Known as the Driftless Area -- because it was missed by the last ice age's powerful glaciers -- the topography here has been quite artistically sculpted by the effect of water upon the limestone. The landscape is characterized by bluffs, caves, swift streams, and mostly meandering rivers... The scene pictured above is that of the "Oneota", or Upper Iowa River, as it begins to wind its way through the one of the most picturesque towns of the American mind-scape: Decorah, Iowa.
A short journey away, on other bluffs and overlooking the Mississippi River, is the National Monument known as Effigy Mounds. The Monument preserves and protects over two hundred burial and ceremonial mounds -- thirty or so in the shape of bear or birds -- in one of the nation's most significant historical and spiritual sites. The mounds date from 2,500 years old to 750 years... all the work of Woodland Period Native Americans... this entire driftless region is a reflection of the interaction between transcendence and immenence: in what the ancient Celts called "thin places": where the material world is actively "invaded" or inhabited by spirits... these "thin places" have always sent their winged calls out into the world for a gathering of "listeners" willing to venture into the mystic...
Breathing in the Mystery of One Silence:
empty space... star... sun... sky
cloud... mountain... river... tree
animal... breath, only breath...
Who was I at five?
Who was I at seventeen?
Who am I now, when
only my breath is the same?
We... you... me... essence of mystery:
fingers touch, hands caress, endless kiss:
the subtlest mystery of all...
A fine early Autumn day, "bluffing" above the Upper Iowa River, a day seemingly made for mindful meanderings, like the river I'm coming to know... and so I happen upon the word "adoration" and wonder at its simple passion for mystery... not the ordinary mysteries that fill our days , but the mysteries that hide behind the visible world and Universe: there is never a shortage of troubles, challenges, depressions, and fears -- some even cultivated by the world religions -- but "adoration" penetrates the stories we sell ourselves with snippets of wisdom: like, Love is a red kite... there! in the deep blue above us and within us... hold onto the string and follow it Home...
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.