Forever and ever -- longer than soil is brown and solid --
longer than water ebbs and flows.
-- Walt Whitman
The trek of the Joad Family in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" is toward their place, their work, and their purpose: the "Promised Land" of Home. This is the essence of the great American vision of "justice for all" and the driving force of all of the movements for social change: an end to slavery, women's right to vote, worker's rights, civil rights, women's rights, farm worker rights, LGBT rights, marriage equality, environmental protection, the Occupy movement, and peace-building (from among still others). And this vision continues in the many creative efforts to "return to the land", preserve the commons, and resistance to the destructive nature of multinational financial entities and globalization: with the powerful vision of both saving the Planet from catastrophic climate change and leaving no person or people behind or out on the margins. Like the "Rose of Sharon" in "The Grapes of Wrath", we are each (and all) called to activate our compassion: and engage in a grand purpose beyond our own narrow self-interest: we are all bound together in a common humanity and we must each offer the "breast" of our commitment to the well-being of every "other". This is what it means to live in, and from, our soul: that core part of us that is our true identity: and at the same time, our "bridge" to the divine.
We all need one another! No one truly lives who pretends to live in isolation from others -- and intellectual or spiritual isolation is the most damaging of all -- for deep personal and sustainable transformation only occurs in the experience of dynamic relations with others. Each one of us has the power to live as an expression of "soul commitment" to the gift of Life that has been freely given to us... that we all eventually become "bruised, scarred, and wounded" is as badge of honor! We are meant to become manifestations of courage and to both intend and practice the soulful art of becoming "helping hands and healing voices" for everyone in our human Family: regardless of our personal stories of pain. In fact, the surest way of easing our pain, is to become agents of active kindness to others: in helping others who are suffering and are burdened by life, we reduce the amount of hurt we ourselves are carrying! This is an amazing truth! Try it out for yourself: practice a random act of kindness -- in secret -- everyday, and observe how your own life will open up: and then, when you've built up your courage, try loving the "unloveable" in your community: serve them, share with them, listen to them, advocate for them: and then observe how every aspect of your life will begin to shine: as you love others, love will come back to you, overflowing... and the "grapes of wrath" in your life will steadily become the "sweet wine of discovery": you have become happy and you have found the Promised Land of your "Welcome 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.