moon: developing daily gratitude toward created things #thedailyhaiku 23

 

As I watch silvery traces of moonlight (or golden splashes sometimes), I marvel over God’s provision of sun by day and moon by night to light the way for sojourning earthly pilgrims.

It’s a great reminder of the Pillar of Cloud, as Holy presence hovering close to guide during daylight hours, and the Pillar of Fire to light the way for the children of Israel when darkness of night closed in on them.

God led and guided them in this way for 40 long years in the wilderness. Years, decades even, when their clothes and footwear didn’t wear out. Now that’s a miracle all by itself!

So why do we become fretful when we fail to see or sense God’s hand at work? Are we forgetful of His faithfulness and trustworthiness toward us in the past, perhaps? Can we not believe in miracles when God whispers to the sun each morning to do it again, to shine for His glory?

We are apt to go through life with blinkers on, failing to truly see the glory markers God strews in our pathway, or appreciate the daily marvel of life continuing on day after day.

But each time I do remember to stop and look, become rapt with wonder over the sheer loveliness and beauty of a flower or plant, maybe, delighting in cloud patterns travelling across the sky or the flame of sunset setting my heart alight, it feeds my soul with gratitude and a deeper awareness of God’s immanence with us.

Shall we try to be those who notice? Not dwelling heavily on the badness that exists but focusing most on developing holy wonder in connection with those everyday things we can easily take for granted.

moon

a golden-faced orb

hangs low in inky-dark sky

waiting for sun’s sigh

©joylenton

our dark universe is a velvet eternity school for love #thedailyhaiku 10

 

We watch diamond-bright stars glinting like tiny jewels set with precision and perfection in an inky, indigo velvet sky and it takes our breath away. Darkness of night always makes the light shine brighter than before. Every shaded thing makes brighter colours sing.

And as we gaze into the heavens, or look closer to home and observe tiny pearlescent beads of dew coating flowers and leaves,  and ponder just Whose caring hand is behind every created thing, we become filled with awe, wonder and gratitude towards our Creator-God for spilling His treasure so lavishly on earth.

Each plant and flower, every drop of rain that falls, all the shining stars and lustrous planets in the universe are tokens and expressions of God’s great Love being made manifest for us. There is spiritual intent behind the daily graces we often take for granted.

Earth can seem so dark at times, filled with so much sadness and pain, yet these symbols are significant in revealing God’s steadiness and faithfulness, as He holds them out to us as a holy offering again and again. In the seeing, with eyes renewed by faith, we begin to trace His love spilling forth in large ways and small, just as we are meant to do.

a velvet eternity

our dark universe

a velvet eternity

it’s a school for love

©joylenton

spring issues us with a reminder to come alive on the inside

 

Springtime makes our souls come alive on the inside, unfurling like flowers to sun’s warmth. It helps to fuel the creative, poetic flame and encourages us to look for the light at the edges of everything.

We’re more willing to believe in resurrection when we witness it in earth’s cycles, in new life springing up before us. Somehow, such visible signs help to point us in a more positive direction, nudge us out of our former complacency and ready us for change.

These weeks of walking toward Easter can feel long, lifeless, depleted and dark, if we focus most on our loss, the giving up and denial inherent in this season, and as  we anticipate Christ’s needful work on the cross.

We can tend to forget to rejoice in the small signs of wonder unfolding before us, those seemingly tiny glimpses of grace we experience each day. Yet they lead to the greatest rejoicing of all on Resurrection Sunday, and are intended to bring us joy in the here and now.

Inspiration can come from many quarters, including enjoying a world waking up from winter dormancy and God breathing new life into us each day. I am so thankful for words to write, friends to connect with, people to love and family to cherish. These things, alongside God’s continual love and care, help to restore hope and strengthen my heart. They have also shaped my poetic thoughts today… I pray they will speak to you as you read them.

Refreshes like dew

God’s mercy springs whole

watering our souls, like dew

refreshes, makes new

©joylenton2017

 

Light as lambs

Hope is springing—light

as lambs dance on grass—making

the day feel fresh, bright

©joylenton2017

 

An eternal spring

An eternal spring

rises afresh in our hearts

as God imparts love

©joylenton2017

 

Joining in at the eleventh hour with Poet Master Ronovan’s weekly haiku challenge. Just click here to join me there and read the great posts being shared on the theme of ‘Spring&Fresh’.

sometimes: making space for grace and compassion in action

 

Sometimes we forget to be grateful, fail to recognise how very blessed we are to sleep in a bed with a roof over our head, a table laden with food, cupboards bulging at the seams and a freezer stuffed full of extra provisions as well.

Sometimes we forget to thank God for daily graces, to see how wonderfully He provides for all our needs and how blessed we truly are in every conceivable way, even to simply wake up and breathe each day.

Sometimes news headlines and the constant media bombardment on our screens wash over us with lethargic indifference, fail to capture our attention or engender a compassionate response within—so inured can we become to a world’s distress, poverty and duress.

Then sometimes we STOP. Stop and put ourselves within another’s shoes, think about the people behind the news events, pause to ponder their predicament, examine their lives via our imagination and wonder what we can do to help them.

If we do, we might just see how much our Saviour loves and aches for them, become caught up with His heart in prayer, in care and compassion, in being living examples of His love and grace in action, and maybe in writing a poem about their plight…

What do we know?

Lord,

What do we know of empty, distended bellies

bereft of sustenance, where choice is an unheard

of word and survival is the name of the game; where life

itself hangs by a slender thread and starvation

haunts each waking moment like a skeletal spectre

rattling its chains and calling your name?

 

What do we know of owning just one set of clothes to drape

across our diminishing frame; one pot in which to cook

a few dry grains, if we’re one of the lucky ones with

something at hand to eat today, instead of foraging,

walking miles with weary tread to gather a handful

of flowers—mere weeds to water our thirsty bodies?

 

What do we know of watching our children shrinking

before our very eyes, becoming wasted, emaciated, aged

way before their time, lying still with barely enough energy

to play or cry, their voices weak and eyes now clouded,

sad, pleading, bleak—breaking our own aching hearts

while we cradle them close, watching them suffer and die?

©joylenton2017

“Then these ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you taking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me'” ~ Matthew 25: 37-40 The Message

seeing life as a holy communion

clouds-seeing-life-as-holy-communion

 

Each day we are being offered sweet communion with God, a life full of good things graced by the ordinary-extraordinary, and days rich with the Holy in our midst. And yet we so often miss the marvel moments and heavenly minutiae which make up a life of faith.

When we’re caught up in busyness, held fast by pressure and pain, restricted by our numerous responsibilities, it’s a wonder we stop for breath sometimes, never mind lift our eyes to the heavens just to look at drifting clouds, or simply pause, ponder and pray as we go through our days.

But when we do, we soon discover it’s the little things that matter most, those seemingly everyday occurrences we are all in danger of taking for granted. Until they become compromised, somehow, and valued far more for their rarity.

I’d become used to my husband being a fit, physically active chap, sporty all his life, still playing competitive football when he was fifty. I took his strength, health and energy for granted, little knowing it would vanish one day, just like my own.

First he was hit hard by pain, then an inexplicable tremor developed and a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease came soon after. Before long, his back began to crumble, require urgent medical attention and surgery. It’s now almost six months since he had the operation we assumed would put paid to the pain and increase his mobility.

Sadly, there have been several setbacks along the way and he is still quite unwell. But you know what? We find ourselves celebrating the small, remembering the good, giving thanks instead of grumbling too much at the changes. Because life is precious and each day is opportunity to begin again, to have hope of seeing change for the better.

I am rejoicing with relief at his renewed ability to resume baking bread —the shop-bought stuff not being half so good for her spoilt ladyship!—though he has to pace himself carefully, of course.  It’s a celebration of sorts, a leaning into grace and a way of reminding ourselves of progress being made—albeit slowly, one tiny step and one day at a time…

Communion

bread-kneading-contentment-holy-communion

 

Yeast, salt, oil, flour and water combine

in basin of steel, bend of head

rhythmic kneading—apply pressure

stretch and roll; now a pliable thing

as dough emerges to rise and prove

knock back and shape to suit

the size within these tins

 

She watches mesmerised

by the baker’s craft

moulding staff of life

between firm fingers

awed once more by all

that lingers here, sensing

inside a gift that lasts

 

bread-seeing-life-as-holy-communion-pj

 

Patience, heat, chemistry

and clock will do their work

in perfect alchemy

that doesn’t always happen

perfectly—while air hangs heavy

with promise, rich aroma scents

surroundings and colour changes

 

Once again these golden loaves

are risen, ready, a fragrant feast

offering, living labour of love

Sitting now, they sup the soup

break the bread and sigh their grateful

‘Amen’, as they participate

in this holy communion

©JoyLenton2016

communion-poem-excerpt-seeing-life-as-holy-communion

 

What daily graces are sparking gratitude for you? 

How are you appreciating the holy in your midst?

how remembering helps make room for joy

write31days-journeying-into-joy-remembering-making-space-for-joy

 

Life passes in a blur and we can become too caught up in busyness to stop and savour the present moment. We forget that Now is all we really have to experience to the full. Except, that is, for those conscious acts of remembrance which stir our hearts with sweet ache of memory, turn thoughts back to gratitude.

I’ve been thinking about my grandson approaching the grand old age of three, reflecting on the enormous privilege of being his grandma, how I get to watch him grow, have a part to play in his future.

This little fellow has truly captured my heart and been teaching me more about joy than any text-book could, because he lives with a confident expectation of life being full of good things. Joy is his default mode most days.

Although I require a lot of support myself due to chronic health problems, I happily, willingly (and probably unwisely?)  go way beyond my normal capacities to offer him love and care, knowing our times together are precious and rare.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-remembering-joy

 

When I think about those special times I have shared with him, it awakens me anew to the realisation of holy ground being anywhere heaven touches earth – in the banal and breathtaking, and in the prosaic and playful as well.

Once we look and listen with intent, we sense moments of marvel midst the mundane, observe joy springing up like bulbs eager to greet sunlight. I’m tending to see more in the autumn of my life, remembering anew all that God can do.

Joy given is joy multiplied. We bring our lives as a daily offering to God and watch with wonder as He blesses them beyond measure, to the full and overflowing out to others.

Making space for God is no hardship when He enlarges our capacity for sensing joy in daily life, as well as in His presence. He delights to bring us joy and delight.

Our prayers rise as breath, each one ascending as incense to God’s throne. I inhale and still remember the sweet infant scent of my sons and grandson. It’s a reminder of the fragrance of grace filling everywhere we offer it space.


Dear Father,

As we reflect, remember and relive joy-filled moments, may we prepare our hearts to receive again, ready them for holy whispers and reassurance in the here and now.

Help us to enlarge our happiness with fond remembrance of your goodness and grace in the past, so we can have renewed hope for the future.

May we be aware of the fleeting nature of our days, how every breath and moment is a gift to us, and each day offers fresh opportunity to enjoy the grace gifts already set before us.

Help us to be appreciative receivers and gracious givers of your bounty as we pour ourselves out in the service of others.

Show us how to listen well to your Word, to Holy Spirit and to our lives, heeding all they have to say to us. And to look with deliberate intent as we seek to develop hearts more in tune with yours by surrendering each day into your hands.

Amen


31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day24 of #write31days of journeying into joy

What helps you to actively remember the goodness of the Lord?

I’d love you to share in the comments below.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-in-remembrance-prayer

seeking to enjoy the journey we are on

write31days-journeying-into-joy-seeking-to-enjoy-the-journey-we-are-on

 

While we journey into joy, we soon discover how much better it is to have support, friendship and companionship to encourage us along the way. Especially when it becomes tough at times, there are mountains to negotiate or skirt round, several hills to climb, much travelling to do and lessons to get through.

The travelling can feel endless to reach our goals. Yet the road yawns wide before us, stretching its fingers toward the future, inviting us to do the same.

As we place our faith and hope in God, He will slowly unfurl the rich potential of days still to come, and grant us grace to enjoy the current view of the journey we are on.

The prayer below reflects on part of my creative journey, which is continually being shaped by faith and made achievable by God’s goodness and grace. May you see your own dreams reflected in it too.

Dear Father,

It seems strange to think that our afflictions can become joy bringers. Yet I know that without mine I would probably lead a disconnected selfish life, all the poorer for losing such deep need-driven daily dependence on your grace and mercy.

For in love, you have given us joy in knowing you, in living with your constant presence, in the persevering, enduring and overcoming, and joy in the journey itself.

We are created to dream big dreams, to believe for the impossible, to see your hand at work bringing life from what seems dead. A dream was laid on my heart. I dared to hope for something beyond the everyday.

I desired to write a book of poetry.  A seed of hope was sown, liberally watered by the encouragement of those you chose to accompany me. Their interest and support helped the fragile seed to grow, flower and flourish.

You knew I lacked courage to walk this path alone, that I would be tempted to give up without prayer and words to cheer me on, how my fears and failings would make me falter, weakness make me wilt and pain bring a halt to proceeding.

And you gave blessings in abundance, as you always do to each one of us – liberally, freely, graciously, lavishly, unexpectedly, joyfully.

You provided friends to walk beside me, peace in pursuing purpose, strength in sharing, courage in creativity.

All helping me to be here now – still walking in faith, still writing, still living and believing for greater things to come.

For you reward all who diligently seek after you. May it be our goal, always. The Giver of all good gifts does not disappoint us.

For these things and for your manifold mercies, we give you our grateful thanks and praise.

Amen

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

PS: *Take heart, friend – though we may have to wait a while, God-sized dreams do eventually come true. After over 2 years of waiting, I’m so thankful to have the fruit of this particular dream available now as a real live book to read! You can click on the link to access Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’, or UK readers will find it in the sidebar here. Every copy sold helps to raise funds for Action for M.E*

write31days-journeying-into-joy-enjoying-the-journey-prayer

 

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badgeWelcome to #day10 of 31 days of journeying into joy.

How is the journey going for you? Can you testify to God bringing a dream to pass?

Do let me know in the comments below.  🙂

how a shifting view yields glimpses of joy

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-shifting-view

 

It was late afternoon as we travelled home. Sky was displaying her sunset colours, so I swivelled round as far as I could in my passenger seat, trying to capture the breathtaking beauty behind us.

As sun dipped low, leaving golden trails, I pointed and clicked my phone’s camera, desperately hoping to get a good enough shot as we whizzed past the scenery.

In seeing a sunset I am undone. Nothing speaks more to me of God’s glory and majesty. It’s like a loud clarion call at close of day, a last hurrah as night is ushered in.

I had to swivel uncomfortably to catch the sky’s dying rays, but oh it was worth it! When at home I try to remember to check the view, see if twilight and dusk are melting into sunset, sneak outside for a few moments if able and just marvel anew. It’s never stale or ordinary to me.

Just like wonder, joy seeps into the edges of our consciousness, nudging us into awareness. Though there may be many days when we fail to heed or receive it. Whenever I do, it usually stirs the poetic. Here’s the poem that came from those fleeting moments in the car…

A shifting view

A shifting view seen through

car windscreen while journeying

yields a glimpse of golden glory

rays as sun melts liquid into

horizon’s darkening depths

 

And my heart is captured

too as I point and click

with great rapidity, knowing

how life’s changing scenes

 

need to be seen, savoured anew,

given over to gratitude

for the gifts we can unwrap

in every waking hour

©JoyLenton2016

Sun’s brilliance captured and captivated me, but how much more does the Son of God Himself, our Lord of creation, produce awe, wonder, gratitude and reverence in us? He alone is worthy of all worship and praise.

Sadness may nibble away at the edges of everything, because we live in a dark and fallen world. It is all too easy to fall into discouragement and despair. But what if we deliberately try to capture beauty, take note of nature’s offerings? Even simple family pleasures take on greater significance when viewed through a lens of gratitude.

Maybe in seeking to pay attention to our days we could bring joy back to our hearts. It doesn’t have to be by camera. If we can be more fully present in the moment, then those experiences will naturally etch themselves on our memory.

Sometimes we just need to step outside of our familiar, view the world around us from God’s perspective, see how marvellous it is. In the looking and listening itself we can become more joyful and content, grateful for God’s myriad blessings in the everyday.

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day9 of the #write31days writing challenge, where our focus is on journeying into joy.

I’d love to know how this series is speaking to you. Please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you!  🙂

 

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-shifting-view-pj

how our small candlewick faith becomes a flame

candlewick

 

When joy is thin on the ground we search for ways to ignite it again. The means may vary, but the aim is to recover some semblance of contentment, a small spark of joy whereby we feel more alive and engaged.

I derive a great deal of pleasure from creation’s beauty, the way it leaves its signature scent on each day. The hard part is to develop awareness, to deliberately turn my eyes toward the window, step outside a while and simply breathe a bit of fresh air, marvel at the changing seasons, take some photos.

Being housebound needn’t limit appreciation of the world outside my window. If anything, it intensifies it. Clouds are a constant source of delight when I remember to watch them. Sometimes all it takes is a simple lifting of eyes and heart heavenwards, a reaching out to God in gratitude for all He is and all He has given us.

It is said that those who develop an attitude of gratitude are among the happiest people in the world, because thankfulness sparks deeper contentment and joy. Making space to record God’s goodness toward us sets us on a reflective path which leads to pleasure, whereby we focus more on fullness instead of perceived lack.

I’ve recently decided to journal again after neglecting to do so for a few months. Now I regularly use an app to write a few words of poetry and add a photo or two, sometimes write out first/last free-writing thoughts in a simple spiral notebook, as well as keeping a prayer journal where whispers from the Lord sit beside notes on Bible verses or from books that are speaking to me.

However we plan or prepare, whatever gratitude notes or  journaling method we use, it can be a great means of reconnecting to the creative self within, as well as making us more aware of God’s footprints in our day. And once we actively seek out God’s presence, He begins to ignite faith, hope and joy again, reviving weary souls with renewed strength.

Igniting joy

A thick blanket of darkness covers

us, smothering hope and joy within,

dampening our dreams, pouring

cold watery streams on the fire

of desire and imagination

 

Then we take our small faltering

candlewick, hold out our brief spark

like a trembling flag of faith from

quaking, fearful hearts. And we watch

mesmerised as it ignites a fiercer

 

Light, burning companionably

beside ours, its fulsome flame

strong enough to consume each part

of dark; every inky cloud covering,

every dim place – now blazes bright again

©JoyLenton2016

“The Light shines in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it]” ~ John 1:5 AMP

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day6 of 31 days of journeying into joy.

I hope and pray these daily posts are a fresh infusion of joy and a blessing to you.

The post for #day5 can be found on wordsofjoy.me as I am sharing a few there. Just click here to read it. Thank you! 🙂

write31days-journeying-into-joy-igniting-joy-poem-pin

Seeing life through the eyes of a child

elliott-meets-a-tortoise

 

Through the eyes of a child

I want to examine life with the eyes of a child

Look with serious, curious intent, gaze

 

with playful interest at all that’s spread

out within reach like a rich banquet feast

 

Ruminate as I cultivate creative vision

which enhances down-trodden and soiled

 

See beyond what lies before me in the everyday

Experience God’s hand at work while admiring

his handiwork. Step bright and bold with joy

 

as I begin to sense a sacredness unfolding

Discover life as a great adventure, dying

to be explored by those who can see more

©JoyLenton2016

When do we lose our sense of wonder? How long is it before we become complacent about the daily grace gifts before us? What shrinks our vision to that of an endlessly dark tunnel, rather than extending beyond what eyes can see?

All too soon for most of us, it seems. Yet the longer I live, the more I long to hold on to those things which are ordinary-extraordinary, to be aware of God at work in the daily, His majesty invading our mundane.

Because the more intently we look, the more joy we will have in each day’s grace offerings. They are there to be glimpsed, seen and savoured by hearts full of gratitude, but our attitude tends to throw us off course when we become totally absorbed by the pain and problems of today.

We will soon be entering a season I struggle with, where darkness pervades and seems to invade me outside and in, when my soul seems to shrink, curl and die like autumnal leaves become lifeless.

Maybe we can learn to intentionally look for the light at the edges of everything? Watch for its slim fingers infiltrating the hard, opening them up, sliver by sliver, to the radiance of God’s presence, discover His Light burning brightly all around.

All too often I write about the painful things, the hard places where grace seeks us. And that’s well and good, because we can all be held captive to pain. However, my main aim in the next few months is to focus more on the goodness, beauty and joy before me, difficult as it can be to discern, sometimes.

It would be good to have your companionship as I try to embrace the sunshine in these darkening days while we slide toward winter. We can support and encourage one another to stay positive, to remain hope-filled and joy-seeking souls in the midst of life’s all-pervading darkness. Will you join me? Please consider subscribing by email here and over at my main blog, ‘Words of Joy’. I would love to partner with you! 🙂

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