The Source of Genuine, Indestructible Joy

My joy isn’t dead, no matter how I feel. Even though everything on my plate is seasoned with pain, Jesus lives! Though the boot-heal of oppression bears down in an attempt to grind me into dust, my hope is un-crushable. Even when my happiness shatters and all those I love move beyond my embrace, love isn’t carnal or mortal. When my body is broken, then passed around as bread and my blood becomes a drink, a sacrifice consumed but unrecognized, Jesus is my validation. He walked this path before me. He set the standard. True sacrifice isn’t made in hopes of personal reward. Though I fall and the weight of this cross I bear is too much for me to lift again to carry, God’s ultimate plan remains. When my eyes are blind with the tears of sorrow and agony causes me to no longer care, a new blast of His breath enters me and by His strength I rise to move forward. Though the sting of sin poisons everything I see and touch by the fulfillment of His Will, not mine, I will press beyond Death’s boundary and reach the ultimate prize. In Jesus I possess indestructible joy which He bought by His obedience and blazed the Way predestined for me to follow. This narrow path I must walk despising all worldly gain. I am nearer now to the finish than I was yesterday. Though in this world I endure suffering and can’t always feel my joy, when I finish this race, my agony will melt away. When my body dies to become ashes and dust, I know Death has no power over my soul. Though this present night is deepening, soon the Son will rise with healing in His wings! When morning comes, my feet will rest on the eternal shore. I will forget the effects of sin’s painful sting and cry no more. Jesus is my eternal joy.

Job 42:1-6 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Paper Tatters Flying in the Wind

Write the number of my days on fine rice paper.

Tally them, and tear…

Delicate hand molded sheet into bits and caste it in the wind!

I can no longer understand the sum of those days nor transcend,

The heartbreak of futility or tragedy’s rude temper!

This calamity I fear…

Shattered my existence by the hand of happenstance I can’t bend,

Into a shape I can’t cope with, I can’t make my scattered mind comprehend,

How or why God allows evil’s continued mad caper!

In emptiness so clear…

I tremble in askance in the presence of my horror from which I can’t fend!

I’ve lost all surety of knowledge of just who I am in this ominous moment self-end!

Blanketed by sorrows I feel my faith’s diminishing taper.

Father rescue me here!

Without You, I am only tattered delicate rice paper flying in the wind!

 

 

 

 

 

Barren Cold Reckoning

I stand in the middle of a cold barren high desert.

Winds of winter howling…

Alone it seems, as I straining hear the silence exert,

Power Divine! I’m cowling…

In the Presence of this Holy sound my ideas dessert!

All dreams flee with yowling!

Whimper, return to netherworld; must die or convert!

Ultimate Truth is de-fouling…

This barren land is a cold mirror of what I am; only dirt!

In me I see the evil prowling…

Condemned if I should choose to ignore this Holy alert,

Finality! Death’s wind howling…

If I decide to remain in my barren state and reality skirt,

Defy God and rise fist growling!

Winter icy desert isolation only a taste of my future hurt,

If I deserving of Holy scowling!

Remain in a desert turned hot to burn fools who pervert,

Ignore Holy Wind’s cowling!

 

 

 

 

 

The Recluse (Part II)

Read Part I here:https://joyindestructible.com/2016/01/16/the-recluse/

Alisha Hernandez isn’t sure whether she should be happy about moving to Greenwood. She wasn’t included in the decision even though she was the priority consideration. Alisha is twelve, on the cusp of adolescence. She vacillates almost, hourly between being a child and being a teenager, as she clings to what she knows and tests what is to come. Having lived only, in an apartment in Philadelphia, the idea of a house with a yard and a large bedroom all her own, excites her but her heart wavers on the unknowns. She misses her friends already and wonders if she’ll fit in here in suburban Pennsylvania. Alisha is tall, with long black hair, large chocolate brown eyes, with a glowing olive complexion. Though she bears the gawkiness of a twelve year old, the discerning eye can’t miss the hint of how beautiful she will be at sixteen. She doesn’t know how this frightens her father, keeps him awake at night, and is his main motivator for moving his family to what he calls “the safety of suburbia”. Alisha never felt unsafe in the city. Not understanding that her sense of safety has nothing to do with the city itself but instead, her parent’s love and vigilance, she questions her dad’s judgment. “Why is he so paranoid?” is the question she asks herself. In fact, she is beginning to question everything about her parents. As she gingerly tests adolescence, she is also, beginning to test everything she’s been told. At twelve, Alisha is embarking upon the process of deciphering the value of all she’s been taught and choosing what to adopt as her own. Though she longs for the security of childhood, the forces of nature drive her to demand she be regarded as an adult.

Anthony and Maria Hernandez are simple, hard working people of sincere faith, who adore their only daughter. They place her needs above everything and work hard to make sure she lacks for nothing. They can’t give her everything money can buy but they lavish her with attention and make sacrifices that enable them to give her more than most children of same monetary status. Unwittingly, they are raising a child of privilege in an environment of limited privilege. Their intent is to give their daughter opportunities beyond the limits of their own childhoods. They are gracious, giving people who don’t neglect to teach their daughter about the grace of God and the importance of serving others but they are so caught up in serving Alisha that they underestimate her need to serve and sacrifice. Alisha believes herself to have certain entitlements even though, her parents are lower middle-class. A new pattern is emerging in the Hernandez household as Alisha enters her teens; Alisha demands, her parents refuse, Alisha cries as if her heart is breaking, and her parents acquiesce.

Moving is expensive and a house in suburbia makes it necessary for Maria to work outside of the home. Finding a decent job so quickly is a God-send but she is uneasy about leaving Alisha home alone during the day. Alisha however, is quick to let her parents know that she isn’t a baby and demands this opportunity to prove her maturity. She overwhelms her parents with guilt about all the changes “forced” upon her and they relent. Maria comforts herself by thinking she will find activities to keep her daughter busy once the bills are caught up and in the mean-time, she will trust God. Alisha feels empowered by her victory but also, a little worried about being alone all day.

Welland Avenue is a much quieter street than Alisha is accustomed to. Used to the rhythm of traffic she finds it difficult to sleep so, she stays up late and sleeps late. She will never tell her parents but she is bored during the day and rising late makes the day seem shorter. As an escape, she takes up the habit of lounging on the rear deck and reading in the afternoons. Alisha enjoys reading mysteries and dreams of being a detective or even a FBI agent, in the future. It isn’t long before she notices her next door neighbor, who is also, one of the few people in this neighborhood home during the day. Alisha doesn’t know any of the gossip about Estelle but she loves a mystery and this quiet, solitary woman seems to embody mystery. Soon, Alisha is spending more time spying on her neighbor and acting out her books than reading them. At first, she watches her only, in the back yard but also, begins to catch glimpses of her through the windows. In her lonely hours she becomes obsessed with the lady next door who is always alone. She often observes “The Lone Lady”, as she has titled her, sitting at her desk and absent mindedly gazing out the window, while seeing nothing. “Why does she look so sad?” Alisha wonders, as she vows to find a way to introduce herself to this interesting woman and get to the bottom of the matter. Even though “the matter” is all her imagination built around a woman who does nothing extraneous.

Momma, have you noticed that lonely, lady next door? She doesn’t have a family or friends. She is just home all day every day.” Alisha is careful to broach the subject on a sympathetic note. “ No mi jita, I’ve been too busy to notice our neighbors. It’s sweet of you to notice, mi linda.” Maria’s heart swells with pride and she is completely, taken in. “I was thinking, Momma…maybe I could make some cookies and take them to her. The Bible says we should be kind to people who have no one. You and dad always, say so.” Alisha’s words are meant to manipulate but also, to test the validity of the faith her parents profess. “Yes honey, we are to give of ourselves to the widows and orphans but I don’t know our neighbor, or why she is all alone. I want you to be safe. You are my first priority mi jita. When I have more time, we’ll go together and take her some cookies.” Alisha is frustrated by this answer and quickly, pulls out her best gun; tears, “Momma! It’s not like I’m asking to go out with a boy or stay out late with friends you don’t know! I want to do a good deed for our neighbor, the way you and dad teach me! Don’t be a hypocrite Momma! Haven’t I been responsible while you are at work? Nothing will happen to me if I bake cookies and take them to a lonely lady next door!” Maria looks at her daughter, who has tears streaming down her cheeks, and relents. “Okay sweetheart, if it means that much to you. I’m proud of you mi jita.” Alisha is over-joyed by her victory, files the technique away for future reference, and then pats herself on the back for her altruistic nature, as she allows herself to enjoy the self-image she created to serve her purpose. Most importantly, she’d won. Tomorrow would be less boring than today because tomorrow, she would finally meet, “The Lone Lady”!

Alisha went to the kitchen to make a batch of bisquochitos while next door, Estelle sat dreaming and wistfully waiting for her long delay to end.

(To be Continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Day She Became an Old Woman

On the day Carol became an old woman, she shed several tears. Standing in the threshold of the last days of her life filled her with certain uncertainty. Though life is tenuous at any age, when old age comes everyone knows what comes next and there is no way to dodge death. This dreadful day came so suddenly yet also, gradually. Somehow, she didn’t think it would happen to her. Carol never could picture herself with grey hair and never accepted it. In fact she did everything in her power to remain young looking and deny the passing of time but on this day, reality couldn’t be denied. Would she live long enough for her hair to turn white or worse, fall out? Carol didn’t want to die but she didn’t want to be elderly either.

Carol gravitated toward the bed and overcome by this strange season in life, laid down and absent-mindedly, stared out the window, upward into the perfectly blue sky. It was early afternoon, she was tired and it felt good to lie down. She remembered when she never felt tired during the day and how hard she’d worked all of her life; all that was required of her to obtain this familiar, beloved place to relax and gaze at the sky, as she loved to do. Now, she had to think about letting it all go and down-sizing. Tears filled her eyes to the brim when she thought of the children and how far away they are now. She worked so hard at raising them, at doing for others, and now, that she is less capable of serving it seems she is mostly forgotten. Her life once noisy and full is now, quiet. Carol needs quiet at this age but misses companionship, camaraderie, and most of all, being needed. These days she and her husband had to focus on self-care and every day it became more time consuming. No matter the reason, a self-consumed life is a lonely life. She reminded herself to be grateful that she still had her husband and felt a bit of relief in the act of counting a blessing. Then she thought of the inevitable final good-by and the brimming tears over-flowed.

Sunshine streamed warmth through her bedroom window to relax Carol’s sore, stiff muscles and joints. She could see the very tops of the trees swaying in a gentle breeze, as she ebbed into a sorrowful sleep. Carol drifted into dreams and felt herself as she was inside, at the prime of life. It was a bright summer day in a special place. Towering mountains surrounded a valley with a lake in a green meadow. Just beyond the shore-line lay a beautiful forrest, with every kind of tree. The trees nearest the lake bore various fruits more luscious than any she’d ever seen or tasted. There was such peace in this place, a benign but powerful presence that quieted her every anxiety. Birds in free cacophony filled the air with the music of gratitude. Music so beautiful that Carol found herself also, singing. The lyrics flowed through her from the Presence and washed away every sorrow. Suddenly, she was aware of her husband standing beside her and taking her hand in his. Their eyes met in glowing smiles, they kissed, and then realized they weren’t alone. This beautiful place was filled with content, joyful people, all in the prime of life. It was evident there was no sickness here, no aging, no decay, and no death. “This is my home” was her final thought before she found herself awake.

Outside Carol’s window, the sun was fading in a peach and blue display and the tree tops were still. The atmosphere of her dream lingered in the feeling of that powerful Presence and she heard in her spirit; “Trust me Carol. You must let go of this world before you may enter this better place I allowed you to visit in your dreams. This isn’t the end but a new beginning, a revealing of eternity that is new to you now, but a reality that has always been. You belong to Me and everything you love and must let go of here, I will replace and multiply when you are finally home. Until then, continue to serve me. Reach out to others as you are able and point them to My Son. Though you must rest often now, give that time to prayer and meditation. I still have My purpose to work through you here. I won’t abandon you and I will see you safely, through every step of letting go. Then I will safely, see you home.” Carol’s tired, sad heart flooded with the surety only, a beloved child knows and an acceptance of her circumstance that comes only, by trust in the Divine. Refreshed and revitalized, her thoughts turned to Jim, and as she had done innumerable times before, she got up to cook his dinner. Grateful that Jim was still with her and required this of her but also, reassured that should he pass on before her, she would never be alone. Their best days were yet to come.

Three Sealed as One

My secret lover was Solitude,

How I longed for you!

Refuge from the multitude…

Time to think it through…

In your arms lay in gratitude;

My! How time flew!

Love greater than platitude,

Without you I am blue;

In silence of love interlude,

As my affections grew,

For you I developed aptitude,

I decided to marry you!

 

My abusive husband is Isolation,

Solitude’s darker side;

Imprisonment, lonely degradation,

Jealousy, lover’s pride!

Alone, l lay in arms of trepidation;

Afraid to step outside,

Of his barred door interpretation,

Within tiny cell I abide;

Bars made by fear’s imagination!

Terrorized, hellish ride!

Silence hurts ears, brings agitation,

Solitude sold me a lie!

 

It isn’t good for man to be all alone;

Neither for a woman;

In solitude, the voice of God intone;

Isolation, evil demon!

Banished! In right relationship sown;

A man and a woman;

Sealed as one, kneel at God’s throne,

Three-ply Helmsman!

What God puts together not blown,

Cannot be undone!

God remains, even if death is known;

God and I are one.

 

 

 

 

 

Candied Dreams

A young girl dreams in pink cotton-candy;

Of beauty, fortune, love, and fame;

Dreams quickly melt; a sugar-rush dandy!

Disillusioned; Candy dreams to blame…

 

Convictions are born in a cinnamon candy;

Crusader’s passion a hot burning flame!

A tea-totaling holy-roller eschews brandy;

Focused mind- set; an evil world tame…

 

Reality, sweet-sour burst of treat so sandy!

Pride’s convictions an empty shame;

Self-held truth melts like powdered-candy,

A bitter heart is a middle-aged claim…

 

Old girl dreams in reverse a rock- hard-candy;

Slow-melt in memory; hope to re-claim,

Idealism; with wisdom mix, make it so handy,

For young sugary dreams a useful frame?

 

Truth isn’t found in dreams of sugared candy;

It is embodied in only one Holy Name.

True convictions aren’t for prideful to bandy;

Jesus is meaning for every age to claim!

 

Don’t you cry over stolen or lost sugared candy;

Trade sugary scheme for trusted Name;

Vanity’s lost dreams: poured out peach brandy…

Spirit purposes old and young the same!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy on a January Day

A cold gloomy January day;

Allow mind to meander,

In spring-time garden play!

Warm scent of lavender…

Escape! Hated winter gray!

Strain by mind colander,

Dissociation my get-a-way!

Denying white reminder,

Flee from my January Day!

 

Faith enabling me to stay;

Endure winter doom!

Spirit warms me as I pray,

Lifts away gray gloom!

Joy I prefer over run-away;

Day’s long-night loom…

Face January’s deadly way;

Sure of Hope to bloom,

I do await new spring day!

 

 

 

 

 

Joy for Christian Writers

Inside my very active mind,

Ideas in rapid succession ignite!

Searching for words to bind,

Coalesce; idea with feeling unite;

Expressions once born blind,

Mate in reason by words I write;

Share human wisdom I find,

An expression of self; often trite;

Words and lust left to grind,

Carnal onyx thought needs light;

Oh! Calm my overactive mind!

Satisfy my compulsion! To write,

Truth in poetic lines, un-bind!

 

Quieted mind enabled receive;

A truth lands lightly, as soft feather;

Stilled heart enabled to believe!

And held to Father by Spirit’s tether;

Should I fail to write I will grieve!

Suffer failure; and in ebony weather,

Face the fate unbelievers receive;

Writer’s joy is in surrender to Father!

His Words I’m unable to conceive;

Breathe into quieted mind no bother;

Wisdom by faith in Jesus, retrieve,

Save to encourage sister and brother;

Words for all whom willing, believe!

 

The Breach

An old woman sits on a bench, placed against a south facing wall, enjoying the sun as it melts aches and pains away. Lost in the bright warmth on her face, she begins to dream in reverse. Riding the rays of the sun, she finds herself transported to that special place, sitting on flag-stone, beneath the blooming bows of the old Lilacs at Grandma’s house. Such a sky on this day in early May; a vast dome of the bluest blue that only a child’s eyes can see! The scent of Lilac permeates everything, with the bushes themselves joining overhead in an embrace that provides protection for two little girls, immersed in imaginative play. With tulips and other spring flowers turned upside down to become dolls dressed in ball gowns; these happy girls dance the day away. Light gleams on the hair of the cotton-top girl’s curly hair, as if in competition with the sun. The older girl is darker and even this bright day only manages to pull a few golden highlights from the ashen, darker waves beneath. Sisters in deep contrast to one another but locked together by blood, trust, and love.

Lost in the dream of her memory, in the past as important as now, the old woman sighs as from this point in time, she starts to dream forward. She begins to roll away from this heavenly moment, this snippet of blissful harmony, down her road of life. So many rough spots, navigational mistakes, mud-holes, missed stop signs, and confusing intersections. Somewhere on the way, harmony was lost and the contrast became glaring. Blood wasn’t enough to hold these sisters together. Trust was broken. Love does remain but only, as a reminder of the relationship that once existed; but now, is a relationship severed in a fierce misunderstanding. Pride over-rode the bond of blood and to this day, frustrates love.

A dark, wet cloud passes overhead, blocking the sun. At the same moment, the old woman’s heart sinks with grief and her eyes flood with tears of loss; if only, they could go back to that happy day and find a way to blend the contrast of their personas. Though one child was assigned to be golden, and the other to be twilight, in that happy moment, the contrast worked as compliment. Was it jealousy that loomed and turned sisters to adversaries? Or was it as it seems to this old woman; that the golden child wanted to rule over the child made of twilight and when twilight came into her own, the one who shines even in competition with sun, couldn’t abide it. She knows deep down that neither of them can help the role they were assigned. For each there is no choice but to play it out. In heart, the old woman embraces her little sister, that cotton-topped little girl, and lovingly, forgives her(again) . Then more tears flood in realization that her forgiveness isn’t enough to restore them to sisterhood; it’s only half of what needs to be done. On the other half she must wait and never give up hope in the waiting.

When the longing is too much, she drifts backward to the moment that is part of her now, and warms her aches in the trust that only, loving sisters can know. Though trust is broken and takes two to mend, love remains. Where there is love, there is always hope for reconciliation.