influence: our words and deeds become a living legacy

influence - our words and deeds become a living legacy - butterfly freed

Sometimes it takes a death for us to appreciate the way someone’s life has affected, shaped and  influenced us. While we mourn their passing, we reflect on the bright spark of their soul, their mark on our lives, and all that their cherished, unique set of quirks and characteristics meant to us.

Hearing that Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Mary Oliver, had passed away was a sad moment for me. Her magnificent poetic word wrangling awes me and has inspired my own poetic endeavours. I will be reading her words again with fresh enjoyment and deep reverence.

It is with Mary Oliver in mind that I wrote the five-minute-friday poem below. It is written in her memory but also to honour all writers and poets, who dare to pen their thoughts and bravely share them with others.

Do not lose heart, dear creative/artist/poet/writer friend. May you know your work is not in vain. Traces of you linger on as influence and legacy. Your words, marks and thoughts have a shape and life of their own.

Your audience, readers and reach might be small, but your heart offering will make its home in those it is intended for. God knows just who that is, and how the words you write and the art you create are a powerful weapon for spreading His love, goodness and grace, His hope and encouragement to others.


A poet wields a pen, not a sword
or a hammer, but her blood pours
out in sweat and tears, wrung
from a deep-seated well within,
from the ache of yearning years.

She might be sharing a personal
insight, a pain expressed, a glimmer
from her arsenal of words,
or a view of the created world,
to open our eyes to its need
to be appreciated, preserved.

Her gift lies in a giving from the heart,
whereby the everyday will begin
to look quite extraordinary
when viewed from her perspective
and via her perceptive lens.

She writes because she must,
because she’s been entrusted
with an unfolding of treasure,
a lifting of the curtain
to reveal the sacred uncertain.

And despite her quiet labour being
publicly shared, she remains
an observer, knowing the work
itself is what fires her heart,
fills her soul and saves her.

The thought of having an influence
on others barely crosses her mind,
because her focus is on the shape,
the sound, the sight of words
moving from head to paper.

Yet the very act of vulnerability itself,
the laying bare seems to open up
her soul, her life as offering,
as gift, as influence and legacy,
and it leaves a deep impression
surviving beyond the ink.
(C) joylenton

influence - writer - poem excerpt (c)joylenton

I’m linking my longer than five minutes poem (because sometimes clock-watching doesn’t suit the flow) with the fabulous writing community at our host Kate Motaung’s place. You can join in here with this week’s prompt of ‘influence’ and read the great posts being shared.  🙂

17 thoughts on “influence: our words and deeds become a living legacy

  1. Dear Joy,
    What a beautiful tribute, and what a beautiful expression! This stanza is especially touching me today:

    “The thought of having an influence
    on others barely crosses her mind,
    because her focus is on the shape,
    the sound, the sight of words
    moving from head to paper.”

    Words, especially the WORD of our Lord, have always had such an imprint on me. There have been times that just seeing them, have stirred a beauty in my heart that caused me to trace them with my fingers and weep over the sheer beauty. How does that happen? I think there must lie something so deep in our hearts that connects us to our Living Word, to our Savior, that we will only fully realize once we can see Him face to face. But until then, I am so thankful for these gifts, from poets such as yourself too! May the Lord continue to move us all, writers and readers, to share the beauty that He gives. Much love to you my dear and amazing poet/sister/friend! xoxo

    • Dear Bettie, your deep soul sensitivity is marvellous to me. I love your description of the power of words to shape our emotional landscape, and the life-changing power of the Living Word to alter how we view the world, our lives, ourselves. Poetry is a gift I am grateful for, especially when I see it in others, including you. There is something about its immediacy that darts straight to the heart. Amen to being moved by the Lord to share the words He lays on our mind and heart! Much love and grateful hugs to you, dear friend! xoxo 💜

  2. This is a beautiful poem and tribute, Joy. You have a gift, too, of “giving from the heart” with your words. 🙂 This is the second tribute I read today from another poet. At the last one, a couple of Mary’s lines from “When Death Comes” grabbed my heart –
    “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
    I was a bride married to amazement.”
    It was at this site – .
    Love and blessings to you!

    • Oh, Trudy, I read “When death comes” on another site and those same lines also gripped my heart. Who wouldn’t want to say exactly that? To go through our days blind to beauty, love and grace would be tragic. May we be and remain as those who notice, who marvel and share that joyous awe with others! I see it in the images you share and your caring, compassionate heart toward all created life. Thank you for your kind encouragement. May we both keep seeing life and seeing it whole, and give out of a heart made tender by God’s work within. Love and blessings to you too, dear friend! xo 💜

  3. This is really beautiful, Joy. First-rate.

    Oddly enough, I’ve taen to writing (and sometimes leaving blog comments) in poetic form. Not because I think I’m any good, but because I’mm in a lot of pain, and forcing my thoughts into the shape of a Shakespearean sonnet scheme of rhyme and meter is a good discipling.

    In case you’re interested, there’s one in my current FMF offering.

    • Hello Andrew, what a joy and privilege to see you here, my friend! I have been keeping up quietly with your blog even if I don’t often leave a comment. And I’ve been hugely impressed by the beautiful sonnets you have written. They are stunning. You have been hiding your poetic light under a bushel, methinks. 😉 I find that poetry is especially helpful to write when we’re in extremis, with pain of any kind best expressed in poetic form. A succinct or defined format helps as well. Nothing quite draws out the truth or concentrates the mind like seeking to write succinctly about things we might otherwise write a whole book about! Yes, it is a good discipline. And I will continue to read your words, harrowing as they often are. God is certainly allowing you to go through the wringer. But what emerges is magnificent in its faithful execution. You, Barb and your canine crew remain in my thoughts and prayers. 💜

    • I’m glad you think so, June! Mary Oliver deserves “a virtual shower of offerings”, doesn’t she? I didn’t set out to write one but the words found me and I had to listen to them. Yes, “may her voice echo long” and continue to awe and inspire those who hear it. Have a blessed weekend too, dear friend! xo 💜

  4. Oh, Joy, that is so beautiful! I don’t even have one of her poetry books. Methinks it’s about time I did. 🙂 Her work is beautiful, but yours is too. You words today are so inspiring. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear sister/poet/friend. xoxo

    • Dear Gayl, I have a few of Mary Oliver’s books but am hungry for more! I dip into them now and then, especially if I feel like I’m empty. Her words seem to stir me into creative life again and remind me to keep noticing the things around me. So yes, I definitely recommend you get a copy or two for yourself! 😉 Mine were mostly gifts for birthday or Christmas. Thank you for your generous thoughts about my tribute poem. Your support means a lot to me. Blessings, love and hugs to you too, dear sister/poet/friend. xoxo 💜

  5. Dear Joy, what a beautiful tribute and powerful poem! Thank you for taking the time to pour yourself and your artistic gifts into these words which paint pictures in our souls. The entire poem was captivating, but the first stanza echoed into my heart:
    A poet wields a pen, not a sword
    or a hammer, but her blood pours
    out in sweat and tears, wrung
    from a deep-seated well within,
    from the ache of yearning years.
    May the well of Living Water within, born of the blood of Another, flow through our lives, our hearts and our words, leaving others with the Hope of all Hope, even in the face of death. Blessings, love and hugs!

    • Dear Melissa, it’s lovely to see you here again! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I love it when our words echo in another’s heart. God is so good to gift them to us and make them into an offering for others as well. Amen to your blessing. How we need that holy Hope! Blessings, love and hugs to you too! xo 💜

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