touch: seeking to pay attention to God’s touch on our lives

hand touching a wheat field - touch - @poetryjoy.com

Each day we receive a touch from heaven above and intimations of God’s love. We discover shades of glory and grace pervading the everyday. We are wrapped in holy wonder as we live and move and have our being. And yet we might fail to notice it because we get too caught up in our difficulties and the daily minutiae.

Why don’t you take a few moments now to pause and be still? Let your soul breathe. Open your eyes to the wonder already hiding in plain sight. It is revealed in seemingly ordinary things that take on a holy significance as we focus and give thanks for them.

The relationships we have with the people in our lives can add a special touch and opportunity for joy. And physical touch itself is something we all need to some extent or other, especially from those we love.

It may come as an arm around your shoulder to say sorry or gently ask how you are. The hand stroking yours that gives comfort and reassurance. Fingers lightly brushing your cheek or lips joining together. The hugs that speak volumes. They are all markers of grace and moments of wonder in their own right.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo F. Buscaglia

In the poem below I am sharing thoughts from my memories and history, about the first date I had with my husband. It’s a tanka sequence poem that speaks about the power of touch to a human soul and what a difference it makes to know we are loved.

“Touch has a memory.” ― John Keats

silvery moon - touch - benediction poem image @poetryjoy.com

Benediction

illuminate
moonlight strokes lightly over glass
like an artist
painting her joy with colours
music of the mind and heart

I receive it
my soul is hungry for light
I feel it
marking me inwardly
a soul lover’s caress

this glow
emanating from night’s depths
touches me
more than a mere glimpse reveals
it causes an awakening

thoughts stir
memories of past years
when I took
a moonlight walk with my beloved
sauntering by the riverside

water lapped
licking at roots of weeping willow
bowed low
like the shy maiden I was
barely lifting her head up

boats chugged
drifting with winter tides
our love
was but a new, tender shoot
fragile and easily bruised

I hesitated
uncertain about his feelings then
we held hands
warmth infused my cold fingers
it was enough to sustain us

we smiled
grateful for each slow touch
it ignited
hope, with sparks of wonder, trust
this fledgling love would grow and last

and now
I look outside my window
watch the moon
still shining on our small world
slivers of silver unfurled

I smile
no hesitation in my mind
this life
full of holy benediction
will always be his and mine
© joylenton

silvery moon - trees - touch - benediction poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

It feels good to be back here again after my break! 🙂 Though it took me more than five minutes to write, I am linking my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew who are sharing their thoughts on this week’s prompt of “touch.” Now let us praise the One who touches us with His glory and grace and gives us the power to love and touch other lives for good.

candle: love burns in our hearts with faith and hope #thedailyhaiku 18

 

It’s all too easy to take each other for granted in relationships, isn’t it? Become like comfortable furniture to one another. Dependable and reliable, or so we hope. Desire, mingled with love, flickers like a faltering candle, setting chilly hearts aflame once more.

Our task is to nurture each tiny spark, watch to see that the candle doesn’t die out, remain vigilant in not taking one another for granted, whether we’re a long married couple, just setting out together, bringing up a family or going solo for a while.

Love and relationships need to be given priority, so that the candle flame of love doesn’t blow out with every breeze that blows, get snuffed out by an open window to the world (whereby extraneous people get invited in) caught in the crossfire of communication failure, lashed by harsh winds of confrontation, stubbed out in anger or left to die a slow death of neglect instead.

How is that achieved? Not with our fickle hearts or in our own limited strength alone. It takes heavenly resources to stoke the fires of love in our wayward hearts and maintain its heat through years of trouble and toil. It takes grace and guts, grit and sheer determination to rise above the emotional pain we are in and that which we unwittingly inflict on one another.

It takes faith and patience, perseverance, endurance and an ability to forgive again and again and again. It takes a willingness to admit we are wrong and an ability to talk things through, rather than pretend everything is fine. Honesty is a top priority. Only God can grant us these graces to love one another well, plant His pure, unconditional Love in our hearts and keep it alive to the end of time.

heat-sealed

it’s scabby with wax
this candle burning brightly
heat-sealed in our hearts
©joylenton

**Hi, if you’re new around here, welcome to my #write31days series of the daily haiku. To catch up you can access the rest of the posts here. A big grateful hug to all who have been following so far. This weary woman applauds you. We’re on the home straight, friends!** 🙂 

love: Christ bears infinite love and grace on a cross

 

We’re at the point of no return on our Lenten journey. A Holy happening is imminent. The day we call Good Friday has arrived. God’s eternal, infinite, unconditional Love is hanging on a cross, made a public spectacle and disgrace for us.

Jesus is marred, pierced, blood-stained and, briefly, just beyond His Father’s reach. The day has dawned when sin meets Saviour, mankind meets its Maker, and our guilt, shame and pain are nailed to a cross of wood, held in place by Love alone, His amazing grace about to be made known.

We can only watch and wonder, our minds unable to fully fathom or clearly comprehend what we see. Our Holy God poured out for you and me….

Bearing infinite love

Jesus, you see faces, look into souls, hear the heartbeat

of every person on the street. You don’t see a faceless throng

pressing together like a swarming sea of anonymity

Even those who barely give you a glance, and those who

sneer, swear or spit as you carry your cross, filled with

venom, hate, while you bear only infinite love and grace

 

How can it be that you bear them no grudge, not even

an ounce of animosity, your heart contracted in love

laced with waves of pity? Yet you know it is their sin

pinning you to a cross, their rage ripping your back

to shreds, their nameless hate nailing your helpless

hands as you reach out, surrendered to your fate

 

And as blood pours from your many wounds, you are

wounded more by the unaccustomed distance, a cloud

between you and your Father, as he has to turn his face

away from his sin-bearing Son, leaving you alone

for the first time—you feel distant and lost—as you

hang limp, wretched, almost ready to give up the ghost

 

Finally, the darkness steals into your soul, making you writhe

within, and you know it won’t be long before you cry

it is finished, and mankind’s release has been secured

by your poured out blood. You gasp out your holy sigh and

rest in death’s embrace for a while—as skies darken and a

curtain is rent to signal the start of a new, living covenant

©joylenton2017

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

worship: why silence might be one of the best ways to pray

worship-softly-resting-under-loves-soft-shade-pj

 

Do words fail you sometimes? Maybe get stuck on the tongue, swallowed back like tears? We think language should be simple, just one person conversing with another, as easy as breathing, fluid as air.

But there are moments when we don’t know quite what to say to one another, never mind speak to God. Prayer can stall into silence. This may seem like we’re not praying at all, but I think silence is actually one of the deepest mediums for prayer and a great way to align ourselves with the divine.

During times when our words are stilled, we find other ways to communicate with God. Tears and inaudible, deep-seated groans of the soul still rise as incense before Him. Silence makes space for restful, worshipful contemplation.

There is no language, no tongue, no hindrance to communication with God. Our very posture speaks volumes to Him, as does our inner ache, sadness and pain.

What about worship? Doesn’t that require words?  Ideally, we want to express our heartfelt feelings before our Lord in a vocal way, though worship is myriad things and more of a lifestyle decision than a song.

God sees our hearts and hears their silent cries—our intentions and desires are laid bare before Him before we breathe a word or sing a note.

If, like me, the season you are going through has made voiced prayer hard to do, words failing to form due to the lump in your throat or heaviness of heart, please know that God understands it all, sees into the depths of your soul and is busily answering before you feel able to utter a single word.

Worship

Let our language spring as sweetly

languid as summer sky, lazy on

the tongue, and soaring like sea spray

We’re wanting an upbeat life and 

to swim together, like sunlight still

aches to shine with worship, whispering

music like a smooth honey symphony

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-worship-pj

 

You and I can rest in Love’s soft shade, rest our weary souls before God and know we are being loved, seen and heard. In the shelter of His safe, protective love we grow strong again.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in him I will trust’…. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you shall take refuge” ~ Psalm 91: 1-2,4

Love’s soft shade

Our lonely spirits can thrive

and shine by Love’s soft shade

For every life has dark garden

vines from earth’s root fall, but

warm, gentle Eden rain cycles

like sacred river song beneath

light, wandering wind harmony

of deep fresh air we breathe

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-loves-soft-shade-pj

 

We can communicate with God through silent tears and a broken heart. Maybe, like Ann Lamott, the only prayers you feel capable of right now are of the “Help, Thanks, Wow” kind, and that’s okay. He understands. Start where you are and a flow of words will eventually come.

love as grace gift, fever, eden and wild harmony

love-grace-gift-fever-eden-wild-harmony-poetry-joy

 

On this Valentine’s Day it seems apt to consider how love is a many splendid thing, lifting us to dizzy heights and dropping us down again. It’s full of feeling, driven by emotion, laced with passion, fuelled by lust and desire, sought after and highly prized. Though it is far more than hearts and flowers, lyrics and poetry, chocolates and cards, nice as they are.

Human love is often fickle, variable, blowing hot and cold, prone to alteration and change, seared with sadness and pain. But divine Love is something else entirely—always glorious, unconditional, freeing, totally giving, honouring the other, everlasting, eternal.

In my first magnetic poetry offering today I examine a relationship which isn’t all it could be. I’ve imagined a scenario between two lovers where things once burnt firework-bright then fizzled into little sparks.

Broken fever

This hard-voiced growl from his cool

lips comes out of a broken fever

But she needs more morning peace, and

lingering longer over picturing poetry

like porcelain and remembering when joy

brilliant as fire dazzled like desire;

and warm breath-throb words could melt

her sad, icy heart with a ferocious

laugh—and a ‘let’s celebrate’ kisses embrace

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-broken-fever-poets-set

 

Then I imagined a time when love was new, Eden-fresh, bright and brilliant. A morning of mists and mellow mood. A season where the sun shone softly and hearts were united as one. A time of perfect union and wild harmony.

Wild harmony

Above dawn-moist world, behold

beautiful birdsong sanctuary

of soft spring blossom colours

blooming full, warm as Eden

Here we would have strolled,

always following a quiet lake

moss-dark lichen path, as rain

breathes wild harmony like

nature’s deep, watery shade

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-wild-harmony-nature-set-pj

 

God’s kind of love—pure, unselfish love—is what we are to aim for in our dealings with one another. Yet we fail spectacularly, fall flat on our faces—unless we let God live in us by His Spirit and love others in and through us. Then we have access to God’s rich, full, unlimited ability assisting our weak, limited ability to love as well as we can. And on our best, dependently-leaning-on-God-completely days, love can begin to flourish and look something like this…

“Love never gives up. Love cares for others more than self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first”, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 ‘The Message’

lbb-valentine-rose-proverbs-wm

 

The lovely bible verse heart image above comes courtesy of little birdie blessings, which you can find here. 

love-valentines-day-greeting-pj

pets: on love, created beauty and theology

cat-pets-pj

 

Pets are far more than they may present at first glance. Some may look on them like they see small children: messy, unpredictable, noisy, uncontrollable and hard to locate sometimes. But for those who love them, they’re constant soul companions and loving, faithful friends.

Animals point to the beauty of created things, the unlimited, unconditional love which God poured into making earth a haven for us. They are great reminders of God’s goodness toward us, bringing pleasure as well as purpose into our lives.

“The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude” ~ Robert Brault

Maybe pets could be thought of as a way in which God speaks out His faithful presence, His constant love and affection for His children. We had quite a menagerie of rabbits, cats, mice, budgerigars and hamsters when I was growing up, all of which taught me a degree of responsibility—though I confess to once zealously overfeeding a goldfish until it died!

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

These days we have no pets and I mourn their loss, though I enjoy a stray cat or two wandering around our garden seeking attention. Our grandson has had a whole host of animals to observe, touch and marvel over in his three short years. The haiku and photos below have come from his experiences. I tried to limit myself to three! They also link to Ronovan Hester’s inspiring poetic site and this week’s haiku poetry prompt challenge of ‘Pet and Play’.

Playing with farmyard pets

Hens scratch at pellets

Seed scattered as tiny tots

Play with farmyard pets

haiku-farmyard-pets

 

Christmas capers

Cat’s hopped in a box

She’s longing to play with those

stray wisps of tinsel

haiku-cat-in-a-box-pj

 

Boy meets tortoise

Boy meets tortoise

Baffled by its clay-like shell

Should he pet or play?

haiku-boy-meets-tortoise

 

You might wonder why I am speaking about animals in this Advent season, but they do have a large role in our lives, as well as in Nativity plays. And in our theology, we speak of Christ as the sacrificial  Lamb who was slain, and the Lion of Judah when He finally comes to rule and reign.

So as you hug your pets, or simply appreciate the animals you see, maybe you can think of those things and be grateful for their presence in your life, the way they point to God’s grace in the everyday.

I’d love to hear about your pets. Do join in the conversation below…

Because he does it all for love’s sake

celebration in Thailand 4

Let me tell you about my man. He’s not one of life’s movers and shakers, a risk or glory taker. He’s more of a shake-and-move-slow and an all-for-love’s-saker.

A man who played competitive football with zest, zeal and energy into his 50s. Only pausing to be able to take better care of me.

He was athletically inclined, sporty and strong, lithe and nimble, able and capable of doing most things he turned his practical hands to.

And now he bends under the strain of life’s burdens, the repercussions of workplace bullying and having a severe mental health breakdown; made lower still with spinal problems and Parkinson’s disease.

He’s too sick to hold down a job, but he is (thankfully) more mobile and capable than I am of taking care of the household tasks.

A lot of things have stopped him in his tracks. Life’s trials have emptied him of his previous vigour and vitality. Yet he gives to me so freely and willingly.

Because his heart is full. Full of love and care and kindness and compassion. Full of faithfulness. My man is tender, loving and servant-hearted, exemplifying Jesus to me.

We struggle on together. And during this week when M.E has a greater international awareness than usual, I wanted to write in praise of him. Most M.E sufferers would find their lives far more challenging without assistance from their carers. And he is that for me, despite his own disabilities.

My man may not be publicly acclaimed. He isn’t one to seek the limelight. He may not be much in the eyes of society, but he means the world to me.

My love – this poem is for you, with deep gratitude for all you are and all you do each and every day…

All for love’s sake

love is - all for love's sake PJ poem pin

He climbs the hill that grows

ever steeper by the week

Breath escapes in gasps as he pauses

now, aware of curious glances

But conscious more of his own

growing astonishment; how did

he come to this? A man made

small, constrained in movement

that once felt fluid, as smooth

as water – rendered turgid

And still he presses on because

errands need to be run, and

his are the legs to reach their

destination with comparative ease

His wife relies on him in ways he

wishes didn’t exist; her life now

bound to the house with M.E

and his tied to love’s desires,

life’s great demands and needs

Devotion steels his spine again

He straightens an aching back

and faithfulness becomes

the rack on which he stretches out

Extending and spending himself

in numerous little ways

as one who willingly acts,

he shakes – though firm with resolve,

giving his all for love’s sake

©JoyLenton2016

awareness_ribbons for ME

An often overlooked aspect of raising awareness for M.E  and chronic illness is not only our need for extra help and support with life’s daily tasks, but  also publicly acknowledging the ones who actually and actively meet that need for us. Hopefully my words have helped you to see a slice of life from the carer’s side as well, although everyone’s circumstances will differ, of course.

International ME Awareness Day is on May 12th, 2016. The whole month is devoted to it too.

Thank you for reading, and for your patience with the paucity of posts of late. I may not have had much spare energy to write here as often as I used to, but you can find me spilling forth words at my main site – Words of Joy – instead. I’d love to see you there. 🙂 x