darkness: how it reminds us to seek out the light

darkness - dawn breaking - how it reminds us to look for dawn's light (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Autumn has just arrived in the Northern Hemisphere and I’m already getting twitchy about the imminent lack of light. Those of us who struggle with SAD symptoms can find ourselves at summer’s end mourning the diminishing daylight, while hating the longer, darker evenings and the realisation that clocks will soon go back an hour. But there is hope.

Because each season has its own beauty, its own story to tell, its own wondrous way of speaking to our souls. While we might deplore the lack of daylight hours autumn and winter present to us, we can try to deliberately aim to look for the positive in them as well.  Every drop of encouragement we can find will help nurture our souls.

We could note the beautiful golden hues and observe the altering landscape with eyes of intrigue and awe, rather than anxiety and fear. We could remind ourselves that hope, joy, and light can be found if we expectantly search them out and ask for God’s help. Because the dawn will rise faithfully, as always, even if we prefer to hunker down and hide under the duvet… 🙂

“Not knowing when the dawn will come,
I open every door” — Emily Dickinson

Darkness and Dawn

Darkness scares me,
seeping into my bones,
these walls, this soul,
the landscape, this home.

Autumn arrives
like a swiftly fallen curtain
extinguishing the light,
making things uncertain.

What if I could
see beyond the black,
penetrate the dark,
seek to hold it back?

Is it futile
to want the light
to linger here, where my
soul is edged in despair?

Perhaps I should
remind myself to pause,
open up the doors, each
room of house and heart.

If we allow
our spiritual sight
to see beyond it all,
this gaping void,

perhaps we would
find a place of hope,
of renewed joy,
saturated with light.

Because the dawn
must be breaking
somewhere now across
the sleepy globe,

spreading its rays
of hope, its flash of fire
into our anxious hearts,
our sad and fearful souls,

where it warms us
up, cheers our thoughts,
as it reorients them
back to life—back to God.

And so I bask
in this golden glow of grace,
rising faithfully
day after day.

It will not pause
because light and dark
exist to make us seek
and live lives of fearless faith.
© joylenton

Darkness and Dawn poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Things grow in the darkness: seeds, bulbs, dreams, babies. Can we trust that if we dare to probe the darkness we may discover things about ourselves that we might prefer not to know, but need to learn?” — Margaret Silf, Compass Points: Meeting God at Every Turn

Some useful resources you can access to help alleviate the darkness:
  1. Inspiring bible verses about light and darkness from OpenBible.Info
  2. 7 Little Shelters In The Storm Mood Boosters from Courtney Carver
  3. Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues from yours truly
  4. Self-Help Strategies for SAD from Psych Central
  5. Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart my latest (free!!) pdf ebook to download ❤

nature: its ability to calm and heal our souls

nature - its ability to calm and heal our souls - robin on grass (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Few sights are as cheering to winter-weary hearts than spotting a red-breasted robin in the garden. They are welcome visitors who cannot help but make us smile because of their lively hue and perky hopping.

In the English countryside, robins feature heavily in our sightings for large parts of the year. They’ve also inspired today’s poem, which was prompted by thoughts of my daughter-in-law.

She’s a keen gardener who often finds solace (and a necessary distraction from her busy business life) when she’s outside, getting her hands dirty with tasks. Being in touch with living plants helps shift vestiges of SAD-induced sadness in her heart.

The robin

Water-logged and rimed with frost,
sodden leaves get trodden underfoot
as she makes her way across
the uneven garden path.

Her heart sinks as low as her boots
as she contemplates the work
before her—clearing cluttered ground,
preparing for winter to fully come.

As her spade sinks in, she glances
up and sees a robin hopping
around, close by but no longer
shy or uncertain, more a bold thing.

She smiles at her avian
companion, who had graced
the garden in summertime
with brief glimpses now and then.

No longer intent on nest building
or family, she hops contentedly,
pausing to check on her human
friend who she converses with.

Maybe this is no coincidence
in these colder months, with their
depressing, darkening days and drizzle,
that she would appear by chance.

Perhaps there’s hidden symbolism
here, as her furry friend is known
to signal spiritual rebirth,
the new, divine, and the next.

Work stops for now as her mind
follows that thought, making space
for a sign from God to lift her
heart in these chilly wintry months.
© joylenton

We each try to find a way to help alleviate the darkness that can inhabit our hearts. Sometimes, just reading about nature helps. I’m dipping into ‘The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’ by Emma Mitchell and finding it comforting.

I know I feel so much better when I can get outside, even briefly, and surround myself with nature’s natural sedative, calming effects, instead of sitting indoors brooding about my problems.

nature - countryside - grass - sky - trees - natural sedative effects quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Also, looking out the window or watching nature programmes is enough to temporarily plug the “craving to be outside” gap which M.E and chronic illness tend to leave in their wake.

While many of us in the northern hemisphere struggle with wintry ills and chills, may we aim to encourage ourselves with remembrance of God’s faithfulness to us in the past. Let’s keep signs of spring and flames of hope alive in our hearts. Because that’s how we survive and thrive during hard times.

May listening to this robin singing help make you smile, and give you hope that winter’s grip on your environment  or mind will ease soon. 🙂

How have you experienced nature’s calming or healing effects? Do share in the comments below... ❤

nature - robin on a fence - Let’s keep signs of spring quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

deep: seeking solace, hope and joy during Advent

deep - seeking solace, hope and joy during Advent - FMF @poetryjoy.com

Advent is on the horizon. It invites me to go deep in my devotions. To sit with Mystery. To wait with expectancy. Look for the hidden gems of joy. Be thankful. But my soul isn’t being compliant. I feel restless. Lacking peace. I’m scratching around for hope and encouragement. Maybe you feel like this too? Out of sync with a season supposedly full of joy?

These are days when I struggle with the sluggish, depressive symptoms of SAD. I have to resist the urge to hide in bed, to retreat from life. Diminishing daylight can make us miserable. Days of grey-fugged skies infiltrate their gloom into our hearts. Yet we can also burn with frustration and an increasing desire to get things done as we join the manic, pre-Christmas rush and race against the clock. How can we alter the falling and floundering? Is there a way to slow, rediscover hope and grow? I think so.

I resist yielding to the oppressive clouds of continual discouragement that hover over and sink me emotionally, and tell me I am nothing. My soul stirs its sleepy self and says: This. Is. Enough. No more. I cannot tolerate another winter of discontent. Something has got to change. And that means I have to look for help outside myself. I need to go deeper into God. To reach out to others. To pray. To learn to love myself and my life in a balanced way, instead of feeling worthless and out-of-place.

When we are in a deep, dark place God remind us of this:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Another way I recover my equilibrium is to write poetry, as I have in this five-minute-friday poem, where I let loose and forgot about the clock for once!

Deep 

She was tired of living a surface,
superficial life, her soul ached
for a deeper reality, for authenticity.
Though it’s not free, it comes at a price,
and she needs to be willing to pay.

For all growth in our wayward souls
requires surrender to a higher
power—to God himself.

Going deep might be easy for some
but she has learnt it will take all
she has got, all of her heart.
God calls across the clamour
inside her soul, into the place
she hides when she feels broken.

And he lures her oh so tenderly,
with a look of love, with a whispered
word, with truth and promises.

But trusting is hard because
she’s been dry and closed inside
too long—can she really open up?
He soon reveals hidden, sparkling
gems, glittering bright, previously
unseen, now glowing in his light.

These are yours, he says, my heart gift
to you, just lift up your head and see
what I will do if you will believe.
I abide in a deep and holy place
but I also reach down to my child,
to offer you my gifts of grace.
© joylenton

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

“I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3 CEV

Friends, thank you for allowing me to vent in this small, safe place on the internet. Feel free to reply and let me know how you are too. We can pray for and support one another. I’m sharing my words with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing crew today. Just click here to follow me there. Thank you! 🙂

PS: If you’re curious or need help, here are the symptoms of SAD and these are potential self-help measures and treatment plan. I pray they will be a blessing to you.

Feeling, yielding and kneeling

black and white trees

‘Sometimes’

Sometimes I feel

stripped winter-bare and stark

skeletal ‘gainst the landscape

as winds whiplash

and cold and dark

scrape harsh to scratch

the bark of my extremities

when I am faced

with continual barrage

of life’s calamities

Sometimes I yield

as sapling, bend and sway

until twigs snap and quiver

and I shrink back

with hasty shiver as I try

to straighten on my own

against the fray

and flurry of the elements

at whose mercy I am thrown

in such disarray

Sometimes I kneel

with buckled frame

and creaking joints

at the sound of One

who calls my name

and bids me come to Him

above the chaos and the noise

seek strength from warming Sun

lift my eyes from dark and dim

with increasing calm and poise

sense heavenly rays ~ and I rejoice

©JoyLenton2014

This poem speaks about life’s dark times and challenges and how we can find peace and rest by coming back to the Father’s heart, lean hard on His grace, surrender, rest thankful and give Him praise.

Those “heavenly rays” can penetrate the darkest of days as grace glimmers shine best in the dark places and spaces of our lives.

One of the best ways we have of overcoming our low moods and sad thoughts is to make a conscious effort to be thankful and deliberately look for God’s hand on our lives. Keeping a daily gratitude journal is a great way to achieve this goal.

I spoke more about thanksgiving here and invited you to leave a comment about things you were grateful for. It also included participating in a random draw to win a free book.

**I’m delighted to announce that the winner of  the draw is Mandy. Well done you! A free copy of Ann Voskamp’s ‘One Thousand Gifts’ will be winging its way to you as soon as possible. May it bless your heart as it has mine**

black and white trees ~ Sometimes poem PJ pin

Dawn to dusk

dawn-212133_1920

From dawn to dusk the skies proclaim God’s glory.

Reveal His majesty and unfolding story.

We watch in awe each morn, eve and afternoon.

And maybe with some dismay on dismal days that end too soon.

Yet we live with the hope of God pouring out speech day by day.

Enlivening us with His word. Gifting us with His Presence.

Sharing His ways in all created things. Making us aware of His grace.

If we would only learn to listen, pay heed and receive.

‘Dusk’

I feel the fade

to grey

on cold

November days

An inconsiderate

gathering gloom

of darkness

falls too soon

Something in me

squeezes tight

And I want to rage

against the

dying shafts

of light

Unless my heart

makes room

And trusts

grace is shining still

in the dusk

of these afternoons

©JoyLenton2014

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world”  ~ Psalm 19:1-4

Joining Janis and friends for #SundayStillness as we make sacred space to reflect on God’s ways

dusk in November PJ file pin image