The Ultimate Treasure Hunt

In the confines of our home,

We set a trail of clues for one another.

Each leading to a hidden spot in a different room,

Where a small chocolate and a further riddle awaits.

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Eyes alight with excitement, we puzzle our posers,

Forage fruitlessly, or gather gainfully.

Beset with impatience, we plead for help.

Until, spurred on by each unveiling,

 

By the joy from surprises gifted,

Our tireless wonder is rewarded.

We find, hidden behind the logs, or the curtain,

A magnificent Easter egg.

 

As lockdown continues, innumerable desires,

 Cry for my attention; to home-school more effectively,

Spring clean, teach online, study, garden, cook, play better with my son.

Each a seemingly urgent demand of action and effort.

 

Until, exhausted by the relentless juggle,

Beset by migraines, fatigue and allergies,

I check in with my marker, my inner guide.

And a glimmer of understanding shines through.

 

The next day, in the dappled sunlight of our local wood,

Brightly coloured ribbons hang from branches,

Chalked arrows inscribe tree trunks,

Indicators for countless paths, leading in myriad directions.

 

I now see that these are mere distractions,

Dead-end tracks, or entangling brambles.

Requisite diversions from the enchanted woodland clearings,

Borne through deep surrender within.

 

Aglow with the soft hue and gentle sway of bluebells,

The dazzling greens and abundant energy of spring,

I drink in His boundless Love, and a gem is revealed.

I see myself reflected in His radiance.

 

We try different tracks, miss markers, lose ourselves,

Distracted by balancing on branches, befriending robins.

Until, at the end of the pink chalk arrow trail,

We find a love heart etched on an upturned log.

In the Eye of the Storm

Rain lashes, wind whips,

Trees uproot, rivers burst their banks,

A torrent of chaos floods our world,

Roads closed, electrics down, homes battered.

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                                                            Source: Mimadeo                                                   

 

I batten down our hatches,

Light the fire in the hearth,

Drink tea, play games with heart aglow,

In appreciation of the refuge of home.

 

In tandem, a deadly virus swarms the globe,

Spreading fear, panic and terror.

A surge of turmoil assaults the senses,

Jobs lost, isolation forced, mortality faced.

 

Within this havoc, I have a choice,

Of where I place my attention.

In the tumult of the tempest,

The everchanging mayhem of the outer.

 

Or in the eye of the storm,

Where fear, apathy, and misplaced loyalties,

Dissolve. All must be let go,

For the sanctity of His refuge within.

.

 

The urgency to support friends, neighbours,

The dread of risking lives, the noise of media,

All rise in a frenzy, an intense inner storm,

Until I soften and open in to Love.

 

The deeper this surrender,

The greater the fire of His Love.

Until it eclipses all,

And my candle becomes His flame.

 

And this mountain of Love within,

Becomes the axis of my being.

All thoughts, words, actions,

A divine co-creation.

 

In the storm’s wake, a trail of blessings unfolds.

Debris shifts, new channels open.

Seeds spread by high winds sprout,

Flood plains become verdant pastures.

 

In the aftermath of the Now,

Exquisite blessings emerge.

For I choose surrender,

The rest is divine alchemy.

 

The sun rises.

Clouds part to reveal a rainbow.

A veil lifts for the whole of humanity,

A new light on an evolving world.

The Master Puzzler

Life is a giant jigsaw,

Thousands of motley shaped pieces;

 Work, family, home, hobbies, relationships,

I try to fit neatly together.

two hands connect the puzzle details, against the sky of the sun.

Image: stock photos

Constantly, I search for the next piece,

A new job, home, dress, diet,

To create a better picture,

Of what life should look like.

 

As I strive harder to find the right one,

To wedge that perfect looking job,

 Into other ever moving parts,

A growing sense of unease arises.

 

For I see that the picture guide,

My mind has been trained to create,

Through parents, school, generations of society,

Is fundamentally flawed.

 

The focus on the piece,

Choosing bright harmonic colours,

Instilled with significant content,

Yet shaped to be compatible,

 

Engenders a striving,

To find perfection in the fragment,

A resistance to viewing the bigger picture,

Where shadows compliment the light.

 

Each branch of the puzzle unending,

The pieces multiply with my attention.

The more I strive, the further and hazier,

The goal seems to be.

 

My attention stays stuck on the outer,

A perpetual desire to change the effect.

What if I change the image?

 Shift my focus to my inner Beloved?

 

Trust that He’s handed me,

 The perfect piece.

And ask for His Love,

 To help me place it.

 

 The one He hands me,

 Is not the easiest to place,

Or the prettiest to look at.

Not what I would have chosen.

 

A dark shadowy fragment.

Sharp edged and oddly angled,

Awkward to handle,

Ugly to the eye.

 

An irksome blast from my past,

 For so long avoided.

A relationship severed,

An attitude entrenched.

 

Through Love’s guiding hand,

These difficult parts of the puzzle,

Transform into the magnificence,

Of realisations hard won.

 

It’s not about the puzzle,

Or the picture it creates,

But seeing that in each conundrum given,

Lies the potential for Grace.

 

For each fragment of karma gifted,

 Becomes sacred when alchemised

By the well of Love within.

Bringing me closer….

 

To mastering the art,

 Of the Master puzzler,

Of becoming the force of Love,

 That guides the way.

 

 To stepping out of the never-ending

Enigma of life,

 And into the ultimate destiny,

Of my own divinity.

The Divine Illuminator

Some days I feel engulfed,

Smothered by the tenacious fetor,

Of past misdeeds, untrue words or harsh thoughts,

That weaken me so I curl up and hide.

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Under a warm duvet of pretence,

False comforts of rich food and wine,

I find paltry balm. Until I awaken,

To the debris I’ve buried myself in.

 

I curse myself for dwelling,

In these dark dingey parts of me.

Yet my attention is stuck here,

Entrenched in dank sticky mud.

 

It’s like a flashlight is exposing all,

This ugly dross I’ve hidden from myself.

The anger that I’d stashed under the carpet,

The grief that I’d placed out of sight.

 

“It’s a gift”, He whispers gently,

Lifting the veil I’d placed over my eyes.

And I see the illuminator of this pain,

The bearer of the torch, is my Beloved.

 

He shows me how each hidden gripe,

Each speck of vanity, fear or remorse,

When seen in the gaze of His compassion,

Is a precious lesson in what I am not.

 

We sweep them up together.

Dredging the channels of my consciousness,

Of these memories, gathered like driftwood,

That weigh me down and block my view.

 

With the eyes of a lioness,

Batting away her precocious cubs,

I throw these children of my creation,

Into the river of His abundant love.

 

And embrace the wisdom they bring.

Unexpected truths gained through harsh experience,

Hard fought attainments released in an instant’s clarity.

The purpose of all lifetimes revolutionised in a flash.

 

I watch the chaff being washed away,

 In a torrent of love that fills my being.

And see that the agony of this illumination,

Is just a calling to embody what I truly I am.

 

In this divine alchemy,

This dissolving of particles no longer needed,

The true me becomes clearer, lighter.

Ready to rise up to a greater radiance.

Small Talk

My neighbour drones on and on,

Swarming my being,

With his relentless plan of attack,

Against the box tree moth.

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A woman releases a torrent of gossip,

Drowning me in needless babble,

About people I barely know.

This small talk is not for me.

 

I want to see the depth in you,

And let that spark the depth in me.

Go oyster diving together,

For that rare pearl of truth.

 

But then I see before I dive,

I first must learn to swim.

To search for precious pebbles in the shallows,

To seek and see the glimmer in the trite.

 

And practice being a mirror, to reflect that glimmer,

Imagine it a glow, and so it becomes.

As when I connect with my inner Beloved,

My flickering candle grows into a roaring flame.

 

And so He shows me that the world is banal,

When it confines one’s point of view.

Its richness only truly vibrant,

 When viewed from the magnitude of His divine lens.

 

Thus I surrender, relinquish all,

Angst, hopes, thoughts and desires,

To my Beloved within.

So He can clear the grime that blocks my view.

 

And through the agony of this cleansing,

My flame burns brighter, my mirror shinier,

To reflect a deeper Love and Truth within,

That shower sparks of effervescent joy.

 

Small talk is now for me,

The ‘talk’ could be a glance, a touch or smile.

For every action, word and thought,

Holds the potential to ignite a deeper sense of being.

An Ode to Autumn

 

I am a Sycamore tree

Branches laden with leaves of woe

Painful memories of past misdeeds

Of grief, anger, fear and greed

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Broad leaves of undue attachment to mind’s desires

Illusory concepts of how marriage, motherhood, work, health, should be

Spiky leaves of criticism and self-reproach

Heavy leaves of negativity that drink my life force and stifle my being

 

You take my hand and show me their colours

This motley collection that is part of me

Their beautiful autumn hues of deep painful crimson

Burnt hopes of orange, hints of fading joyous green

Slivers of dying angry brown, undue highs of yellow

Tinged with golden reflections

 

And I see the magnificence of their purpose

The divine blessing their pain reveals

How the agony of their revelation

Is only a calling to go home

 

A calling for this yearning soul to open and soften in divine surrender

To let go of these burdens, allowing them to flutter away in the wake of your Grace

To be stripped bare of all that was, to rest in your arms and bask in your love

An empty vessel, yours to endow, with a love so deep to bid only your will

 

Baraka Bashad

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this post, I’d so love it if you left a comment to share what resonated with you (or didn’t) and/ or any experience of your own inspired by this poem. My intention is that this blog becomes an interactive experience. Thank you!

The Road Trip of a Lifetime

Recently I’ve been feeling ‘stuck’. Right now, it’s like I’m parked in a Walmart carpark procrastinating about where to go next. Perhaps there are some great Walmart carparks out there, but you probably wouldn’t choose to hang out there for long. I’ve foolishly let myself run out of gas and this body of mine, my vehicle, keeps breaking down. This frustrating state of inertia urges me to reflect back on an awesome family road trip we did last summer and use it to contemplate my own inner journey.

We finally did it, the family road trip we’d been dreaming of, and it was magic. The Pacific Coast Highway opened up in front of us, jagged cliffs and wild sea interspaced by stretches of golden sand. The salty smell of the ocean air and broadness of the horizon in every direction gave us all a sense of openness and adventure. My husband and I shared the driving, our eight-year-old son, Theo, in the back.  We took turns to pick the soundtrack, choices ranging from classic road trip tunes to sing-alongs, audiobooks, or just the sound of the journey‑—the smooth engine humming and the rush of the ocean breeze past the open window.

Our vehicle, Midnight, was a black Chevy Express V8 with ‘ramblin’ vans’ written in neon-yellow writing down her side. She was pleasingly chunky, with perfect dimensions, subtly striking and just so thoughtfully kitted out. She oozed adventure and fun! As our travelling companion and home for 10 days, she exceeded our expectations. Her back seat folded down into a double mattress and she had a pop-up tent that sat on her roof. Neatly stacked in her boot was everything we could have possibly needed: bedding, deck chairs, a table, stove and propane with matches and lighters, pots and pans, cooler, washing up equipment, bin bags, a five-gallon water container fully loaded—you name it, she had it. There was even a Tupperware full of herbs and condiments.

Our first stop was Port Orford where Theo and I jumped breakers on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and I swam. The bracing cold water, summer sun and gentle ocean breeze soothed and revitalised us all. Just ten miles down the highway, we leaned our bodies against the howling wind at Cape Blanco, the western most point of the USA, wrapped up warm in our coats and woolly hats — a world apart from the nearby cove.

A few days later we camped under the magnificent canopy of the Redwoods in Northern California. Trees, some over two thousand years old, towered over us, reaching up to over 300 feet, their trunks so big we could all fit inside a hollowed out one, with space for a handful more. Their serene majesty filled us with a sense of wonder and awe and made our existence seem insignificant.

My mind returns to the present…

As I walk under the autumnal deciduous canopy of our local woodland in southwest London, I contemplate my inner road trip and how to resolve this feeling of ‘being stuck’. It comes to me that Ned, the name I’ve given to my mind by the way, is in the front seat and he’s behaving like an adolescent teenager. At times he can be smart, fun and reasonable but recently he’s been so demanding, sulking and giving me ultimatums. Right now, he’s riled that I won’t let him drive.

To be fair I used to let him drive a lot, so I can see why he’s feeling ousted.  But I’ve come to understand that he kept taking me to dead-end places. Often, he’d take us on scenic routes and we had a lot of fun along the way, but the destinations were always underwhelming and left me feeling that I was on the wrong track. I’m at a place now where I sense I need to centre and navigate my true direction, and Ned’s not happy about that.

And then there’s Kendra in the back, who’s usually pretty chilled but she’s been impatient and irritated recently. She’s my emotional body and when she takes the driving seat it can be a bit of a rollercoaster. She can be wildly fun, but we might just end up in a ditch. She tends to sit in the back seat now and is normally pretty quiet but when our Midnight breaks down, this fragile body of mine, she finds it challenging. We’ve been breaking down an awful lot recently and Kendra’s not happy. Like a busted tap spluttering water, something’s blocking her flow.

And me, that little spark of soul that’s doing its best to shine, I’m in the driving seat. Now I know it’s where I’m meant to be; for too long I’ve been letting Ned drive. But I still feel like we’re going nowhere. I’m doing my best to appease Ned, whilst knowing the direction he suggests is unlikely to serve me. I’m simultaneously trying to calm Kendra, whose frustrations, often linked to Midnight’s constant breaking down, I’m unable to resolve. I’m up to my eyeballs with this situation. I’m no mechanic and I’ve taken it to so many experts with little avail. Try as I might I know that on my own I still haven’t mastered looking after this body of mine. I’m sore and achy—ragged with exhaustion and pain.

Oh, and I almost forgot, my Beloved spiritual guide, he’s sleeping in the back. I mean I know he’s there and I do check in on him fairly often. But I guess my attention has been so focused on Ned and Kendra and trying to work out a solution through appeasing them, that He’s taken a back seat and is having a snooze.

Again I reflect back on our family road trip…

We had a multitude of challenges, large and small along the way. When we arrived in the US, we were so tired from the ten-hour flight, we left a bag at the Portland airport. With Midnight to pick up and a tired but over-excited eight-year-old to cajole into sleeping, the thought of retrieving it weighed heavy. But we did, and the airport staff were lovely, so that picking up the bag couldn’t have been easier. Later, in Port Orford, I became unwell, so we had to change our plans and navigate the US medical system. But there was a thrill in the spontaneity, and we were rewarded by seeing two Grey Whales, spouting joyously in the Ocean just off Coos Bay. We nearly lost Theo when he went for a wild pee on a wooded clifftop overlooking the sea and slipped (we won’t dwell on that). But it reminded us of our mortality and sparked a gratitude in being alive.

On our longest journey, through Grant’s Pass, from the west coast Redwoods to Klamath Falls, smoke from the raging forest fires to the south tickled our nostrils and dried our throats. The scale of the devastation and destruction in stark contrast to the splendour of the forest we had savoured brought an appreciation of the fragile balance of nature and the inevitability of change. Somehow the challenges seemed to melt into insignificance in the bigger picture of an awesome adventure holiday. On that journey with a destination and a goal to chill, we lived in the moment and had fun along the way.

My mind returns again to my present walk in London…

I breathe deeply and soften, centering myself despite the noise, despite the pain. From deep within, a spark of inspiration rises to the surface and the solution comes to me. I need to take control of the places we have in the van. From now on, Ned and Kendra are in the back. They’re a part of me, so it’s not like I can turf them out. They’re in for the long haul.  But hell, I don’t want them in the driving seat any more, and not even riding up front. I’ll listen and engage with what they have to say. I know they can serve me well and I love them dearly.  I soften my gaze inwards and tap into the love that will turn my Beloved towards me. From now on, I need to keep his attention, because I want him awake and up front by my side.

This notion takes me back in time again…

Towards the end of our family road trip, we were awed by the depth and clarity of Crater Lake as we headed to our final camping place alongside the volcanic obsidian flow of East Lake. We bathed in the lake under the pink and golden hues of sunset. Theo invented a game of football for the three of us which we played in our plot amongst the trees. We savoured our last camp-side dinner together, sharing stories by the campfire. In the morning, hummingbirds frolicked joyfully by our side as we delighted in our breakfast in the sunshine. Our next stop was Bend where we returned Midnight and stayed with friends. A new phase of our adventure had begun.

Back in the London park…

At long last this ‘stuck’ feeling begins to shift. It’s like I’m finally driving out of the Walmart parking lot. My inner road seems unfamiliar and I falter, but my Beloved, sitting beside me now, smiles encouragingly. As we lock gazes inside, I’m reminded that if I keep Him close, He will flawlessly guide me through all terrains: When I take the wrong turn, He sets me back on track; when I’m breaking down, He gives respite to my pain; when I’m running on empty, He tops me up with gas, and when I let him be chief navigator, His direction is always true. He shows me that I have all the tools I need inside of me. He is the Master Mechanic and is slowly, patiently, teaching me the magic of His ways.

This inner adventure is truly the road trip of a lifetime, and it is not always easy. Whilst I recognise I haven’t mastered the art of driving this inner trail yet, I am blessed with a Master co-driver, and He assures me that ‘I’m on my Way’.

Emergence

The acorn, locked in its hard encasement,

Pushes down roots holding it fast,

To the dark dirt of the earth.

In blind effort it forges strong foundations.

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Image: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH

The caterpillar, ensnared in its chrysalis,

Constrained, contained, yet of its own making.

The guise of outer stillness belies the inner metamorphosis,

A deep surrender to the unknown to come.

 

The chick, locked inside its hard eggshell,

Dark, safe, secure and warm,

Outgrows the comfort of its entrapment.

The strength to break free wells up from within.

 

Urged on by the warm glow of the sun,

A vibrant green shoot pushes up into daylight.

Through resistance it finds its strength,

A journey of becoming a magnificent oak.

 

Stretching its wings against the wet chrysalis,

A startling azure blue butterfly takes flight.

A new lightness and grace to its being,

As it glides and flutters across the spring sky.

 

The soft tap of the chick on its shell,

Becomes more forceful, more pointed,

Until it bursts out of its former refuge,

With the courage to face a brand-new world.

 

Ready to leave the blind comfort of the known,

I learn to spar more playfully with my limitations,

As I challenge the very fabric of my conceptions,

And surrender ever deeper to each resistance.

 

I step out of the carnage of my own making,

And dance and twirl in the fields of creation,

Unfolding inwards to the wisdom, power and love of my Beloved,

I grow my wings and begin to soar.

Today I Walk with the Divine Key in my Pocket

Yesterday I wandered too far,

Striving for something I forgot I already had.

Fog descended, smothering the trail.

Disorientated, I stumbled, twisted my ankle, grazed my knee.

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Lost and alone, bruised and bleeding,

Waiting for the mist to lift.

I sensed the haze close in

Becoming thicker and heavier.

 

In well-thought-out plans of escape,

I became further entrapped.

Until I remembered the key you gave me,

And softened to seek your guidance within.

 

  A spark of clarity burned through the haze.

This impenetrable fog, I now see,

Is of my own creation.

And  you’ve graced me the key to its unmaking.

 

Today I walk with Shabda in my pocket,

A rare pearl charged with our love at dawn.

A love so powerful it sets me alight and radiates out.

Graced to be a vessel, divine purpose refound.

(Shabda: power of divine love in expression)

Be The Ocean

I am a stagnant pond

Entrapped by binding reeds.

Boulders bar my flow,

Whilst thick green algae

Blocks the sunlight and suffocates my essence.

Glistening ocean

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My water is murky, my vision impaired.

Stuck in the putrid stench, I flounder.

Drowning in illusory impressions

Of what and how life should be.

 

You gracefully dip your swan wing on my surface.

A beam of clarity ripples through my being.

I sense in the spaces between the muck and mire,

A burning desire to be something other, to be free.

 

You lift me up and show me your vista.

Verdant pastures and tinkling brooks,

Flowing merrily into rumbling rivers

that tumble effortlessly downstream.

 

You fly on and show me the ocean,

A great sea of love, pure and clear.

Glistening, sparkling, its reflection dazzling,

Its divine radiance igniting a spark in me.

 

Tenderly you whisper ‘You are the ocean’

And I feel a surge of power and love glow inside.

Gently you place me back in my pond

But graced by your vision, now I see.

 

That when I turn my face from the reeds they no longer ensnare me.

When I dwell on You, your rays of love burn the algae away.

When I behold the boulders through your gaze

They soften and erode into nothingness.

 

In truth, I am no pond, no river

But a shining spark of the great ocean Divine.

Your wisdom, power and love become me

For I am the radiant ocean of love within.

 

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this post, I’d so love it if you left a comment to share what resonated with you (or didn’t) and/ or any experience of your own inspired by this poem. My intention is that this blog becomes an interactive experience. Thank you!