Every person who lives in the Mystery of Faith, to some extent, lives in the solitude of an "Interior Garden"... Each moment of gentle awakening, as it were, plants a seed in one's consciousness: when those seeds are "watered" by sacred reading and meditation, by intentional compassion, one can increase the likelihood of that garden becoming a thriving oasis of beauty...
To what are the Sources that you turn? Do you hear the daily call to Remembrance? Do you remember and practice the Sabbath? Do you pocket a Scripture sacred to you as you go about the business of your day? Do you have on your wrist a mala, or a string of prayer beads around your neck? Do you listen to Gregorian chant at your desk or listen to the kirtan sung by Krishna Das? These question-promptings are a gentle nudge to consider the meaning of your daily life: for it is precisely out of our "ordinary" days that we either encounter the Divine Beloved -- or fail to... It is only by cultivating our intention to cultivate our Interior Garden that it will be fruitful...
To whom are you cultivating a tender, loving, devotion? Neither you nor I can pretend to be lovingly devoted to the Divine Beloved if we are not similarly tender, loving, and devoted to the human beings in our daily midst. Literally, if we spit in the face of anyone, we spit in the face of the Divine: no difference, no separation! It is exactly to the degree that we love the person that we love the least, that we in fact love the Holy One: no difference, no separation. Sure, most of us can smugly profess, "I have never spit in anyone's face!" But it is only the "smug" in us that can make such a profession: the ruggedly honest person can't. We spit every single time that we judge or hate or harm another. We spit every single time that we vote for people who foster bigotry, intolerance, hate, disrespect, and violence in order to get elected. It is always fear that makes us live as strangers in this world, just as it is always love that waters our soul garden and gives us the courage to love others as we say that we love the Holy One...
Many people do not have partners in their lives with whom they can practice loving kindness, and so they live "separate" even if married... Many people are profoundly lonely even in the midst of a crowd... Many people are so empty and hopeless in love that loving has become for them an impossibility: fear and anger then become their operational principles: and so their gardens are overcome with the thorns of hopelessness -- which then becomes a justification for "becoming" hate... Unfortunately, most of these folks are also not "talkers": neither priest nor therapist ever hears their real story and feelings... On the other hand, we have all been Divinely Constructed to be "containers" of Infinite Bliss: "We have been created by love, for love, to become love." (Simone Weil) The solution, as Dorothy Day taught, is community: a community of sisters and brothers with whom we can "water our gardens" and practice love by loving... Isn't this the Divine Way of Yeshua the Poet of Nazareth?
Cultivating the "feminine" characteristics of listening, humility, gentleness, tolerance, kindness, and compassion -- whether one is male or female -- is essential to awakening. Cultivating devotion to the Divine Feminine: to the Little Brown Mother of Guadalupe, to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kuan Yin, to the Holy Wisdom of the Source, Sophia, or to the Divine Beloved as Mother Herself is a sure way to feed one's Interior Garden... One need only to watch either CNN or Fox News to see that everything that we are now doing as a specie is not working! We need to change our minds before it is to late for all life on this precious blue Planet!
Finally, everyday we must return -- several times -- to our Interior Garden to feel and adore the hidden presence of the Divine Beloved. We need to work there as we need to rest there. Can there be a better analogy than that of human lovers? Read the Song of Songs! That is the "true" story of both Creation and Re-Creation! As we kiss and lick our lover's back, chest, and genitals we breathe onto her / his skin our breath of adoration... As our bodies merge in wonder and bliss, we breathe out into the Universe the Mystic Song of Redemption: this kiss here and this kiss there is the Holy Mantra of Surrender: truly, truly, "We were created by love, for love, to become love"... You cry that you have no one to kiss? There are many different ways to kiss! Surely you could volunteer somewhere! Surely someone, besides you, is in need somewhere near you! Is there a hospital, retirement home, school, homeless shelter, animal shelter, or soup kitchen anywhere near you? Volunteer! Do you eat? Skip a meal and send the cost saved to a charitable organization! Our Interior Gardens become havens of contemplative bliss as we practice loving others -- even as we are learning to love ourselves... Every breath is as holy as it is going to get: so why wait?
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.