Cheryl Anne, who is doing a lovely series of Lenten reflections, has written a beautiful, precious poetic prayer of gratitude for the way God loves and cares for us, remaining our steady, calm and loving Centre when life rocks us sideways. It really spoke to me and I hope and pray it will speak to you too…
Poetry writing can become a bit stale if we fail to vary our method of execution. Yesterday, I brought an offering of magnetic poetry to the table. Sometimes it’s a haiku or three, maybe other forms of micropoetry or an ode, or sonnet, can be seen.
Today I am joining in with a bit of whiteout poetry where words emerge from shaded darkness whited out, looking to escape their confines and fly like birds, freed from a cage of conformity.
My first attempt has been inspired by a post on my adventurous poet friend, Kat Myrman’s site. The link up is available here if you also fancy some poetic fun, whereby we draw words out from a given poem, creating one of our own in the process. Here’s this week’s poem to work with….
February Elegy by Mary Jo Bang
© Mary Jo Bang
This bald year, frozen now in February.
This cold day winging over the ugly
Imperfect horizon line,
So often a teeth line of ten buildings.
A red flag flapping
In the wind. An orange curtain is noon.
It all hurts her eyes. This curtain is so bright.
Here is what is noticeably true: sight.
The face that looks back from the side
Of the butter knife.
A torn-bread awkwardness.
The mind makes its daily pilgrimage
Through riff-raff moments. Then,
Back into the caprice case to dream
In a circle, a pony goes round.
The circle’s association: There’s a center
To almost everything but never
Any certainty. Nothing is
More malleable than a moment. We were
Only yesterday breathing in a sea.
Some summer sun
Asked us over and over we went. The sand was hot.
We were only yesterday tender hearted
Waiting. To be something.
A spring. And then someone says, Sit down,
We have a heart for you to forget. A mind to suffer
With. So, experience. So, the circus tent.
You, over there, you be the girl
In red sequins on the front of a card selling love.
You, over there, you, in black satin.
You be the Maiden’s Mister Death.
Frozen now in February—this cold day
flapping in the wind—it all hurts her eyes
Here is what is noticeably true:
the mind makes its daily pilgrimage
through riff-raff moments
There’s a centre to almost everything
but never any certainty
We were only yesterday tender-hearted
waiting to be something:
a spring, a mind to suffer with
You, over there, you be the girl
You, over there, you…
be the Maiden’s Mister Death
We live, survive and thrive within love’s grasp—the tender canopy holding us gently all our days—and rest in God’s safe, secure arms. Love is the precursor of our existence, planned since the beginning of time, as Holy Love smiled on our arrival, our life finally unfolding before His very eyes.
God offers us an ancient love walk: a swift slide through seasons and sensations, a slow stroll of learning His ways in the fires of adversity and realms of experience, and a walk of stumbling faith over dusty, wilderness pathways and rocky terrain.
We become birthed into the new of our life’s beginning. We are offered a new birth in Christ as a fresh beginning, a clean slate start for our messed up lives and broken hearts. Because the ancient patterning from Eden still lingers in our DNA.
We are meant for more than this life can offer or convey. Though sin rules and reigns in hearts far from God, His desire is for all of us to return to our pre-Fall state by His goodness and grace, His mercy and forgiveness in Christ. And to get to know His wonderful love, its wise, ever-new and ancient ways threading through our earthly days.
On this, the first day of spring, my magnetic poetry thoughts have taken a walk into the heady days of summer and stretched into our life’s dependence on God…
Ancient love walk
A bee’s intuition is to stroll
insect-gentle and soft over blossom,
like an ancient nature love walk
above beautiful summer flowers; and
behold full, deep, moist spring beneath,
thriving like life’s thick, green river
vine wanders wildly in my soul
We once walked with God as naturally as we might accompany a good friend—relaxed, happy and chatting easily together. Now we dream hopefully, long to recapture better days, and have a deep soul yearning for our Edenic state, where we lived and walked freely, bathed in Love’s continual light.
Our urge to dream
When we recall our urge to dream,
live in love’s light and elaborate
on life’s bare beauty, let’s sit
together here and whisper of
summer swims and cool sea spray,
beating sweet as music mist
on skin, shining fast like a
thousand tiny water tongues
Sometimes we forget to be grateful, fail to recognise how very blessed we are to sleep in a bed with a roof over our head, a table laden with food, cupboards bulging at the seams and a freezer stuffed full of extra provisions as well.
Sometimes we forget to thank God for daily graces, to see how wonderfully He provides for all our needs and how blessed we truly are in every conceivable way, even to simply wake up and breathe each day.
Sometimes news headlines and the constant media bombardment on our screens wash over us with lethargic indifference, fail to capture our attention or engender a compassionate response within—so inured can we become to a world’s distress, poverty and duress.
Then sometimes we STOP. Stop and put ourselves within another’s shoes, think about the people behind the news events, pause to ponder their predicament, examine their lives via our imagination and wonder what we can do to help them.
If we do, we might just see how much our Saviour loves and aches for them, become caught up with His heart in prayer, in care and compassion, in being living examples of His love and grace in action, and maybe in writing a poem about their plight…
What do we know?
What do we know of empty, distended bellies
bereft of sustenance, where choice is an unheard
of word and survival is the name of the game; where life
itself hangs by a slender thread and starvation
haunts each waking moment like a skeletal spectre
rattling its chains and calling your name?
What do we know of owning just one set of clothes to drape
across our diminishing frame; one pot in which to cook
a few dry grains, if we’re one of the lucky ones with
something at hand to eat today, instead of foraging,
walking miles with weary tread to gather a handful
of flowers—mere weeds to water our thirsty bodies?
What do we know of watching our children shrinking
before our very eyes, becoming wasted, emaciated, aged
way before their time, lying still with barely enough energy
to play or cry, their voices weak and eyes now clouded,
sad, pleading, bleak—breaking our own aching hearts
while we cradle them close, watching them suffer and die?
“Then these ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you taking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me'” ~ Matthew 25: 37-40 The Message
Being abandoned, even temporarily, feels devastating. Nothing else quite strikes at the core of who we think we are and what our perceived worth and value might be in another’s eyes.
Many of us feel the sting of shame at being rejected or abandoned by our birth parents, whether at birth , later on by the way we are treated, or as casualties of our parents’ splitting up.
Such things leave scars which can mar us for life, if we let them. I only began to fathom what unconditional, fully accepting, lavish love looked like when I came to faith in Christ in my late teens.
I still marvel over our Heavenly Father adopting me into His family, viewing me as His oh so precious, beloved child. And I am not alone in this, because that’s how He sees you too, my friend, and longs to be in a close, loving, intimate relationship with you.
There are some barriers in the way at first, most of all our sin. Though unbelief and rejection of His love can also be a hindrance to receiving it. Thankfully, Jesus made a way where there seemed to be no way.
His death on the cross and glorious resurrection are the means whereby we become reunited to God. They reveal how we, too, can learn to die to sin, overcome our shame, guilt and pain and rise again in newness of life with Him.
Once we see and believe just how much God loves us, we start to realise we are never as alone or abandoned as we might feel. And we are given daily grace and strength from Him.
I want to become a prisoner of
Hope, abandon myself on the altar
of dependence, and rest in God’s
all-sufficiency—because he has given
us the greatest abandonment of all
nailed fast to a wooden cross
Jesus chose to abandon himself
to death, to suffering, to ultimate sacrifice
for our sin, for our sake, for our lives
He chose the path less travelled, seeking
to be a servant of all, relinquishing
his kingly crown and throwing down
the gauntlet to the kingdom of darkness
which had us in its thrall
Now we, who were orphans of circumstance,
hostage to habit, taunted by temptation,
have become beloved daughters and sons, children
of God instead of life’s lost, unwanted
ones. We’ve received a fresh heritage
made rich by faith, given a brand new
start, new heart, clean slate, on which
our Father God can write his eternal glory
story—as we abandon ourselves willingly
to surrender, and close relationship with him
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed. but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (emphasis mine)
Life and faith are not always clear to us or easily understood. Often, there are more questions than answers, more wondering about the meaning of life and less living in wonder.
Try as we might, we soon realise our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the divine. We feel like blindfolded walkers stumbling through a long, shadowed tunnel, anxiously trying to make out the way ahead. Where is the light and won’t someone remove our blindfold, please?
What if we put uncertainty aside, allowed God’s word to speak to us in a clear way, to read us as we’re reading it? And if we tried to absorb its truth by soaking in the promises and believing them.
What would it look like to immerse ourselves fully in His story more than in speculation over how it all possibly came to be—to get to the heart of the matter by way of God’s beating heart for us?
Maybe we still wouldn’t have clear, concrete answers to the myriad questions in our minds, but it is possible we would be more easily satisfied to live into the answers to come, to let faith draw us deeper into wonder, rather than leave us wondering what to do with all the unsettled issues.
Because what matters most is relationship, getting to spend quality time in God’s presence, learning His will and ways in a natural, gradual way, relaxing our worries into His hands and learning to trust Him more than we focus on our cares and concerns.
My first poem below suggests God’s overseeing of things, even if they may look dark, blurry or seem invisible to us.
“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” ~ Psalm 138: 12 NIV
Clear as day
Night is clear as day
to our Creator-King, Lord
of all living things
And when we do begin to grasp how God is always revealing Himself to us in the everyday, can we actually turn aside from daily preoccupations and deliberately catch sight of His presence?
“Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing flame of fire from the midst of a bush… yet it was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn away [from the flock] and see this great sight—why the bush is not burned up'” ~ Exodus 3:1-3 AMP
Can I turn aside?
Can I turn aside
like Moses—witness my King
burning daylight bright?
Finally, there will come a Day unlike any other. We will see God as He is, know and be known fully, comprehend what has been deep Mystery beforehand.
“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”~ Acts 2:20-21
On that Day
On that Day the King
will be revealed in glory
everyone will kneel
These haiku have been written in response to the prompt of ‘King&Day’, this week’s haiku challenge from our Haiku Master, Ronovon. If you’d like to read the rich variety of posts being shared and maybe join in, too, just click here. 🙂
How did we get to March? I seem to have missed the memo. Just like some friends across the pond are still deep in snow, waiting for the melt, for a season of spring to show, I seem to have been hibernating in stillness, a needful slowing down on the inside while taking on extra physical and mental busyness.
I need a soul sanctuary. It’s here—borne on the wings of prayer, coming to me as I wait patiently before God, learn to still my restless heart and find my deepest peace in faith and trust, as I navigate through life’s hard places with His guidance and support, His energy and strength given whenever it’s needed.
It’s a holy breath, a whispered answer to prayer, a divine call to come aside for a while and rest deeper in Him. Our soul sanctuary is available for any season of the soul or season of life. There is no place where we can fail to meet with God’s grace.
Fresh rain sanctuary
This pure night frost, blanketing winter
tendrils beneath soft moon peace, leaves
deep cloud, cold air we breathe; and a
thick, moist, fresh rain sanctuary cycles
like wild, sacred water song, murmuring
long summer secrets of our Eden rest
While I wait for my husband to be fit enough to leave hospital following his spinal surgery, the clock inches ever closer to a significant birthday for him. I don’t know how, when, where or if we’ll find an opportunity to fully celebrate it, but my hope and prayer is for us to have a season of togetherness, joy and celebration soon, instead of a season of separation, sickness and pain. Hence the poem below…
My wild desire
Coffee is my liquid magic
It’s good to wake and make time
here for remembering my wild desire:
to embrace, be healed, eat cake and
celebrate this life with champagne kiss
When we take our needs and wild desires to God we can trust Him for the outcome and all He plans to do with them. Things might not look like we expect or hope they will, but it will be the best fit for you and me, because God knows the innermost secrets of our hearts and is able to bless us beyond measure in meeting those needs in a way that also serves His overall plan and purposes.
How is this season speaking to you? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
*NOTE* ~ My poetic memoir, ‘Seeking Solace’ is free for a few days on Kindle, from March 7th to March 11th inclusive! If you’re seeking solace yourself, or know someone else who is, then my story of discovering God’s grace in life’s hard places may well aid the journey. You can get it here… There’s also a paperback version available if you prefer. 🙂