I hear the pain of this world
-- the mountain dogwood
Many years ago while on a camping retreat in Kings Canyon, I was walking a trail through the Giant Sequoias... perhaps the most glorious trees anywhere on this precious blue Planet... Others were walking the same trail as I, all of us following the base of a Sequoia up into the blue sky... continuing to walk, I rounded the trail to another and yet another stunning tree, but this time my eyes were captured by a little tree in the broken shadows of the Giants: a blossoming Mountain Dogwood, with leaves painted many shades of green...
That little Mountain Dogwood invited me to sit and join in her deep listening... somehow the whirl of atoms came to focus on the many cries of suffering the world over... until finally came the sounds of the Planet herself weeping in her whirl through Time and Space... The humble Dogwood could hear, which got me to wondering why is it so very hard for humans to hear the pain: oh, we feel it when it touches us, or maybe when someone we care for is suffering: but too few of us recognize the essential broken-nature of this world and the Universe... and the options that are available to us...
Some like the theory that says the brokenness was a "planned mistake": some further suppose, on faith, that Yeshua the Poet came to awaken and then remind us of our inherent divine dignity... The Sufis suppose that perhaps the mistake of the First Couple in the Original Garden wasn't exactly the disobedience of eating the Forbidden Fruit but instead it was of accepting their expulsion from the Garden: the one act of disobedience that really counted they missed, and so left the Garden -- and everyone following after them homeless -- when it was for that very moment that they had actually been created! The Creator, according to the mad poets anyway, desired Lovers and not wimps! They were supposed to say, "No! Sorry, but we are choosing to not leave! We feel deeply that You created us by Love, for Love, to become Love, so we are going to continue living with You, walking with You, working and playing with You, and most of all, loving with You...Sorry, again, but we aren't going anywhere!"
According to the little Mountain Dogwood, we are each and all, supposed to be saying and living: "I am worth the very best! I am worth Love!" And then we are supposed to be giving, doing, creating, and building the very best for everyone and everything upon this precious blue Planet! Until then, of course we are suffering and in pain: and the task of the little Mountain Dogwood is to listen (it's not like it can get up and go walking around) and blossom with the beauty that really could save the world... if we would but choose Beauty over all the ways of power, violence, greed, oppression, and inequality...
With the Mountain Dogwood, we can learn to be intently silent until we too can hear the pain of this world, and we can then become the beauty and the compassion that will return us all, once again, to the Garden of Endless Delight: the Home intended for us, and that we should never have left...
So much for the Mountain Dogwood, right? I mean, left?
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.