storytelling: haiku, time and tides of life laced with grace

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Let me tell you a story. It’s as short as can be, though it encapsulates life, time and eternity, encounter and surrender to a higher Power—no less than God Himself.

It’s a story of how we seek to define our days and soon discover we are a slave to them, a slave to time itself and to our plans and ideas.

Then we cannot help but compare and contrast our efforts with those of others, see our flaws, faults and failings, even as we admire their seeming mastery of things, their coherence compared to our stumbling efforts to speak.

As a poet, I’d like my words to flow well but sometimes they just find a rhythm of their own. A cadence. A voice. A way to break free of the straight-jacket I often want to constrain them in. Like this week’s prompt from #RonovanWrites which I had three thoughts about.

In thinking about ‘Flow&Tear’ I soon saw how each haiku followed sequentially from one another, eager to speak as a haiku vignette story rather than three separate solo acts. Though I offer them to you individually, because that’s how they first came to me and how poetry often speaks best—one small, singular offering at a time.

Tear up the plans

Let’s tear up the plans

set a watch over our hearts

Life flows in God’s hands

©joylenton

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Comparison steals

Comparison steals

our joy—stilled by silent fear

the flow slows, halts, tears

©joylenton

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A fast flowing river

Grace wipes away fears

It’s a fast flowing river

running like my tears

©joylenton

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about calling, priorities and sensitivity to Holy Spirit

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Like a flock of noisy seagulls, voices come at us from all directions, urging activity, challenge and change. What (or who) are we listening to? How do we sift the gold from the detritus, make choices we can live with and trust? In a world vying to be heard, how do we make sure we only take in what we need to?

It’s not easy to avoid all that is clamouring for our attention, or discern the times and tides, especially when so many fresh opportunities are coming our way.  A new year is rife with resolution, full of possibility, potential and hope.

As I try to recover from the festive season, my body is signalling a need to rest but my mind is inclined to pursue the enticement of the Now and the New. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real issue for many—me, too, sometimes. We can become stalled by indecision, paralysed by too much choice and derailed by the very real possibility of disappointment.

At the risk of lagging behind, disappointing or letting people down, it’s better for us to be true to how we’re currently situated and what we’re capable of without jeopardising our physical or mental health.

My spirit longs to listen to what God is saying to me first and foremost , knowing His ways—though seemingly counter-intuitive at times—are always the best. It pays to heed holy whispers. If He is whispering caution, waiting and rest, then I hesitate to press ahead with the next big thing, because in the end it will fail or I will falter, crash and collapse if I ignore the warning signs.

I love to write and in order to do so I have to prioritise, make creative space, rest, pace and avoid doing anything else for the day that’s an exhausting activity for me. It’s all about calling, priorities and sensitivity to Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding, and giving ourselves permission to rest and recover when we need to.

It won’t wash with me

Political spin

won’t wash with me; I’m resting

in God’s plans, you see

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No spin

Life’s waves wash over

my still frame—caught fast by pain

I refuse to spin

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Wash me radiant

Wash me radiant

Let your love spin in my heart

Warm from dawn to dark

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Today’s haiku have been inspired by the prompt of ‘Spin&Water’ —(which my tired brain somehow interpreted as ‘Spin&Wash’ instead… oops… so that’s what I’ve based these poems on!)—from our poet master, Ronovan, of ronavonwrites.  Just click here to see the rest of the posts and join in if you’d like to.

How are you sifting the wheat from the chaff as you make plans for 2017?

What new thing (or word) has God given you for the days ahead?

hope: making space for the new

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We’re at the threshold, waiting on the doorstep, ready to be invited in. Will the welcome be warm? Will we find out heart’s true home, or have our deepest longings met? We hope for more than seems humanly possible, and that’s because we need divine assistance to see us through.

Can we taste the potential, the opening and offering a new year brings? Are our goals achievable? I’m not sure…. and maybe that very uncertainty is what helps give birth to hopes and dreams. Maybe we have to yearn enough to break open a desire which yields to decision, drive and determination.

God is on the other side of the not yet. He hovers in the now and the next. We sense tantalising glimpses of His presence, like a faint mist concealing and revealing what lies beyond our comprehension.

We’re on the boundary, the cross-over point that points the way to the unknown. Will we trust an unknown future to a known God? How far does our faith stretch?

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An approaching year holds more questions than answers, requiring us to rest in God-given grace and discover courage enough to live into the answers to come. As we do so, we trust that God walks with us, accompanies every step we take and leads us slowly onward to our next destination.

Grope for Hope

In liminal space

I grope for eternal Hope

that makes me feel safe

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Making space

Making space for grace

we become renewed, washed clean

and feel whole again

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New Year

A blank page, clean slate

with empty space to create

Feel free to write on

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These poems have been inspired by this week’s haiku challenge prompt of ‘Feel&Space’ initiated by poet master Ronovan of Ronovan Writes. Just click on the links to discover how it all came about and to join in here.

I tend to view a new year with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety, hope mingled with concern and a confident expectation of resting in God’s grace, come what may. While I prayerfully consider my #oneword365 for 2017, I would love to hear how you anticipate the new year. What do you sense the months ahead may hold for you or be inviting you to do?

ring out the bells of welcome and praise

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We search for signs, look for signals of change, indicators of promise. Because winter can lie heavy on our world-weary souls. Will the bells ring out for us this season? Will we find reason to rejoice?

Christmas is a clarion call to celebration, largely of the material kind. It is also an oasis of hope, peace and joy for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus, a welcome pit stop to remember His first coming to earth and His future return.

We’re invited to take a holy pause, to savour the sacred in our midst, honour God above all things. And we cannot fail to see how creation itself speaks of a deep yearning for the difference which each new season of the year will bring.

My first haiku today was sparked by remembering that many are now knee-deep in trenches of snow.  Yet, despite how prolonged it can seem, winter will be over before we know it and spring is already stirring beneath the frozen soil.

‘Ring out a welcome’

Bells silenced by frost

Snowdrops ring out a welcome

Sign of early spring

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If creation is a clear sign of God’s presence, it also holds whispers of His joy. Every flower is full of His glory, each green stem a vivid reminder of God’s vitality, His thisness  infiltrating our everyday with the living sustenance, strength and support which only He can provide.

I believe living things ring clear and true of God’s goodness and grace, and that includes us too. We are receptacles and shining lights, offering a glimpse of His manifest glory working in and through us.

‘These inner bells’

You can’t silence these

inner bells—they peal freely

ring out joy within

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Time inches closer and we are almost ready to celebrate Christmas, to proclaim the joyous news of Emmanuel, God-with-us as a babe in Bethlehem and as Saviour and Lord in the here and now.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders..” ~ Isaiah 9:6

‘Ring out praises’

Sound the living bells

Let earth rejoice and ring out

Praises to her King

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“And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace: ~ Isaiah 9:6

I’m linking here to Ronovan Writes where this week’s haiku challenge prompt is: ‘Bells/Ring’. You are warmly invited to join in. There’s no need to write more than one haiku but I tend to get carried away!  🙂 

pets: on love, created beauty and theology

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Pets are far more than they may present at first glance. Some may look on them like they see small children: messy, unpredictable, noisy, uncontrollable and hard to locate sometimes. But for those who love them, they’re constant soul companions and loving, faithful friends.

Animals point to the beauty of created things, the unlimited, unconditional love which God poured into making earth a haven for us. They are great reminders of God’s goodness toward us, bringing pleasure as well as purpose into our lives.

“The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude” ~ Robert Brault

Maybe pets could be thought of as a way in which God speaks out His faithful presence, His constant love and affection for His children. We had quite a menagerie of rabbits, cats, mice, budgerigars and hamsters when I was growing up, all of which taught me a degree of responsibility—though I confess to once zealously overfeeding a goldfish until it died!

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

These days we have no pets and I mourn their loss, though I enjoy a stray cat or two wandering around our garden seeking attention. Our grandson has had a whole host of animals to observe, touch and marvel over in his three short years. The haiku and photos below have come from his experiences. I tried to limit myself to three! They also link to Ronovan Hester’s inspiring poetic site and this week’s haiku poetry prompt challenge of ‘Pet and Play’.

Playing with farmyard pets

Hens scratch at pellets

Seed scattered as tiny tots

Play with farmyard pets

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Christmas capers

Cat’s hopped in a box

She’s longing to play with those

stray wisps of tinsel

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Boy meets tortoise

Boy meets tortoise

Baffled by its clay-like shell

Should he pet or play?

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You might wonder why I am speaking about animals in this Advent season, but they do have a large role in our lives, as well as in Nativity plays. And in our theology, we speak of Christ as the sacrificial  Lamb who was slain, and the Lion of Judah when He finally comes to rule and reign.

So as you hug your pets, or simply appreciate the animals you see, maybe you can think of those things and be grateful for their presence in your life, the way they point to God’s grace in the everyday.

I’d love to hear about your pets. Do join in the conversation below…

gold: bringing Jesus our best Advent offering

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During Advent we are invited into story, made aware of the reason for the anticipatory watching and waiting. There will be surprises to come, a humble birth to proclaim, gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to be proffered by kings, now bowing to the King of kings on His bed of straw.

Advent is a golden time, a twilight hour before the main event, a necessary pause in proceedings as we ponder our own part in all of this. Because it cannot leave us cold. We are active participants too.

Not only do we pause, ponder and pray, mull and marvel at the miracle of God become man, we also start to see ourselves as the reason why He came, the purpose for this most Holy of invasions, this gentle leap into earthly territory.

And it may make us wonder what our response should be to the birth of our Lord and Saviour. What can we bring to Him, the One who throws stars into space and rides galaxies?

I believe God came for our hearts, our open devotion and willing surrender to His goodness and grace. I believe He wants us to be captivated by His offering of relationship.

We bring Him our gold, our best. What would that be? I think it’s our brokenness. We bring our messed up lives, our hidden sin, our secret dreams.  We bring Him failure and defeat, loss and longing, need and desire. We bring all the broken pieces of our lives like scattered ashes at His feet, ready for Him to bring beauty forth from them.

He tenderly takes, sifts, sorts and remakes us better than before. God isn’t afraid to get His hands dirty with our dust and detritus. He asks us to come as we are, no frills, no excuses, no pretence, no hesitation. Isn’t that the best invitation of all?


I didn’t intend to post today, but I wrote a tiny haiku with these thoughts on my mind. It was in response to a prompt which my lovely writing friend, Gayl Wright, speaks of on her blog. She also shares her own beautiful offering to the prompt of ‘Gold/Sing’ as found on Ronavan Writes – where this inviting poetic haiku challenge originates from.

This is my response:

Bring your offering

Let your gold pieces sing sweet

Laid at Jesus’ feet

I hope you’ll feel tempted to give it a go yourself!  🙂

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