tripping: how God meets with us when life gets tough – snapshot #3

tripping - how God uses everything we go through - snapshot #3

We’re caught by surprise sometimes on attempting things we used to do before with relative ease but now find challenging. I’m largely housebound and incapacitated by chronic illness, but I can still totter around my small home and navigate a few steps (albeit painfully and slowly) most of the time.

But set my feet on concrete, ask me to pound pavement, and I’m all over the place, unsteady as can be. I have bad balance, limb stiffness, weakness and pain to contend with, which makes walking very slow, arduous at best and impossible at worst, when the territory is uneven.

Years ago I realised that a wheelchair was the best mode of transport for me. Sadly, there wasn’t anyone reliably able, available and fit enough to take me out in one, so I only borrowed a set of wheels when it was absolutely necessary.

I made a trip to the city recently and thought I would try to get there by bus, knowing how hard it can be to park the car.  I wanted to try stretching my limbs and limits (maybe you can relate?) in the vain hope of being able to accompany my grandson home from his first day at school next week.

Dear reader, I struggled. Pain was severe and I nearly cried out loud. I halted several times and barely covered one third of the necessary distance to reach my school collection goal. We caught a taxi home.

Later on, as I sat with frustration, I looked at my photos and wrote a poem about the experience. It was a surprise grace gift, arising from a hard thing, such as God delights to provide for you and me. Things don’t seem so bad when viewed from God’s perspective. I can’t manage the walk but I can be the one welcoming our grandson home at the door.

God is constantly rewriting our stories, blending them into His greater narrative. What seems to be causing us to fall just might lift our souls more than we can know. I’m grateful for God’s keeping power and my dependence on Him, even if my story has taken several unwanted twists and turns.

tripping - God is constantly rewriting our stories quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here’s the tanka pentaptych poem that arose from my tough time above…

Tripping

visit to the city
idle bus window browsing
I need new specs
I like my life blurry
not in such sharp focus

people mill
cluster around attractions
bright eared hares
decorating the pavement
we see them everywhere

I’m unsteady
my gait uneasy outside
like a drunk
I stumble and cling hard
holding on to stick and arm

these sea legs
wobble over cobbles
trip on the cracks
cannot go far without sinking
I feel like turning back

air is crisp
scent of leaves, fuel, flowers
August at an end
much is dead or dying
pain reminds me I’m alive
© joylenton

How has God met you at your point of need? Have you been able to trace His hand in the hard experiences of life? Let’s encourage one another in the comments below.

tripping tanka poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand – snapshot #2

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand - snapshot #2

Our local Lord Mayor’s Procession in July concludes spectacularly, with a brief but rather wonderful firework display. The best thing?  We have a direct view of the free light show it provides from our back garden, even if I have to try to balance on the rockery to see it properly.  🙂

Thankfully, there’s a pretty good view to be had from the front of the house as well. No gymnastics required! Several people line the street to ooh and ahh their way through the firework display. I often try to capture some of it on my phone, with mixed results.

Using a firework mode involves trying to hold the phone steady for the few seconds it takes to create the image. Patience is required. As it is for the best things in life. Though I can miss quite a bit by seeking to secure a memory.

Writing about an experience, especially when I pen the poetic, enables me to recover the magic and savour the joy for a bit longer. I actually took the firework images here and was so gratified by the way they turned out!

Fireworks appeal to all age groups. We enjoy the anticipation and delight that ensues. With showers of coloured light appearing out of nowhere. All of us love to experience a bit of wonder in our lives, especially when it’s unexpected and flares like neon in the dark.

God loves to give us unexpected blessings and graces. His hand on the minutiae of our lives is nothing short of miraculous and can often feel magical. Sometimes we see Him in fireworks. Sometimes He’s the quiet voice sitting by the fire with us.

Fireworks

night squiggles
neon bright, flaring sharp
colour dances
a ballet in the dark
we watch closely, entranced
© joylenton

fireworks tanka poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

sharing summer snapshots as a means of expressing gratitude #1

As we bask in a fresh wave of summer heat and I consequently melt and wilt, remaining more tired than I want to be, I thought I might share a few small snippets with you over the next few weeks, instead of writing a lengthier post. Hooray, do I hear you say? 😏

Today’s snapshot of summer tanka arrived hot on the heels of celebrating a relative’s 50th wedding anniversary in June. It was a glorious day, hot enough to don a summer dress and with no draining humidity to make it unbearable. A rarity this year!

The event itself was held in a splendid house and garden and we were able to eat comfortably outside.  In the photo above you can get a glimpse of the window view I had while waiting for the celebratory lunch to take place. 😎

I praise God for the couple’s marvellous marriage (my brother-in-law law and his lovely wife) and the people it has impacted positively over the years, including me. I’m also beyond grateful for the help I was given and for being well enough to attend and enjoy it all!

It’s ready 

a marquee
set up for celebration
it’s ready
we drink and feast within
an English country garden
© joylenton

 

words: how faith, listening and receptivity help birth a fresh creative flow

words, faith , listening and creativity

Words are intransigent at times. They reveal a resistance to being marshalled onto the page with military precision. Instead they resemble watchful dancers, waiting in the wings, ready to leap upon the stage when they sense the timing is right for them,  and hopefully alighting with style, beauty and grace. Maybe you can relate?

That’s how it can seem when the creative well runs dry and the easy flow we’ve been accustomed to becomes a mere trickle. Try as we might, words refuse to cooperate, leaving us hungry for their return. Resting ourselves and our words seems wise. Then we grow into their future potential, as well as ours.

As a poet I am used to the way words speak to me, hum with a greater resonance, sing out their potential, ask to be paid attention to, seek to be picked, sifted and joined together while they dictate the metre, method, rhyme, rhythm and flow.

Listening and receptivity are key. I am hugely dependent on receiving inspiration from Holy Spirit. My inner ears need to be attuned to His leading and guiding, those soft soul whispers He brings.

I want my words to be few where an excess might be harmful. I want my words to be seasoned with salt, leavened with grace and full of God’s mercy and love. I want them to matter but not be so measured as to lose their vitality.

As a work in progress I fall far short of these lofty goals, of course. The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us. He is able to help us tame our tongues and frame our speech, written or verbal, in the light of His word.

“Jesus, today I give you my words. Would you remind me to be slow to speak, quick to listen? I want my speech to make you smile, build others up, and open doors to your love.” ~ ‘Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year’ by Mary DeMuth

Rusty as I am, I’m stepping back into these pages with courage and faith only God can supply. And with hope burning strong that the journey I am on will scatter a few seeds of hope in your soul as well.

Beginning again

my fingers are poised
I’m getting ready to write
as an act of faith
because the well has run dry
it requires priming again

my heart is racing
with hot adrenaline shots
it’s so hard to start
there is too much at stake
after such a long delay

my brain is stalling
tricky to get it going
levers are rusty
they don’t grind so easily
cogs are clogging up – they freeze

how to begin
how to brave the virgin page
how to continue
those are the problems I face
they’re stopping me in my tracks

I must simply start
there is no turning back
listen to my heart
wait for inspiration from God
it requires courage and trust
© joylenton

 

words, beginning again, tanka poem excerpt @poetryjoy.com

if: when we receive so much more than we deserve or expect

If only. Oh how often those immortal words have entered our thoughts or escaped from our lips, as we murmur against the hand life has dealt us or wonder just when we can fulfil our delayed hopes and dreams.

Maybe ‘if only’ has been spoken as wistful wishes or with sadness and regret. I’ve had my share of both. But I’ve also expressed those words when looking back in gratitude for the way God has intervened to rescue me from this or that. With God, we always receive so much more than we deserve or have any right to expect.

Today, I’m wondering at the wisdom of temporarily breaking my poetic silence and period of enforced rest, having been lured into the writing waters again by the prompt of ‘if’ provided by five-minute-friday this week.

If

If you can see yourself as you really are, your need for alteration and change,
and are willing for your mind to become transformed, your life rearranged.

If you can look beyond the bare bones of your own meagre existence
and recognise how much loving others makes a difference.

If you refuse to slavishly follow the ways of this darkened world, preferring,
instead, to plough your own furrow, while watching seeds of faith unfurl.

If you recognise that undue haste and hurry only lead to stress and driven
lives, and that being spiritually guided, led and inspired is truly wise.

If you can maintain hope when challenges mount up, and drink
willingly from life’s stormy, thankless and bitter cup.

If you gratefully receive grace upon grace to help you live your life
aright, while yielding yourself to God’s supreme will and his laser-light.

If your eyes have been opened to the mystery and marvellous ways of God,
and your broken heart has been broken open by his unconditional love.

If your prayers centre on inner growth, supporting others more than yourself,
and you’ve developed a greater Christ-like, compassionate heart as well.

Then you will be aware of being God’s beloved one, my friend,
created to be in relationship with him and to do good things.
© joylenton

**With apologies to Rudyard Kipling for styling my hastily executed poem similarly to his own epic work. You can read his masterly ‘If’ poem here… **

However, I am delighted to be flexing my poetic muscles again and to have an offering to share with the wonderful writers here. Come join us? 🙂

rhythm: seeking a slower pace to truly savour our lives

I’m sensing a change is due. For far too long I have had a discordant inner rhythm and a jangling outer one. With nerves frayed, patience shot and a desperate need to slow right down.

I know my life would hardly be considered busy (never mind frantic) to others. Living with M.E and chronic illness involves a necessary daily pacing and rest to avoid burnout and overwhelm. But do I heed the signs of being wearier than usual? Do I stop instead of pressing on? Not always.

We’re all able to push ourselves more than might be wise, especially when the things we are engaged with truly matter to us, like writing does to me. Yet when we ignore the warning signs, we risk adopting an imbalanced rhythm where rest barely gets a look in and busyness of some description becomes a default state that’s hard to break.

It is possible to slow and savour the ordinary before our eyes. In doing so, we might gain gratitude and a deeper appreciation of those who share our days. Maybe conversation could be less like itching to get our point across and more about listening to the other person? Just a thought.

I have experienced the inestimable value of pursuing times of quiet, prayerful solitude with God on a regular basis. It pays to have seasons of slow whenever we sense God calling us to do so.

A different life rhythm

I need a different life rhythm if I am to become more fully myself
with increasing awareness of the sacredness of ordinary life events
and moments, as I welcome in and embrace whatever might chime
like the hours in their ability to remind me of God’s loving presence

as it permeates the everyday, saturating everything we might take
for granted in our haste to move on from one activity to another
without savouring life with our senses alive to its holy resonance
as it meets with us in its unique thisness of vibrancy being offered

for we move too fast, especially in our thoughts, as we hurry and rush
to get to the new and the next, expecting each fresh encounter will
entertain and distract us better than those we have left behind or
rejected with our muddied minds, which do not value being stilled

because we’re blinded by busyness and slaves to change, fearing
most of all to be left behind, to miss out on something, which we
soon discover is not all it’s cracked up to be and only serves to drain
and deplete, to sap our vitality and leave us feeling weary and weak

our souls require breathing space, pockets of set-aside time, a quiet
deliberation to pursue the most excellent way that God designed us
to live and move and have our being in him, while we rest all we are
and all we can be, with gratitude for our days and thankful praise
© joylenton

Friend, I am heeding these whispers to my soul and resting my poetic thoughts for a while, though I hope to share snippets on my Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter when I am able. I’d love you to join me in those places.

Blessings, love and hugs to you until we meet again in a few weeks time. xo 😊💜🌸

clouds: confessions of a not so secret cloud watcher

I love looking at clouds. Watching them drift and separate. Seeing them moving slowly or travelling at speed, while wearing dream-like, ethereal, cotton-wool threads, filled with glory from sun’s splendid rays or dressed in drab, dark robes of thunder and rain.

Clouds are entrancing however and whenever we choose to view them. Although you might think cloud watching is only possible for those who have day-dreamer hearts and look up as they walk along, or who, like me, are largely housebound and have time on their hands for staring out of windows.

But I don’t think that’s entirely true, because clouds are freely available for all of us. All we require is the incentive and interest to take a look. In doing so we might discover just how fascinating they are and how watching them helps relax and calm our mind and heart.

In looking at and considering the heavens (including clouds) we see ourselves in relation to their vastness and splendour with a different perspective, and are awed anew by God’s amazing love and concern for us.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.” – Psalm 8:3-5 (NIV)

Clouds

Clouds drift by with calm intention, knowing their position
and place in the heavens, while willing to be blown about
by the wind or be stilled and lulled with peaceful precision

There’s no pressure on them to be anything but what they are
as they move to the vagaries of the weather, splitting into soft
threads with wispy, cotton-wool edges or piled into heavy ridges

They look translucent as they dance in the changeable atmosphere
and bow down as if weighted with lead, become foggy and thick
as they take on a dense, dark and malevolent kind of character

Sunlight brings out their brilliant white, lacy virginal style when
it’s full and bright in daylight hours, then transmutes into a vivid
palette during sunrise and sunset, painted indigo, gold and red

Vastness of sky would be far less interesting to us if we didn’t
have such an eclectic scenario of clouds, altering before our eyes
in all their varied shapes and hues to inspire, intrigue and amuse
© joylenton

And one day , when the time is ripe, we will look up at the sky and see Jesus coming on the clouds of glory, ready to rule and reign in splendour.

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” – Mark 13: 26 (NIV)