other: learning to celebrate our difference and unity

In terms of being different and distinct, “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Although we wouldn’t want to be extraneous or surplus to requirements, we all revel in our individuality and uniqueness. One person’s cage is another’s idea of freedom. Difference can be celebrated.

Unity is worth rejoicing over too. Because what unites us (especially as people of faith) should be greater than what might divide us. We all need others to relate to and to help us feel cared for, encouraged and understood. God made us for relationship. Together we are stronger.

Being “other” includes: the old and young, the able and less able, the small and great, the bold and confident and the shy and timid ones, the full spectrum of society and those who we might not look at twice, if we didn’t share a common humanity and feel a sense of connectivity in Christ.

Other

When we think about the other we consider
not only our sisters and brothers in faith but
the estranged, the alien and strangers in our
midst and ourselves—when we feel cut off
and adrift, isolated and lost to all but God

To be other is to feel excluded and less than
unless we think about our inclusivity in Christ
and how his otherworldliness makes us awed
and his willingness to include us is a pure act
of God’s supreme holiness, mercy and love

We are most like one another when we can grasp
our unity in him, our bond of faith acting like super
glue to hold us together, despite our differences of
doctrinal practices or lived out spiritual expression
as we respond to Holy Spirit’s ministrations within

I am the other half of you and you of me, for our
God-woven togetherness exceeds all boundaries
and wraps us around with his holy similarity, while
we bask in being wholly unique—yet joined in him
© joylenton

I’m delighted to be sharing my 5 minute poem with the fabulous #FMF writing crew today as we express our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “other.” Please click here to join in and read the great posts being shared.  Thank you! 🙂 

solo: pausing to listen and become refreshed

 

I cherish and need time alone. Solo suits me fine, especially when life overwhelms and all available energy to engage has dissipated. It recharges my failing batteries to be plugged in to God, my books and silence. Aaahh…

Except that silence is rarely, if ever, achievable, is it? Because we live in a world addicted to 24/7 activity and noise. Though if we can pause for a while, then we might hear other sounds that speak to us instead of rush and hurry.

Our own drumming heartbeat reminds us we are alive. Our own breath signals a need to slow and relax. Our ears, when attuned to silence, will pick up the slightest sound: leaves dancing, wind in the trees, rumbles from appliances, dogs barking or a solo song from a blackbird outside our home.

And when we listen to these things they speak volumes to us, revealing how we might love and crave our solo moments but we are all created for connection, for community and relationship with others, especially with God.

Solo

A solo blackbird sings into morning mistiness, his tune
dedicated to heaven’s breath and the unadulterated
joy of being alive, the sheer exultation of existence
while I sit inside a house, quietly listening, wanting
to tune my own heart to the eternal melody I can
hear heralding through an open window that is near

Yet somehow, something heavy seems to chain
me here to earth, something sitting on my soul
that presses me low, pushing me into isolation
despite the fact I am rarely alone, though often
feel as though I am, because this world is vastly
full, crammed with people, like tiny little islands

Our very individuality makes connectivity crackle
with defensiveness, and our need to curl away from
hurt and pain only makes us more vulnerable and
subject to the same, because God has created us
for togetherness, for knowing joy, hope, peace and love,
for relationship and companionship and soul friends

What we need is a holy seed to germinate and take
root within our hearts, a glimmer of grace to open
up our bounded souls, and let the light of God’s
presence permeate every part as it fills and floods
with heat and love, more than enough to set our
cold souls on fire and cause a thaw in our desires

Though alone in solo song, blackbird sings out first spring
to others, whether sister, brother or lovers, or her own
soul companions, who hear the sound as sweet music
to their ears and respond in kind with answering swift
harmony of voice and heart and mind, just as we are
created to do for one another, as God has designed
©joylenton

“Your love, GOD, is my song, and I’ll sing it!” – Psalm 89:1 ~The Message

As you relax and listen to the video clip below may it cause you to be thankful for the sweet sound of birdsong that is music to God’s ears, and usually to ours as well!  🙂

clear: seeking to trust God’s revelation of Himself to us

 

Life and faith are not always clear to us or easily understood. Often, there are more questions than answers, more wondering about the meaning of life and less living in wonder.

Try as we might, we soon realise our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the divine. We feel like blindfolded walkers stumbling through a long, shadowed tunnel, anxiously trying to make out the way ahead. Where is the light and won’t someone remove our blindfold, please? 

What if we put uncertainty aside, allowed God’s word to speak to us in a clear way, to read us as we’re reading it? And if we tried to absorb its truth by soaking in the promises and believing them.

What would it look like to immerse ourselves fully in His story more than in speculation over how it all possibly came to be—to get to the heart of the matter by way of God’s beating heart for us?

Maybe we still wouldn’t have clear, concrete answers to the myriad questions in our minds, but it is possible we would be more easily satisfied to live into the answers to come, to let faith draw us deeper into wonder, rather than leave us wondering what to do with all the unsettled issues.

Because what matters most is relationship, getting to spend quality time in God’s presence, learning His will and ways in a natural, gradual way, relaxing our worries into His hands and learning to trust Him more than we focus on our cares and concerns.

My first poem below suggests God’s overseeing of things, even if they may look dark, blurry or seem invisible to us.

“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” ~ Psalm 138: 12 NIV

Clear as day

Night is clear as day

to our Creator-King, Lord

of all living things

©joylenton2017

 

And when we do begin to grasp how God is always revealing Himself to us in the everyday, can we actually turn aside from daily preoccupations and deliberately catch sight of His presence?

“Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing flame of fire from the midst of a bush… yet it was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn away [from the flock] and see this great sight—why the bush is not burned up'” ~ Exodus 3:1-3 AMP

Can I turn aside?

Can I turn aside

like Moses—witness my King

burning daylight bright?

©joylenton2017

 

Finally, there will come a Day unlike any other. We will see God as He is, know and be known fully, comprehend what has been deep Mystery beforehand.

“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”~ Acts 2:20-21

On that Day

On that Day the King

will be revealed in glory

everyone will kneel

©joylenton2017

 

These haiku have been written in response to the prompt of ‘King&Day’, this week’s haiku challenge from our Haiku Master, Ronovon.  If you’d like to read the rich variety of posts being shared and maybe join in, too,  just click here.  🙂

gold: bringing Jesus our best Advent offering

advent-come-to-jesus-pin

 

During Advent we are invited into story, made aware of the reason for the anticipatory watching and waiting. There will be surprises to come, a humble birth to proclaim, gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to be proffered by kings, now bowing to the King of kings on His bed of straw.

Advent is a golden time, a twilight hour before the main event, a necessary pause in proceedings as we ponder our own part in all of this. Because it cannot leave us cold. We are active participants too.

Not only do we pause, ponder and pray, mull and marvel at the miracle of God become man, we also start to see ourselves as the reason why He came, the purpose for this most Holy of invasions, this gentle leap into earthly territory.

And it may make us wonder what our response should be to the birth of our Lord and Saviour. What can we bring to Him, the One who throws stars into space and rides galaxies?

I believe God came for our hearts, our open devotion and willing surrender to His goodness and grace. I believe He wants us to be captivated by His offering of relationship.

We bring Him our gold, our best. What would that be? I think it’s our brokenness. We bring our messed up lives, our hidden sin, our secret dreams.  We bring Him failure and defeat, loss and longing, need and desire. We bring all the broken pieces of our lives like scattered ashes at His feet, ready for Him to bring beauty forth from them.

He tenderly takes, sifts, sorts and remakes us better than before. God isn’t afraid to get His hands dirty with our dust and detritus. He asks us to come as we are, no frills, no excuses, no pretence, no hesitation. Isn’t that the best invitation of all?


I didn’t intend to post today, but I wrote a tiny haiku with these thoughts on my mind. It was in response to a prompt which my lovely writing friend, Gayl Wright, speaks of on her blog. She also shares her own beautiful offering to the prompt of ‘Gold/Sing’ as found on Ronavan Writes – where this inviting poetic haiku challenge originates from.

This is my response:

Bring your offering

Let your gold pieces sing sweet

Laid at Jesus’ feet

I hope you’ll feel tempted to give it a go yourself!  🙂

gold-offering

Comforted by presence

alone FMF PJ

Scratch the surface of any life, crack us open to the core and, sooner or later, you will find a heart yearning for presence, although we may not even know it.

Our souls crave security, safety and shelter as primary needs. Our hearts crave connection, acceptance, companionship.

We all want reassurance that we’re not alone or as lonely as we may often feel, and to experience being comforted by presence.

Life can be a fearful thing. No-one really wants to be without companionship along the way, a hand to hold, a word to encourage and reassure.

As someone verging more on the introverted rather than extroverted way of being, I long for quiet, space, silence and solitude on a regular basis.

Sitting alongside that desire is a thread of needing to be seen, heard, appreciated and understood. Maybe you can relate?

And most of all, deep down, I want to be loved fully, deeply, madly and personally, warts and all, no holds barred, just as I am….please. Is that too much to ask?

Sadly, my parents left me with a legacy of insecurity and inferiority. They were poor and careless caretakers of my heart.

Only God can offer me (and you too) such depth of understanding, such consistent, reliable, faithful, unconditional love – although my husband has come pretty close during our 40 years of marriage.

My heart craves deep soul connection with others. My mind wants to unwind with like-minded kindred folk. My spirit seeks solace in relationship.

And the great thing is, we are not as alone as we perceive ourselves to be.

There is a certain Someone always looking out for you and me and we have the constant comfort of His reassuring presence.

You are not alone

Mary, full of divine favour, waited

expectantly to birth our Saviour

She was given reassurance of

the comfort of God’s presence

Now, we walk wild through

this world, try to eschew

the things which seek to get

us firmly in their grip

And we are never left alone

even when we feel we’re

on our own, because

God has made His place

of rest within our all

too human breast

He calls our lone heart’s space

His own true home place

His room to be and breathe

ours to respond, receive

and walk within His ways

for the remainder of our days

Keeping our eyes wide open

toward prospect of heaven

for the Kingdom’s only partly come

but will be our soul’s forever home

lit by the radiance of The Son

©JoyLenton2015

I’m sharing five minutes of as-it-comes poetry today with a loving, supportive community of fellow writing friends. This week’s prompt is:‘Alone’. You’re very welcome to participate.

You're not alone PJ pin

Seeking and finding

seeking and finding PJ

As I’ve sought to relax into relationship recently by spending quality time with my family, it has been a period of great pleasure,  joy and excitement mingled with adjustment and adaptation.

Because we’re all works-in-progress who change with life’s circumstances, alter with the different seasons we are in.

I have also discovered how easy it is to lose sight of God when our lives are full of other people and other things.

We can forget that God is a relentless Lover of our souls. He craves our company, relishes relationship.

He is continually knocking at the door of our heart to seek admittance, hoping we will allow Him in.

Being with other people is exhilarating and exhausting, often both at the same time.

People are unpredictable, driven by their own inner needs, emotions and desires.

We all have the capacity to disappoint and let one another down, or cause worry and concern.

We need to withdraw sometimes to rest, recover and refuel. Being with God in the silence is a great way to unwind.

Communing with Him is beneficial to body, soul and mind. God is consistent, true to His word.

He will never leave us feeling weary or depleted; on the contrary, God will renew and revitalise us by His presence.

His grace is sufficient for our every need; He restores and remakes us.

I know I cannot do life alone. I depend on God for all the energy, strength and wisdom I need to see me through each day.

My life is all the poorer if I neglect to seek Him during the mundane moments, look for Him in everyone and everything.

We can relax into relationship with Him because He is faithful, loves us unconditionally and always has our best interests at heart.

I’m joining in with fellow wordsmith friends for five-minute-friday as we write from the heart without worrying about perfection. Today’s prompt is:‘Find’.  Do come on over and read the great posts at Kate Motaung’s place. You’re warmly invited to join in with this wonderful writing community.

START…

Finding you

You are in cuckoo’s early morning cry

Breathed out in birdsong from on high

Filtering through the fingers of a new day

Soft streaming light with dawn’s bright rays

Inviting me to pull back the curtain

Arise now, let go and unfurl,

let you into my inner world

I hear you in swish-bend of trees

Sense Holy Spirit whispers on the breeze

Feel your footsteps tender tread

on the stairs of my hollow heart

Hear your voice echoing everywhere

as I begin to make a fresh start

You are the soul solace I seek

You are seeping joy

found in darkness deep

You are treasure mined on earth

You are Life, creativity,

energy, wholeness, new birth

Lord, let me find you here today

Make me receptive in every way

Waken my senses

Alert me to presence

Because you always long to be found

and your radiance shines all around

And when I finally

find myself in you

I see Love threaded through

because you offer only the best

So I exhale my deep-bone weariness

reach out thankful to receive

soul refreshment, grace and rest

©JoyLenton2015

STOP.

“But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you truly seek Him with all your heart (and mind) and soul and life” ~ Deuteronomy 4:29

Relaxing into relationship

lavender relaxing PJ

There are days of summer living when heat is high and energy low and it’s all we can do to muster a clear thought.

Even in coolish UK we’ve been having a few sultry humid days where I wilt like a dry and dying flower.

This is becoming a busier family season for me too.

We spent time away at our son’s home recently and they’re on their way to visit us soon.

Being with family and friends is a precious gift indeed. And one I value more with every passing year.

It’s a time to take a pause from deep pondering and begin relaxing into relationship instead.

There’ll be slow days, a BBQ or two, a celebration meal out for the adults, and moments to make memories with my toddler grandson.

And there’ll be a bit of a gap on the blog because I anticipate being too weary for words for a while, unless God gifts some to me.

But I don’t know if that will happen in a few days or a week or so.

Much depends on my body’s ability to recover and recoup after expending more energy than usual.

Living with M.E is a see-saw ride where we creep backwards and inch forward.. (as I write about here).

It’s a balance of alternating periods and days of activity with adequate pacing and rest to avoid burnout or relapse.

So this week’s offering is small as we prepare for family to arrive.

Just a couple of little haiku poems for you to enjoy as I wind down my laptop and unwind my mind.

Until God suggests otherwise, I’ll be resting my pen and relaxing into closer relationship with Him for a while.

Aiming to enjoy some necessary down-time for soul refreshment and spiritual whitespace.

Meanwhile, you are very welcome to dip into the archives here or over at my Words of Joy site.

May you enjoy rest and relaxation into relationship too in the days ahead. Looking forward to catching up with you soon!

Blessings and love, Joy 🙂 ❤

blotting paper haiku PJ

tucked into haiku PJ pin