M.O.C.

light-underwater

“For the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” – Jesus Christ

MOC. You probably get them every month, fortnight, possibly every hour or every other minute. They light our lives, clearing the murky waters of our minds, revealing oasis in our parched souls.

MOC is my little catchphrase for ‘Moments of Clarity’ – those moments soaked in exquisite flow and crystal.

When sweet air floods your lungs;

When blankets of darkness are lifted

And Life shows up in full colour,

For a little Light goes a very long way.

Ultimately, it’s those moments when you truly see the Truth of the matter about yourself, Life, Reality. You might call it Insight. Intuition. Living in the Light. Moment(s) of Clarity.

This is one such.

Essentially, it’s the realization that Time is not the tick-tock of the clock, the sightings and settings of sun and moon, or the boxes and pages of your calendar. Time is not a line or a square or a sequence.

However much we disown this by our actions, the simple truth is that this very moment, in which you read these words, is really one single endless Moment stretching infinitely into eternity. A forever Presence that you cannot add to or subtract from. It is all Now. It is This.

This is it. 

All references to past, present and future merely denote how we experience Presence as creatures limited in space. We know only from moment to moment. And each moment we experience is really worth a lifetime, an eternity. It’s no use complaining that life is cut short too early because we all get our fair taste of Life – the infant and octogenarian equally. I am privileged to have clocked nearly 209,245 hours and awakened to 8719 rising suns.

The sombre truth here is that Time is what make it. Life is open-textured. We are co-creators of Reality. It is not time that is passing you by, it is you that is passing by.

How then shall we live?

If not in days and months and years, how shall we measure our lives and give form to our consciousness?

What if we lived like Life is elastic; like Time moves fast or slow depending on how we experience it; like we had the capacity to choose our movements, to determine our pace, to dance myriad rhythms, and waltz through seasons with hearts anchored in Life or Death?

What if we daily dipped our toes in the deep pool of eternity and viewed every breath we receive as a window into endless Presence? What if we became conscious that every precious or vile word reverberates forever?

How would that change how we experience people? Our attachment to things? And the words that leave our mouth?

We might cease from running.

We might reclaim the power to begin again

Unshackled by the weight of regret or the promise of success;

We might discover that we have wasted our moments,

And in that very breath land on the possibility that 

This very moment (and the next, and the next) is an opportunity to start anew;

To release rivers that spill over onto boundless shores;

To create more – eternal – Moments of Life.

Purpose. 

Goodness. 

Love.

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Don’t just do it

nike_justdoit_00

This year, Nike Inc. and conglomerates extorted $64,000,000,000 out of our pockets by, among other activities, imprinting the above slogan and world-famous ‘swoosh’ in our minds.

This is to inspire you to cruise past the obstacles and just achieve your goals; to slice through your lame excuses and just get your lazy butt to the gym! It’s slick, it’s savvy, it’s sexy. I get it, pragmatism is vital, except when a culture so comfortably entwines itself around this efficiency ethic:

“Do it at all costs”

“Get rich or die trying” 

“However the *#.^% you do it,

JUST DO IT!”

Great, but not at the cost of my soul! My insides are bleeding from conforming to a culture steeped in an uber-masculine energy that over-values the bottomline, the checklist, orderly priorities, laser focus, and achieving results whatever it takes. Yes, whatever it takes, even your soul. I am weary (and immoderately angry) of reaching for external goals that are supposed to make me feel successful, even when they don’t resonate with my heart.

All this is to say that I am sick of living a flavourless life!

Because I am thoroughly convinced that it is not enough to just swoosh to success, to just do it, to get the goods, the job, the money, the bod, the house, the guy, the degree, the car…et cetera.

Because I believe that what you do is not nearly as important as how you do it. (This one needs a little fleshing out. I’ll share my thoughts in another post.)

So over the next little while, I resolve to rediscover the spaciousness of life and make room for the ‘unnecessary’ and inconvenient; that which diverts you off the trodden path with no promise of reward but delight. That which does not contribute to making your life more efficient – the nuance, the wandering, the myriad possibilities, the variant hues and boundless expressions of the heart. As I walk this trail, I promise to share the crumbs I find along the way. In essence:

I commit to making space for ‘unnecessaries’.

I commit to giving myself permission to embrace new expressions.

I commit to paying attention to how I feel and what I experience while doing the thing.

I commit to flavour and flair.

I commit to nuance.

I commit to Presence.

I commit to SOUL.


Inspired? Bemused? Confused? Unmoved? Thought-provoked? Still picking your jaw of the floor? Couldn’t care less? Leave a Reply (below). Share your thoughts, experiences, tell your story, your genius idea, rant your guts out, drop a link or video, paint this rooftop red! No, seriously… leave your stamp. Unleash your inner sage! I invite you. 🙂

Can we speak in flowers?

flora

I love flowers.

Flowers in trees, on the grass, flowers in my hair, flowers everywhere. If I were isolated on a remote island and permitted just one creature comfort, it would be… you guessed it! ‘An Interrupted Life, The diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum’ would come a close second.

Here are some floral wisdoms that have blossomed recently under my nose.

“Can we speak in flowers? It will be easier for me to understand.” – Nariyyah Waheed

“Be crumbled. So wild flowers will come up where you are. You have been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.” – Jalaladdin Rumi

“I want more men with flowers falling from their skin, more water in their eyes, more tremble in their bodies.” – Nariyyah Waheed

“Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. It’s smell and it’s color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” – Jesus Christ

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – attributed to the Buddha

“The Infinite has written its name on the heavens in shining stars, and on Earth in tender flowers.” – John Paul Richter

“Bread feeds the body indeed, but flowers feed the soul” – the Qur’an

“Cheerfulness is the very flower of health.” – Japanese proverb

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.” – Gerard de Nerval

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of yesterday.” – Indian Proverb

“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of God blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever.” – Prophet Isaiah, 740 – 681 BC

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand. And a Heaven in a Wild Flower. Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand. And Eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

Bedrock Truths

bedrock

Below is a collection of some of my most cherished wise words – beautifully expressed, joy-giving truths that hijack my best-laid plans and crack me open, again and again. I needn’t elaborate; they are sermons unto themselves. 


A new command I give you: Love each other as I have loved you. – Jesus Christ

I have looked our destruction, our miserable end, straight in the eye and accepted it into my life, and my love of life has not been diminished. I am not bitter or rebellious, or in any way discouraged…. By ‘coming to terms with life’ I mean: the reality of death [brokenness, suffering, pain, lack, failure, difficulty, disaster, disappointment, disease, decay, destruction, delay, darkness, destruction, disruption, descent] has become a definite part of my life; my life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it. – Etty Hillesum, [words in parenthesis, mine].

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, – that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, – and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment… A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across the mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages… There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We do not think our ways into new ways of living, we live our way into new ways of thinking. – Fr. Richard Rohr

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. – Brene Brown

Such words as “God” and “death” and “suffering” and “eternity” are best forgotten. We have to become as simple and as wordless as the growing corn or the falling rain. We must just be. – Etty Hillesum

The greatest among you will be your servant. – Jesus Christ

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis

Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. – Thomas Merton

I really see no other solution than to turn inwards and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we first change ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned. – Etty Hillesum

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. – Jesus Christ

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

Friends are those angels who lift us to our feet when our spirit has trouble remembering how to fly. – François Fressinier

We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies. – Etty Hillesum

Faith is not for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them—all the way through! – Fr. Richard Rohr

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!… See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you. – Jesus Christ 

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed. – Etty Hillesum

Life cannot be captured in a few axioms. And that is just what I keep trying to do. But it won’t work, for life is full of endless nuances and cannot be captured in just a few formulae. – Etty Hillesum

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world. – Etty Hillesum

There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze. – Etty Hillesum


Drop some of your own favourite wise words in the comments. Unleash your inner sage! I invite you. 🙂

Final breath

lonebote

Sometime last year in July I attended the funeral of a 19 year old girl who had died in a car accident. Her mother was a who’s-who in Nairobi’s legal-political world. I sat at the back of the church, moved by her life fully lived, and weighing carefully my own existence. That was until politician after politician paraded the platform to sing their own praises and oil the wheels of their political machines. I kept thinking, ‘why weren’t more of her friends, the very people who spent meaningful moments with her, invited to speak?’, at which point I lifted out of my chair and stomped out in a lone protest. All this got me contemplating my own funeral arrangements. I rushed home in a furor; these are my final words.

When my lungs gasp for final air,

Lay me gently in that cold, cozy casket.

Make it frill-free,

But do what’s necessary and good, especially bright, healthy flowers,

Purple and mustard yellow, and dusty rose and all manner of orchid, iris and hydrangea.

Tell them not to swath themselves in black;

They can wear their grief on the sleeves of their hearts.

Don’t let the preacher or politician gab needlessly,

Let my family and friends preach their truth.

Have a corner – a tent, a room, … something, for guests to stab coloured pieces of paper onto a wall, with thoughts of how they’d hold life differently if they had the gift of a full fortnight to take an early rest.

This one, I’m serious about.

When my lungs gasp for final air,

Tell my family and friends to sniffle and weep. Don’t tell them to be strong.

Yes, sun and morning will seep into the shadows and mourning, flowers will yet bloom again because roses are red and violets are violet, and God is out of control.

But don’t you shove it down their throats.

Tell them they don’t have to veneer their sadness with “celebrations of life”,

Tears are gloss enough and refreshing, sometimes.

When my lungs gasp for final air,

Tell them that I’m sorry I didn’t love better.

Tell them that the pain of walking away cut deeper than the agony of loving.

Tell them that school and work and church and food and clothes and art and cars and football kill nilly-willingly – when the heart sleeps and souls slumber unloved.

Tell them I’d make more small-and-frequent-and-nothing-catastrophically-world-changing deposits if I had another, last chance.

Tell them that nothing, in fact, is small.

When my lungs gasp for final air,

Tell them that there’s room at the table for all of us; there’s more than enough bread to go around.

So don’t thunder your elbows. I won’t steal your heat. The oven’s high at 250, and a little yeast goes a long way!

We can rise – and fall – together.

And then, tell them that I hope they all die their own little deaths that day, and wake

With more life in their lungs and bones to

Grasp at another final breath.


Inspired? Bemused? Confused? Unmoved? Thought-provoked? Still picking your jaw off the floor? Couldn’t care less? Leave a Reply (below). Share your thoughts, experiences, tell your story, your genius idea, rant your guts out, drop a link or video, paint this rooftop red. No, seriously… leave your stamp! Unleash your inner sage! I invite you. 🙂

Blossom

lotus-submerged
Lotus submerged
 Beneath folds of darkness.
She is
Beloved Warrior
 Exquisitely crafted
In the likeness of God
Wondrous
Worth
Beyond words.
Sacred dwelling
In her wild vaults;
Site of Life
Fields of Goodness
Lush and Vast. 
A Voice 
A Light
 And the Presence of a thousand armies.

Inspired? Bemused? Confused? Unmoved? Thought-provoked? Still picking up your jaw? Couldn’t care less? Leave a Reply (below). Share your thoughts, experiences, tell your story, your genius idea, rant your guts out, drop a link or video, paint it red. No, seriously… leave your stamp! Unleash your inner sage! I invite you. 🙂

Crack in everything

crack

Rosy remnants,

Boiling to our love’s rhythm.

Blood beats as I wilt into skin;

Sticky sediment rises.

I kiss the silt into you,

Leaving salt in your lungs,

As I ebb and flow

In and out, 

Back into my selfish heart.

Never to see the light of day: that project I began with much umph; that friend I promised myself I’d call every week; that search I vowed never to google again. The resolution to love that burned in its own heat.

My love is superficial, my sustenance cheap, my heart dark, my resolve weak.

They taught me to strive for perfection, to reach for the goal. “Never, ever give up!” and hope for the best. But now I see – it’s hopelessly fragmented and uneven. These pointless twists and endless turns.

Must we forever grovel for goodness, wholeness, trueness – only to return so scarce?

Dour! this world in which we grind – only to be shoveled back into sand.

Faded shards of glory that never was, never could be.

Nay, therein lies the rub:

Life is not stream-lined, neither highway nor runway . 

Life is not a stream; Life is not a line.

Life didn’t go as you planned; Life is not a plan.

And that left you reeling,

Because your blueprints remained blue 

As you climbed the floor

Across the ceiling.  

So Mama, why do things fall apart?

Because honey, there is a crack,

A Crack in everything.

Where Sun seeps 

And Wind blows

Raising us out of the dust

Into freckled Light.


Inspired? Bemused? Confused? Unmoved? Thought-provoked? Still picking up your jaw? Couldn’t care less? Leave a Reply (below). Share your thoughts, experiences, tell your story, your genius idea, rant your guts out, drop a link or video, paint it red. No, seriously… leave your stamp! Unleash your inner sage! I invite you. 🙂