seasons: sensing the sacred in our midst

seasons -

“Spring, summer, autumn, and winter each have particular gifts and invitations. Paying attention to the rhythms of the natural world helps us to recognize the place within us that calls for blossoming, fruitfulness, releasing, and resting.” — Christine Valters Paintner, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

Can you feel the tug, or is it just me? Can you sense the added pressure in this season when we’re unable to stay on top of our tasks? The urgent vies for our attention with the important because there’s just so much to do, and so little time left to do it in. We want to drop everything and go lie down in bed. Perhaps our weary bodies and anxious minds are telling us something valid we need to listen to.

Because we can become so wilted and jaded by all we want to complete before Christmas comes that we fail to fully appreciate the holy extraordinary event of Jesus being born on earth. But what if we paused? What if we stopped for microseconds at a time, or more? Let’s take a few slow, deep breaths and try. Let’s seek to listen to what our burdened souls, our fractured lives are saying to us.

seasons - sunset - trees - but what if we paused quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” — Matthew 11:28-29 NIV

Sacred seasons

 It is autumnal dusk,
 let us give ourselves
 a sacred moment to sit,

 rest, exhale, pray, pause,
 a space to breathe 
 and be. Because there is 
 an opportune moment

 for everything, a kairos 
 time for everything 
 on earth, a season 
 covering soul growth,

 activity, stillness 
 and deep soul rest.
 Even our hearts 
 have an innate knowledge

 of rhythm and purpose,
 where we sow seeds,
 we wait, we grow, we reap.

 So let us learn 
 to accept, relinquish,
 surrender, and appreciate 

 the abundant, the slow,
 the meagre, the painful 
 growing times which we detest,
 when we must stop and wait,

 the fleeting joyful moments 
 we all cherish and adore.
 Because they all count,
 far more than we might know,

 they all matter to God,
 no matter which season
 of the year, of life, of the heart
 we might currently be in,

 for we can all grow 
 and flourish inwardly
 when we pause to listen
 and fully trust in him.
 © joylenton

“God has so much to speak into your life. But if you don’t draw apart from the busyness of your day and spend time alone with Him in quietness and solitude, you will not hear it. Jesus himself spent much time alone with God. If anyone could get away with not doing it, surely it would have been Him. How much more important must it be for us?” — Stormie OMartian, The Power of a Praying Woman

Gracious Jesus,

Rather than allowing ourselves to be stressed and rushed, draw us deeper into the quiet restfulness of Your love. Help us focus less on festivities and presents, and more on spending quality time in Your presence. Revive our weary bodies.

Renew and reorient our anxious hearts. Even though our celebrations this year might be pared back and muted, compared with how they usually are, reignite the sense of wonder, joy, and hope wrapped up in this special season, and beyond.
Amen

waiting: the holy work of Advent and beyond

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

Waiting 

 sunlight weakens
 colour fades as mists descend
 December's here
 wrapping us in thick fogginess
 hunker down, it's nearly Christmas

 days slide by
 in a rush toward the night
 our souls moan and sigh
 darkness outside increases
 the onward march is ceaseless

 we become hungry
 for hope, for warmth, for light
 a safe place to abide
 while our souls grow accustomed
 to the season we are in

 clothed with silhouettes
 the trees stand sentinel-bare
 like bereft soldiers
 guarding the fort of their thoughts
 waiting for spring's reward

 maybe you and I
 can keep the vigil with them
 our hearts tuned to spring
 as wintry winds whistle hard
 let's remain patient and calm
 © joylenton

“This is the most precious answer God can give us: wait. It makes us cling to him rather than to an outcome. God knows what I need; I do not. He sees the future; I cannot. His perspective is eternal; mine is not. He will give me what is best for me when it is best for me.” ― Vaneetha Rendall Risner, The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

Friends, you’ve been waiting several weeks to see when I might return to writing in this space. Thank you for your patience! I’m so glad to be back. We seem to spend much of our lives waiting for this and that, don’t we? The season of Advent highlights how to wait with intention, with purpose, with hope and expectation in our hearts.

May we begin it with such anticipation. And may we aim to listen harder for God’s soft footsteps in our hearts. He longs to draw near to us and whisper His wisdom to our receptive souls but so often we become weary in the waiting and slow to respond. Let’s ask God to increase our ability to stay, to be open, to wait, and to receive. Because Jesus, our Light-bringer is well worth waiting for.

hope: when whispers reach us in the darkness

hope - rain - trees - countryside - car window view - when whispers reach us in the darkness (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Do you feel that? It is a calm shift in the wind. Do you hear that? It is a soft whisper of hope. Do you see that? It is the divine hand of guidance, mercifully extended to aid our good fight.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Times of darkness within and without can disappoint, defeat and drag our souls down. It feels as if we’re saturated in sadness and sorrow. But when we’re low and downcast, that’s when we most need to seek after God.

If we can train ourselves to listen to the small whispers of hope He offers us, and deliberately look for the tiny glimmers of light shining in the darkness, then we’re on our way to becoming brighter, bolder and stronger, as our faith and courage rise up.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” — Psalm 42:5 NIV

Whispers of hope

I am determined
that these dismal, dull and drear,
unrelenting rainy days

will not steal my joy
or dissipate the fragile 
faith I retain that they

will pass, and we will see
radiant glimpses of sunlight
breaking through at last. 

Because nature whispers
songs of hope
into my ears, lingering

long after the singing
dies away, but the message
I retain is stronger,

more vibrant than the dirge
of prematurely darkened
days, replete with heavy rain.

There's a thundering
of wetness against glass,
of wind hissing through the eaves,

seeking admittance
through snaking draughts
and damp, chilly air

that makes us want to wrap 
ourselves in warmth 
from autumn 'til spring will come.

But faith will have her way,
weaving a thread of hope
through the darkest of days,

sighing in our souls 
in harmony with grace,
an eternal melody of light

and a kind of hope-fuelled
joy nothing can steal away;
dim as the wick might be

sometimes, it's still more
than a match, more than 
enough for life's storms.
© joylenton
hope - rain - storm - whispers of hope poem excerpt (c) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” ― Catherine Marshall