home: our universal ache and longing to belong

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Home is where the heart is, our place of safety, solace and security—or at least it could and should be. Though for many, home is far from a haven. It can often be the very place they long to escape from.

Right from our earliest memories, home remains a place we are either joined together by strong ties of deep love and affection, or feel a sense of disconnection to. Because not all of us are loved well or treated right in our formative years. Not all of us desire to stay or return to where we began our days.

It is natural to develop independence and want to spread our wings when we get to a certain age, but some of us have an inner longing to flee a place where we don’t feel cherished, a home where we don’t seem to fit in or truly belong, a need for a different shelter of sorts.

That’s why God offers us all an eternal Home, a place of grace and loving kindness, a haven of perfect love and peace, an abiding sense of safety and stability and an anchor for the soul of true acceptance and rest. We have a taste of its beauty in this world and glimpses of its magnificence to come.

Meanwhile, His arms are all the safe place and shelter we seek. His love is unconditional, overwhelming and free. His mercy and grace help us to make changes in how we perceive our lives and His healing touch helps us to forgive and move forward again.

Here are 3 aspects of home in 140 characters or less….

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He feels a tug to look back

calling him homeward

His eyes realise how vast

the universe can be

He aches to stay as he

breaks the cord to leave

(139 characters)

 

A window seat is a way

to see more clearly, get

a fresh perspective, because

home is anywhere at all

No more or less than

a place to lay his head

(140 characters)

 

“Are you ready for this?

He nods, gulps back tears, turns to take another look outside, where home shrinks small while he faces new horizons. (140 characters)

The thoughts, poems and prose above, were inspired by my creative friend, Kat Myrman,  and this week’s ‘Twittering Tales’ photo prompt she has provided. Just click on the link to read more. You’re warmly welcome to  join in if you’d like to.

What does the word ‘home’ conjure up for you?

Do you feel ready to take a step of faith toward the next thing God has planned for you? 

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seeing: thoughts on art, life and poetry

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It is said that seeing is believing. But what if those things we’re seeing are obscured somehow? Can we trust our eyes? Or do we require an inner knowing, a new perspective to override our senses?

The image above is my attempt to take something prosaic and make a new form of it. Would you believe that hidden beneath the vivid colours are some faded sweetpea flowers, a wire fence and a recycling bin? Yes, really.

We’re all artists at heart, creatives to the core. Because how could we not be when our Creator God made us that way, to reflect His ability to take, shape, mould and make something from nothing?

Though sometimes we don’t consider ourselves as such. But with the right type of media that suits us, a hefty dose of courage, encouragement, faith, patience, persistence and perseverance we can all discover just how to be our uniquely creative selves.

And even if that is restricted to our own pleasure in the process, it’s absolutely fine. I happen to love messing about with photographs and creating word art. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you are treated/subjected to my imperfect attempts in those areas!

We have a choice to share or not to share, to tear up and try again if need be. We also have a choice on who gets to view our work and if we feel able to cope with a degree of public scrutiny.

With today’s #magneticmonday magnetic poetry offerings, I hope your seeing will be more than simply absorbing the words as they come. I trust the creative spirit in you will find some resonance with the poetic storyteller in me. There’s no pressure, because like all works of art, there is no single way of interpreting them. Let’s compare notes when you get to the end, yes?

A swim of light

You ask why these pictures

lie and have languid,

lazy, elaborate lives

Watch through blue fingers

as the urge is all

You never cry time 

on sweet sleep symphony

and summer forest trudging,

as those red bared rose

petals crush luscious as honey

and a swim of light shows

©joylenton2017

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Our shady peace

Gentle winter-wet breeze

and dark moistened air

cycle soft above pure

love’s moon, and wild

grass grows like a sweet

blanket between lonely tree

Behold, earth is our shady

peace, as we relax beneath

and feel more alive here

©joylenton2017

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I love how photo editing apps can make such a difference  with their ability to completely alter an image into a new work of art.  Here’s a selection of some of the best editing apps for i-phones and these are great with an android device. I use picmonkey and canva to help me create blog post images. You probably know of more inspiring apps and editing sites to explore.

How do you express your creativity best? What apps do you use to aid your artistic ability?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Advent: seeing through soft smattering of stars

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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.

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seeing life as a holy communion

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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

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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

 

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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

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What daily graces are sparking gratitude for you? 

How are you appreciating the holy in your midst?

a deeper journeying toward the light

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Our journey toward the Light of God’s presence will be fraught with detours along the way. Life’s darkness steals around the edges of our days as it seeks to blot out the light. A sweet-pea flower’s fragility reminds us how our lives often feel like a transient, tender flare of brightness set within dark and gloomy circumstances.

Where do we turn to when things go awry? Who do we seek out when in need of soul solace?I’ve found that failing to turn swiftly to God only brings deeper misery. But if we make Him our first port of call, pray instead of trying to cope alone or pushing Him away, then He is ever faithful to come to our rescue.

I’m discovering the dependence which having chronic illness brings can cause frustration,  resentment and unwillingness to yield, but over time it begins to change our perception of surrendering.

The poem below depicts a dragonfly’s journey and also mirrors our human one as we learn to arise, lean toward the light,  become less dependent on self, and sense a bright, joyful welcome in God’s presence.

As dragonflies

dragonfly

We begin

earth grubbing silt and sludge dwellers

stuck mud-deep, dark glooming

in humanity’s squall,

little realising there is a way to climb

free from such insanity; drenched in

slime, smell of death clings fast,

seeping into all

We are

earthbound, plodding through endless days

of toil, rooted in routine, shielded

from questing thought

by the sheer monotony of the way

life trundles on, one day following

another in repetitious refrain, yielding

far less than it ought

We sense

a glint appearing; light wavering

glows slow with fronds emerging

for us to climb upon

Slim reed of hope, discovery,

shoots into view, enticing us to seek

rescue, release from watery grave

echoing a saving song

We rise

blinking in great wonder and delight

As dragonflies, our wings unfurl,

breaking free in dance

of grace, coloured and caught by Light

Every part on fire, shimmering bold,

aswirl with joy untold, glimmering

soul and spirit entranced

©JoyLenton2016

We wear faith like a fragrant garland around our weary necks while we press hard into each day’s demands, and we learn how to look for the Light, shake off the dust that clings tenaciously and lean on God for everything.

Our very weakness and fragility, far from being limiting things, become a special means of grace, an opening up to seeing God’s gracious hand at work in the commonplace.

It involves listening with spiritual intent to all our lives are saying to us, hearing the ways God reaches out in love to speak His wholeness into our brokenness.

God is always inviting us to join Him in the Light, to marvel as our beauty unfurls in the warmth of His presence, to see and sense what we have come from and where we are going to.

As we draw closer to Advent, I will be sharing more about our dark, earthbound condition and how God invites us into the airborne freedom of His Light. I’d love to hear how this season is speaking to you.

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enjoying God’s transcendence and immanence

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Twilight whispers, invites us into silence, speaks softly of things beyond our ken. It suggests a thin place in Celtic mythology, where heaven appears to be touching earth, a time when time itself seems to stand still, heralding an opening between this world and the next.

During twilight, day hasn’t quite yielded to warmer shades of sunset. This is a subtler moment to still our souls, pause and ponder as we await night’s stealthy presence. Twilight isn’t signalling a full stop to daylight so much as inviting us to stop for a while. It’s a moment of holy transcendence, an awareness of deeper things.

I always want the light to linger longer. Maybe it’s an inner yearning mirroring a soul’s desire for God. Perhaps it’s a way of seeking to acknowledge His immanence with us, while allowing room for the mysterious otherness which twilight brings.

Thin Veil

Twilight whispers soft secrets

It is the poet’s pondering

hour, where thin veil conceals

Mystery and showers us

with sweet incense from above

A breathed out benediction

reveals God’s unfading love

©JoyLenton2016

Our joy can appear to dissipate like autumnal mists, lost in the ether. How do we hold on to such a precious gift, grace and Holy Spirit-given fruit? Maybe we need to see how joy is always replenished in God’s presence, while we hold onto the Holy in our daily and make space for Mystery.

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Our heartfelt praise and gratitude can bring  a glow of joy to our heavenly Father’s heart as well as helping to oil and enhance our own. We can increase our ability to sense heaven’s presence by paying closer attention to those things which speak out God’s nearness with us, maybe by trying some of the suggestions below…

10 ways to sense the heavenly

  • take a walk and talk with God
  • admire the beauty of creation
  • take a photograph
  • sing songs of praise
  • light a candle and meditate
  • write a poem or gratitude list
  • draw or paint a picture
  • spend quality time with loved ones
  • sit, breathe and rest in His presence
  • contemplate, listen and pray

I close with some insightful thoughts from a dear friend of mine in response to following this series:

“How neglected joy is in comparison with the other fruits of the Spirit! It seems to me that we strive for love, hope, mercy, compassion far more than joy… Could it be that joy is the natural by-product of all fruits developed and given because of an intimate communion with Christ and love for God?” ~ Yolanda Green

Her words confirm to me the importance of journeying into joy, its deep significance to us as Christ followers who seek to emulate and reveal His character in all we say, think and do.

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Welcome to #day30 of #31days of journeying into joy! Our time together is almost at an end.

It’s been a blessing and a joy to share these thoughts with you. Please join me tomorrow for the final post in this series.

 

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how our joy is increased in looking up

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We have a tendency to want to shrink God down to understandable, manageable human size, thinking we can contain Him within our own hopes and dreams. But He remains unconfined, free from any restrictions placed on Him by our finite minds.

If anything speaks to me of God’s infinite glory and majesty, then skies definitely do. Because how can we view an ever-changing panorama of colour, sunsets soaked in shades of vermillion, clouds threaded with indigo-violet and tinged with tangerine, without marvelling at the Hand that made it happen?

It certainly cuts us down to size when we compare ourselves and our human achievements to the fathomless mystery of Holy God and a vast universe. What an invitation to raise our eyes heavenward! What a revelation of God’s goodness and grace seen in our everyday ordinary.

We are designed to fly, to soar and rise above our earthly circumstances, and we only achieve it by looking up to God, seeking His face as often as we need to. He alone can provide all the help and grace we need.

As I think about what a gift it is to have sight, to be able to appreciate all that is poured out before us, I ponder: Maybe the secret kernel at the heart of joy is in the looking up? Maybe having eyes cast down, heart heavy with worry and anxiety, face creased into a frown, makes us too earthbound?

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In the healing of Blind Bartimeus (found in Mark 10: 46-52), Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimeus answers, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”  And ‘anablepo’  — which is the word for “to receive sight”, when literally translated in the Greek — means: “I want to be up-looking.”

It makes us wonder at all he missed in being blind, and how much we, too, can neglect to see properly, even with perfectly functioning eyes. Our physical eyesight might be acute but our inner spiritual vision can remain blurred, distorted by wearing worldly lenses.

In this request to Jesus, Bartimeus is displaying not only a desire to be able to view the world around him with open eyes, but also a spiritual hunger to have a God-given perspective, an upwardly mobile gaze that takes in far more than human eyes can see.

The poem below (originally shared in the Association of Christian Writers (ACW) ‘Christian Writer’ magazine) reveals different ways of seeing.

Watch the Wind

I watch autumnal leaves

scattered in the street

They remind me of the way

I too am curled small inside

dying a death to flesh

And as they bow

to wild wind’s will

lifted higher

in its arms

I too am lifted up

above the daily grind

into the joy

of a sacred dance

©JoyLenton2015

*Note* – a God-given, inspiring germ idea which birthed this post came from my dear friend, Laurie Klein. You can visit her site by clicking here. I think you’ll love it as much as I do. She’s an amazingly gifted writer, poet and photographer.

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Welcome to #day29 of #write31days  journeying into joy. I’m so glad you are here!

How do you view being upward looking in life and faith?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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