waiting: when desire gives way to deeper surrender

waiting - girl sitting by the roadside - when desire gives way to deeper surrender @poetryjoy.com

I’m feeling fried and frazzled in a scorching August heatwave. As I’m waiting to cool down, I’m reminded that the earth itself is incrementally heating up. We sense the stirrings of earth’s birth pangs, the longing it has for deliverance, and considered attention from its custodians.

Our own hearts (never mind our bothered bodies) can feel unsettled by a yearning for change. Because waiting is hard, isn’t it? Our society and world at large are like life on speed, with a drivenness that doesn’t sit easily with being rested, calm and at peace.

We all sit with unfulfilled desires. One of  mine is to write more books before I get too ill, too old or lose my poetic touch. I long to unleash all the creativity that lies within me, rather than sitting on dusty files which remind me that those books are not going to write themselves… get a move on, girl! Only impatience isn’t conducive to getting a good result. 😉

“In the drivenness of our society, it’s hard to make time to relax our efforts and find transforming energy. That’s why we need this particular posture of waiting so much. When we sit in this way we’re relaxing the bow; we’re coming to rest in a very deep way in God, allowing ourselves to be cradled in the sighing mystery of Christ’s prayer.”— When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd

waiting - pocket watch - hourglass - rose - Our society and world at large are like life on speed quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Desire

desire at rest
cultivated by God’s grace
in the waiting room
where we learn to still our hearts
quiet the rush, quell our thoughts

the divine promise
gets birthed and earthed in us
in God’s timing
we will finally receive
an abundance of good things

in this posture
where submissiveness counts
where trust is formed
here we mature, learn and grow
develop patience in our souls

soul detachment
enables us to let go
of our wanting
and expectancy follows
when we embrace faith and hope

freedom of desire
might feel alien to us
it’s a holy thing
where our desires and will line up
with what the Father wants for us
© joylenton

waiting - desire poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy” — Romans 8:24–25 The Message

May I pray for you, my friend?

Dear Father God,

Thank you for your loving and protective care of us. Our days are an open book to you because you hold past, present and future in your hands. Help us to wait with patient expectation and confident trust when we desire to forge ahead with this project or that. If we’re in a season of being slowed, grant us the ability to stay encouraged and calm, and believe for better days to come. May we learn to go with the natural rhythm and flow of our days and remain sensitive to Holy Spirit’s gentle leading and guiding.

Amen

May we remember that however far we might stray, get impatient or fail to sense His presence, God is always eagerly waiting for us to turn to Him. 😊❤️

stilling: learning to love your ordinary life

stilling - choose joy - learning to love your ordinary life @poetryjoy.com

“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” — Maya Angelou

So often fear of change nibbles at our souls like a restless rat. It makes us fail to appreciate what we already have before us, right here, right now. I find myself falling into a dissatisfaction trap whenever I forget to live with mindful awareness and a joyful and grateful heart.

We can get so caught up in the challenges, fears and frustrating minutiae of life that we neglect to lift up our heads and appreciate where and how we are really situated. God is the giver of all good gifts, and He strews gifts of grace along each person’s daily pathway—but we need receptive eyes, stilled minds, and open hearts to see, sense and be thankful for them. 

Because each day presents us with an opportunity to taste joy, sense the marvellous in the mundane, express our gratitude, and give God praise for who He is and how He takes such great care of us. 

stilling - forest - trees - God is the giver of all good gifts quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” — Helen Keller

Stilling

I hold my breath—as if I could
still the clock, hold back
the swinging seasons, perhaps,

call time on winter’s
cold, dark, muffled cloak,
the icy grip of SAD that sends
me to my inner knees.

Can I not simply
still time on this moment’s
pendulum, which I prefer

to those that have gone
before? Those lockdown
days, weeks and months
of great adaptation and change.

My mind (helpfully) reminds
me that nothing stays
the same. Each dull routine

still has to yield
to the unexpected,
the suddenness of the new
or the long neglected.

Yet something in me
feels as if I want
to remain rooted in Now,

to savour summer
before it segues into autumn,
get my fill of light, of warmth,
of hope, and snatches of joy.

Then another thing
comes to my remembrance,
and I muse on the way

each day has opportunity
to receive such gifts
if I remain receptive enough

to notice, and still
my heart to not reject them.
© joylenton

stilling - dandelion clock - stilling poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?” — Anne Frank

Although I frequently want to press pause on the moments I enjoy because they seem so fleeting, it isn’t a life of busy eventfulness I crave but a stilled, peaceful soul saturated in holy satisfaction, love and grace.  Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps us stay calm and content. Here are 3 things I’m grateful for:

  • having energy and focus enough to write this post
  • our tomatoes are greening at last, if not reddening yet
  • I prepared this before a scorching heatwave hit to fog my thoughts

What are you thankful for today, my friend? 🙂 ❤

wave: seeking to stay buoyant in life’s choppy waters

wave - beach - boots - sea - seeking to stay buoyant in life's choppy waters - (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.” — Psalm 89:8-9 NIV

Each summer I yearn to go to the coast, inhale the ozone and watch waves rise, foam and fall. It would be such a soothing sight, calming and restorative to my soul. Who wouldn’t want to sit, observe (people-watch) and breathe in the view or swim and be cradled by lapping water and get wet through? Even a virtual non-swimmer like me relishes such thoughts.

Sadly, the limitations of having M.E and chronic illness, including impaired mobility, hypersensitivity to light, a pain-filled, uncooperative body that doesn’t cope well with exertion, humidity or heat, coupled with travel-induced fatigue, and Raynaud’s Syndrome causing shivers and blanching at the slightest sea breeze, make it rather problematical for me now.

Instead, I remember times past, decades ago, when I was able to enjoy watching waves without those restrictions. We spent several hot summer days on the local beaches, getting sand in our sandwiches, paddling or swimming in the sea, playing games with the children, and marvelling at our suntanned faces and limbs. Now I muse on waves as a poet might do because they have such great symbolism too.

waves - Who wouldn't want to sit, observe (people-watch) and breathe in the view or swim and be cradled by lapping water and get wet through_ quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

The wave we need

We are paddling furiously
as if it all depends on us,
not on the tide or the rhythm

of the sea. Fearing falling,
we forget to lean
into the waves, forget

to check our position
and what we might have
to depend on. Forget, too,

to relax our bodies
into suppleness,
cut ourselves some slack.

Instead, we waver,
like uncertain skittles,
wobble around,

choke, sink close
to drowning. Until we hear
a calming voice calling,

speaking softly
to our souls, then more
urgently than before. His voice

rises clearly above and cuts
across the choppy waters,
urging us to let him be

the wave we need, the support
to lift us when we fall, the one
who carries us effortlessly.
© joylenton

wave - “Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift From the Sea @poetryjoy.com

If you, like me, would appreciate a reminder of hearing waves breaking on the seashore, maybe this short sea breathing technique video from former M.E sufferer, meditation  author and creative communicator  Liz Babbs will help, and relax your soul. 🙂 ❤

reality: what helps keep us grounded and at peace

reality - trees - sky - landscape - what helps keep us grounded and at peace (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

These are deeply unsettling times we are living in, aren’t they? They make us yearn for a sense of solidity and thirst for a firm grounding beneath our feet. Perhaps it exists as a present reality, closer at hand than we might think.

Creation breathes out its beauty and begs us to receive it as soul food, as a nurturing balm to help us stay grounded and calm. Each time we pay attention to growing flowers and plants we get to observe how nature deals with its own seasons of alteration and loss.

In the tanka sequence poem below, I invite you to take a journey of the heart, a pause to consider what nature has to teach us now, what lies ahead, and how we are all connected to the past.

May you receive an awakening of hope and faith that will help ground you in the realest of realities. Namely that God is still in charge, and all things are somehow being worked out for good even as our lives feel shaken to the core.

reality - red and yellow begonias - Creation breathes out its beauty quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Reality

what is real
is the soil beneath our feet
solidity
earth grounds us, holds us fast
when all else trembles into dust

the imprints
markers of every man
woman and child
who ever lived and died
are seeded, left behind

the earth
holds all our memories
in its DNA
it doesn’t forget how we lived
breathed and walked this way

every acreage
in the changing landscape
holds a legacy
it will keep the faith for us
when we are lost, faithless

reality - garden - flowers - gate - every acreage in the changing landscape holds a legacy - (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

nature sings
an eternal siren song
we strain to listen
unaccustomed to its melody
the way it reverberates and speaks

our reality
is so often shaped by lust
fuelled by greed
hot desire can set us on fire
we lose what we have coveted

we don’t need
all that much to survive
we do need
the insight to understand
just how to live, grow and thrive

reality - bee - yellow flowers - we don't need all that much to survive (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

the natural world
provides all our necessities
all we need to live
enough resources to share
if we were generous and fair

the ethereal
the mystical, intangible
lies within our reach
it’s already invaded earth
promising us new life, new birth

our souls
rooted to earth’s reality
become whole
when they are connected
to Father, Son, Holy Spirit

God made
all that is sensed and found
he gave
his life to open our eyes
to the unlimited beyond
© joylenton

reality - garden - pond - leaves - our souls rooted to earth's reality become whole (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“The calm of a summer night
embodies Your peace, O Lord.
The beauty of a sunset
embodies Your truth, O Lord.
Everything in all creation
shouts the reality of You.”

Transformed by Love: Prayers and Reflections for All Seasons by Liz Babbs

plea: for when you are in need of prayer and help

plea - woman praying - for when you are in need of prayer and help @poetryjoy.com

Prayer can take many shapes and forms, ranging from a simple, urgent plea for help to the intricacies of formal litany and liturgy. Prayer might be silent, spoken words or repetitive chant. Whether short or long, all our prayers are heard and answered by God, usually with a “yes”, “no” or “wait”, though not always in ways we might expect.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” — Max Lucado

The poem I’m sharing today was birthed in a place of extra weakness, weariness, anxiety and pain. When we feel that way it’s often hard to pray, isn’t it? At such times we might prefer to let our tears speak for themselves, ask family and friends for support, or turn to the written prayers of others for inspiration and help.

If anything resonates with you in the words below, feel free to use them for yourself. I’m always happy if others can see merit in the thoughts God gives me to share. And I’m always blessed if I can encourage someone else, which we can all do by our testimony and prayers, even when we’re struggling ourselves.

A plea

oh let me rest
lean my head on Jesus’ breast
and hear God’s heartbeat
pounding softly through my days
like a metronome of grace

oh let me stay
may I faithfully remain
listen well with love
keep a vigil by his side
the best place for me to thrive

oh let me know
become wise, not shallow
learn how to live
full of compassion, like him
ready to help and to give

oh let me accept
how to live without regret
while I stretch my faith
note my own limitations
empowered by his strength

oh let me wait
when prayer seems unanswered
make space for grace
for God’s perfect timing
and sense his peace within
© joylenton

plea - oh let me know become wise, not shallow - prayer - plea poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.” — Rick Warren

You can pray about anything. Nothing is too small or too great to bring to God. He hears the cries of our hearts and never becomes wearied by our need of Him. If you are having a hard time of things, please let me know so I can pray for you. You could leave a message here or email me via my contact page instead. It would be an honour to support you, my friend. Blessings and love. xo ❤️🙏🏻🌺

memoir: an impressionistic voyage around my aunt

Today’s poetic offering comes straight from the heart. It’s an excerpt from my ongoing part poetry and part prose memoir writing. I’m sharing an impressionistic voyage around my Aunt, trying to capture an essence of who she was.

Aunt Madge was quite a character, and I haven’t depicted more than a fleeting impression of her here. I vividly remember coming across my Aunt in the subway of our main shopping precinct decades ago.

From a distance she looked like a mysterious Russian spy to me, with her sumptuous real fur coat (considered acceptable then) and matching hat, darkened glasses, stooped frame and patterned cane. But on seeing me, she swiftly reverted to being my beloved Aunt again.

My Mother’s elder sister, a Mathematics teacher by profession, she lived and taught locally and always had time for children, though she remained childless herself. Madge devoured books as if they were going out of fashion. She always had a ready, somewhat conspiratorial smile, full of warmth, impish charm and love.

memoir - We shared a great love of books, especially poetry, and a desire to retreat into them at the slightest opportunity quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We shared a great love of books, especially poetry, and a desire to retreat into them at the slightest opportunity. 📚 Her home housed its own library—as in lots of shelves, books and accessibility—and I loved spending time in it. It’s where I first encountered poetry, and my love affair with it endures to this day.

Maybe it was the fact that she’d served abroad, including time in India during the Second World War, that gave her a certain aura. It certainly gave her an abiding fondness for Assam and Darjeeling tea! 😉

Most of my memories of her stem from when I was a girl. I was in awe of this magnificent woman who seemed to have come straight out of the pages of a novel herself, and who introduced me to Jesus by giving me a Children’s Bible to read when I was small. ✝️

memoir - a poetry book aunt madge bought and inscribed for me (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

My Aunt

A mountainous paper stack
sat beside her cluttered chair,
just tall enough
to rest a cup of tea, and maybe
space for an ashtray in-between.

Walls were decorated
floor to ceiling with books,
and piles sat precariously,
like fidgety children,
not wanting to be overlooked.

I remember how
cigarette ash wobbled tremulously
on her open lips, resembling
a volcano about to erupt,
ready to spill its contents.

She had a hacking
cough, a real blue-lipped, watery-eyed,
red-faced, grimacing
endless stream, as if to cause
her imminent demise.

Her bent body
wracked and shuddered alarmingly,
until the ship
finally righted itself and steadied,
as each spasm sank to sea.

What I remember most
about my Aunt
is her curious, twinkling
blue-eyed smile, her infinite warmth,
her endless kindness and love.

And she helped
instil in me a passionate, enduring
love of books,
spiritual awareness and burgeoning
faith, a trust I hadn’t yet discovered
with adults anywhere else.
© joylenton

memoir - my aunt poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I hope you’ve enjoyed this slight deviation from the usual offering. Do you have any special memories of a relative who is no longer with you? Feel free to share below. I think their essence lives on in our minds and hearts, don’t you? 🙂 ❤

pilgrimage: a journey of faith, hope and trust when the going gets tough

pilgrimage - mountains and valleys - a journey of faith, hope and trust where stout shoes are required @poetryjoy.com

“Life is a pilgrimage. Each moment is to be lived in depth, because each moment contains God, hidden within it.” ― Banani Ray

pilgrimage - mountain top view - God never said that the journey would be easy quote by Max Lucado @poetryjoy.com

“Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who want above all else to follow your steps. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! They will grow constantly in strength, and each of them is invited to meet with the Lord in Zion.” ― Psalm 84: 5-7 TLB

When we’re struggling with life’s many challenges, and the road ahead looks steep, daunting and dark, we can still rest in the fact that God is with us every step of the way. He is always able to come to our aid, fill us with His peace, rescue and save.

God holds us close, pours out His love, gives us His mercy and grace, whispers solace to our souls, calms our fretful hearts, and encourages us every step of the way. May we hold onto that thought when we are weary and the going gets tough.

We might get to the end of our rope but we are always given the means and strength to cope and go on. When we go through deep waters, Jesus is the lifebelt we need to stay afloat.

Pilgrimage

this pilgrimage
this journey we are on
has its twists and turns
there are potholes and caves
places where we will be safe

we’ll face high crags
and mountainous terrain
for us to traverse
if our shoes are stout enough
and we refuse to give up

endure the desert
barren, dry, dusty places
where our feet will burn
and our souls become parched
as hope dips low in our hearts

we might get to swim
in refreshing ocean depths
in purer air
calmer waters than before
glimpsing sight of land and shore

let us not give up
when heavy tests and trials come
when life gets tough
but hang in and hold on tight
victorious in the fight
© joylenton

pilgrimage - desert island - beach - poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

God dries our tears when we cry, comforts us when we’re anxious and afraid, and gives us His Hope in the darkest circumstances of our Christian pilgrimage. We can fully trust in Him, as in the song below. May it bring you hope, my friend. ❤

“When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters 
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You”

― Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

healing: from broken shards to restful heart

healing - mosaic - labyrinth - stained glass - from broken shards to restful heart - poetryjoy.com

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ― Rumi

Healing

it’s a mystery
all I had to offer you
was broken shards
you made it a thing of beauty
a shimmering stained glass

now it reflects
the light of your presence
hidden deep within
this life of mine is hid in Christ
because I trust in him

sometimes I sense
a pricking of the pieces
in my heart
where your healing takes place
though incomplete in parts

at times like that
I am apt to hurt, forget
this mending process
is ongoing and prolonged
it can take years and years

but if I stay calm
and trust in change itself
the rest will come
trailing your peace and joy
just as darkness yields to sun
© joylenton

Healing is a process. It’s also a mystery as God takes our brokenness, our shattered shards, and turns them into something of great worth. Beauty can arise from the ashes of our lives if we turn to and trust in Jesus Christ. He will freely give us His rest and peace in exchange for our problems and pain.

healing - True Healing quote by John M Sheehan @poetryjoy.com

“The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in. It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.” ― James H. Aughey

healing - circle of stained glass - cross in the background poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“People start to heal the moment they feel heard.” ― Cheryl Richardson

enchantment: regaining our sense of wonder and awe

enchantment - sky - trees - landscape - sunset - regaining our sense of wonder and awe @poetryjoy.com

“Practicing enchantment is a commitment to seeing the world through new eyes. It means shaking off our cynicism and numbness and rediscovering the world that shimmers behind the everyday.” — Christine Valters Paintner, Earth, Our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature

Life can quickly become humdrum and routine, can’t? Especially after several weeks of the same old same old of being in lockdown. The novelty of being at home full time soon wears off, as those of us used to being housebound know all too well.

With the disenchantment that sets in or the stress of life with covid-19, we can miss the ordinary wonders before our eyes. So as I browsed my poetry files, wondering what soul soothing words I could share with you, I found myself drawn to a poem which features the daily glory of sunset.

My nature poems remind me how dulled my mind has become over the last few weeks, and my heart neglectful in noticing the daily beauty that exists. Maybe you, too, could use a reminder to pay attention?

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes – The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It’s good to look outside the window or take a walk if you’re able to, and really notice sky, clouds, leaves, trees, birds and flowers, and appreciate each ordinary day, filled with holy enchantment, for the miracle of creation it actually is.

Evening

it begins
slowly, hushed silence reigns
twilight comes
the poet’s pondering hour
sky is midnight-blue wool skeined

it gives way
yields to misty dove-grey hues
dusk invites
lifting the thin curtain
listening to heaven’s news

I watch and sigh
sky gazing, looking lazy
magnetised
by all this night offers us
and let it amaze me

warm rose tint
seeps into my consciousness
filling clouds
I drink in pale burgundy
while tumbling into rest

ash and embers
tangerine glow tinged with red
a burning fire
vivid sky lit up for miles
I put my troubles to bed
© joylenton

enchantment - evening poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” — Rachel Carson

Relax, kick back, my friend, and enjoy these soul soothing sights of nature’s sunrise and sunset. May you regain awe and enchantment at the wonder of it all. 🙂 ❤

hope: it’s closer to home than we might think

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

hope - Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher - quote @poetryjoy.com
Finding hope

Can my soul dance
at the sight of a single, gently
swaying, humble dandelion?

Can I see hope
in such a small, small offering,
more a weed than anything?

Some days it is
beyond me to catch the briefest
glimpse and be fully satisfied.

Because I hunger
after beauty and colour, of which
my yearning soul never tires.

I long for hope
to reveal itself in the bold, whereas
it often comes unawares.

It winds itself
into our consciousness
waving a filmy, fragile flag.

No sudden white
flare or something more rare
but a simple garden sighting.

A tiny thing, perhaps,
a mere slender seedling, and yet
it calls us to pay attention.

Here, here, it says,
I have arrived again,
I never completely disappear.

Let your eyes scan
the world or come closer now
and find me in the infinite.

Maintain openness
and you will soon discover
hope never leaves you bereft.
© joylenton

Yellow is not only a humble dandelion’s distinguishing hue, it’s a colour associated with the positive traits of happiness, optimism, hope, creativity, sunshine and spring. It cheers our hearts and adds a welcome dash of brightness wherever it appears, especially when we encounter it in daffodils.

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen

hope - solo dandelion - garden - finding hope poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Dandelions—those persistent, thriving little wildflowers/weeds and intrusive curse of gardeners—actually come with a vibrant message of hope for us. They symbolise the warmth and power of the rising sun and healing from emotional pain, to name but two of their suggested characteristics. You can find out more here.

I love dandelions because they’re such a cheerful colour and often the only flowers in our tiny garden for months. They’re also a hopeful sign of spring’s imminence. Maybe it’s worth leaving them alone for a while so we can enjoy their vivid brightness before we replace them with more favoured flowers and plants to grace our gardens with, like sunflowers, perhaps? 😉💚🌻🌺

hope - Where flowers bloom, so does hope quote @poetryjoy.com