slant: how changing our perspective can alter the way we think

 

When you spend a fair amount of time in bed it does tend to skew your visual perspective. Especially if you are lying in a tilted downward, minus 10 degrees angle for a fortnight, as my husband was while recovering from his last spinal operation.

Granted, his view of things was also affected by the general anaesthetic and the somewhat delusional mental state it engendered in him for a few days post-op. Not to mention having to make do without his glasses, of course. That didn’t help much. 😏

He began to have an altered reality perspective, including a mathematical slant on the room he was in, seeing swirling patterns on the white-tiled ceiling, odd shapes in corners and strange angles everywhere. Only they were invisible to everybody else, which was most frustrating for him. But it certainly helped pass the time!

Sometimes I think it helps to see life differently, though not necessarily in a tilted down state like my husband was, discombobulating as that can be. Rather, it can be an advantage to let our imaginations fly, give them free rein, in life and in faith.

Because when we have our eyes open to wonder, why we tend to see it everywhere. I particularly love clouds and obscure window views for the way they stir me creatively and spiritually on to thoughts of freedom.

Our days may seem pretty mundane on the whole but a capacity to anticipate holy joy and awaken to wonder in the everyday can alter our perspective in the most delightful ways. I’m so thankful for supportive, praying friends and the wisdom in God’s word that lifts my perspective and puts me back on track whenever I get derailed, especially by discouragement.

The poem below was inspired by an angled window view. I hope and pray it will stir a desire in you to try looking at your life from a renewed, slant perspective and readying yourself to be surprised and inspired by what you might see.

Let me see life slant

Let me see life slant, ready to be tilted
into a fresh perspective, as new angles
present themselves to the eyes of my heart

like lessons in geometry, wrought from
passing scenery. May I form irregular
lines, make shapes from clouds and

trees, let my imagination fly, unfettered
while I thrill to mathematics in the sky

filling my soul and mind with unfiltered
possibilities, limitless boundaries
©joylenton

remember: practising mindful awareness to enhance gratitude

 

Winter is a season many of us shy away from, as we seek to hunker down and hibernate while we wait for warmer days. But what if we made a conscious effort to remember when things were different? Does the process of remembering actually make a difference in how we deal with today?

I think so. Because when our lives are less than inviting it helps to lift our spirits if we invite our souls to focus more on gratitude than grumbling. Our heart attitude helps to determine how our days shape themselves.

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. I love the sheer exuberance of colour as God splashes vivid hues to decorate each dying leaf. It’s as if our generous Creator is asking us to take it all in, to remember this bounty before it all falls to ground.

God reminds us to practise daily gratitude for this moment, because this moment is all we really have to appreciate, here and now, while it is happening. Although it is possible to stay centred in the present, with an awareness of goodness in the past actually enhancing all we are currently experiencing.

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” ~ Genesis 9:16

A new year usually finds us looking forward, but if we remember God’s faithfulness toward us in the past it gives hope for days yet to come. When we do allow ourselves to consciously remember, meditate on the goodness of the Lord and the abundant blessings that He provides, we’re well placed to have a more positive mindset.

We can bask in a golden, autumnal glow, see it as a dying season’s last hurrah before the chill of winter seeps into our body, mind and heart, knowing how God so wonderfully sparks renewed life in what seems dead in us, as well as in trees and plants.

Although winter has its own stark, stripped back to the bones beauty, I enjoy reminding myself of days when leaves are in their final death throes and creation shows off its splendour for us to savour and hold in our hearts.

I remember russet

trees dressed in winter
but I remember russet
a golden arbour

stretching leaf to leaf
as autumnal splendour spread
an ochre blanket

and mantle of mist
delayed a breath of decay
for the last hurrah
©joylenton

A few joy notes


1) A roast chicken dinner cooked by my man
2) Seeing our grandson togged out in his Rugby Tots kit
3) Being able to rest well today after a pain filled night
4) Supplements arriving to help boost my health
5) Having enough heat, snuggly blankets and warm clothes to wear
6) Creativity flowing although I am low on energy
7) God’s grace enabling me to write this post

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

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

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.  🙂

alive: awakening to signs of resurrection hope

 

Spring issues us with an invitation to come alive. Winter’s hibernation slumber is over. it’s time to embrace the new and the next. But are we ready? It’s all too easy to become lethargic.

Though our mind and body may protest, feeling like we’re being tugged into a season we’re ill-prepared for, we all need a holy prod sometimes to remind us how to come alive to God, especially while we walk this Lenten pathway.

Resurrection life awaits us with the dawn of each new day. Every moment is an opportunity to engage with the holy. Every hour can speak out wonder for souls alive enough on the inside to be alert to God’s continual presence with us.

I have been thinking along these lines for my magnetic poetry offerings today, because I long for sufficient sensitivity to sense earth stirring, sap rising and God’s new life being reborn in me as I look to Him to provide for all my needs, and as I seek the eternal sunshine wonder of His glorious face each day.

Alive like wild rain

Follow ancient path’s water cycle

Stroll soft and long; climb quietly

and breathe pure, soul-sweet spring

air above daffodil-deep sanctuary

Rest and feel alive like wild rain

blanketing grass with its wet shade

©joylenton

 

Slow cloud joy

Here they devour slow cloud joy in

eternity’s liquid night-drink sky, and

wake—laughing soft—with the morning

like velvet prisoner’s in poetry’s home

as God gives His sacred time picture

of life’s warm and wild secret colours

©joylenton

 

Maybe we can learn to love our everyday, ordinary lives, and come alive to possibility and potential in the midst of pain and problems. Just as we marvel over spring flowers emerging from dusty, barren ground, we can watch those things we felt were dying or dead suddenly regain new shoots of life before our very eyes.

Eyes of faith see beyond the temporary and ache to experience the eternal in the temporal, the profound in the prosaic. Those with resurrection Hope etched into their souls learn to be aware and willing to receive the next thing God has planned for them.

We can have hope because God’s resurrection life pulses through our veins, rendering the ordinary mundane a work of extraordinary art and grace. Will you join me in deliberately looking for signs of resurrection life within and without and focusing on what is most alive in us in this season?

rest: seeking to enjoy the stillness and savour holy conversation

rest-seeking-to-enjoy-the-stillness-pj

 

Misty fog-haze lends an ethereal air to these wintry days. This is a season where deep calls to deep in the realm of rest and sleep, a hibernation time when words are deliberately stilled and distilled in the stillness, able to ferment and brew in contemplative silence.

During a needful rest and slowing down time we learn to listen better to body, soul and Holy Spirit. And we begin to hear murmurs we may have missed in our busyness, words which lend themselves well to poetic expression. We hear whispers of encouragement, discern glimmers of mercy and grace surrounding us.

Rest invites us into recovery, restoration, a deeper faith-walk journey, a call to intimate prayer, maybe a suggestion of sharing thoughts in a journal, writing out holy conversation to look back on and possibly share—ways of recording God’s work in us and connecting closer to the core of who we are. It’s a period of sitting with patience and letting it have its way with us, learning to wait for the right moment to unleash and release.

I wrote the poems below in a free-flow-as-it-comes way, with a willingness to savour holy conversation, an openness to God’s loving presence within this present moment and a desire to appreciate seasons yet to come.

My hope and prayer is that you will read them with an open mind and open heart, and hear what you need to hear within the lines. May they connect to your soul and find a resonance within.

Come rest

Come rest like moist

forest moss so green

beneath warm summer sun

listen to full river song

bird murmuring spring

follow blue breeze harmony

see between dark mountain path

earth’s soft fertile wandering

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-come-rest-pj-image

 

Velvet eternity

Come and listen to me

linger long as my words

melt as steam breath and

air makes soft ghost-like

smile blush over my lips

let broken night cloud

be our dark universe

and life’s warm embrace haunt

this velvet eternity

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-velvet-eternity-pj-image

 

Welcome to #magneticmonday where I share my latest offerings of magnetic poetry writing. ‘Come rest’ was composed using the Nature set and ‘Velvet eternity’ with the Poet set. You can discover more here and have a go yourself if you feel inspired!

What is God suggesting to you this season? 

How are you able to rest best in a world hardwired for busyness?

A taste of the holy invading our everyday

a-taste-of-the-holy-pj

 

How can we fail to notice the holy? Sadly, all too easily. Yet God leaves little messages in each moment. Markers of His presence. Footsteps of the divine in our midst. Evidence surrounds us everywhere but we often miss it.

A good way to heighten our awareness of the holy is to seek frequent sacred spaces in our days, whereby we look, listen and pray. We can aim to live with an expectation of wonder during Advent and beyond, to put spiritual lenses on, watch and wait with anticipation, have a heart set on holiness, remain alert to its appearance in our everyday ordinary.

We can become deaf to God’s voice due to disobedience, fail to step forward into encounter because of fear, or drown Him out by our busyness and drive toward independence.

Our resistance may stem from many things, but we eventually begin to see how much we can miss by not readily opening our eyes, heart and mind to the holy in our midst.

Sometimes God may choose to conceal Himself for a while. Then we have to exercise our faith muscles, to trust He is still with us in the dark, grope our way back to believing, have praying companions who come alongside and remind us of God’s goodness, His immanence with us.

God offers us numerous opportunities for connection, whispers words into our consciousness and does everything in His power to gently lure us into a deeper relationship with Him. There is no coercion to be close to God, only an open invitation of constant love.

Our eagerness to discover God hiding in plain sight is more than matched by His willingness to be found. And creation itself is the loudest and clearest clarion call signalling His significant presence with us on a daily basis.

Thoughts of the way we often taste the Holy in sweet, tangible ways and sense an essence of God in our midst have shaped the haiku I’ve written today. All three haiku have been prompted by this week’s poetic haiku challenge of ‘Kiss&Taste’ set by Ronovan Hester. Just click here to visit and meet the man behind the challenge.

Taste of Love

Feel the taste of Love

Descend from heaven above

Kiss your cares away

haiku-taste-of-love-pj

 

A Holy kiss

Taste a Holy kiss

Sealing your heart, soul and lips

A divine imprint

haiku-a-holy-kiss-pj

 

Benediction kiss

Holy Spirit sighs

Breathe a benediction kiss

We taste deep inside

haiku-benediction-kiss-pj

 

What is helping you to sense the holy in your midst?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the conversation below.

Advent: seeing through soft smattering of stars

advent-through-soft-smattering

 

Soft light diffuses through glass, making dust particles dance in a torchlight beam, aided by a kitchen’s muggy warmth and steam, sending a glow glittering off walls like tiny ice crystals.

I watch entranced by the way light streams in through a window like a heavenly offering. It’s a marker of grace glinting through our days, a gentle reminder of how God’s love rains continually from above.

Because light will always infiltrate the darkness, penetrate through pane and pierce our own pain like a shard of healing laser-light, cutting at the corners of our circumstances, ready to open us up to a revelation of our belovedness before God.

The air is stilled with slivers, like flecks of salt seasoning a room. It parts for light to get in, makes space for grace arriving as a fragrant offering, a smattering of stars to light the way Home.

Through soft smattering of stars

In this Advent season let me become more

contemplative and reflective rather than

crazed and restless. Let me feel deep within

these bones, this mantle of flesh, this position

of weakness, that I still host the Holy in my soul

 

I ache with longing for the Light within to be

the consuming of me, a burning pyre on which

sits my sinful desires. May the dross, dust

and detritus give way to the Cross, to your

freely spilt blood, your white-hot devouring fire

 

Let your Love pierce through all traces of dark

Let your forgiveness, mercy and grace become

my new mantle and covering as I walk this

way of faith. Let my eyes look forward to seeing

your appearing through soft smattering of stars

©JoyLenton2016

Advent is a time to look for the light appearing here, now, in our midst. To have a watchful remembrance, a heart seeking for a smattering of stars, pointing to the brightest star of all, leading the way to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

A birth is imminent. Christ seeks to be born again in our hearts. He aches to appear for us as the Light we cannot do without, the one that overcomes all our darkness.

advent-through-soft-smattering-of-stars-poem

close encounters of the heavenly kind

bus-close-encounters-pj

 

Armed with walking stick and bus pass clutched in his other hand, my man made it to the city to carry out some needful financial transactions. He’d intended catching a bus back as well but was stopped in his tracks by pain, stilled by increasing stiffness in his gait.

While he sat waiting on a bench for his brother to collect him, a group of young people paused to speak with him. In the normal run of things he runs shy of such an encounter. But something made him smile a warm welcome and maintain a receptive mind to their questions.

They asked what health problems he had, and he shared the basics: namely Parkinson’s and post-op problems after spinal surgery. Then they offered to pray for him. Yes, right there with people passing by, in an open public place.

Once again, he was surprisingly amenable rather than painfully shy. So they spoke in tongues —yes, that too—and they held hands to his head and they gave it their best shot. Did the skies turn crimson or thunder roll? Did a voice call out from heaven?

No, none of those things happened. But a small group of faithful believers answered an internal call to prayer, and a weary man’s spirits were lifted at the way God infiltrates a seemingly ordinary day with touches of His extraordinary grace.

Because God is already here. He acts all the time but we don’t often see it or sense it as acutely as this. He cares about every single aspect of our lives and sends a wave of encouragement our way just when we need it. God infiltrates each day with markers of His glorious presence.

close-encounters-pj

 

As my husband related the story to me later, I was reminded of a heavenly kind of encounter I had a few years ago. It was in similar circumstances, with me full of pain, sitting waiting to be picked up by a relative…

Encounter

A nun smiled at me today

as she walked in her muted grey

I sat stiff upon a wall

weary, trying not to fall

asleep in the sun

and waiting for collection

like a missing parcel

left behind, gone astray

lonely on its own

 

Her face shone radiant

as she paused a while

yet most who hurried past

with purpose and intent

simply missed her smile

but I caught its golden rays

calling to me across the swathes

of people passing by

like a benediction sigh

 

A touch from God above

A pouring out of grace

A glimpsed reminder

of his peace and love

warmed deep to my heart

so I fulfilled my part

with a swift rejoinder

in this face-to-face encounter

as I smiled thankful back at her

©JoyLenton2016

I had another strange encounter on a bus journey several years ago.  A passenger who was alighting looked straight at me as she passed and told me I had the face of an angel— yes really— I was totally thrown!! Not only was I extremely exhausted that day, I was also a mess emotionally and far from smiley, never mind shiny. It seems God just wanted to alert me to His care and reveal I was still beautiful to Him, with Jesus shining through me unawares. Such grace!

Have you had encounters of the heavenly kind breaking into your day?

Is Advent a season where you expect wonder to break through?