MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

SMILE!

  
 This and all images in this post from Pixabay

Smile

 

You smile, I’ll smile, together smile, 

for smiling makes us both feel good;

it stimulates our happiness,

our brains, aroused, have understood

our facial muscles’ clear intent

to signal joy or quiet content.

 

The brain produces chemicals

which act to cause a feedback loop.

The muscles round the mouth and eyes,

respond again, the smiles don’t stop

but foster further joyfulness

and spread more signs of happiness.

 



Did Jesus smile? O surely, yes!

For many folk to him were drawn.

Unless he’d at Zaccheus smiled,

that taxman might have not climbed down

to eat, where cordial smiles surged round

as he, to Christ, pledged change profound.

 

Christ would have smiled with those he healed,

for such a smile would play a part

in giving hope for a release 

from any ailment - a new start.

Glad, marvelling smiles would sweep the crowds

as vigour blessed lives once bowed down.

 




He’d smile whilst watching children play

delighting in their innocence.

Funerals and weddings acted out

and games of lesser consequence.

Those children would smile back, engaged

by genial interest in their games.

 

The women who encountered Christ

would smile with him, calm and secure:

ill, or possessed, or by a well,

when Jesus smiled, they’d know for sure

that they were valued, not in lust

but in a love that they could trust.

 



As Jesus smiled, time after time, 

His brain, and muscles in his face

would have responded just as ours:

for fully human, full of grace

was God’s own son who lived on earth,

full knowing what a smile is worth.


* * * * *

 

 

The genesis of this poem came from watching a video of the Glasgow based Christian music group called ‘Celtic Worship’. Throughout their performance of ‘I Stand Amazed’, they smile together over and again, enhancing the whole performance with a sense of joy that complements the thrill of the song itself. Having noticed this and watched many times, I decided it would be good to find out a little bit about what happens when we smile. Thank you ‘Celtic Worship’.

 

I found on the web several explanations of the science of a smile but for the sake of the brevity needed for a poem, I had to abstract only the barest details of research into smiling. Quite quickly I found that smiling is helpfully described as ‘contagious’ and that feedback loops between the brain and the facial muscles are part of a brief, so intentionally simple, explanation. The chemicals in verse 2 are known as endorphins. They form in the part of the brain that houses our pleasure and pain-defence receptors. I decided this had to suffice for the purpose of this poem because, given the musical starting point for the reflective process preceding the writing, I was keen to expand the theme to think about Jesus smiling. That feels an important connection to me, because there is an all-too-present danger of coming to regard Jesus as somewhat unapproachable. For me

it is undoubtedly pleasing to think that in normal day-to-day life he was almost certainly more often joyful than gloomy?

 

I like to think of him with a frequent radiant smile that drew many, many people to him to listen to his life-changing Good News.

 

So that is what this poem celebrates.

 

‘Celtic Worship’s’, ‘I Stand Amazed’ can be found HERE

 

As part of my thinking about Jesus Smiling, I compiled a list of events and places where I thought Jesus would almost certainly smiled. The list follows and if this is an idea that resonates with you, you might like to add to the list for, as it stands, it is definitely not comprehensive!

 

At Zacchaeus as he offered to eat with him       Luke Ch 19. v 8-10

At Mary at the Wedding Feast in Cana (maybe enigmatically!) John Ch 1 v 47 - Ch 2 v 6

At new Disciples when he called them    Matthew Ch 4 v 18-22

In the carpenter’s shop when complimented by Joseph

At the woman at the well    John Ch 4 v 6-17

At the grateful leper        Luke Ch 17 v 11-17

At the woman with the issue of blood    Mark Ch 5 v 26 - 34

At the beauty around him

At the stars of the night

At Jairus daughter and at Jairus and his wife

At Mary, Martha and Lazarus

On the Centurion with the dying servant

At those who thanked him for the bread and fish handed out in the wilderness                 

At children who he watched playing

At those who welcomed him to Jerusalem    

At those who welcomed him and the disciples into their homes

At the blind man who was cured

at the woman who was not stoned

As he told stories  The Good Samaritan/ Prodigal son

After he had admonished Peter ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’

At the recovered Legion

At the creatures in the desert                                                

At the parents of any children he had cured                         

During the story of the houses on sand and rock                  ’

At the woman who anointed his feet 

At John after his Baptism

At Nathaniel (I saw you under the fig tree)

At the Canaanite woman ‘Even the dogs…’

 

* * * * * *

 

The scientific ideas incorporated in this post were drawn from a British Council blog which published work by a young scientist named Ding Li. You can read that post by clicking HERE https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/famelab-whats-science-behind-smile

Cascade of Stars and Gas (Imagined image: CGI)

Cascade of Stars and Gas (Imagined image: CGI)
Cascade of Stars and Gases. This image will take you to the meditation 'Deep Silence'

Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos

Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos
Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Nativity Star (CGI)

Nativity Star (CGI)
Nativity Star: This image will link you to the collection of new Carols on this site. Also, the image can easily be copied onto an overhead acetate and used as a window decoration. Easy for children to achieve. Note the cross at the centre of the star.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Celtic cross candle (Photo)

Celtic cross candle (Photo)
Celtic Cross and candle' linked to the poem 'Awesome, Wonderful Creator'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

My Mesh Mask for Radiotherapy

My Mesh Mask for Radiotherapy
This is the mask which was moulded to my face to ensure the radiotherapy I had in April 2017 was precisely targeted. You can read more by clicking on the image

Double Celebration

Double Celebration
Pam, who has been magnificent in caring for me since my Cancer diagnosis in October and I celebrate the end of Radiotherapy and our 36th Wedding Anniversary (Note the return of some hair!). Click on the image to read about the treatment - and waiting.

St Neots Sunset (Photo)

St Neots Sunset (Photo)
Surrounded by beauty: Whie 'Evolution and Beauty' became one of the most viewed poems on this blog, Pam, my wife took this gorgeous picture of a sunset over the flatlands of Cambridgeshire UK. Click on it to go to the poem

Gabriel - written/painted by Pam, my wife in 2015

Gabriel - written/painted by Pam, my wife in 2015
Gabriel began the Christmas story with his visit to Mary. The story is told in our Christmas collection in the Carol, Go to Nazareth My Great Messenger. Click on this image to take you there.

Maple Leaf Nebula (CGI)

Maple Leaf Nebula (CGI)
IMAGINARY IMAGE TO CELEBRATE CANADA DAY: Click on this his imaginary 'Maple Leaf Nebula' to take you to a poem entitled 'Nebula' (image not to be confused with NGC 2024, the Flame Nebula which is also known as the Maple Leaf)

Beauty in the Garden - June 2016

Beauty in the Garden - June 2016
Beauty in the Garden - June 2016

Aurora Imagined over Iona (Watercolour & pastel)

Aurora Imagined over Iona (Watercolour & pastel)
First posted here on Adomnan’s day (23rd September) 2015. An imagined natural phenomenom that could be seen to resonate mystically with the idea of Iona being a ‘thin place’ where heaven brushes earth.

Assisi Sunset

Assisi Sunset
Assisi Sunset

Thinking about the Brain

Thinking about the Brain
This image is formed from a small section of neural pathways posted by the Koch Institute, clipped, part inverted and stitched together. It is intended to impart a sense of our extensive, but still partial understanding of what goes on in that awesome part of our bodies, our brains. By clicking on the image, you will be taken to a celebratory poem/song ‘For Amazement by Beauty’ about all of our senses.

Source (CGI by Trevor Thorn)

Source (CGI by Trevor Thorn)
Source: Expand the image to reveal its heart

Rainbow spiral (CGI)

Rainbow spiral (CGI)
'Rainbow Spiral' to accompany 'Darkness,Illuminator' . Find the poem by clicking on the iImagined mage

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'