When beginning to work on a book I'm writing, the phrase "The Burden of the Psalms" came to mind -- and it became an important part of the whole... which brings to mind the words and songs of the great Canadian poet and singer, Leonard Cohen: from songs such as "Suzanne", "Bird On a Wire", "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", to one of the greatest songs ever composed, "Hallelujah"... always a blend of possibilities: sadness, despair, and bits of comfort... mixed with just enough humor to keep one confronting the difference between sanctity and insanity...
Isn't this so much of what life is about? Robin Williams brought us to the tears of laughter and humbled us at the same time with his raw, beautiful, humanity: apparently this comic genius committed suicide... The Middle East is exploding -- with no clear path forward to peace and justice -- and the dreams of brothers descend into nightmares... Russia looks to perhaps invade the Ukraine... people starving and a devastated Planet crying: can you hear the gut-wrenching groans?
To be alive right now is to have been born under "the burden of the psalms"... what is that? For years now I have wondered... Perhaps it is not about a book of poetry in the Bible: but it is about transforming pain into praise, and sadness into song... if this precious blue Planet were to die this very night and take every life -- every form of life -- with it: the void and emptiness would still praise and sing: What is our song? "I need you, I need you, I need you"... Need anything else be said? Jew must say to Muslim and Muslim to Jew: "I need you"... Christian must say to Muslim and Muslim to Christian: "I need you"... Every faith and no faith, conservative, liberal, progressive, and radical... man and woman, adult and child, human and non-human, living and dead and future born: "I need you, I need you, I need you"... This living, this needing to be felt, honored, cherished, and above all, said: is the burden of the psalms... And the only way to make light the burdens that we carry is to share the weight...
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.