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 🙂 ❤

flowering: your turn in the sun will come

Some of us are wilting for want of a Covid-free and hassle-free holiday, a proper time away from our oh so familiar homes, our troubled shores. A place in the sun, no less, reliable sunshine, that is.

Although there is beauty, refreshment and restfulness to be had closer to home than you might think. We English (or any other nationality, of course) roses can shine right here, right now, as we glow with the light of Christ, and have our beautiful flowering.

You might consider yourself to be more of a weed or wildflower, invisible to most, a person on the margins, not especially prized, perhaps. But wherever you are, and whoever you are, you are far from invisible to God. He watches carefully over all your seasons of flowering and growth.

Because wherever you and I might live, we can bloom right where we are planted. We can have a spiritual flowering any moment, any day, any season of the year we might be in. We only need to be willing to follow God’s timing.

“A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions — so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.” — Terri Guillemets

Flowering

I observe how
each rosy-pink
of these growing buds
slowly begins to open
up, and fill with moisture,

like rain-saturated
tea cups, which turns them
into spreading, pale, creamy,
dark pink dotted petals, as if 
they are covered in measles.

While the lush green
leaves expand, stretch 
themselves to accommodate
each spilling, fragrant
froth of flower

in its opening up,
as they try to gather
more chlorophyll greening
into themselves
from light in their veins.

This lovely rose
bush has her face
uptilted, as if she
is smiling at the sun,
welcoming its warming

touch, giving life
and heat and energy
in which to bloom 
where she is planted,
here in this space.

And I wonder
if I am similarly 
receptive to the light
shining within and without,
as ready to stay 

rooted for months,
patiently waiting for
my turn in the sun,
my flowering to come.
© joylenton

“Earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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 🙂 ❤

growing: on flourishing in life and faith

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” — Psalm 92:12-14 NIV

Growing

 I want to grow
 slowly, like moss. Spread out
 with lively verdancy, 
 stay bright and fresh,

 remain green-leaved.
 May I carpet
 my mind, my interior
 castle, my spirit 

 with holy wisdom,
 with resiliency
 I can confidently 
 walk upon with ease.

 Let me be rooted
 like a sturdy oak tree
 which freely spreads itself—its bark, 
 branches, trunk and leaves

 across the forest floor 
 because sunlight invites
 it to, and it knows
 how to grow and mature.

 May I stay 
 strong and stable, secure
 during life’s fiercest storms, 
 unshaken, unmoved,

 unbroken, unbowed,
 bravely holding on.
 Because I know
 that I am girdled around

 with supernatural strength
 that is not my own, 
 but generously given 
 to me as a pure gift

 of grace, one which stems 
 from a surrendered 
 dependency, while I stretch 
 and remain rooted in faith.
 © joylenton 

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” ― Helen Keller

Whatever we might face, God will give us help and strength. While we wait, God grows our hope and faith. Whenever we feel weak, He enables us to soar above our challenging circumstances and depend on His grace. We’re covered, my friend, even though it might not feel like it sometimes.

Spiritual growth, whereby we develop wisdom, patience, maturity, resilience, and faith, is a slow process. I’m needing to remember that and give myself grace because we have an opportunity to move house this summer—gulp!—and will need those characteristics in abundance. We have a few short months in which to decide, downsize, declutter, and discard enough to make the move achievable for us.

I’m trusting that the months ahead of being more deeply rooted in faith will be rewarded by being fully equipped for all that lies ahead, because God is faithful to support and lift us up when we feel weak. Consequently, my words here will be sporadic while my limited energy, focus and strength are needed elsewhere. I welcome your prayers and look forward to reconnecting with you whenever I can. Blessings and love. xo 🙂 ❤

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

awareness: noticing the marvellous in the mundane

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

Awareness

 I might sense
 the slight tightening 
 of a stitch,

 an awareness
 of being hemmed in,
 then easily miss

 the way you weave
 your miracles
 in the mundane.

 Unless my eyes
 are open, noticing,
 ready for

 a surprise, prepared
 to watch and see
 what lies behind

 the ordinary,
 then I could glimpse
 the deftly woven

 warp and weft
 of your holy threads,
 your embroidering. 

 Although it is more
 than a visual
 response, more than

 a second glance
 required to 
 observe a sacred

 hand at work,
 a gentle touch
 igniting the humble
 soil of earth.

 Because you ask
 me to look 
 inwardly as well

 as outwardly,
 to catch the softest
 tread of your

 footsteps inside 
 my expectant heart
 as you walk,

 fill it with your love,
 your presence,
 and your thoughts. 
 © joylenton

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God… As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ― Anne Frank, The Diary of A Young Girl

Prayer

Loving Creator God,

We give you thanks and praise for creation’s stunning beauty and the soul soothing, calming effects it has on our minds and hearts. May we sense the safety of being hemmed in by your grace and love as we face tough situations and challenging circumstances. Help us to notice the way you skilfully weave the marvellous into the mundane for us to enjoy each day.. Heighten our awareness of being part of the miracle as we learn to appreciate these gifts to the full.
Amen

silence: stirred to listen harder to our lives

“In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.” — Frederick Buechner

Stirred

 Angels stir the waters
 and we awaken, roused 
 at last from slumber

 deep. We’re getting ready 
 to receive. Our inner spirit 
 had been sleeping,

 blissfully unaware, now 
 it seems that God is calling.
 He is close—he is near. We can

 hear his holy footsteps 
 because an unfolding advent,
 a season of awakening 

 begins with this—this sudden
 impartation, this stirring
 of mind and heart. This call

 to listen, pay attention,
 and respond. Yes, yes, our souls 
 sing silently as the mists part,

 the darkness yields itself 
 to light, the shadowed dullness 
 flees, replaced by illumination,

 bright luminosity is seen. To what 
 end are we stirred like this,
 awakened, we know not yet,

 but still we rise inside, 
 propelled by a holy purpose
 waiting to be revealed to us.

 Great change is in the air
 we breathe, scenting the atmosphere 
 with silvery notes of promise,

 with hope, with an opening, a hint
 of blossoming to come. If only 
 we would notice, and follow

 the path set out before us,
 be it rocky, smooth or hard,
 get ready to walk, leap or jump. 
 © joylenton

“The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord” — Henri Nouwen

Friends, it is a time for awe and wonder to predominate. A season in which we watch and wait. A moment to pause and catch our breath before we become too embroiled in Christmas busyness. And it’s a time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here, for the shared conversations, thoughtful comments, and prayers.

I look forward to sharing life’s poetic rhythms with you again on January 14th, when I will have some special news to share! 🎄🌟May your Christmas and New Year celebrations be full of joy, and may you life be blessed with abundant hope, healing, and peace in the year ahead. 🌟🎄Blessings and love. Xox 😊💟❤️

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