and beauty we seek: thinking otherwise though, the poet, the writer, the artist, the musician, the potter, the photographer, the sculptor, the gardener, the farmer, and every other creator continues -- in every small corner of the world -- to seek the complete revelation she feels compelled to pursue... And so it goes with the mystic and activist as well: the mystic penetrates layers of consciousness, facing, utterly alone, the surety of complete annihilation... and the activist, in gatherings public and secret, on the streets and in the halls of government, vigorously pursues justice for all... without end... But for each, there is still the rising in the morning, the brushing of teeth, the cooking of food, the washing of dishes and housecleaning, the rambling ways of acquiring the resources to survive, and the challenges of every relationship that at any moment may enlighten or darken the little corner in which we somehow survive... the rEvolution, and great art, is the way in which we get out of bed...
The air outside is turning white.
A chill creeps about the room,
settling deep into my bones.
Rising into my doubts
light finally arrives: the books
that line the shelves
tell the stories of what it means
to live and always to die:
but still to rise.
It is perhaps in that effort alone
that we are most human... no
certainties and no anthems
to any creed written centuries ago:
but just another humble rising
to face the day and do the work
that is required.
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.