labyrinth: discovering beauty and grace in the maze of our ordinary days

labyrinth - discovering beauty and grace in the midst of our ordinary days @poetryjoy.com

Life can feel like a maze. A place strewn with pathways that lead us astray. Somewhere with  high walls and hidden depths, where we can easily lose ourselves. People who have once loved us can drift away, out of sight. We wonder if we’ll ever find our way back to the calming centre of things.

Living can overwhelm our senses. Too much noise. Too much light. Too much haste and hurry. Too many people. Too much of everything. We just want to stop. Get off the merry-go-round and find ourselves. Breathe freely again. Relax.

Let me take you back to a Centre of calm and peace that never fails us. Come with me on a gentle, poetic labyrinth prayer walk that leads us straight to the heart of God. And appreciation and gratitude for where we already are.

Labyrinth

gracious God,
unfold your life in me

unfurl it turn by turn
that in each curving spiral

I may pause and see
the labyrinth of your love

the wonder of your grace

a touch of heaven above
the beauty of your face

infuse these ordinary days
dull as they may seem

with deep holy joy
extraordinary peace
rich gratitude and praise
© joylenton

labyrinth poem (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Let us pause. Breathe. Pray. Savour the silence. And experience one of the most holy times of day. Twilight is a thin place where heaven appears to touch earth with greater intensity. In the dimming of the light we can experience restfulness and peace. Allow these words to soothe your soul. Let us greet this moment with gratitude. Then extend that feeling to the richness of love and life God gifts us with each day.

Twilight

every day
invites, offers us a gift
time to wonder
we get ready to receive
a moment to ponder

eyes lift
conscious of a slight change
something shifts
sun tips her hat toward the horizon
while the scenery gets rearranged

ethereal
suspended fine as mist
twilight
hovering between day and night
softly spilling heaven’s secrets

a thin veil
brief lifting of the curtain
gossamer-fine
nothing feels so certain
while heaven touches earth

prayer comes
with tender dying of the day
vespers
gratitude rises to our lips
we savour what’s before us
© joylenton

labyrinth - twilight poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We close with a song expressing wonder over the freely given, undeserved goodness and grace of God.

I’m honoured to be sharing my words with Chronic Joy’s Poetry Prompt, based on A harvest of Grains, initiated by Tweetspeak Poetry.  The topic is “gratitude” and the theme is to reveal our appreciation of the holy ordinary. Come join us here?  🙂

privilege: the wonder of surrendering our lives to Jesus

 

My husband often jokes that I have a hot-line to heaven, the privilege of seeing my prayers answered more than he does. Maybe it’s because I see no limitations in what I pray about, including minor things, such as obtaining parking spaces and finding lost objects – yes, really!

I didn’t grow up in a privileged way or with any sense of entitlement. On the contrary, my background prepared me for the school of hard knocks I’ve been in for the majority of my life. Yet threaded through it all, often in intangible ways, God’s goodness and grace have been the backbone of everything I have experienced.

Although it might have taken me years to really appreciate it, I am discovering that time and hindsight are uncovering the enormous privilege it is to be a beloved child of God and a woman of faith who, despite her obvious weaknesses and glaring inadequacies, has been given the privilege of living and witnessing for Him.

I have the privilege

I have the privilege of being a writer and poet
who God works through to minister to others
while I pour out my heart, witness to his work deep
within and seek to encourage them to trust in him

I have the privilege of being a child of God
who is wrapped round tight with his infinite
love, made safe and secure by his mercy and
held closer than I am aware of or can see

I have the privilege of being a woman of faith
with God’s holy grace filling and flooding my
days, and his forgiveness readily available
for every sin I might commit, and those
I don’t even know about yet

I have the privilege of being able to pray
minute by minute throughout the day, as I
yield and surrender my heart and soul to my
burden-bearing Lord, and watch how wonderfully
he lifts my cares and pain, while restoring me
gently back to wholeness again
©joylenton

**I also have the privilege of a 5 minute poem arising in response to this week’s #FMF prompt of ‘privilege’. You are very welcome to come join us here and read the wide variety of posts being shared.** 🙂 

how: facing seemingly unanswerable questions

 

Questions abound as we watch the news and read reports that make us keep asking how and why, in a futile attempt to try to make sense of what seems senseless and beyond our ken.

Such  questioning thoughts have crowded into my mind, especially in recent months when world events have left me reeling for answers to questions I barely know how to express. Because not everything in life is cut and dried and man’s inhumanity to man is beyond understanding at times.

So I ponder and pray, particularly where injury, and worse, to children is involved. My heart breaks, tears flow and words follow close behind, as in the lament poem below.

Questions without answers

How do you not let your soul grow old, as
calloused as the soles of your feet, when you’re
forced to walk as one displaced, a person
despised for ethnicity and race, made
homeless, rootless, orphaned and lost
in so many ways?

How do you maintain hope when your throat
is always parched and your heart aches for
news of your beloved ones, feared dead, while
you trudge on seeking shelter, trying hard to
assuage the pain of dread?

How do you carry the weight of the world on
your stooped forward, wing-like shoulders, when you
can barely sustain the weight of unshed tears and
the loss you’ve endured, as well as the meagre
belongings you have procured?

How do you cope when there is not enough food to be
found to help a body survive, drink is a desperate word
and your children, who have learnt not to cry
or ask for it, scratch around with stones and sticks
for lack of anything else to amuse themselves with
while their tummies hurt?

How do you keep on believing sufficient help is at hand
and endure the humility of need and receiving, when
you have nothing to offer in return, apart from grateful
thanks, relief and your constant broken state, as you
become yet another faceless, nameless statistic
on TV and newspaper page?

The human spirit has to endure many things as it exists
in this world, but few are called to become uprooted like this
and turned into homeless, displaced souls, whose hope is worn
so low, stretched wafer-thin, whose mind and heart are heavier
than we could truly know or bear
©joylenton

Let’s pray…

Loving Father,
Although we know that nothing is hidden from your awareness, so much distresses our souls as we witness children, weak and vulnerable ones suffering at the hands of others.
Help us to see these atrocities as evidence of sin being unleashed in hearts that are far from you. Enable us to understand that evil unchecked is full of malice and pain.
Teach us to rest in your perfect peace, dwell close to your heart and seek to release our anxiety and fear, while being your love and compassion in action wherever we can.
May we be voices in the wilderness pointing to Jesus. May we believe that all sin meets its match in Him and all questions meet their answer there too. May we trust your Word and promises to be a safe haven for the lost, hurting and dispossessed.
Amen

**Friends, though we might feel helpless, we can raise awareness, pray, give practical aid or donate to help displaced refugees, like my favourite charity does**

rigidity: when God needs to soften our cold hearts

 

Winter creeps closer and my fingers and toes act like a weather barometer. They blanch to match the snow, with white tips and stiff rigidity, a bit like icicles needing thawing. ⛄❄

They can become frozen by nothing much at all— like the merest drift of cool air, even during summer months—and remain that way until the stinging throb of feeling returns again, with a bluey-red flush of blood.

It’s a bad circulation problem I’ve had since childhood, when chilblains were a literal pain and paved the way for seasons of chilled numbness thereafter. It is known as Reynaud’s disease or syndrome/phenomenon. I’ve got minor, permanent nerve damage in some fingertips due to the changeable blood flow over many years.

Contributory factors include having a mother who smoked throughout the pregnancy and being born prematurely. The good news is my heart stays hot because the core of who we are always gets the best blood supply! 💓😏

Being cold-hearted is not a helpful way to live. 💙 Having coldness or rigidity in our hearts and minds is an unattractive attribute and an indicator that we need supernatural help from God to thaw and warm us up again.

Rigidity

Flake by flake falls, blanketing a world in white, signalling
virginal innocence, and as yet untouched softness blessed
with holy awe, as we watch it fall and marvel at the miracle

Before long, newly cold wintry ground gives up its hold, turning
snow and ice to slush, rendering a hushed wonder into mud
and ridges of rigidity, much like our hearts when left alone

And there’s danger afoot when icy patches remain rock hard
causing many to curse, slip and stumble their way on slippery
soled, treacherous ground where no firm footing can be found

Months can slide by and the ground remains hard, unyielding
and resistant to touch, until a thaw of sorts takes place, sun creeps
higher in the sky of our thoughts and we creep closer to arms of love
©joylenton

 

Heavenly Father,

May you brace us to face each season with equanimity, despite chill winds of adversity blowing. Help us to not stay frozen in our emotions, or chilled within by pain, but have hearts receptive to and softened by your love.

Enable us to avoid cold rigidity in our thinking. May we be grateful for what we already have and open to receiving and welcoming the new and the next you are leading us into.

Most of all, Lord, thaw our attitudes and thoughts where they have become hardened, wearied by waiting. Remind us that during Advent, especially, there is a Holy purpose behind our pain and that new Life and Hope can be birthed in us again.

We give you our grateful thanks and praise as you lead us warmly back into experiencing your love, your wonder, joy and peace anew during the demands of this season.

Thank you. Amen

vanish: letting go of our cares and concerns

November comes in shyly, concealing its icy depths in a cloak of mist. Many days are washed in vapour, made mysterious by the hiddenness of things, the way the familiar can vanish in an instant.

Reducing, darkening daylight hours make us yearn for the light, seek colour and warmth and savour each tiny bit of golden, autumnal glory while we can.

Maybe we could view this concealment as invitation to turn away for a while from the allure of the world around us. To let go of our cares and concerns, and begin to mimic these chillier days by being still and rested in our souls.

Vapour in the mist

Sky shades to silver as a veil of grey
falls like a leaden blanket, allowing
mere slivers of azure blue hues to
filter through

This pale, dove-grey covering conceals sun’s
heat with filmy rays, and invites us to
come aside from busyness and rest
here instead

So we pause a while, breathe a little freer
as we let loose constraints of the day
and watch worries vanish as vapour
in the mist
©joylenton

Father,

When skies shade to grey and our emotions are tempted to follow suit, help us instead to focus on your bright, shining Light that is always with us. May we see mellow, misty moments in these darkening days as an invitation to come aside, breathe, pause and pray, trusting that all our cares and concerns are safe in your hands.

May we reflect on the colour and vibrancy that surrounds us. Give us eyes open to receive and  hearts able to appreciate the onset of winter, sensing awe and wonder in the stark beauty it brings to everything.

Fill our souls with gratitude for the gifts to be found in each season of life and faith.  And remind us how one season will slowly segue into another, eventually vanish from our memories, until it returns in its own form of splendour, with joys we hadn’t anticipated.

Amen

our aching heart void that only God can fill #thedailyhaiku 19

 

Hearts are such fragile things, easily hurt and wounded, broken and crushed. Our brokenness means we all have an aching heart, whether we sense it or not. Life’s flotsam and jetsam twists us up inside and we crave an elusive peace.

Nothing we try to do can quite assuage the void within that fills with unshed tears and pain. I wrote something about this in my poetic memoir, especially in the poem below. It’s not a haiku but it addresses this topic well…

Broken

In every pew

sits a broken heart

In every church

we’re falling apart

We’re the haunted

by memories and shame

We’re the wounded

by sickness and pain

In need of

God’s mercy and grace

In hope of

change taking place

We reach out

with yearning tears

We sing out

broken hallelujahs

©joylenton

There is an answer to our weariness, weakness and pain, our guilt and shame, our wounded state. His Name is Jesus and He is the Son of God, broken for us on the Cross so that we might experience true rest, freedom, peace and joy through knowing Him.

Father,

I pray that every thirsting soul and every aching heart will find their heart’s true Home in relationship with you. May you assuage the pain that comes from living in a fallen world, bring us peace beyond all earthly understanding and a joy which surpasses our wildest expectations.

Saturate our hearts with your Love, your goodness and grace, your immeasurable, awe-inspiring Holy presence. And grant us deep soul rest as we learn to trust in you above our own desires and anxious thoughts.

Heal our brokenness and give us Hope to start again, no matter where we are situated or what life has thrown at us. May we receive your mercy and forgiveness, let go of guilt, shame and disgrace and be able to lift our heads high, knowing we are your own Beloved ones.

Amen

aching heart

our hearts are aching
there’s an emptiness inside
Jesus alone fills
©joylenton

**PS: you can access my book, ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’, in the sidebar here or on Amazon**  🙂

seeking a quiet space in which to breathe #thedailyhaiku 7

 

I know that when I take on too much, feel overtired and overwhelmed, nothing else quite helps me to get back on my feet again like setting aside time to be still and quiet before God.

As I lay my burdens at God’s feet, stay in His presence long enough to relax and breathe more freely, I’m in a prime position to rest and receive. A quiet space in our days can become a sacred space in which to ponder and pray.

God pours out His love like a warm holy hug, wraps me in a welcome that never ends and comforts my fretful soul with sweet encouragement and insight enough to see the way ahead.

No longer frazzled and fraught, anxious and upset, I can calmly face what comes next or choose to have a longer rest instead, as I finally recognise I am too drained and depleted to carry on.

It needn’t take long or be complicated to become restored and refreshed on a daily basis. It simply takes a willing turning of our hearts to God and a desire to spend a few moments lingering with Him in quiet contemplation and stillness, enjoying the close companionship relationship He longs to have with all of us.

a quiet space

we learn to embrace

a quiet space in our days

relax, breathe easy

©joylenton

And here’s a little breathing space exercise for you to try. As you listen to the music below, may it relax you and gently usher you into God’s presence, our greatest place of refuge, comfort and rest. May you become strengthened and refreshed for what lies ahead.