Perspectives on the Abbey: A Thousand Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground

“God is not a question to be answered, but a mystery to be experienced.”

How do you all relate to this sentiment? In my time at Abbey of the Redwoods, I have experienced a soul-nourishing community that affirms that everyone must discover their own unique path to the Divine. As for myself, I ultimately believe that God/Spirit/Source is a mystery to be felt and revered. It is that which animates all, permeating within and between all things. It is that which reminds us of our interconnectedness with everything – that which reminds us of our belonging to one another, to the earth, and to the cosmos.

As an interfaith community with roots in Christianity, I see the Abbey as taking the idea of loving God and loving our neighbor seriously. We practice “walking each other home” (Baba Ram Dass) to the Sacred, though we may take different paths. Collectively we journey along the spiritual Way, and in so doing we deepen our relationship to the Transcendent and to one another. Through inclusivity we cultivate meaning – we expand to embrace our fellow sojourners, their stories, and their experience of the Divine within their own lives.

For some of us at the Abbey, the path is yoga and meditation. For others, it’s tending to the earth and the cycles of nature. For yet more of us it’s contemplating ancient stories – stories that catalogue the experiences of our ancestors throughout time as they relate to an infinite Creator from within their finite context. For others still it’s a combination of these things and more. As Rumi the ancient Sufi mystic once said, “there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there a thousand ways to go home again.”

At the Abbey, I find affirmation in my belief that this life and the work we do together while here on earth IS the Spiritual Practice. Returning home… again and again.

I believe that it is within community, and through community-building, that we as individuals begin to truly heal and effect change. After all, unless we are living a solitary life as a monk on a mountain somewhere, we are most likely all householders who are part of a larger ecosocial network. We must learn once again what it is to belong to each other and the bioregion which we call home. I am grateful to the Abbey for providing a space where I can put my spirituality into action, and for fostering this community which supports me as I learn to weave together my heart and my mind, for the liberation of all beings. 

Sandra Rodríguez (she/her/ella) is the Abbey’s “community liaison” of sorts – attempting to bridge the Abbey’s various goings-on with the wider community. If you are interacting with the Abbey of the Redwoods and/or Sea Goat Farm social media pages, it is likely you are interacting with her! She also helps with Saturday morning harvest and running the Sea Goat Farmstand. Sandra identifies as a shapeshifting dreamweaver and is interested in spiritual ecology, feminine spirituality, and the art of deep listening (among other things). 

This piece is part of a continuing series featuring Abbey members, their unique orientations to spirituality/religion, and their perspectives on Abbey life. 

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