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

place: when you’re seeking a soul sanctuary

place - #FMF - when you're seeking a soul sanctuary @poetryjoy.com

Do you have a place where you feel completely at home, relaxed, loved and secure? It’s a gift to have such a soul sanctuary, isn’t it? Though many of us struggle to find it and some miss out altogether, maybe due to the unkindness of others or their own limited ability to seek out a safe place for themselves.

Our homes are meant to be soul sanctuary havens. They’re supposed to represent the loving parental way God cares for us. But often they don’t. If you, like me, grew up feeling confined, insecure, unloved and unwanted because your family of origin didn’t provide the stability you needed to grow strong on the inside, then all is not lost.

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” — Psalm 18:19 NIV

I found my safe place in God. He alone can provide the complete soul solace we need in life. Other people and things might try to plug the gap, and succeed to some extent, but God gives us the means to rest all that we are: our fear, pain and shame, our identity and name, our past, present and future, our weariness, brokenness, wounds and mess in Him.

place - tree - girl - birds - sunset #FMF - resting ourselves in God quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.” — Psalm 61:4 The Message

I am seeking

I am seeking
a quiet stream underneath
life’s detritus
beyond the fluctuating
a place that welcomes waiting

I am seeking
a still point in my life
to anchor me
when tides rise higher still
and I lose my heart, my will

I am seeking
somewhere secure and safe
a refuge
so I can reach out again
with courage, hope, confidence

I am seeking
signs of life when all looks dead
to survive
days of darkness and drear
times I want to disappear

I am seeking
more than this world contains
holy rain
deep connectivity
a place to sit, grow and breathe
© joylenton

place #FMF EH #9 I am seeking poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Adversity hits us universally but our ways of coping are as individual as we are. I’m learning to rest myself more in God instead of wearying myself out worrying about everything. Faith and trust, coupled with experience, have shown me it’s the wisest course of action, especially when I cannot help myself.

One place I always feel comfortable sharing my words is with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew as we write on this week’s prompt of “place.” You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared. 🙂

By the way, dear reader, you might like to know that the poem above has been taken from my forthcoming new book, Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues, which is an eclectic mix of poetry, reflections and blessings and is due to be published soon! I chose it because I’m way too fatigued to think straight, and it’s about a place where my soul feels secure, loved and safe.

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