build: having a strong foundation and fortification of faith

build - having a strong foundation and fortification of faith (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Maybe it’s not too surprising to be wistfully thinking of summer when a wintry wind is howling outside your window and rain sweeps like stiff  brushstrokes against the pane. Or to be caught up in savouring sunny memories at a stage in life when they feel far more precious than before.

God has a wonderful way of infiltrating the harsh, wintry aspects of our days with the summer-bright laser beam of His light and love, His goodness and grace. Then the bleak emptiness, weariness, weakness or pain we might be experiencing seem to lessen a little, as we absorb the warmth of God’s presence in our hearts.

It begins to thaw our cold souls and infuse hope into our hurting places. Because there is always opportunity to start again, to rebuild, at least in how we might perceive our situations. We can build a new foundation any time we need to, aided by God’s mercy and grace, and with His help and equipping.

I was musing on a memory when I wrote the poem below a few months ago. It probably took longer than five minutes to write, but I am sharing it today like a “here’s one I made earlier” kind of offering, because it fits pretty well with this week’s five-minute-friday prompt. And it’s all my tired mind can currently conjure up! 😉

Fortification

I sit, surrounded by mounds
of sand, clumped yet dry as a bone,
sieving it between my fingers like an
hourglass filling up,

little knowing how swiftly years
would pass, how soon this tanned,
tender, smooth-skinned toddler

eating sand sandwiches would grow
up, become a hirsute man, with voice
gruffly smooth and deep, like gravel
being gently washed by sea.

My small son wears sunscreen, sunhat
and a nappy, protected by pants,
plus a cautious, bemused

expression on his face, as though he
can recall being a few months old,
new to beach and sea, fearing rollicking
waves would sweep him away,

just as they do to the crumbly castles
he builds with help, joy and pride,
which don’t stand a chance against
pulsating power of tides.

I smile at his mild discomfiture, as it’s
always valuable to learn these lessons
young, to grasp how easily

life can change, and how the things we
seek to build our lives upon must have
a strong, secure foundation

to uphold us in future days, in harder
times when problems arise or walls come
tumbling down, and we are required
to be safe and fortified.
© joylenton

build - building a new foundation with God quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

There’s nothing quite like a supportive writing community to build us up with encouragement and give us the courage and confidence to share our words. Such as the fabulous five-minute-friday crew gathering at Kate Motaung’s site. This week’s prompt is “build”. You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared.  🙂

where: seeking a place where we can belong #FMF

where - seeking a place where we can belong @poetryjoy.com

We all need to belong somewhere. It’s an innate desire from infancy. We crave a place where we feel safe and secure. And we make our home with loved ones, family and friends, plus groups, clubs, community and causes that are dear to our hearts.

This blog is one of my safe places on the internet. Here I can gather with fellow poets, writers and friends. It feels like my creative family. A source of support and encouragement, help and peace. A haven I miss when illness keeps me from staying connected with you all.

I’m not well enough to get to church, and haven’t been for years, so my spiritual home isn’t a building or place where people physically gather. Instead, church, in the sense of being the Body of Christ, is everywhere and nowhere in particular as well. I’m in touch with fellow believers around the world, who have a diverse range of expressions of faith, like I do myself.

We gather on the internet and via email. Our service to one another is to show love and care, have conversations, enrich thought, offer a listening ear and pray for one another’s needs. It’s a gift I am truly thankful for.

I wonder, where is the place you feel most at home? Who is your tribe, your people, your comfort zone? Those questions can be tricky to answer, can’t they? Depending on our circumstances and stage of life. So many people feel isolated, lost and alone, with no particular base and reference point.

Maybe they’ve become displaced, lost the physical home they knew before or lost the loved ones who anchored them there. Even if our circumstances differ, we can still feel fractured and out of sync with others at times. Such thoughts inspired the poem below.

Belonging

sense of belonging:
making sense of who we are
where we have come from
where we are journeying to
where we will make our home

we easily lose
our bearings and direction
give our hearts
to those who scorn or break them
resist acts of affection

perhaps we could
view life in another way
spiritually
note how we are created
to always seek after God

we see how he longs
wants us to be yearning
to be longing
a present continuous
act of obedience, faith

there’s nothing better
than to share our lives with God
come empty, dry
desiring to be filled
as his fountain rains on us
© joylenton

I’m happy to belong to the fabulous five-minute-friday community where we share our words inspired by a prompt. This week’s creative instigator word is “where”. You can join in here and read the great variety of posts being shared.  🙂

influence: our words and deeds become a living legacy

influence - our words and deeds become a living legacy - butterfly freed @poetryjoy.com

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.

Influence

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 @poetryjoy.com

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.  🙂

begin: for when you can’t quite hit the new year running

begin - for when you can't quite hit the new year running - @poetryjoy.com

Dear reader, I’m curious about something: did you hit the new year running, eagerly embracing resolutions, ready for the new and the next, planning and pushing ahead to your heart’s content? If so, that’s great and I rather envy you. 😏

Or are you more like me: crawling on your knees, flattened with illness and fatigue, and sighing because January finds you less than fit and able? The latter? Please raise  or vaguely wave your weary arm in my direction. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

For years, without fail, I’ve always succumbed to flu or a heavy cold before the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over. Each January I’m hugging the duvet, coughing into my pillow and barely surfacing.

Sadly it’s not due to enjoying myself, but because I have a faulty, inefficient immune system that easily succumbs to viruses and overexertion of any kind. I keep hoping things will improve. But they haven’t. Not yet.

Experience has taught me to listen and act on the information I hear from my depleted body. Namely to rest and take care of myself. Because trying to press on in the face of increasing debility has never been a good plan for me. It only exacerbates my pre-existing chronic conditions.

One thing that never stops being active and running like a mad thing is my mind, even when my body stills due to increased sickness. Yours too, perhaps? It chunters on like it’s got something really important to process, while my weakened body is trying to shush it into silent, restful submission.

begin - god replenishes, restores and revives quote (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

And I’ve been mulling over what to write. How do we begin again when we’re feeling lethargic, muddy-headed or uninspired? The wonder is that whenever our well, our energy, inspiration or abilities run dry, we only need to ask and God replenishes, restores and revives our limited supplies. And we can begin again with Him any time we need to.

The poem below came to me as I was resting. May it speak to all who are in the throes of illness or lack creative inspiration. I’m also rejoicing that my current ailment seems to be more of a persistent cold than full-blown flu this time. Hooray! Progress!

Writer’s woes

I want to begin
make a mark on this page
this year
on the lives of others
with my thoughts and words

I don’t know how
to begin to write a thing
without assistance
because my brain is muffled
and my thoughts are befuddled

I am uncertain
wondering how to choose
what will speak
louder than my husky voice
of love and grace, hope and faith

in the end
all I have is willing hands
empty though they be
just waiting to be filled
before a drop can be spilled

holy whispers
encourage me to start
right where I am
with surrender, trust and truth
as inspiration filters through
© joylenton

begin - writer's woes poem excerpt - new year (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Praise God for gifting this snuffly writer with something to say when she felt empty! Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. 😉 Do let me know how you are, especially if you’re also below par, and we can pray for one another.

Never forget that rest, recovery and healing are vital soul and body work. You and I might begin this year slow like tortoises but we can still end strong by the grace of God. With love and virtual (germ-free) hugs to you. xo 💜

Blogging and “The Accident of Touching”

It’s especially true of writers and creatives that our hearts long to touch others with our words, our art, ourselves. We savour times when our souls collide and our lives are enriched in the sharing. Even if we pause to like a person’s blog post and do not stop to leave a comment, that very act is enough to bring a smile and give encouragement to them, as it reveals a connection has been made. Isn’t that why we all want to write? To breathe out the essence of who we are and hope that others will be able to relate to it? Deborah’s post puts this way of touching another through our art so beautifully. Enjoy the read and do check out her stunning art work, thoughtful poetry and prose in other posts. 😊💜

Deborah J. Brasket

The_Creation_Michelangelo“The accident of touching /is so rare! Sometimes /I pause my hand on purpose / and hope to find yours there.”

These are the last lines of a poem I wrote long ago.

But I realize now that’s what this blog is all about, a way of “pausing my hand on purpose,” and hoping to find you there.

It’s all about touching, isn’t it? Touching others with our lives, ourinsights and understanding, our memories and dreams, our poetry and art. Blogging meets this basic human need—to touch others and be touched in return.

Peter_Paul_Rubens_105_1We’ve all heard how physical touching is essential to human health and happiness. They say people can shrivel up and die for want of being touched or having someone to touch. A simple pat on the shoulder, a hug, ahand squeezecan make all the difference. Merely having a pet, they say, saves lives.

But there’s a basic…

View original post 577 more words

mantle: Mary’s covering and our own God-given calling

mantle - the virgin mary @poetryjoy.com

Mantle is a quaint, rarely used word that still has relevance for us today. As well as being a literal coat or cloak, mantle also means the passing on of an important role or responsibility from person to person.

In a biblical sense, mantle can imply a covering of grace, a specific calling on our lives, as in Elijah’s prophetic mantle falling onto Elisha in a literal and metaphorical handing over of his cloak and anointing.

“So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.” – 1 Kings 19:19 (NKJV)

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was cloaked and enveloped by God’s grace. She was overshadowed by Holy Spirit for the pivotal role she would play in bringing about God’s purposes on earth.

mantle - Mary's covering and our own God-given calling @poetryjoy.com

Mary’s mantle

Her charisma,
a divinely conferred
gift, was pure, bright,
a vibrant inner light
to bathe heaven’s child.

Her character brooked
choice of none other
for she was resilient,
demure and mild.

A willing and yielded
obedient servant,
a fledgling woman,
youthful, innocent,
betrothed while still a teen.

Whose womb was home,
whose heart was rent,
who hosted holiness
quietly and unseen.

A young woman
full of divine favour,
subject to rejection
and society’s reproach
for her great faithfulness
to Father God.

Became chosen
earthly mother
for our Saviour,
to give him birth
and spread his love abroad.
© joylenton

mantle - mary's mantle poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

How does Mary’s mantle relate to us? I think it shows that God always prepares people for the specific tasks He has appointed them to do. God fully anoints, equips and qualifies us for everything He calls us to.

Years ago, my major responsibilities were as nurse, wife and mother. Then I developed M.E and chronic illness which made it impossible to work and fully take care of myself, never mind the home and family. My perceptions of role, calling and identity shifted to meet my limitations and reduced expectations.

I am still sick and struggle with tasks, but my calling has morphed into being a writer, poet and encourager to others. Those gifts lay dormant for years but God resurrected them at just the right time.

God never forgets the mantle He has chosen to place over us. Mine might look very different to yours, because we all have a unique offering to bring to the world. One thing I have learnt: Our inner landscape can be vast, unlimited and rich even if our physical capabilities shrink.

mantle - Our inner landscape quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

This Advent, as you sit with hope and wait with increasing longing in your heart, try asking God what His desires are for you in the year ahead. What assignment has your name on it? What is He birthing in your soul? Is there a specific word that will define 2019 for you?

I’m currently hearing a call to rest myself more and lay aside my pen for a while. So I am taking a writing break until early January. May God bless you and keep you in His loving care until we meet again. Meanwhile, you can catch up with the poetic Art of Advent series profiling on my Words of Joy blog. 🙂

mantle - advent - trees - wreath - Christmas greetings (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

simplify: seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas

simplify - seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas @poetryjoy.com

As I sit with the world at my fingertips, I marvel yet again at the wonder of internet shopping at a mere click. Christmas means I get to buy my favourite people gifts from the comfort of my own home. Yet the relative ease can lull me into a false sense of security and control. Simplicity of consumption can mean loss of the ability to simplify.

Truth is, we’re all in danger of getting sucked into advertising hooks and consumerism’s greedy clutches. It’s all too easy to buy more than we need and neglect to think about its effect on us and the world in general. Though it’s vital that we don’t ignore it.

I’m a bit of a “it might come in useful one day” type of hoarder, truth be told. I’m also a wannabe declutterer and minimalist, who rarely has energy enough for the task. A baby taking tiny baby steps toward living with and spending less.

I have an increasing desire to simplify, purchase wisely and live more mindfully. And an increasing awareness of the heedless way I might be contributing to the world’s carbon footprint and ecological decay. Hence my poetic lament below.

Lament for earth

If the sky cries out
in sympathy
with dry, dusty earth
and sheds hot, salty tears,
then wake me up,
I want to be aware.

Let me not miss
a thing of earth’s
dying gasps,
be it by flood
or fire,
because I want to
cry with her.

Let us all weep now
for our carelessness,
our lack of faithful
caretaking and love,
our inability to take
good care
of our Mother Earth.

We have been
bad custodians,
errant prodigals
and wasteful ones,
who now reap
the cost for our sad
faithlessness,
while we watch its fast
decay and death.
© joylenton

“Then God blessed them and gave them this directive:  ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.'” – Genesis 1:28 The Voice

simplify - lament for earth poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here’s a short list of potential gift idea resources (some of which I already use) and books to help us simplify, shop, gift and live more mindfully this Christmas and beyond. Though we need to be wary of letting too many “expert” books and resources discourage us in our seemingly small steps of progress toward our simplifying goals.

Ethical resources and gift ideas:

  1. 12 tips for a plastic free Christmas – Marine Conversation Society
  2. Home of Fair Trade products – Traidcraft Shop
  3. Alternative gifts and occasions at Yumbles
  4. Making it easier to be eco – The Wise House
  5. Living Naturally – The First Soapnut Apothecary in the world

Book suggestions:

  1. No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference – the #2minutesolution by Martin Dorey
  2. How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum
  3. Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle
  4. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson
  5. The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker

How have you been able to ethically simplify your Christmas shopping and preparations? I’d love to hear from you and pick up some useful tips! 🙂

simplify - weep now lament poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com