I Need This Prayer More Than You Do

I need this prayer more than You do.
It brings me solace.
It stills time.

I need this prayer more than You do,
to distract myself from all other distractions,
hide away from the incessant noise,
tuck myself into child’s pose,
connecting with the earth
and all its myriad wonders.

I need this prayer more than You do.
It gives me discipline,
reminding me where I came from,
and to where I will return.

You say I must pray,
despite infinite angels at Your behest,
despite knowing the exact state of my soul,
the direction of my journey,
the judgement that awaits me.

Sometimes I remember to pray
and sometimes I don’t,
but one thing I know for sure is,
I need this prayer more than You do.

Without it, I wouldn’t know
where to begin,
how to carry on,
or when to finally fall.

This prayer is my refuge.
Each word I recite is a bridge
that I hope will carry me
from here to eternity.

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.

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.

Mixed Messages

You say You gave us ample warning.
You say You made it clear.
You say we’ll find our way back to You,
even if it takes a hundred thousand years.

And so it is.
And so You did.

Yet still, we lie here in confusion,
so many choices weighing us down,
each one leading to countless others
like tree roots burrowed deep into the ground.

For each choice we make,
we beg for guidance,
but often all we get
are mixed messages.

Perhaps every choice is the wrong one
if not made solely to seek Your pleasure.
Or perhaps our choices
are actually chances,
portals to the Divine,
like the waves of the ocean
flowing gently, to and fro,
clinging doggedly to the promise
one day they’ll meet the vast horizon.

Do we choose education for our benefit or Yours?
Do we choose to work for our profit or Yours?
Do we marry, have children, treat others well,
for our legacy or Yours?

Only You know the landscape of our hearts.

Will choosing You mean everything becomes easier,
our choices less difficult,
our decisions less painful?
Maybe or maybe not.
It’s hard reading Your mixed messages
with this damned veil upon my heart.

I beg of you
to lift the veil,
to clarify my path,
and coax me along it,
because this limited mind,
this constricted heart,
this darkened soul
is blind.

I am nothing without Your light.

You say You gave us ample warning.
You say You made it clear.
You say we will find our way back to You,
even if it takes a hundred thousand years.

And so it is.
And so You did.

And I will hold You to that promise.

The Why Behind the Why Behind the Why

Inspired by Rumi’s “The Root of the Root of Your Self”

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in,
I look for the why behind the why behind the why.

Why…do I feel so alone?
When I know that You are with me
everywhere I go.

Why…do I forget Your presence?
When I can see Your signs all around me –
water curled up in the clouds,
the freshest air atop the tallest peaks,
Your grand design woven through the very chrysalis of creation,
as mankind grows and evolves,
sinks and dissolves,
paints the world in ugly colors,
turns its mess into a masterpiece.

Why…do I not see Your signs,
even when my eyes are wide open?
Is it You who placed this veil on my heart,
or my inner demons who blinded me
by lulling me into soulless slumber?

Why…do I still then feel pain,
despite every attempt to be numb?
Is this a punishment for my many transgressions,
or a merciful reminder,
more bitter than sweet,
of the ache,
the longing,
to be whole again?

If you look for the why behind the why behind the why,
the answer to every question is You,
Your infinite love,
Your magnificent mercy,
Your enigmatic plan.

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in
what I’m really doing
is meeting You at our favorite rendezvous,
dancing around You like a giggly school girl,
trying to get as close as I can.
What I’m really doing
is looking for the One
Who never gives up on me,
brings me gifts wrapped in pain,
wrapped in pleasure,
sends me love notes in every song I hear,
writes me poems in every word I read,
breaks my heart
only to put it back together again,
reminding me every second of every day
how dearly I am loved.

When the weight of the world overwhelms me,
I just look for the why behind the why behind the why
because that’ s our special spot,
and it’s a date for which You’re never late.

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.

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.

Why Giving is Good for You

We’ve all heard that it is good to give in the service of others, whether it be of your time, effort or money. But how often do we think about the benefits giving has on us?

Usually, at the end of a long day or gruelling week, I feel depleted, as if I have nothing left to give anyone, not even a smile or a kind word. I just want to be left alone to stew in my self pity, resentful that there is no one around to give me the love and attention I want.

Recently, while meditating, I opened up to a new idea. I had been focusing my energy on removing this painful block at the top of my spine, trying to will it away through the sheer use of my mind and breathing. Nothing worked. It was only when I stopped focusing solely on the pain, but rather, around it, on my body as a whole, and thought to myself, “Just release,” that the pain finally dissipated. It occured to me that “releasing” is a lot like “giving”. By giving my negative energy away, not to another person, but back into the universal pool where all energy exists, I was able to feel a sense of release, and ultimately, peace.

If we can start to think of giving, in all circumstances, as a release, it will do us so much more good than the people to whom we give. Whether it’s lending our voice to a cause, creating our art for the world, sacrificing our time to be better parents, or just sharing our resources with those in need, the act of giving is a privilege. The giver gets so much more out if it than he/she will ever know.

At the end of the day, when your exhaustion gets the best of you, instead of focusing on all that negative energy, aim to release it. Give it back to the universe. Sorry, world, I don’t want this resentment, this disappointment, this depression. You can have it back. I want to make room within me to receive something better from you – your endless supply of love. 

It may not come from the exact person you want, in the exact way you want. But it will come, so long as you are open to receiving it. Being open means softening your heart, softening your expectations. It means accepting loving energy in whatever form it takes, and allowing it to replenish you.

So next time you think you have nothing left to give, give anyway – a hug, a smile, a kind word, a helping hand. Apart from the postive impact it might have on someone else, and the ripple effect that ensues, it will be a release for your soul, and a way to make room for replenishment.

Why Pain Matters

Most people run away from pain.

It’s uncomfortable and disturbing.

We think it takes us away 

from being able to enjoy life.

And yet, on the flip side of pain,

there is always pleasure.

They are two opposing sides of the same coin 

that we haven’t learned how to flip to our advantage.

Most people just choose to stuff the coin deep within their pockets,

rejecting both pain and pleasure,

in favor of a routine life,

where both these experiences are tempered,

and life seems manageable.

Except that life isn’t meant to be managed.

It’s meant to be fully lived.

Despite our best efforts, life doesn’t bend to our will.

Instead, we’re the ones getting puppeteered through life,

thrown from one tumult to another,

taking solace in the breaks between each crisis.

What if there is a way for us to align ourselves with the Universe?

To reduce our depression and anxiety,

our chronic loneliness,

always feeling on the fringes,

disconnected?

What if there is a way to be happy,

but it involves taking out that dreaded coin,

and dealing with the pain in our life head on,

learning how to sit with it,

process it,

and ultimately, 

release it?

What if the force of releasing that pain 

had the power to elevate us,

causing the coin to flip on its own? 

Then we might feel the greatest pleasure of all –

connection.

To ourselves.

To each other.

To that spiritual being lying deep within us.

The thing is,

there is no such thing as pleasure

without pain.

If we didn’t have either of these experiences, 

we’d be living a life of ennui.

Without the pain of our aching muscles,

getting a massage wouldn’t feel like such ecstasy.

Without the pain of going to school every day,

we wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing our friends,

or in the long term,

the satisfaction that comes from achievement,

the joy that comes from using our education to better the world.

Without the travesty of war,

we would not truly cherish peace.

Many of us live with deep wounds,

from childhood,

from broken relationships,

from illness,

or the loss of loved ones.

We endure tremendous pain,

absorbing it into our psyche,

allowing it to diminish our spirit,

trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore it 

until it goes away for good. 

But pain is like a leech.

It won’t leave

unless we learn 

how to heal.

The path to healing is personal.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all set of guidelines

for finding your bliss.

Yes, talking to a therapist might help,

or joining a support group.

Yes, medication might be hugely beneficial,

or reading about personal development, 

opening up 

to new ways of thinking.

Or maybe, for you,

none of this will work.

Perhaps you just need patience

and perseverance,

the sincere desire to evolve,

to transcend this human pain that is constantly weighing you down,

so you might find some semblance of peace –

and dare I say –

happiness. 

The path to healing is personal.

You must figure it out on your own

but not necessarily alone.

In fact, 

you’re never actually alone.

If you step out of your own way,

start ignoring your inner critic –

that pesky roommate who’s taken up residence in your mind –

let go of all your preconceived notions,

your antagonizing ideas about life,

your impressions of success and failure,

if you let go

and trust

your intuition,

that constant connection you have with the universe,

I promise you,

your heart will open up

to the truth.

Your path will be revealed.

Something beautiful will take shape

from the core of your being.

And if you can learn to trust it,

it will never steer you wrong. 

If you are ready to face your trauma,

the challenge will be immense

but the reward exponential.

Because with healing, 

comes the ability to help others.

And in the quest to help others,

you may just find your life’s purpose.

In helping others,

you’re creating a ripple effect

that will change the world.

And in helping others,

the person you’re actually helping the most,

is yourself.