chewed: having ragged edges when you want to be whole

 

I’m looking at our recently planted runner bean and strawberry plants, sighing over them being chewed, frayed around the edges, mirroring my own sorry soul state.

Although instead of pesky molluscs (and maybe an early caterpillar or two), my holey, chewed up state is a result of having bitten off more than I can easily chew, never mind swallow.

I’ve been running (in a tortoise-slow kind of way) on empty for far too long. My previous post here hinted at this depletion. And it’s got to the point where I’ve become more concerned at this slowing down and feeling of overwhelm, not keeping up well with anything. Maybe you can relate?

Usually I think of a tortoise to describe this slow burn way of crawling through my days. But as I sat and contemplated it, I thought of a snail instead and how they slither, glued to ground.

A snail’s progress may be slow, imperceptible to our eyes, but they can truly decimate a plant with their stealthy nibbles! As summer kicks in and we begin to plant hope for tomorrow, potential food to eat and flowers that please, we soon discover how much snail munch-stops have torn to shreds previously intact garden greenery.

Then we may marvel at their ability to cling on (carefully avoiding the snail pellets, of course), and manoeuvre their way around each plant in turn. A glistening trail, a slither of silver remains the most visible sign of their passing….

 

Mollusc Marvel

She carries the weight of a curled-up shell

upon her slippery frame, its fragile cusp

balancing on a body made for slithering

 

Movement may be slow but she traverses

stony ground with slimy thread of silver, trailing

her glory marker behind her like a gauzy

veil shimmering in the sunshine, laced

with hope on a journey fraught with danger

 

This fragile rope follows her from stem to stem

and back again, indulging in a spot of leaf munching

while her carapace crunches its welcoming shade

to protect the delicate vulnerability

residing deep within its darkening glade

©joylenton

 

How do we cope with our thready lives, ragged edges, chewed up days and lost energy? If you’re anything like me, you might try pressing on regardless for a while. Though, unlike snails, we’re not built to carry heavy weights on our own backs but to give them over to God instead.

The best thing to do is to take a break, take it to God, lean on Him and rest in every conceivable way. We cannot run on empty or we have nothing of any worth left over to offer others.

Therefore, I am having to pull back from blogging for a bit, seek wholeness, rest in God, and spend some quality time with those I love, because our glory markers can become ragged, spread thin, if we fail to spend sufficient time with Him.

I need to come aside, abide and be awed anew at all God can do with a weary woman’s frame when it’s given over to Him. Maybe a season of rest and refreshment also has your name on it?

I will be praying for you all while I am away. Meanwhile, feel free to dive into the archives here and over at Words of Joy. You can also catch a few poetic thoughts appearing on my Facebook page. God bless you, friend, until we gather here again. 🙂 xo

ME: what it’s like to live with ME and chronic illness

 

How do you describe a life of continual illness, pain and profound fatigue? It’s hard, isn’t it?  We need empathy, compassion, and maybe someone who lives with the illness to show us. I’d like to be that person for you today.

Imagine wanting to be a vibrant, blooming flower for God, but you droop, fade easily, curl up with fatigue. You seek shade, because all bright light hurts your eyes. Sleep is fitful but it’s all you really want to do. So called ‘normal’ life is far too dazzling, hectic and loud for you to join in with for very long.

“Yes, I have M.E but it doesn’t have me; God does, and I am safe in His arms.” So runs the last line from a poem I penned to try to describe my life with M.E. Spanning over 25 years of sickness and weakness, M.E might have stolen my health and vitality but it doesn’t get to have the final say on who I am or, more importantly, Whose I am.

I’m housebound with M.E, fibromyalgia, arthritis and hypermobility syndrome. (You can see the myriad symptoms of M.E in this list.I rely heavily on God’s sustaining grace each day. I also have a Lottery winner tendency to spend, spend, spend whenever a little more energy or mental focus is present, instead of the usual resting and pacing after any activity!

 

As a writer and a poet I’m able to express some of the frustrations of living with such an illness. I’m hoping, as you read the poem below, that you might stop to contemplate just what M.E can feel like on this, M.E Awareness Day, part of raised awareness during the month of May.

Earthbound

A mind

blurred as fog

cloud of unknowing

sinking bog

slowed and stagnant

just tiny ripples rising

from the smog

vague on the horizon

 

A body

wearied beyond measure

bandage-bound

by pain, fatigue

long and profound

unrelenting weakness

rooting to the ground

muscle-chained down

 

A heart 

longing to be free

like eagles soaring

near the sun

to touch the heat

of healing rays

piercing us undone

from darkest days

 

A spirit

lifted up by love’s call

taken up to places

out of reach of all

that holds us prisoner

to the earth

united to the One 

who gives us life and birth

©joylenton

The poem above comes from my book, ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering Grace in Life’s Hard Places’, available on Amazon. Earthbound was actually its working title for a while. All proceeds from every copy sold go to Action for ME, a charity which raises awareness and supports carers and sufferers, while raising funds for research purposes.

Last year I wrote about life from the other side of living with M.E and chronic illness, singing my beloved husband’s praises as my carer. It was written before he became even more unwell himself. You can read that post here.

Thank you for being here, my friend, and for reading my words. Your sweet presence helps and encourages this weary woman more than you know!  🙂 ❤

from dawn to dusk God shouts out his love for us

 

I often witness sunsets but rarely wake early enough to see in the dawn. When I do, it’s always with breath-held awe. Few other sights grant us such a glorious reminder of God’s hand at work, as He whispers to the sun to “do it again!”, delighting in giving us the gift of one more day.

If we appreciate the created world, take time to observe with our senses alive, we become participators in one of the greatest shows on earth. From dawn to dusk, God is shouting out His love for us, urging His bleary-eyed children to wake up and smell the potential wrapped up in this divine offering from heaven above.

As someone who fails to wake (or sleep) well in the natural, I need all the supernatural assistance I can get, (plus coffee!) to enliven me from the inside out. Even if it takes until noon, it’s still a good practice to pause, breathe, sit quietly, rest and absorb life outside a window before getting too embroiled in tasks.

Just this afternoon, I saw a beautiful little bird in the garden, who swiftly evaded my rather slow attempts to pin her down with my camera, sad to say… maybe another day. Such unexpected sights set our hearts alight. And people-watching is often a favoured (natural?) activity for writers.  🙂

Maybe as we covertly watch those around us, we can praise God for creating this person and that, pray for them as they pass us by, try to read the inner ache and longing in their eyes, seek to remember how God lovingly crafted each one— including those we may not actually like very much!

Nature-watch

Behold, bright spring dawn shines frosty-quiet, moist

and cold—above which moon withers soft, at rest

Gentle insect walk murmurs deep, secret, season peace

sweet like forest air poetry, and every fresh flower

tendril will thrive between stony rock-moss vine

And we nature-watch, rooted in this sacred world

©joylenton2017

 

When we do stop and look outside, or take a walk if we are able, we find our souls coming alive to the beauty on our doorstep and beyond, relaxing in the midst of God’s creation, becoming freer on the inside as we open ourselves to a keen-eyed awareness affecting  heart and soul.

Life is always overshadowed by the thought of death, but that shouldn’t stop us from appreciating the here and now and letting tantalising images of eternity play in our minds instead…

Like petals whisper

Life sings sweetly, like petals whisper smooth over

skin, but some say crush of death is like cool rain,

shadow-mist symphony—it swims through our fingers

Together, we sit and watch sun’s beauty soaring hot and

shining above the blue, as love recalls a sad dream

©joylenton2017

life: life as wild-fire dance and sacred sky embrace

 

How to describe life in all its fullness? There is too much to easily encompass in a snappy line or two, such is the breadth and depth of human existence. Though Scripture reminds us that our lives here are short, but a breath, mist in the ether, dissipating vapour disappearing fast like sand in an hourglass.

And though we are all destined for dusty death, during our earthy, clay-cracked days we can become enlivened on the inside by God’s amazing grace. Then we begin to discover there is so much more to this life than we ever knew before.

In the magnetic poetry below, I am seeing life as fresh, green, joyful, ultimately transitory but full of bright potential, especially when our hearts have been warmed by the love of God. We each leave a legacy, a mark on the world, an ache in another’s heart. Even if family didn’t welcome our arrival, our existence counts for something, part of an eternal plan before we ever began.

We are here to know and love God, find fulfilment in His will for us and seek our best joy in being united with Him. We are here to love and support one another, become soul companions on the journey we are all making toward wholeness and healing.

Life’s like…

Life’s like a shady green stone which murmurs

Listen to it falling, blanketed soft by earth

A soul must feel wild sun-love, thrive and breathe,

grow light, dawn-bright—but soon become moss-cold

as sweet river harmony gives long rest stroll

©joylenton2017

 

A sacred sky embrace

I wake to the joy of a wild-fire dance,

devour warm rhythm of flowers on grass,

picture an eternity with God-breathed poetry

surrounding me like a sacred sky embrace

and words melting in cloud-kissed breeze

©joylenton2017

 

There is a dark shadow hanging over all our days, and a bright white Light guiding us Home to our heavenly Father’s throne. We can look forward to a time when sorrow, sickness and pain are but a distant memory, tears will spring from a joyful, thankful heart and our problems are in the past.

We will sing, laugh, dance, and live more exuberantly than ever before when we’re finally experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom of God, where we were always meant to belong. It is where the poetic promises of Scripture will be lived out to the full, and what gives us Hope in the here and now, while we struggle and suffer under life’s dark clouds.

How do you view your life here? What gives you hope for the future? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  🙂

eyes: looking for the eternal rainbow of hope

 

Our eyes swivel with hope, desiring to discern wonder, keen to see how Mystery pervades the everyday. A rainbow is seen as a sign of hope and blessing. In biblical terms, it reveals God’s eternal covenant with mankind. We also see it as a marker of His glory and splendour.

The eyes of our heart slowly become awakened by God’s glory and grace, made aware of His penetration of everything. For our heavenly Father eagerly desires us to discover and be drawn into relationship with Him.

We begin to chase the rainbow of Holy Light, seeking to unearth deep treasure hidden within the pages of Scripture. Because a shaded life is made bright by grace. 

As we trace Christ’s steps to Calvary, become awed by His risen resurrection victory, we begin to see the cost of so great a salvation—abundant, lavish, rich and free.

Gradually, we are transformed from the inside out, enlivened by God’s grace, given a brand new start, new life, new heart. No longer are we in a driven race for success but in a place of deep, abiding soul rest.

The darkness within is a result of sin, as we wrestle with our flawed desires and the heat of them. But God has paved The Way for us to become reunited with Him. A road of Love, a public pathway of Christ’s freely spilt and poured out blood.

Who will quench the fire?

Behold our desires

like hot eyes of flame inside

Who will quench the fire?

©joylenton

 

God’s eyes roam throughout the whole earth. He sees you and me and we look lovely in His sight, viewed as we are through the lens of unconditional Love, a beautiful mirrored reflection of His Son.

Dart of love

We are beholden

God’s sharp, keen-eyed dart of love

has pierced our armour

©joylenton

 

Once we have tasted God’s glory and grace, it makes us hungry to know more. Our inner and outer eyes become better attuned to His presence with us, even as they yearn for the Day when Jesus returns physically to earth in full power and splendour.

We behold glory

We behold glory

Hearts fill with wonder—eyes see

Jesus is with us

©joylenton

 

The words above were inspired by this week’s haiku challenge prompt of ‘Behold&Eye’, set by our Poet Master, Ronovan. Just click here to read the great posts being shared and join in if you want to have a go!  🙂

bucolic: God grants us an expanded vista with eyes of faith

 

We’re en route to visit our elder son and his wife. And I’m this mad woman passenger, happily snapping scenes out the car window, to the amusement of my husband and annoyance of other motorists, no doubt.

What passes like an oh so familiar blur for others is a source of endless fascination for me. I rarely travel any distance, due to fatigue and pain, and this is less than an hour’s duration. But I’m greedily drinking in the view, like a thirsty woman deprived of liquid refreshment.

Being housebound by M.E and chronic illness can feel confining at times, so when I have an opportunity to view a broader expanse of sky, an accumulation of cumulus, flash of greenery and a bright yellow beam of rapeseed, then I lap it up, enthralled by the beauty all around me, lush with loveliness. Though I cannot deny the way that my life of stillness, retreat and rest speaks volumes to me too.

When we walk with the Lord through challenging soul night-watches, we learn a little bit more about how lovingly He inhabits each moment, light or dark as it may be. We begin to have deeper discernment of God’s thoughts and ways, as we surrender our drives, desires and frustrations to Him and open our eyes to the sheer wonder of His glorious presence with us, rendering the mundane beautiful.

Gently bucolic

Earth’s verdant garden is gently bucolic,

blooming like Eden, with dawn love-light

But in life’s dark night-watch season, our

pure, full moon will almost wither, and

intuition blossom, as we wander long there

©joylenton2017

 

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me’, even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” ~ Psalms 138: 11-12 NKJV

Life may try to steal our hope and joy, and external beauty may wither and wane, but we always have Hope when we turn to our loving Father God. He invites us into an eternal, sacred dance, a deeper exploration of joy than we’ve ever known before and a desire to follow Him in the here and now, linking hands and hearts across the universe.

Exploring joy

My broken self is a haunted prisoner

of dark poison secrets—heart of glass

But I wake from decay and embrace my

Father. We dance, celebrate with a kiss

and sail this perfumed ocean universe,

exploring joy like a lively velvet star

©joylenton2017

beautiful: a shaded life made glorious by grace

 

Our previously weed-strewn garden is bare, save for a brave flower or two poking through, unhindered now by the crowded entanglement of dried vines,  drooping stalks and knee-high grass.

There’s a strange beauty in the barrenness that precedes new planting and flowering to come. Maybe it’s because it signals a needful breathing space between one stage and the next. A holy pause in which to collect our grateful thoughts.

Our souls have flourished joyfully in the Easter resurrection celebration. And now? Routine is slowly replacing rejoicing, work commitments tend to dull the wonder and unseasonably cool winds make us shiver with a kind of sadness.

Because winter may be at an end but spring is still an emerging season. Though hope presses us to look for signs of resurrection in our souls and all around, knowing we will discover them if we search hard enough.

Sing with his beauty

Our lives are cursed shade

But God has made everything

sing with his beauty

©joylenton2017

 

Glimpses of glory

You can’t steal beauty

A cursed world will still retain

glimpses of glory

©joylenton2017

Like us, plants are beautiful but cursed, fragile and flawed. They begin with stunning splendour and then they fade, wither and die. Their glory may be fleeting but they also bloom again, season after season, when conditions are right for them.

And we have eternity written into our hearts. We are made for more than our earthly frame would suggest. We receive new, resurrection bodies, just like Jesus did. We will live on.

For now, we reveal glimpses of God’s glory, with His light and life within, and as we blaze bold and shine for Him.

 

Beautifully freed

Jesus took sin’s curse

from us on the cross—now we’re

beautifully freed

©joylenton2017

 

I’m linking my haiku with fellow poets who have been inspired by this week’s haiku challenge prompt of ‘Beautiful&Curse’, given by our Poet Master, Ronovan. Just click here to read the great posts being shared… 🙂