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

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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… 🙂

resurrection: an unravelling and loosening to be set free

 

How easily we can fool ourselves into thinking we are free, while we live unaware of those invisible chains which still have a hold on us. We can be captured and captivated by the things of this world, enslaved by our own drives and desires, held captive by guilt, shame and pain. But we try to hide away from the anguish it brings.

Jesus offers us a remedy for a life of slavery to self and to sin, and hope for a need to be set free. His blood, His love, His goodness and grace all pave the way to an eternal destiny where freedom beckons with an invitation, whereby bending, bowing and brokenness are the means of entry.

Will we come? Will we heed the risen Saviour’s voice calling out across the sands of time? Will we seek to be loosed, like Lazarus, from physical and spiritual death?

Once a soul has been given to God, it will never be the same again. He will gradually, gently take and break, mould and make us anew, shaping us oh so tenderly into all we were always intended to be.

Being loosed

Lazarus became loosed from death

precursor to the cross to come

where death would lose

its final sting, and Christ

would rise soon from the tomb

 

A strange unravelling,unwinding of

bandaged limbs held fast in waxy cold

confines of morbidity, where life was lost

A warming, rushing pulse of life-breath

flooding through instead, as colour returns

and rigor mortis turns back to vigorous

 

And death’s steely-grip chains break at last

as our Saviour reveals The Way to be free

Now we have Hope and Life anew, as we

limp through our own resurrection days

blinking in unaccustomed Sun’s rays

 

We teeter on the edge, where death

lies as sinking abyss, yet across

its depths Christ’s firm footsteps tread

His arms spread wide to bring us Home

to eternal Life spent by his side

©joylenton2017

And once we have heeded the call to die to self so that we can rise to newness of life in Christ, we discover how, little by little, with Holy Spirit’s help, those things we were addicted to, or which held us fast, are slowly loosed.

An unravelling begins, as we become more alive on the inside, our hearts softened by God’s love, our souls more receptive and ready to be changed. Day by day, Christ’s resurrection glory and joy begin to overcome the darkness within. We are free… We can breathe… We can begin again…. Easter resurrection hope and  joy is ours for eternity.  Christ is risen indeed, hallelujah!!

Happy Easter, dear friend! May you rejoice in the glorious Hope we have in Christ.  🙂 ❤

love: Christ bears infinite love and grace on a cross

 

We’re at the point of no return on our Lenten journey. A Holy happening is imminent. The day we call Good Friday has arrived. God’s eternal, infinite, unconditional Love is hanging on a cross, made a public spectacle and disgrace for us.

Jesus is marred, pierced, blood-stained and, briefly, just beyond His Father’s reach. The day has dawned when sin meets Saviour, mankind meets its Maker, and our guilt, shame and pain are nailed to a cross of wood, held in place by Love alone, His amazing grace about to be made known.

We can only watch and wonder, our minds unable to fully fathom or clearly comprehend what we see. Our Holy God poured out for you and me….

Bearing infinite love

Jesus, you see faces, look into souls, hear the heartbeat

of every person on the street. You don’t see a faceless throng

pressing together like a swarming sea of anonymity

Even those who barely give you a glance, and those who

sneer, swear or spit as you carry your cross, filled with

venom, hate, while you bear only infinite love and grace

 

How can it be that you bear them no grudge, not even

an ounce of animosity, your heart contracted in love

laced with waves of pity? Yet you know it is their sin

pinning you to a cross, their rage ripping your back

to shreds, their nameless hate nailing your helpless

hands as you reach out, surrendered to your fate

 

And as blood pours from your many wounds, you are

wounded more by the unaccustomed distance, a cloud

between you and your Father, as he has to turn his face

away from his sin-bearing Son, leaving you alone

for the first time—you feel distant and lost—as you

hang limp, wretched, almost ready to give up the ghost

 

Finally, the darkness steals into your soul, making you writhe

within, and you know it won’t be long before you cry

it is finished, and mankind’s release has been secured

by your poured out blood. You gasp out your holy sigh and

rest in death’s embrace for a while—as skies darken and a

curtain is rent to signal the start of a new, living covenant

©joylenton2017

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

wonder: maintaining a child-like sense of wonder

 

We begin, malleable as clay, newly minted, a wonder to behold. Childhood offers us an enviable openness and innocence that can quickly turn sour, depending on how our way of seeing things is perceived and responded to by our parents and carers.

I was a daydreaming child, prone to wondering (and wandering away). My impatient mother was apt to sigh, snap and tut at her head-in-the-clouds girl. I lived with eyes wide open, heart and mind engaged in a life beyond what adult eyes could see, lost in my own world, where anything was possible.

Dolls were real to me, so I cried when my sister carelessly tossed them down the stairs. They were my playmates, always firm friends, unlike my chameleon twin sister who blew hot and cold with the wind. Competitiveness took the edge off our companionship. Parents who constantly compared us—proverbial chalk and cheese in our character and interests—were of little help in fostering good relationship between us, or igniting wonder we could easily share.

Books soon became my escape route, a convenient hide-away when life became painful, a continual source of wonder and consolation to this day. Here’s the thing: God never meant us to lose our sense of wonder. That’s not what putting childish things behind us is supposed to mean. Child-like wonder is a precious gift we do well to maintain.

We are hard-wired for wonder, made to marvel and created to see and sense the holy beauty and joy that surrounds us each day. Sadly, our hearts can become hard, cynical and cold. We can fail to see that faith is the greatest wonder journey of them all.

I hope and pray the haiku below will help bring back a sense of awe to you during this Holy Week. May God soften and enliven our hearts, open our eyes, saturate us with His joy, fill us with fervent faith and an increasing ability to rejoice and to praise. Maybe then we will be better equipped to live a wonder-filled life.

Tuned to wonder

My heart is wired, tuned

to see wonder in each day

fired by what I spy

©joylenton2017

 

Daily marvel

We wonder, marvel

anew at all God can do

spy his handiwork

©joylenton2017

 

Risen—Holy wonder

Eyes are spying now

transfixed—seeing Jesus’ tomb

wondrously empty

©joylenton2017

 

Linking my haiku micropoetry with  our Poet Master, Ronovan, and fellow poets, as we share our take on this week’s prompt of ‘Wonder&Spy’. Just click here to join me there and read the great posts being shared.

How are you awakening to wonder as we walk this Lenten pathway? I’d love to hear in the comments below.  🙂

when shame hits, we can learn to embrace peace and joy again

 

Life offers us numerous opportunities for failure, humiliation and embarrassment. It’s so easy to lose our joy over such things, fall prey to burning waves of shame and dark shades of introspection that make us want to hide away.

When we allow the sting of chagrin to steal our peace, we begin to fear for our standing and reputation, worry about what others will think, and sink into discouragement at the thought of losing their good opinion of us.

While we all yield in different ways to sin, if we focus most on failure, we can lose not only our sense of joy, but peace and rest within. Then God’s mercy and forgiveness can also pass us by, as we hide away in guilt and shame instead of rejoicing in the reason why Jesus came.

Our lives and peace of mind can become spoiled when we are upset, depressed and dissatisfied with our behaviour, if we forget that holy conviction comes from God and is designed to lead us into repentance and forgiveness, the touch of His love—whereas condemnation is from the enemy of our souls, leading us to deep inner misery and keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of  guilt and shame.

The haiku below are my response to that kind of situation, (one I find myself in more often than I care to count!) and a means of pointing the way back to experiencing peace and joy again….

Spoiled

Intimacy, joy

will be spoiled if we allow

chagrin entry now

©joylenton2017

 

Free joy

Take life on the chin

Don’t let chagrin rule and reign

Free the joy within

©joylenton2017

 

Embrace inner peace

Joy is within reach

if we leave chagrin behind

embrace inner peace

©joylenton2017

 

Joining with Poet Master, Ronovan and fellow poetic friends as we share our take on this week’s prompt of ‘Chagrin&Joy’. Just click here to join us there.

“You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forevermore” ~ Psalm 16:11 GNT

storm: what to do while looking for a break in the clouds

 

I’m a curled comma, crouched under the duvet, waiting for the storm to pass. Hoping it will be short-lived—relentless, sharp and heavy as it is. This is no ordinary storm, though it’s physical enough.

It’s a dark cloud covering raining down weariness, weakness, profound fatigue, swirling brain fog and constant pain. Bolts of lightning shoot through muscle and bone like fiery darts, making me horribly aware of my fragile frame and frail humanity, and how it hurts so easily.

Maybe you’ve got some storm clouds hovering over you? They could be physical, financial, emotional or relational. Perhaps you, too, are waiting for the weather of your circumstances to improve and longing for those dark clouds to give way to sunshine again.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining, and that we can learn to dance in the rain. Optimism is a wonderful thing, but there are days and seasons when we lack the wherewithal to stay positive. What then?

We can take comfort from having a God who walks on water, as Master and Lord of any storm we may encounter. He invites us to come, look up and keep our eyes on Him, listen to His voice above the surging din, ignore waves rising and our fear of drowning, and confidently reach out for His hand instead.

Healing air of Home

When dark nights haunt a good morning

let’s dance slow to life’s hot fire and

picture a young, green universe, like velvet

breath-kiss, embracing peace with angel breeze

See how healing air of Home bleeds open

like sacred ocean smile—and here we fly

©joylenton2017

 

Sometimes the storms are literal. Many a dramatic summer drenching from years ago springs to mind, where we had to urgently gather our belongings and hurry off  the beach, as thunder and lightning crashed above our heads and some brave souls stayed in the sea! Though thirsty land and plants welcome each refreshing drop from heaven.

Lively water music

Summer beauty is so black-dress gorgeous

as purple petal rain storm rips through

garden’s elaborate gown like mad language

and lies languid as drooling death—beating

time with lively water music—as sun’s hot

tongue still sits and sings over our skin

©joylenton2017

 

Life’s sudden squalls and storms begin to dissipate as we yield to God’s free-flowing river of grace, His vast ocean of love and continual rivulets of peace. In the surrender of resting prayer we are given means to cope and rise above it all.

And in the remembrance of God’s goodness toward us, we have resources for  the stormy days ahead, while we look for a break in the clouds today.