God is Dead

God is dead, they say with certainty.
Shhh! Don’t anyone disclose,
I’m hiding Him here in the cup of my hands.
He’s lying in gentle repose.

I’m pouring Him into my crystal ball,
watching Him swivel and swirl,
bewitched by the magnificent tales,
woven into His colors and curls.

I want Him all to myself, you see.
Every day, I watch His beauty unfold,
I taste the sweetness of His very existence,
I bathe in His bitter and bold.

Slowly, this solo exchange grows lonely.
After all, what’s the point of my knowing
bliss that cannot be openly shared,
union that is felt and free-flowing.

So I release Him
from my crystal ball,
and wait for what will
most surely enthrall.

He flies into people’s eyes,
He veers into people’s ears,
He kisses their lips,
brings to life their gifts.

He’s here! He’s here!
they exclaim,
their hearts suddenly
bursting aflame.

He’s the unchecked joy in children’s laughter,
He’s the love in every parent’s heart,
He’s the contentment of souls in solitude,
the thrill of reunion when we part.

He’s the sting of rejection,
He’s the bottomlessness of loss,
He’s our dancing partner through life,
He’s our grit, but He’s also our gloss.

He is truth and pain and anger and shame
all rolled into One.

God is dead, they say with certainty.
Sure He is.

He’s dead the way that love is dead,
the way that dreams are dead,
the way that dead is dead.

But even things that die
eventually return to life,
and when they finally do,
His presence is divinely rife.

God is dead, they say, with certainty.
That’s just because they’re scared.
‘cause if God were alive, what does that say
‘bout how their faith and fealty have fared.

Their folly is thinking God is only wrath,
not realizing He is kindness, too,
forgiveness, compassion and mercy,
a balm for any bedlam they’ve brewed.

God is more alive than life itself,
He is deader than infinite shrouds,
He is heavier than our collective sorrow,
He is lighter than diaphonous clouds.

He is.
He is.
He is.

And if you know only this,
you know all that matters.
God is not dead,
it’s their faith that’s shattered.

Let us love them and hug them and hold them tight,
let us soothe their wounded hearts,
let us guide them away from God’s gravestone,
t’wards the ease that our oneness imparts.

Bliss

Sparking magic and wonder in an innocent child’s eyes,
autumn trees swathed in emeralds, rubies and citrine,
summertime sunsets reflected in still waters,
the sound of steam rising from a kettle,
sharing long-held secrets with a trust-worthy confidante,
stolen kisses with a long-time love,
gentle breezes skirting past during evening walks,
and the tingling sensation of reuniting with your Beloved:
this
is
bliss.
Moments borrowed from heaven.
Moments that make you wish
you weren’t so numb.
Moments that make you yearn
for the courage to feel
these blissful reminders
of Bliss itself.

The Beginning of the End

The beginning of the end for me
was the day I finally saw You for You.
Before that, you were just a name to bandy about,
a pacifier for those who had no clue.

You were to be more feared than loved,
that was simply the order of the day.
At least, that’s what I had been told,
and I wasn’t one to disobey.

Ironically, the moment
I felt You close by,
was when breaking the rules,
this I cannot deny.

Yet still, You revealed to me
a deep truth from within,
hidden under layers
of worldly din.

I believed at the center
of my lonely, lonely heart
that You didn’t love me,
I was somehow apart.

That belief shaped my actions,
my relationships, my core.
How could I flip this thought
so deeply stitched into my lore?

The answer is slowly and gently,
bouyed by the strength of Your love.
Could there be a stronger force
in this earthly world or above?

Now that I know You are on my side,
anything and everything seems possible.
An entire lifetime has been examined,
motivations analyzed and found tossable.

Frameworks have been readjusted,
future plans left open for guidance to come.
Some things are ending, others just beginning.
It feels like I’m mourning, my heartstrings a’strum.

As I bury my former self in the ground,
I wonder how long this grief will last.
I beg You, please, don’t give up on me,
as I overcome my treacherous past.

What will the other side look like,
I ask every day.
You present me with options
to choose from, but nay!

This time,
we’ll chose together,
You and I.

We’ll rebuild this life from love, not fear.
Even when I’m alone, I’ll know You’re near.

And this I can say
one hundred percent,
my heart has grown porous,
there’s no more cement.

I live only for You
and whatever good I can do,

till the end of time,
till the end of mine.

The Dancing Bear

Whenever I danced for my audience,
I received cheers and hearty applause.
That sound filled my heart with untold joy.
I felt like I was living for a cause.

For as long as I can remember,
I’ve belonged solely to my trainer.
He was strict when I needed discipline,
tested me till my act was a no-brainer.

And when I performed well, which I always did,
he’d reveal his softer side,
presenting me with the choicest treats,
petting me publicly with pride.

You see, I am a dancing bear.
I’ve always lived to please.
At first, my trainer kept me caged,
until he trusted I wouldn’t flee.

As I grew bigger in size,
less flexible and friendly-seeming,
he left me to my own devices,
found others to trap in his dreaming.

It was the first time I thought,
if I could no longer perform or please,
then who was I, really?
My trainer simply taunted and teased.

He made me feel unwanted, worthless.
One day, he flew into a rage so great,
I clawed and cowered in trembling despair,
before planning my stealthy escape.

I ran and ran for miles,
no direction or planned destination.
One morning, I woke in a grassy knoll,
the sun embracing me in salutation.

Despite having no clue what I should do,
in that moment, I finally understood,
this was a chance to live my life anew,
in as honest a way as I could.

Over the months and years that followed,
pure love blossomed from within.
When next, I came across my old trainer,
all I could do was mildly grin.

Now, I only felt sorry for him,
but immensely grateful, too,
were it not for his abominable actions,
I wouldn’t have discovered You –

the real audience for my deeds,
the One I was truly meant to please.

House of Mirrors

Some days this world is like a snow globe
in the hands of a gleeful child
being shaken with force and fury,
snowstorms, hurricanes, wildfires, riled.

Other days this world is like a house of mirrors,
each speck of love and good will
reflected from one crystalline heart to another,
multiplied, magnified, distilled.

Our crystal hearts come in all shapes and shine,
rubies, emeralds, sapphires, divine,
slate grey stones, cloudy pebbles,
prismatic diamonds, onyx rebels.

Some are cracked, some have coating,
bubble-wrapped or free-floating.
Some have dark stains, deeply set,
Others are polished, gleaming with sweat.

Each light reflects and absorbs
the One True Guiding Light.
Though we sense it all around us,
it blinds even the sharpest sight.

This life is like a treasure hunt,
with clues and signs at every turn,
nudging us in the right direction,
each prize, another truth to learn.

As I gaze upon the night sky,
I wonder if our microscopic atoms
revolve in synchronous dance with
our universe’s planetary patterns.

We started out as only One,
then separated into dualities,
branched into clans and countries,
created divisive mentalities.

How seriously we take this illusory life,
how foolishly we resist our intuition.
Surely, it leads those who listen with care,
to eternal peace and submission.

Your Compassion

Bathing in a glistening pool of Your compassion,
I stretch my body taut,
floating on a current of utter bliss,
happy to let go of all control,
relieved to hand over the reins,
skimming around rocks,
being led by waves and wind,
falling over a precipice,
only to have You catch me.
I’d been living like a blind man
struggling behind a steering wheel,
when all I really desired
was to let go,
submit,
to You.
My control was an illusion,
unhappiness, an illusion,
separation from You, an illusion.
Lift up the curtain between our worlds
so that we may finally be One.
And if you must make me wait then
turn me into a mad and gushing sea,
or the spiraling winds of a tornado,
a terrifying eruption of sizzling lava,
or a quaking deep within Mother Earth.
Let me wreak my havoc on this world,
with uncontrolled abandon.
Or else,
bathe me in the glistening pools of Your Compassion,
where time will not stalk me,
pain is a figment of the imagination,
and pleasure awaits at every turn,
the pleasure that I am on my way,
hungry for a taste of,
aching to reunite with,
finally ready to give in to,
You.

I Used To Live For Words

Although I’ve never been the most consistent blogger, today, I’m posting after about six months. The world has been through so much this year. During this time of uncertainty, I hope you’ve been well, and able to take time out to do all the things that feed your soul and help you cope.

One of the things I did during my hiatus from blogging was take a few online courses at the Rumi Center for Spirituality and the Arts, such as The Book of Love (about the teachings of the Quran), An Ocean in a Drop (about Rumi’s poetry), Opening the Eye of the Heart (a poetry writing course), and, currently, Awakenings (about the 99 Names of Allah). Each course created a safe space for me to write and reflect, and share my thoughts with a community of like-hearted individuals. The courses were lovely and I would highly recommend them to anyone out there who’s interested in poetry and spirituality.

I wanted to share some of the poems I’ve written during these past six months. The first one, below, is entitled, I Used To Live For Words.

I used to live for words,
the sounds they made 
when strung together,
the epic tales they told,
the deep emotions they evoked.
But with the passage of time,
I find I want to speak less,
breathe more,
and just be.
I want to use fewer words
to speak larger truths,
distill the essence
of my awareness
into a bottle
like a love potion,
to be passed on to others,
from one mouth to another,
till we’re all entranced and intoxicated, 
left speechless by Your magical presence.
I used to live for words,
but now I’m the one who
breathes life into language
and must speak from the soul,
hoping each word builds a bridge
towards the One I live to find.

Come a Little Closer

Sometimes it feels like I’m always sad
and things will never be any other way.
The void within will continue to grow,
as will this angst and constant searching
for something I may never get.
Is it an all-consuming purpose?
The truth about life?
Or just the truth about my life?

Although living this privileged existence on the outside,
my spirit feels as restless as a wandering dervish,
always in search of the truth,
looking for beauty and love
in every speck and every soul,
in every corner of this world.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a beautiful soul.
But what good is it if there’s no one to see it,
to recognize it
and appreciate it?
It’s never meant much to me to have a pretty face,
yet somehow,
that is what matters to most.

You are the only One who truly knows me,
but I hardly know You.
The closer I try to get,
the farther I seem to move away
from the people of this world,
their desires,
their to do lists,
their visions for the future.

I wish I could meet You,
but instead I try to gather You,
like items on a scavenger hunt,
from your most fragile forms,
like the petals of a flower
or the nuanced brushstrokes of a breaking dawn,
to your most resplendent creations,
like the lush and lofty trees of the rainforests
or the majestic star-lit sky.
From the concrete columns of architectural marvels
to the intangible emotions of a couple lost in love,
I collect each piece of you
and add it to the void within,
hoping for a sense of closeness,
a glimpse of paradise,
a soulful balm.
And sometimes,
it works.

I often wonder if You’re watching me from above
or deep within
and laughing at my exertions
trying so hard
to feel so close
to the One who is already
so near.

Why is joy so hard to experience?
Why are guilt and fear so deeply ingrained in our psyches?
Why are these invisible bonds so impossible to break?
These cloaks of despair so hard to shake?

You say You’re closer to us than our jugular vein.
Why, then, is it so hard to feel You?
Are you hidden in my tears?
Are you blended in my breath?
Because then I might understand
why I cry so much,
why I sigh so much.

Sometimes I think
you ask too much
of me.
Or perhaps I am one of your weaker creations,
to serve what purpose, I do not know,
except to feel
this ever-present
pull.

What do I do with all this love,
with all this longing?
How do I spend this life
so far away from You?
Unless perhaps,
You think it’s time
to come a little closer,
so I may finally experience
the infinite,
before this life is over.

Fairytale Gone Wrong?

Once upon a time, the world was One. It existed in harmony with all the elements of life, like paradise on earth. The laws of nature ran their course for many millenia before humans even entered the picture. Humans brought with them ingenuity, innovation and emotion, but also greed. The best of humanity sought to understand the Universe and live according to its ebbs and flows. They sought just enough to suit their needs and maintain the balance of life.

Then a time came when people saw fit to break the world into pieces, much like a jigsaw puzzle. But where a puzzle is meant to be put back together, these pieces started calling themselves ‘nations’ instead, and believing they were the only ones that mattered. They built fortress-like walls around their borders to protect them from the others. Those who were once their brothers and sisters, were now nothing more than fearsome ‘foreigners’. 

When the land was divided, some got luckier than others, with more resources at their disposal. ‘Sharing’ became a dirty word, while ‘selling’ became everything. Suddenly, the earth, which had been given to us so freely to share and protect, became a product with a price tag. We began to feel ownership over nature, when actually, nature wasn’t subject to any laws other than those dictated by the Universe.

Humans, much like nations, began amassing wealth and resources, at the expense of others. Their brilliance shined through in the systems they created, but their fears of never having enough overshadowed any instinct they had towards helping those in actual need. Children were sent to schools to soak in knowledge, but more often than not, came back having lost their sense of wonder, with brains steeped in facts, mixed messages about life and deep insecurities for the future.

Love, which once came from within and was given freely without expectation, was now shackled by all sorts of restrictions. With the jigsaw movement came rules about who and how it was okay to love, and any deviation from those rules was utter abomination. Love was given an easily commodifiable interpretation, and anyone without such love in their lives felt wholly unworthy. These people made for friends misery and mental anguish, instead. What use was their life if nobody loved them? They forgot they were loved by the most ultimate being of all. They forgot their worth was inherent, their talents essential and their beauty undeniable. They forgot all these things, so the rest of humanity punished them for it.

As is wont to happen in times of great upheaval, there were a few who benefitted from this broken arrangement. They were the ones who kept stoking the fear because they had something valuable to gain – the power to control the narrative. And everyone knows there is no greater power in this world than that. For he who controls the narrative has an army of puppets at his disposal. And puppets who do as they’re told without questioning, are indeed much more dangerous than any fearsome foreigner you could imagine.

The world was sprinting along at a dizzying rate, when she came along. No one had time to pause and reflect for too long because there was always the next project to be done, the next day to get through, the next box to tick mark. There were never enough hours in the day for anything, let alone stopping to appreciate the Universe’s blessings. 

It took the blink of an eye to change all that. The world was overtaken by a common enemy it called Corona. Through her severity and speed, Corona put the world in its place. People began realizing they were not as powerful or untouchable as they had once thought. In fact, they were downright helpless. They’d just never realized it. 

Corona has caused widespread destruction everywhere. But she’s also done something no president, no religious leader, no spiritual guru, prominent businessman or insightful writer has ever been able to do. She has brought the world together. She’s forced people into their homes, made them focus on their families and reflect on the things that truly matter. She’s humbled them, bringing out their best (and sometimes worst).

Corona has delivered a warning for all of humanity: Get your act together. Be united. Live with love, humility and faith. Help each other. There is no hamster wheel of life or ladder to success. There is no point in creating borders and labelling humans. No one ever wins in war. And the only one who is truly in control is the Universe. 

Corona was neither an accident, nor a well-inflicted plan by some enemy combatant. She was sent by the Universe as the ultimate course corrector. Throughout history, whenever the world has gone off balance, the Universe has found a way to restore order. Now, when so many of us have stopped caring about Mother Nature, the Universe has given us a preview of what happens when Mother Nature stops caring about us, too. 

Yes, this is just a preview. But it doesn’t have to be. It all depends on what we decide to do next.

Although we’d like to believe Corona is the enemy, she is actually just a messenger. The question is, are we actually listening to what she has to say? 

Are you? And if so, what is it that you hear?  

When I Sit in Silence

When I sit in silence
with nothing but my thoughts for company,
my consciousness for comfort,
I feel,
palpably,
that something is missing.
For years, I didn’t know what that was.
An absence of goals and dreams?
A lack of purpose?
No connection to a single home,
a stable identity?
The theories behind my inadequacy came and went –
childhood trauma,
young adult depression,
laziness without ambition,
not enough gratitude.
Now I know better.
The thing that’s missing,
the lack of which makes me feel
this unbearable loneliness and deep-seated longing,
is You.
You who created me
and loves me like no other.
You, who are with me,
even when you’re not,
who gifts me moments of work and rest,
glimpses of transcendence and treachery.
Despite all that you have blessed me with –
family, friends, multiple homes, diverse experiences, a world of beauty and amazement –
nothing compares to the feeling
of being
with You.

I miss you always.
I sometimes wonder how I’ll last
with just this tenuous connection between us.
I want more.
Is this what greed is?
Then, truly, I am a greedy person.
Honor, nobility, morality be damned.
You can see right through to the core of my being,
even if no one else can.
I ache for you,
like a child who’s been separated from his mother,
or someone who wants only to be wrapped in her lover’s embrace.
I ache.
And that is the root of all my pain.
Everything else pales in comparison
to the joy of being with you.
Yet I know
that “everything else” is your gift to me,
to keep me balanced,
too distracted to drown
under the weight
of this painful disconnection.

How can I help others to heal
when my own wounds feel so fresh,
so physical?
When will this ache diminish?
How do I move forward in this life
when all I want is to fall back
into You,
when all I can think about
is melting into your embrace
and becoming One
again?

You say heaven or hell lies ahead of us,
on the other side of this life.
I say heaven or hell is right now,
this life and what we make of it.
What, then, waits for us on the other side?
Home?
Perfect union?
Limitless love?

You, with arms outstretched.