world: a voyage of holy discovery

“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred – ever brushed against the holy – you retain it more in your bones than in your head; and if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.” ― Daniel Taylor, In Search of Sacred Places

A world within a world

Some can see a world 
in the labyrinthine 
whorls of a rose,

while others sense it
contained within
the smallness of a hazelnut.

Although it is too vast
and complex to be confined
inside one thing or one mind,

there remains a simplicity
bequeathed and revealed 
to the soul of you and me.

A sacred space opens up
to the fathomless,
the infinite, the large,

as our tiny hearts 
become receptacles 
enlarged by holy love.

A whole universe exists 
within each one of us,
ready to be explored.

All we need to offer 
is our openness,
our receptivity is the path

whereby universal truth
can inhabit our hearts,
to be accepted—or ignored.
(C) joylenton

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’”

“I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God. In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.” — Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

My friend, you might be feeling alone and far from God right now or fear that He has forgotten you somehow, but that just isn’t true, because we can rely on the promises in His Word that keep us safe and secure.

God never leaves our side for a second, and He finds a million little ways in which to demonstrate His constant presence, tenderness and love to our fragile, hurting hearts.

May you rest in His unconditional love today as you ask Him to open your eyes to the voyage of holy discovery and joy He wants to take you on. With blessings, love, hugs and prayer from this fellow voyager. Xx 🙂 ❤

anticipating: the holy art of noticing

“Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My mostly sedentary, housebound life has, rather surprisingly, greatly enhanced whatever ability I might have for noticing. Observation pays dividends of hope and contentment whenever I look closely at living creatures, trees, flowers, and plants.

Nature lures me like a siren call, and I respond with joy, knowing how it lifts my spirit to engage with it all.

Anticipation builds as the seasons change because they all have different aspects that charm us. Life goes on without our full attentiveness, of course, but when we do pause to pay attention we are rewarded with wonderful scenic views, deeper appreciation, participation with the created world, spiritual insights, and maybe a poem to share..

Anticipating

Holiness seeps 
from each breath of wind,
whispering your majesty
because the still, 
small voice speaks 
louder than anything.

The land anticipates
your glorious presence 
as it waits to receive
each day’s instruction 
to shine your glory
and signal your peace.

Yes, even now,
with dripping trees bowed
low against each movement
of blustery wind and rain,
while a watery sun
licks the flowers again.

Even here, as the pigeon 
pokes her beak
into saturated soil,
expectant of finding 
seed, and the blackbirds
stoop to gather worms
as their daily spoil.

Nature might appear 
casually indifferent 
to holy breath 
but it shouts out the loudest
words of praise
to its Maker, always.

Earth has learnt
how to keep you
as its primary focus,
remaining sensitive 
to all the shifts
in its rhythmic pulse,
its seasonal chorus.

Oh may we be stirred 
to listen to its vibrant 
words, and give our own 
response, as our hearts rejoice 
in also being seen and heard.

May your peace rule
and reign 
in the midst of chaos 
because answers 
will flow, even if we think
no one can hear us.
© joylenton

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” ~ George Washington Carver

For those of you who might have been anticipating just when I would return and write here again, I’m glad to be back! But I have to say that I’m not sure as yet how regular my posts will be for a while, as this post explains. Keep noticing my friends. It will reward you more than you know to develop and heighten your awareness of God at work in the world. Xx 🙂 ❤

lightness: learning to release our burdens to God

“Are you weary of the pace of this world? Does the never-ending deluge of information from the media wear you out? God promises that when we meet him, we find our true rest along these ancient paths—not in a new technology, a new medication, or the passage of new legislation, but through intentionally and habitually coming to Jesus and casting our burdens upon him. Only there do we find true and enduring rest.” — Ed Stetzer

Lightness

 Hot coals burn
 these palms of mine
 as a daily kind

 of frantic juggling 
 act goes on.
 Each burden sears 
 my soul

 as I grasp tightly
 at insubstantial things
 which dissipate

 like smoke,
 like lifeless rings
 blowing here and there.

 But if I pause,
 slow down,
 breathe you in
 with every inhalation

 I take,
 my empty hands
 of faith become

 filled with rich gifts
 of Light, of Life
 Hope, Joy, and Peace.

 Here in the stillness
 I let my burdens
 drop down
 Into your waiting hands,

 falling as dust,
 without form,
 substanceless.

 Each weighty care
 flows freely
 as if it were

 a balloon,
 a mist,
 but vapour rising
 then falling

 over distant hills.
 I watch
 them all floating
 on a breeze

 while lightness
 also fills 
 my mind, my heart,

 my spirit,
 and a smile
 twitches itself
 onto my upturned lips.
 © joylenton

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

lightness - lightness poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“I am about to go to sleep and so I turn over to him all those people I have been carrying in my heart. He never slumbers, he never sleeps, he never fatigues, he never stumbles. I won’t pick them up again unless he prompts me to do so. His burden is light, his yoke is easy. He carries the heavy end of the load, always. I am just his kid, carrying what I can carry, and he is a good Dad and never gives me a burden that would discourage or harm me by its weight.” — Katherine Walden


May I pray for you?

Lord Jesus,

Turn our hearts more in the direction of your face, your heart, your voice, your love. Reveal just what unnecessary loads and heavy burdens we might be carrying, and encourage us to let them fall at your feet, where we receive your Peace.

May we sense the wisdom of spending quality time in your Presence to offload our cares and concerns and become strengthened. Help reorient our anxious souls back to faith, back to calm, back to rest, and back to hope.
Amen

wholeness: sensing hints of wholeness

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” — Wendell Berry

Hints of wholeness 

 Where do we begin and end? 
 Is there a boundary between you and me
 and other living things?

 Don’t we all draw breath, our sustenance 
 given by a generous, almighty hand
 that loves us without restraint?

 Now we look at air and water,
 fire and earth, tree and leaf,
 noticing the connectedness.

 We see and sense our union 
 with all living things, our sentience 
 linked inexplicably with theirs.

 Earth in its rawness, primitive 
 soil teeming with hope,
 with richness, and with life.

 Fire exists in the heavens,
 wrapped in the golden glow of sunset 
 and sad devastation of forests.

 We see repeating patterns
 in the sky, in a flower,
 in each day, the length of hours.

 And our souls can sense
 areas of difference still
 giving hints of wholeness.

 Variety is seeded in the universe,
 in all burgeoning plants,
 in faith, and in infancy.

 What we will become
 is still a mystery
 for now, waiting to be revealed.

 Brokenness is our default state
 throwing us on God's mercy,
 his great forgiveness and grace.

 We learn not to divide 
 our hearts but yield them up
 in surrendering to his love.

 Our brothers and sisters 
 are not too dissimilar to us
 when viewed through grace.

 One day differences will subside 
 because what unites us
 is greater than what divides.
 © joylenton

“[Jesus] matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.” — Dallas Willard in Ruthless Trust – Brennan Manning

trust: choosing to maintain hope in the hard

“Whatever dark tunnel we may be called upon to travel through, God has been there.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

Trust

 Let us start
 here—in the present 
 moment that exists,

 where we have 
 a choice—to doubt or trust 
 in God’s great sovereignty,
 his constant care and love.

 Let us continue
 while we cling tightly 
 to Truth, to Hope, to Faith,
 embracing our challenges 

 because of the blessings 
 God has hidden within
 the hardest of days.

 Let us walk
 by leaning on the staff
 of faith, relying 

 on what we already 
 know and experience 
 of God’s mercy,
 his grace and strength.

 Let us lean
 ever harder on our God
 when troubles come,
 even as they 

 multiply like flies
 may we know, deep down,
 we will cope and survive.

 Let us journey
 with open minds
 and hearts, with open

 hands as well,
 expecting to be surprised 
 by the power of holy
 Love in which we dwell.
 © joylenton

“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence.” — Augustine

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” — Isaiah 26:3

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