mindful poetry

Distorted tree trunk
Poetry, like the mind, is fluid
It bends and weaves, sneaking its way through a thought
and meandering to the next
But sometimes it lingers and dwells on one thought,
one intriguing or complex or frustrating or hopeful or reluctant idea
that it just cannot let go
because letting go would mean moving on and forgetting it
and this thought is too important or painful or desperate or beautiful to let go
But there, just like that, it is done
it moved on to the next thing
the next thought
the next sentence
the next plan
the next adventure
What would happen if the poetry stopped
if the words lost their meaning
and the thoughts became jibberish
Is my mind poetry
is poetry my mind — captured with words
Poetry, like the mind, is fluid and real.

Cling to God

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The present

Detached. Distant. Determined in the disconnect, even though I know I should draw closer to Him.

Stagnant. Stuck. Stubborn in my status quo of “doing fine”, even though I’m stalled and stumbling.

Let go, He whispers.

“I can’t,” my headstrong side quickly responds, while my quieter side asks, “Why not?”

Because letting go hurts. Because I don’t even know what it is I’m supposed to let go.

I know I trust Jesus. I believe in His name and the peace, security and love it brings. I know I can depend on that name.

So, why am I holding back? What am I holding back?

And then He whispers again, with biting clarity: Intimacy.

I want you to cling to me as Ruth clung to Naomi. Cling to me.

The backstory

Months ago, I was reading through the book of Ruth. I’ve always loved Ruth’s story of determination, obedience and faithfulness. When reading, I was struck again by her loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and I wrote down some notes on my phone. There they sat untouched — until now, when I had the above conversation with myself and God.

So here I am, using the notes with which I intended to encourage others to encourage myself. Hopefully, they’ll encourage you, too.

And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. (Ruth 1:14 NLT)

As Ruth clung to Naomi, she spoke the beautiful words of “Where you go, I will follow. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16-18 NLT)

Ruth probably experienced ups and downs just like we do. She had experienced marriage, widowhood, maybe the longing for a child. Who knows what she had to look forward to in Moab, but I’m sure her life had its own familiar status quo.

But something in Ruth must not have been satisfied, because she chose to cleave to Naomi.

I love the word “cleave”. This one word can have two separate, seemingly disparate meanings:

  1. To sever, divide or sharply separate something.
  2. “To adhere firmly” to something; loyal; unwavering.

When Ruth chose to cleave to Naomi, she demonstrated both meanings in a single choice. She made the conscious decision to cleave herself from her former way of life, while cleaving to Naomi and the God Naomi served. Ruth abandoned the land that held familiarity, death and disappointment, and she looked ahead to a life of both uncertainty and hope.

Likewise, we need to make a conscious decision to cleave to the uncertain, but hopeful path of God — turning away from the former things that hold us back and looking ahead to greater things. The way to do that is through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

This is more than a fleeting decision. This is life changing, and it should affect my daily decisions and actions. How do I consciously and unconsciously live for God? Do I cleave to Him, love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? Do I allow that love to be evident in the way I live and conduct myself?

Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him. (Deut. 13:4b NLT)

And His voice says: Cleave to me, and I will cleave away the impurities and unnecessary strings that are holding you back. Cleave to me, not to this world. Cleave to me, and cleave yourself from the snares and distractions of this world. I will help you.

The future

“Show love to the Lord your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” (Deut. 11:22 NLT)

Beyond grateful

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Grateful. That’s the word that seems to best describe me at this point in my life.

I’m grateful because God’s mercies and blessings are so awe-inspiring, generous and beautiful.

I’m grateful because His love is unfailing and His timing is perfect — even when it might sometimes feel slow on our end.

I’m grateful for His presence that soothes, encourages, uplifts and transforms, and I’m grateful that His presence is available to anybody at any time.

I’m grateful because He looked into my heart and saw my desire for Him to use me to encourage others and glorify Him.

And I’m beyond grateful that He made a way for that desire and prayer to be met. His answer to my prayer: An opportunity to write as a contributor for moretolifetoday.net.

Click here for the link.

Thoughts while reading a book

All it takes is a single moment. A thought, a word, a musical note — something draws you in. It feels almost magnetic because, somehow, it understands you. It seems to be expressing the very emotions and thoughts you yourself have experienced and felt. It pulls at this deep cavern within the pit of your stomach, your heart, your soul, your mind. It radiates in soft tingling pulses, spreading like a warm rush throughout your being.

Here, in this moment, someone has reached through time — ignoring its restraints and rebelling against its limitations upon the world — in an attempt to be understood and to understand. Someone else has traversed to the same feeling, thought or emotion, and emerged from it bearing a proof of this experience — a proof similar, yet distinct, from the one you carry.

In an almost exclusive call to those fellow travelers, this individual creates a conduit between their soul and your soul. Others might hear the call, but only those that have felt this same feeling, lived a comparable experience or existed with similar hope can truly respond to the call.

The call with which this individual reaches out takes many forms and morphs among the variants of beings and experiences. But the call echoes through words penned in a book, through music transcribed and performed, through movements designed to evoke a remembrance.

What can you do but respond? So you, too, create a bridge that extends from your soul and reaches out.  Perhaps soon, perhaps in years to come, another being will feel the draw of that moment and construct a response of their own — a conduit that belongs to them and reflects their own being, yet was influenced by yours.

But yours was influenced by the being before you, and theirs by the being before them. This conduit of influence and experience has passed through time and has connected beings throughout history. On and on it goes until, at last, it reaches the original Source of inspiration.

And there — unseen, yet real and resilient — exists a network of individual beings linked together in a single moment that defies time.

Staying in tune with God

It can be easy to base our value or success in terms of numbers.

You know how it is: “I have this many followers” or “I make this much money”.

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I mean, even in the old days, families were ranked on the number of children — specifically, sons — they had.

I’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles, and if any of you have done so, you know it can get a tad dense. For instance, “So-and-so had five sons: Son 1, Son 2, Son 3, Son 4 and Son 5. Son 1 had two sons…” And on and on it goes.

Well, eventually, I reached chapter 12 where it describes how many warriors from each Israelite tribe joined David’s cause to become king. Most of the tribes offered thousands of men to support his claim. Seriously, one tribe had 50,000 skilled warriors all ready to support David.

Then I came to 1 Chronicles 12:32.

“From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”

Two hundred men. Not 50,000. Not brave warriors or skilled soldiers. But 200 leaders who recognized David should be king. They were aware of the situations happening around them. They were alert, and they didn’t hesitate once they knew what they needed to do.

We need to be like that in our walk with God. We need to understand what’s going on in the world around us, so we can make sure we’re supporting the right cause and following the correct course for our lives.

We should focus on making sure we’re in tune with God. Take time to be still and listen for His voice. Then, when we hear His voice, we need to possess the courage and the strength to act on it and follow through.

We don’t always need to have the largest number or reach a certain number to determine our value. Issachar offered the fewest amount of men — by a long shot — to David’s cause, but the Bible describes them as leaders with wisdom who understood the signs of the times.

So, take a lesson from the good ‘ole tribe of Issachar. And, while you’re at it, Paul has some good supporting advice in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything in love.”

Why I write

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Sometimes it honestly seems like there’s nothing more intimidating than a blank white piece of paper — or, more realistically, the blank white screen depicting the piece of paper humans have traditionally written upon.

Upon that blank page, you’re supposed to spill out your thoughts, your aspirations, your secrets, your mind, your being.

And the paper or screen absorbs those words.

Then what?

Other minds might happen upon the words, read them and take them in. Maybe they’ll remember the words. Or maybe those words will be fleeting black characters that are briefly processed, but which never fully take root within the perusing minds.

And yet, we still write. Perhaps because we think we have something to say. Quite often, because there’s a persistent need that thumps within one’s inner being and begs to be relayed to the external world. The need grows until, at last, it drives the physical body to put itself to work and interpret the metaphysical by actually transferring those messages onto that blank sheet.

And, honestly, it’s easy to ask, after exposing part of your innermost self to the world, “To what end? What’s the use?”

The answer: Who can really tell?

I think it all hinges upon passion and purpose. If I truly believe in something, then wouldn’t I want to show that to others? Wouldn’t I need to?

So, we continue to write, to speak, to relay, because we need to. Because part of our innate human nature is a desire to communicate with and to be heard by others.

But you know what? Other humans will probably let us down in our endeavor to be heard and understood.

And that’s where I insert the source of what drives me to write on those blank screens.

I write because of my love for Jesus.

More importantly, I write because of His love for me.

His ear is always extended to us. He is always there to talk to, to communicate with. He is always there to listen, even if what I have to say feels measly and insignificant or monstrous and looming. And He doesn’t hear only to forget what I said later. He hears, He knows and He cares. And He extends a hand to hold onto.

That’s why I write.

Call me a logophile (or maybe just “a lover of words”)

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Well, here’s a random musing for ya.

The premise of this one emerged when I realized how cool it was that the following sentence actually works as a sentence:
I think that that that that that that describes should be deleted.

Go ahead, put it in Word. No squiggly green lines.

Naturally, I had to outdo myself with my nerdy, wordy weirdness. So I started thinking of words that I can type using just one hand (because I love it when that happens). I mean, come on.

Awed. Bump. Crest. Dread. Eager. Fester. Grade. Hilly. Ilk. Joy. Kill. Limp. Monopoly. Numb. Opinion. Pomp. Rare. Secret. Test. Up. Veer. Weave. You. Zest.

(Yes, I gave up on “q” and “x”.)

So, maybe that doesn’t quite excite you. But what about when you take those same words that once held individual meaning and create something entirely new with them?

It holds a monopoly on abandoned dreams,
for mountains of its ilk have long caused travelers —
once eager and daring —
to stumble, crash and limp along
and exchange joy and purpose for numb torpor.

There the mountain looms with pomp and pride,
causing thoughts of dread to fester,
turning secret opinion to supposed fact:
the journey up will kill you.

Yet up you trudge, veer and weave
up its steep, taunting and daunting grade
you dig deep with rare resolve to master its test.

Now, here you stand upon its hilly crest,
Awed, empowered, with renewed zest.

It was just another bump along the way.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the ability to do that fascinating. So, call me a logophile… except I should probably just stick with a lover of words.

Leaf, Leaves, Leaving, Left

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honestly, it feels like a leaf blower is scattering my emotions into a tumultuous riot in my stomach heart mind —
there goes a scalding red leaf searing others that get too close
and there — a mottled brown one quietly sighs as it spirals down with gravity’s pull
there whirls a crisp green leaf drunk on the bright light that it stole from the sun
but there — a gang of burnt orange leaves approach the green in an overwhelming swirl
and they clash and collide in a vibrant violent twirl

eventually, they all rest dormant
sedentary, waiting for the next brisk wisp of wind
that will whisk them away and send them into a dizzying tizzy

embedded in the moments of growth

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As an adult, it is easy
to reflect on your life
and pinpoint various
moments of growth —
but as a child, those times
of growth are often
challenging and arduous

for embedded in the
moments of growth
are moments of pain —
growing pains that ache
and throb — subtle thieves
that attempt to diminish
your achievements

for embedded in the
moments of growth
are moments of forbearance —
a patience that must be
learned — as others grow
at a faster pace, while you
wait and wait and wait

for embedded in the
moments of growth
are moments at rock bottom —
when you’re buried under
stress and expectations —
the heavy soil impeding
your journey to the sun

but it is from those moments —
the pain, the long-suffering,
the rock bottom —
that measurements gain meaning —
for once you reach a certain height,
it is then that you can look back
upon that low point and say,

“That point right there —
that’s where I’ve come from.”

Wrestling with rest

Prologue

When you are concussed,
they say you should rest.

Sleep, yes —
but not just that.
Rest your brain,
so it can recover
from the impact
of collision
inside your skull.

Rest:
No watching TV
No computers
No bright lights
So, basically, no screens
No physical activity
No critical thinking
No reading

I stare intently,
but the computer screen
I shouldn’t be peering at
still shows the same words.

Well, what on earth am I
supposed to do then?

I know, I know.
Rest.

Chapter

After another day of work that entails staring at a bright computer screen all day, writing, reading, and thinking critically, I sit down and finish the last couple chapters of my book.

Now, I will rest.

I open my laptop and bring up a blank, bright white Word document on the screen. I try to think of what I want to write, what I have to say, but nothing comes to me.

I sit in silence, eyes closed. And then, a thought emerges: Peace, be still.

Background noises come to my mind’s forefront. I hear the rain splatter on the roof. The vehicles in the intersection hum, squeal, and clank. They are not the only travelers on the road. Water droplets have taken individual journeys and now collect together in puddles, filling the potholes and crevices in the road. They rest together for a moment, until they are disturbed and displaced by a set of rubber tires — another vehicle in a hurry to get somewhere other than there.

Epilogue

Distraction
Commotion
Chaos
Turmoil —
Our worlds are filled
to the brim with it all,
making it difficult
to extract yourself,
to withdraw,
to slow down,

to rest,
to simply be still.