I lit a tea-light, plopped it in a little glass ramekin and placed it at my bedside. I flattened my paisley pillow, turned onto my left and watched as the flame, the ramekin’s ridges and the breeze through the skylight worked together to create a nighttime dance of flowing light.
Every last bit
of a ‘normal’ life
can lie in tatters
at your feet
The daffodils are in full bloom. Everywhere you look there's yellow. It's like the sun's shining up from the ground as well as down from the sky.
But just a few short weeks ago there were only a handful of solitary daffodils who'd opened their eyes to the world, the rest still closed up tight. I imagined those daffodils as the first brave and curious explorers, eager to see the world and somehow sensing something good was waiting. I imagined the way they'd wake up, see the wonder and turn to their sleeping brothers and sisters and whisper, 'Come on, you have no idea how beautiful it is out here!'.
I have never known an emptiness like this.
Motivation left me for other lovers long ago.
It returns, but with dwindling frequency
and only ever
to steal a clumsy kiss in the dark night.
It rouses me with its passionate promises of becoming
and for a brief moment
my pulse starts up again with hope.
This time, perhaps, it will stay;
reignite the rudder to drive this life.
But it does not stay and is never sustained.
It plants itself on my lips only, it seems, as a cruel tease;
a reminder of how we used to be.
Surrender to the oblivion is the only door out.
That, I know.
Yet like a floozy I keep falling for the old tricks
and find myself too often back in bed
with desire and hope.
Love and courage,
The navy blue satin camisole shines under the lights of the Christmas window display of Marks and Sparks. Outside, a homeless man sits in a doorway, hunkering down against the unforgiving winter wind.
The man might want to fill an empty stomach, whilst the shopper makes an unconscious attempt to fill an emptiness no number of satin camisoles can make full.
Blame flies from ready mouths about how we ended up this way, with hungry humans in doorways, a planet suffocating under the strain of fast fashion, and people who don't seem to care.
Yet where can blame really lie? Do the satin seller and the satin buyer not operate from the same unconscious emptiness, a desperate longing for a home they don't yet know they've left? Blame does not come readily when one has travelled to the depths of one's own emptiness. As we inspect our own lives, we find we each have a place where the satin camisole lives.
We are united in our disconnection from Self, the manifestation of that disconnection appearing in innumerable ways. And even that disconnection is found to be filled with sweet innocence, for it seems, at least for now, to be part of this human voyage that we forget the truth of who we are.
Yet the forgetting is not complete. A memory exists within each of us of the wholeness we once knew, and whilst we are asleep to what drives us, that memory powers the motor of our seeking to return to ourselves.
The satin camisole is Love's longing to know itself once more. As it exhausts every possibility in the outside world to rediscover itself, it finally makes the journey inward. And as it becomes conscious of itself again, it pours itself into itself until the remembrance is complete. Knowing now its wholeness, it pours itself back into the outside world, a firefly of light whispering to all those who are tired and ready, 'This way'.
Love and courage,
Meaning falls from your life the way leaves fall from autumn’s trees.
Naked, you will find yourself
stripped now of the flimsy glue that held your life together.
You were a person on a train to Somewhere.
You had a mission, a purpose, a reason to wake with the light;
each day built on yesterday, taking you towards tomorrow.
You grasp with helpless hands at what was;
the sleepwalking world in which you understood your place and your part.
Like water through your fingers it slips
sinking into an eternal abyss.
You will not succeed in finding solid ground where solid ground there never was.
Stand and face winter now.
Be naked and celebrate.
Feel the loveliness of being a traveller without story.
What feels today like barren ground is tomorrow’s fertile earth from which deeper meaning grows.
new beginnings form unseen in the soil’s belly
and emerge on Love’s own timeline.
When spring arrives there will be meaning without meaning,
purpose without purpose,
mission without mission.
All of life will pour from your eyes and your throat and your hands,
expressing itself in a looping waterfall of joy
and you will praise the winter where everything came undone
for it was in that undoing that the ecstatic vibrancy of life found the gaps to dance its way out;
out into the world that hungers for more of your light.
Love and courage,
The spiritual path is very nice and very exciting for a while. It's a lovely adventure. We like the idea of who the spiritual path will help us become and what it will help us get and achieve.
We like the idea of being the serene one. The peaceful one. The one who sits quietly and meditates and learns to let all human problems and feelings and concerns wash over them.
We like the idea of being part of the spiritual club. Maybe we think that's one step up from everyone else. I know I've gone through my phase of spiritual superiority.
It's nice singing mantras (I'm rather partial to that myself), burning incense (my smoke alarm always goes off), doing guided meditations (nothing wrong with that) and practising yoga (beautiful).
The love, the light, the happiness, it's all so appealing, isn't it? So we pack our spiritual backpacks and set off on our spiritual adventures. For a while, we're skipping through green fields and prancing across streams. We're namaste-ing and shining our ever brightening light back into the world that is so in need of our 'help'. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and we're convinced we've made it on the spiritual path.
And then, as you hop, gazelle like over the mound of the next wild-flower-filled field, a dark monstrosity comes into view. A huge black rock face spitting fire and thick, billowing clouds of smoke. The sky darkens overhead and you think to yourself, 'What the hell is this?' Quite.
What the hell is this?
This is the not so exciting and not so lovely part of the spiritual path.
Many years ago I asked a friend for his recommendation of resources for my spiritual journey. He told me, 'That depends, are you browsing travel brochures or do you want to book a ticket somewhere?'
'I want to book a ticket', I told him. And even though I meant it, I realise now I had no real idea what was waiting for me.
I heard Adyashanti say once that when you start out on the spiritual path, you're the one pursuing 'it'. You feel as if you're in control. And then at some point, you realise that without your even noticing, the tables have turned and now 'it' is pursuing you. And in that moment you really begin to realise what it's going to ask of you. What you're going to have to give up and everything you're going to have to face.
And you're like, fuck, I'm not sure if I want this. So maybe you turn around and try to go back the way you came. Back to the life where you got to be a bit spiritual but not so spiritual that you'd have to give anything up.
The problem, though, is that it's already too late. Even if you try to go back, the feeling of disconnect in your life will be so great that at some point you'll be forced to continue on. You can't live with one foot in and one foot out. This isn't the hokey cokey, after all.
So you turn to face the fiery hell of Mordor and you see that you're going to have to go in and the person who goes in will never come out. It's going to strip you bare. It's going to take every last thing you thought you knew and it's going to burn it to ashes. It's going to take all your ideas about who you are and what your life's supposed to look like and it's going to incinerate it all. Everything is going to go. You will be more exposed than you've ever been.
Every emotion you've ever pushed down will have to be felt. Every addiction will have to be met. Every place you lie to yourself will be revealed. There can be no more running.
But at this point, something else interesting also begins to happen. You start actually wanting to go into Mordor. Even though you know what has to happen once you get inside, you want to go in there. Your commitment and love of truth has grown bigger than any desire for the old life and the old ways. You're on your knees and you're saying, 'I don't care what it takes, I don't want to suffer any more.'
And so Mordor opens up and swallows you into its depths and goes about burning everything that isn't true. And even though it's hot and hellish in there at times, somehow you know, you know, this is what's needed, this is what you asked for and this is what you want.
This is the spiritual path.
Love and courage,
If your life begins to crumble
If dreams slip like sand through your desperate fingers
If you find yourself disinterested in all things that once captivated you
If you are pounded down into a depression
And it seems you may never reach the place you were going
Take some comfort today.
Life is a relentless lover
Daring to rip you apart piece by piece
And decimate everything you thought was yours.
It will do whatever it takes
Whatever it takes
For you to awaken
For you to come alive to a deeper, lasting peace.
Everything it does, it does for you
To bring you what you want but don't know how to reach.
Through love alone it lights a match to your life
And you will have to stand by and watch
As it goes up in flames
Helpless to stop the raging fires.
Trust this helplessness
It is a kind hand inviting you to stop
And let what needs to burn, burn.
You may be scared and confused, disoriented and desperate
But you are safe
Sweet love you are safe
Life burns only all that is not true
And as the hot flames begin to wane
You will emerge fresh and new
And you will know
It was all for love.
Love and courage,
I'd arranged to collect my friend at 7:30pm to go to the swimming pool. As I pulled up outside her house I heard her call, "Hello, Leah, I'll be down in two ticks", from the upstairs window. A minute later the front door opened and she said, "Shall we go swimming in the river?"
2017 was the year my desire disappeared and came back different.
I was lying in bed, listening to a Rupert Spira recording before going to sleep, when something he said caused tears to bubble up through my eyes and seep in a warm, contented trickle down my cheeks.