other: learning to celebrate our difference and unity

In terms of being different and distinct, “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Although we wouldn’t want to be extraneous or surplus to requirements, we all revel in our individuality and uniqueness. One person’s cage is another’s idea of freedom. Difference can be celebrated.

Unity is worth rejoicing over too. Because what unites us (especially as people of faith) should be greater than what might divide us. We all need others to relate to and to help us feel cared for, encouraged and understood. God made us for relationship. Together we are stronger.

Being “other” includes: the old and young, the able and less able, the small and great, the bold and confident and the shy and timid ones, the full spectrum of society and those who we might not look at twice, if we didn’t share a common humanity and feel a sense of connectivity in Christ.

Other

When we think about the other we consider
not only our sisters and brothers in faith but
the estranged, the alien and strangers in our
midst and ourselves—when we feel cut off
and adrift, isolated and lost to all but God

To be other is to feel excluded and less than
unless we think about our inclusivity in Christ
and how his otherworldliness makes us awed
and his willingness to include us is a pure act
of God’s supreme holiness, mercy and love

We are most like one another when we can grasp
our unity in him, our bond of faith acting like super
glue to hold us together, despite our differences of
doctrinal practices or lived out spiritual expression
as we respond to Holy Spirit’s ministrations within

I am the other half of you and you of me, for our
God-woven togetherness exceeds all boundaries
and wraps us around with his holy similarity, while
we bask in being wholly unique—yet joined in him
© joylenton

I’m delighted to be sharing my 5 minute poem with the fabulous #FMF writing crew today as we express our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “other.” Please click here to join in and read the great posts being shared.  Thank you! 🙂 

prompt: a way of easing back into writing after taking a break

A blank page can be rather daunting, can’t it? When you want to ease yourself back to writing again after taking a break, there’s often no better way than by responding to a creative prompt. It helps that someone else has done the initial thinking work for you! Though Holy Spirit inspired listening to life is invaluable to me too.

One of my favourite creative prompts to dive into after resting my words for a while is the Twittering Tales series—where we write within Twitter’s character limit restraints in response to a photograph—hosted by my delightfully eclectic poetic friend Kat Myrman, especially because images so often stir creative juices in me.

Today’s offering is more light-hearted than usual and has veered in the direction of both poetry and prose. I hope it inspires you to have a go yourself….

photo by leoperezwildadventure – courtesy of pixabay.com

Few stopped to savour the glorious view spread out before them, or note the delightful sounds of wildlife in the dense vegetation, intent instead on clicking their cameras, thinking only of how they would share some stunning images on social media to impress their friends with.

(278 characters)

cameras poised and eyes peeled
they had no inkling of how their
canoe was sinking, letting in water
enough to pool and wet them well

they were so enchanted by the scenes
before them, and those to come, that they
ignored the feeling of soggy feet until, too
late, it became waist deep at least

(280 characters)

Bearded hipster Harry sat in the back with his face set and grim. He didn’t want to spoil their fun but he knew his situation was getting desperate. As the vessel keeled this way and that as they turned excitedly, he felt his stomach contents protesting with their every movement.

(280 characters)

What helps prompt you to write or helps you to restart after a creative lull? I’d love to hear in the comments below. If you would like to join in you can find Kat’s beautiful blog here and this week’s Twittering Tale prompt here* Enjoy!  🙂

cross: the counterintuitive way of the cross that sets us free

The way of the cross seems counterintuitive. Who would willingly walk to such a gruesome, painful death? Who could endure the ultimate, agonising sacrifice of a totally self-surrendered life? Not one of us, I would bet.

But it was the route Jesus took to restore us back to the Father’s side. It was a pathway paved with lavish love and grace. It created a shift in the heavens and altered our perspective on earth thereafter.

Jesus willingly yielded His life so that we could personally experience God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness, His poured out grace for the human race. He had the joyous end view in sight of many sons and daughters sharing His eternal Home and glory to come.

His surrendered sacrifice inspires us to persevere in our own walk of faith, keeping the cross before us to remind us of the price Jesus paid to set us free from sin, guilt and shame.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

My haiku sequence vignette was written as a poetic response to these thoughts and a way to try to describe the indescribable, while recognising we are entering into the heart of the mystery of our salvation.

The way of the Cross

the way of the cross
is counterintuitive
we see surrender

and self-sacrifice
from Christ’s freely poured out life
as rivers of blood

mingle to become
oceans of mercy and grace
for the human race

and joy rises up
as he drinks the bitter gall
from death’s lifted cup

to yield his last breath
into Father’s loving hands
as curtain is torn

and darkness descends
making witnesses fearful
feel lost and bereft

their Saviour seems dead
but it is not over yet
for he rises from death

there’s an empty tomb
Resurrection has come
hope for everyone
©joylenton

Let’s rejoice with the Newsboys’ song and say our own “Hallelujah for the cross!”

PS: I’m also honoured to have a Good Friday reflection and poem featured on the Godspace community blog. Just click here to read it. And If you would like to slowly ponder the enormity of it all, you can join in with the Lectio Divina reading below that focuses on Isiaiah 53: 3-6. May God bless you with His amazing love, joy and peace this Easter, my friend! 🙂 ❤

dust: our origins and state are redeemed by God’s grace

 

We may have entered Lent with dust ashes symbolically smudged on our foreheads, revealing we are dusty people in desperate need of a Saviour. God’s Light penetrates to show us the way to live and love with the freedom and compassion only He can bring. Our dust mote souls dance in its radiance.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t come to wag a finger and point out our flaws, faults and failings. He already knows them all too well. The human heart is no mystery to Him. He came to rescue lost souls. To restore us back to the Father. To make us His own brothers and sisters by faith. To declare we are not forgotten but are deeply loved.

We may have begun our journey in a heavy-hearted way because the road to Calvary is always paved with pain. We each carry our own cross, often without realising it. But there is anticipation of joy to come.

There is cause for celebration. There’s a brighter future at stake and awe and wonder await all who come carefully and prayerfully, with growing awareness of why Jesus came to earth. Skies may darken soon but our souls grow lighter with every step.

Because we know our Redeemer lives. He has ransomed us from Satan’s clutches. He has set us free from sin’s steely grip. He has given us a new heart. A fresh start. Hope for today and into eternity. Love that will not let us go. Love that has paid the price so that God’s sons and daughters can live in close relationship with Him.

We remember we are people of the Cross, pilgrims on a pathway of faith and sojourners on earth, with our feet rooted in dust, in daily toil and concerns, but with our hearts set on an eternal purpose. It’s one we can scarcely fathom, though the mystery is an essential part of the journey itself.

 

We become changed from the inside out. Renewed, with an altered perspective and heart and an awakened desire to be who God always intended us to be: the best version of ourselves. Though we came from dust, we are destined for a glorious eternity with God.

Being dust

We begin as dust and ashes, red-based Adamic clay, ready
to be shaped and moulded by unseen hands, waiting
on breath of Life to blow as holy wind, naming
our earthen vessel souls as Man

We remain fragile, easily cracked and broken, full
of holes, etched with crevices, edged hard, made
soft with grace, gritty from frequent handling, soiled
yet bearing our Master’s hallmark

We are God’s handiwork, his creative vision, expressed
in tents of flesh—prone to wounds, rips and tears, weak
as water—we think we’re strong and capable
but only when he makes us so
©joylenton

 

solo: pausing to listen and become refreshed

 

I cherish and need time alone. Solo suits me fine, especially when life overwhelms and all available energy to engage has dissipated. It recharges my failing batteries to be plugged in to God, my books and silence. Aaahh…

Except that silence is rarely, if ever, achievable, is it? Because we live in a world addicted to 24/7 activity and noise. Though if we can pause for a while, then we might hear other sounds that speak to us instead of rush and hurry.

Our own drumming heartbeat reminds us we are alive. Our own breath signals a need to slow and relax. Our ears, when attuned to silence, will pick up the slightest sound: leaves dancing, wind in the trees, rumbles from appliances, dogs barking or a solo song from a blackbird outside our home.

And when we listen to these things they speak volumes to us, revealing how we might love and crave our solo moments but we are all created for connection, for community and relationship with others, especially with God.

Solo

A solo blackbird sings into morning mistiness, his tune
dedicated to heaven’s breath and the unadulterated
joy of being alive, the sheer exultation of existence
while I sit inside a house, quietly listening, wanting
to tune my own heart to the eternal melody I can
hear heralding through an open window that is near

Yet somehow, something heavy seems to chain
me here to earth, something sitting on my soul
that presses me low, pushing me into isolation
despite the fact I am rarely alone, though often
feel as though I am, because this world is vastly
full, crammed with people, like tiny little islands

Our very individuality makes connectivity crackle
with defensiveness, and our need to curl away from
hurt and pain only makes us more vulnerable and
subject to the same, because God has created us
for togetherness, for knowing joy, hope, peace and love,
for relationship and companionship and soul friends

What we need is a holy seed to germinate and take
root within our hearts, a glimmer of grace to open
up our bounded souls, and let the light of God’s
presence permeate every part as it fills and floods
with heat and love, more than enough to set our
cold souls on fire and cause a thaw in our desires

Though alone in solo song, blackbird sings out first spring
to others, whether sister, brother or lovers, or her own
soul companions, who hear the sound as sweet music
to their ears and respond in kind with answering swift
harmony of voice and heart and mind, just as we are
created to do for one another, as God has designed
©joylenton

“Your love, GOD, is my song, and I’ll sing it!” – Psalm 89:1 ~The Message

As you relax and listen to the video clip below may it cause you to be thankful for the sweet sound of birdsong that is music to God’s ears, and usually to ours as well!  🙂

adrift: God is an anchor for our unsteady souls

 

Being adrift is an unsettling feeling, isn’t it? Whether we’re literally unmoored,  marooned, lost at sea or life just seems to affect us that way. ⛵ I had a growing sense of unease and discombobulation when our internet went down for several hours recently.

Suddenly I couldn’t connect, never mind skim or surf the internet. And as it happens, it was a day when I really needed to get online—don’t we always?—and it just wouldn’t play ball with me. 🌐

After a few hours of attempting to access the world-wide web and failing then falling into a deeper sense of isolation and frustration, I wrote the poem below…

Adrift 🖥

There is no internet

All connectivity is lost

I am adrift

stuck in yesterday
so my calendar says

and the weather map
hasn’t updated itself

yet, nor my inbox caught
up with latest news

I feel the sting of loss

I can’t even share this event

with anyone or warn them
of my unavailability

Lost on a lonely sea
of singularity

where life’s time and tides
wash over me naturally

I am bereft, except
for one constant thing

because God has never
left—he’s always
here with me
© joylenton

 

Later on (acting on the wise and welcome suggestion of my husband), internet access was “borrowed”—with permission of course—from my neighbour, who has a different service provider. Hurrah! All was well. I could relax. Panic over…. for now… 😏

Then I came across this whispered word received in prayer a while back and it reminded me just who is our real power Source and stabilising strength when life unsteadies us. Because God alone holds our souls secure when we entrust our lives to Him. May it bless and encourage you too, my friend.  🙂 ❤

Believe – prayer whisper

“When you come to Me in your weakness, I am ready to infuse My strength into you, so that you live fully equipped in Me rather than relying on yourself.

Lay aside those heavy weights of your concerns and anxieties. These things sap your energy and captivate your attention. I want you to be free of them so that you can be attentive to My voice, and carry only those things that I assign to you.

Lean hard into Me. I am the solid Rock who keeps you safe, holds you fast and shelters you through hard times. I am the Anchor for your soul to keep you from going adrift.

When storms come, remember that you wear the belt of Truth to keep you afloat. My word and My promises will sustain you. Believe that I have already spoken and it will be fulfilled, even if your eyes cannot see it happening yet.”

“This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place.” – Hebrews 6:19 CEV