life: life as wild-fire dance and sacred sky embrace

 

How to describe life in all its fullness? There is too much to easily encompass in a snappy line or two, such is the breadth and depth of human existence. Though Scripture reminds us that our lives here are short, but a breath, mist in the ether, dissipating vapour disappearing fast like sand in an hourglass.

And though we are all destined for dusty death, during our earthy, clay-cracked days we can become enlivened on the inside by God’s amazing grace. Then we begin to discover there is so much more to this life than we ever knew before.

In the magnetic poetry below, I am seeing life as fresh, green, joyful, ultimately transitory but full of bright potential, especially when our hearts have been warmed by the love of God. We each leave a legacy, a mark on the world, an ache in another’s heart. Even if family didn’t welcome our arrival, our existence counts for something, part of an eternal plan before we ever began.

We are here to know and love God, find fulfilment in His will for us and seek our best joy in being united with Him. We are here to love and support one another, become soul companions on the journey we are all making toward wholeness and healing.

Life’s like…

Life’s like a shady green stone which murmurs

Listen to it falling, blanketed soft by earth

A soul must feel wild sun-love, thrive and breathe,

grow light, dawn-bright—but soon become moss-cold

as sweet river harmony gives long rest stroll

©joylenton2017

 

A sacred sky embrace

I wake to the joy of a wild-fire dance,

devour warm rhythm of flowers on grass,

picture an eternity with God-breathed poetry

surrounding me like a sacred sky embrace

and words melting in cloud-kissed breeze

©joylenton2017

 

There is a dark shadow hanging over all our days, and a bright white Light guiding us Home to our heavenly Father’s throne. We can look forward to a time when sorrow, sickness and pain are but a distant memory, tears will spring from a joyful, thankful heart and our problems are in the past.

We will sing, laugh, dance, and live more exuberantly than ever before when we’re finally experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom of God, where we were always meant to belong. It is where the poetic promises of Scripture will be lived out to the full, and what gives us Hope in the here and now, while we struggle and suffer under life’s dark clouds.

How do you view your life here? What gives you hope for the future? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  🙂

eyes: looking for the eternal rainbow of hope

 

Our eyes swivel with hope, desiring to discern wonder, keen to see how Mystery pervades the everyday. A rainbow is seen as a sign of hope and blessing. In biblical terms, it reveals God’s eternal covenant with mankind. We also see it as a marker of His glory and splendour.

The eyes of our heart slowly become awakened by God’s glory and grace, made aware of His penetration of everything. For our heavenly Father eagerly desires us to discover and be drawn into relationship with Him.

We begin to chase the rainbow of Holy Light, seeking to unearth deep treasure hidden within the pages of Scripture. Because a shaded life is made bright by grace. 

As we trace Christ’s steps to Calvary, become awed by His risen resurrection victory, we begin to see the cost of so great a salvation—abundant, lavish, rich and free.

Gradually, we are transformed from the inside out, enlivened by God’s grace, given a brand new start, new life, new heart. No longer are we in a driven race for success but in a place of deep, abiding soul rest.

The darkness within is a result of sin, as we wrestle with our flawed desires and the heat of them. But God has paved The Way for us to become reunited with Him. A road of Love, a public pathway of Christ’s freely spilt and poured out blood.

Who will quench the fire?

Behold our desires

like hot eyes of flame inside

Who will quench the fire?

©joylenton

 

God’s eyes roam throughout the whole earth. He sees you and me and we look lovely in His sight, viewed as we are through the lens of unconditional Love, a beautiful mirrored reflection of His Son.

Dart of love

We are beholden

God’s sharp, keen-eyed dart of love

has pierced our armour

©joylenton

 

Once we have tasted God’s glory and grace, it makes us hungry to know more. Our inner and outer eyes become better attuned to His presence with us, even as they yearn for the Day when Jesus returns physically to earth in full power and splendour.

We behold glory

We behold glory

Hearts fill with wonder—eyes see

Jesus is with us

©joylenton

 

The words above were inspired by this week’s haiku challenge prompt of ‘Behold&Eye’, set by our Poet Master, Ronovan. Just click here to read the great posts being shared and join in if you want to have a go!  🙂

Advent: seeing through soft smattering of stars

advent-through-soft-smattering

 

Soft light diffuses through glass, making dust particles dance in a torchlight beam, aided by a kitchen’s muggy warmth and steam, sending a glow glittering off walls like tiny ice crystals.

I watch entranced by the way light streams in through a window like a heavenly offering. It’s a marker of grace glinting through our days, a gentle reminder of how God’s love rains continually from above.

Because light will always infiltrate the darkness, penetrate through pane and pierce our own pain like a shard of healing laser-light, cutting at the corners of our circumstances, ready to open us up to a revelation of our belovedness before God.

The air is stilled with slivers, like flecks of salt seasoning a room. It parts for light to get in, makes space for grace arriving as a fragrant offering, a smattering of stars to light the way Home.

Through soft smattering of stars

In this Advent season let me become more

contemplative and reflective rather than

crazed and restless. Let me feel deep within

these bones, this mantle of flesh, this position

of weakness, that I still host the Holy in my soul

 

I ache with longing for the Light within to be

the consuming of me, a burning pyre on which

sits my sinful desires. May the dross, dust

and detritus give way to the Cross, to your

freely spilt blood, your white-hot devouring fire

 

Let your Love pierce through all traces of dark

Let your forgiveness, mercy and grace become

my new mantle and covering as I walk this

way of faith. Let my eyes look forward to seeing

your appearing through soft smattering of stars

©JoyLenton2016

Advent is a time to look for the light appearing here, now, in our midst. To have a watchful remembrance, a heart seeking for a smattering of stars, pointing to the brightest star of all, leading the way to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

A birth is imminent. Christ seeks to be born again in our hearts. He aches to appear for us as the Light we cannot do without, the one that overcomes all our darkness.

advent-through-soft-smattering-of-stars-poem

seeing life as a holy communion

clouds-seeing-life-as-holy-communion

 

Each day we are being offered sweet communion with God, a life full of good things graced by the ordinary-extraordinary, and days rich with the Holy in our midst. And yet we so often miss the marvel moments and heavenly minutiae which make up a life of faith.

When we’re caught up in busyness, held fast by pressure and pain, restricted by our numerous responsibilities, it’s a wonder we stop for breath sometimes, never mind lift our eyes to the heavens just to look at drifting clouds, or simply pause, ponder and pray as we go through our days.

But when we do, we soon discover it’s the little things that matter most, those seemingly everyday occurrences we are all in danger of taking for granted. Until they become compromised, somehow, and valued far more for their rarity.

I’d become used to my husband being a fit, physically active chap, sporty all his life, still playing competitive football when he was fifty. I took his strength, health and energy for granted, little knowing it would vanish one day, just like my own.

First he was hit hard by pain, then an inexplicable tremor developed and a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease came soon after. Before long, his back began to crumble, require urgent medical attention and surgery. It’s now almost six months since he had the operation we assumed would put paid to the pain and increase his mobility.

Sadly, there have been several setbacks along the way and he is still quite unwell. But you know what? We find ourselves celebrating the small, remembering the good, giving thanks instead of grumbling too much at the changes. Because life is precious and each day is opportunity to begin again, to have hope of seeing change for the better.

I am rejoicing with relief at his renewed ability to resume baking bread —the shop-bought stuff not being half so good for her spoilt ladyship!—though he has to pace himself carefully, of course.  It’s a celebration of sorts, a leaning into grace and a way of reminding ourselves of progress being made—albeit slowly, one tiny step and one day at a time…

Communion

bread-kneading-contentment-holy-communion

 

Yeast, salt, oil, flour and water combine

in basin of steel, bend of head

rhythmic kneading—apply pressure

stretch and roll; now a pliable thing

as dough emerges to rise and prove

knock back and shape to suit

the size within these tins

 

She watches mesmerised

by the baker’s craft

moulding staff of life

between firm fingers

awed once more by all

that lingers here, sensing

inside a gift that lasts

 

bread-seeing-life-as-holy-communion-pj

 

Patience, heat, chemistry

and clock will do their work

in perfect alchemy

that doesn’t always happen

perfectly—while air hangs heavy

with promise, rich aroma scents

surroundings and colour changes

 

Once again these golden loaves

are risen, ready, a fragrant feast

offering, living labour of love

Sitting now, they sup the soup

break the bread and sigh their grateful

‘Amen’, as they participate

in this holy communion

©JoyLenton2016

communion-poem-excerpt-seeing-life-as-holy-communion

 

What daily graces are sparking gratitude for you? 

How are you appreciating the holy in your midst?

a deeper journeying toward the light

write31days-journeying-into-joy-when-fragility-paves-the-way-for-joyful-dependency

 

Our journey toward the Light of God’s presence will be fraught with detours along the way. Life’s darkness steals around the edges of our days as it seeks to blot out the light. A sweet-pea flower’s fragility reminds us how our lives often feel like a transient, tender flare of brightness set within dark and gloomy circumstances.

Where do we turn to when things go awry? Who do we seek out when in need of soul solace?I’ve found that failing to turn swiftly to God only brings deeper misery. But if we make Him our first port of call, pray instead of trying to cope alone or pushing Him away, then He is ever faithful to come to our rescue.

I’m discovering the dependence which having chronic illness brings can cause frustration,  resentment and unwillingness to yield, but over time it begins to change our perception of surrendering.

The poem below depicts a dragonfly’s journey and also mirrors our human one as we learn to arise, lean toward the light,  become less dependent on self, and sense a bright, joyful welcome in God’s presence.

As dragonflies

dragonfly

We begin

earth grubbing silt and sludge dwellers

stuck mud-deep, dark glooming

in humanity’s squall,

little realising there is a way to climb

free from such insanity; drenched in

slime, smell of death clings fast,

seeping into all

We are

earthbound, plodding through endless days

of toil, rooted in routine, shielded

from questing thought

by the sheer monotony of the way

life trundles on, one day following

another in repetitious refrain, yielding

far less than it ought

We sense

a glint appearing; light wavering

glows slow with fronds emerging

for us to climb upon

Slim reed of hope, discovery,

shoots into view, enticing us to seek

rescue, release from watery grave

echoing a saving song

We rise

blinking in great wonder and delight

As dragonflies, our wings unfurl,

breaking free in dance

of grace, coloured and caught by Light

Every part on fire, shimmering bold,

aswirl with joy untold, glimmering

soul and spirit entranced

©JoyLenton2016

We wear faith like a fragrant garland around our weary necks while we press hard into each day’s demands, and we learn how to look for the Light, shake off the dust that clings tenaciously and lean on God for everything.

Our very weakness and fragility, far from being limiting things, become a special means of grace, an opening up to seeing God’s gracious hand at work in the commonplace.

It involves listening with spiritual intent to all our lives are saying to us, hearing the ways God reaches out in love to speak His wholeness into our brokenness.

God is always inviting us to join Him in the Light, to marvel as our beauty unfurls in the warmth of His presence, to see and sense what we have come from and where we are going to.

As we draw closer to Advent, I will be sharing more about our dark, earthbound condition and how God invites us into the airborne freedom of His Light. I’d love to hear how this season is speaking to you.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-fragility-beauty-dependence

discovering joy by embracing freedom

write31days-journeying-into-joy-embracing-freedom

 

How free do you feel? It’s not always a straightforward thing to answer. We can become bound by what seems safe and familiar, little realising how much such things can choke the joy within, suffocate with their similarity.

What we fear could actually be a pathway to freedom, a way toward expansive living we have yet to experience. It’s not always easy to discern what has drawn parameters around our days, hedged us in by happenstance. Those of us with chronic illness are aware of its limitations, ones we often chafe against.

The life we once knew gets swallowed up in a painful new familiar, a pattern not of our choosing, as it does for all who are captive to sickness, to various addictions, trapped by a painful past, or stuck in a stultifying situation in the present. And the prison we are in can feel safer than the prospect of freedom, even as we ache for release.

We’ve considered how joy sits companionably with sorrow and grief; it also accompanies us like a gentle spur inspiring challenge and change. Sometimes all it takes is a holy nudge of remembrance, an opening of eyes to the truth that already exists.

We think of Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, shame and pain. What was the joy that kept Him captive to the cross? It was the knowledge of bringing us back to the Father as blood-bought, adopted sons and daughters.

It wasn’t intended only as a hope for heaven but as a lifelong, eternal relationship transforming and greatly impacting our time on earth, a way to live freely despite difficulties, because God walks with, strengthens and equips us for everything.

Jesus broke out of the confines of the tomb, slipped off restrictive bandage-bindings and walked free, gloriously raised to newness of life. It was a statement of intent to the world and a visual reminder of the way renewed life springs from what was dead.

He offers us the same invitation to joy and freedom. We get a foretaste of joy here and a feast in heaven to come. Freedom can seem scary, or an impossible dream, but with God initiating and holding us as we take brave faith steps it becomes a liberating reality.

Because freedom and release are not necessarily gained by losing our chains. What frees and gives joy is a change of attitude, a renewed mindset that sets us free to live differently.

Our days may look the same to outside eyes but we are living with a fresh heavenly perspective rather than a worldly, earthbound mindset. Joy is not only possible in the midst of challenge and pain, it’s freely available, always.

Once we become aware how much our heart attitude shapes our thoughts, we can begin to embrace joy and discover freedom in less than joyful circumstances.

You don’t have to wait for a new year to arrive before your flight to freedom begins. You can make a fresh start Now, Today, This Moment. God’s mercy and forgiveness are available 24/7. Spread your wings and ride in God’s continual current of grace, His loving, freeing embrace.

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day18 of #write31days of journeying into joy. My hope and prayer is that you are being helped and encouraged as we undertake this journey together. Bless you for being here.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-embracing-freedom-pin

find joy in being true to yourself

write31days-journeying-into-joy-find-joy-in-being-true-to-yourself

 

Be bold. Shine out God’s glory. You were made for more than ordinary. You are created for such a time as this, a time to be all you’re intended to be.

You may feel fragile, weak and weary, fearful and hesitant, wanting to hang back from the crowd. Others may consider you to be of no significance, but God sees the beauty, potential and promise within.

Let your head be lifted high. His desires for you won’t outrun His capacity to give to you. God doesn’t leave us defenceless. He provides for every contingency.

Maybe you’ve been used to cowering, hiding away while others take the forefront. Maybe you’ve ruled yourself out on some pretext or other, convinced yourself you’re no use to God or others, have nothing of value to offer.

Please don’t buy into that lie! You are of great worth and value – right now, Just As You Are on the way to all you are becoming by God’s grace. You don’t have to take a course, pretty yourself up, make a recognisable mark with your art, perfect your prose or poetry.

Your own unique version of creativity will bring a measure of joy to this world, if you are willing to unleash and unfurl it little by little, one small bit at a time. Trust in God. Trust in the process itself.

Find joy in the journey by being true to who God created you to be. He doesn’t make mistakes. No-one else can create in the exact same way as you can. And that’s a freeing thought. Only you can excel at being you. Failure is a word others may choose to judge us by; it’s not a measure of our ability, but rather a stepping stone to improvement and change.

Your circumstances may have drained and depleted vital energy but they cannot steal the central core of who you are. Stay true to the way you do things, while you learn and grow your expertise and lean on God for everything.

Because guess who is continually cheering you on from the sidelines (apart from me and a whole host of unseen witnesses)? It’s none other than your loving heavenly Father who gets excited every time you decide to trust in His leading and guiding. He’s beaming proudly at His beautiful daughter, saying, “that’s my girl!”

Here are a few life lessons to aid your progress:

  • unleash your art
  • trust your heart
  • make and create
  • it’s never too late
  • listen and learn
  • grow wise and discern
  • enjoy all gainful employ
  • keep journeying into joy

God is right there with you every step of the way, every single day. Take holy courage as your badge of belonging to Christ.

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day11 of #31days of journeying into joy. I want to offer you a fresh infusion of encouragement today as we continue this journey, because parts of it are hard and challenging to traverse.

I also want to remind you of just how much God loves, approves of and celebrates YOU! ❤

write31days-journeying-into-joy-be-true-to-yourself-life-lessons

Seeing life through the eyes of a child

elliott-meets-a-tortoise

 

Through the eyes of a child

I want to examine life with the eyes of a child

Look with serious, curious intent, gaze

 

with playful interest at all that’s spread

out within reach like a rich banquet feast

 

Ruminate as I cultivate creative vision

which enhances down-trodden and soiled

 

See beyond what lies before me in the everyday

Experience God’s hand at work while admiring

his handiwork. Step bright and bold with joy

 

as I begin to sense a sacredness unfolding

Discover life as a great adventure, dying

to be explored by those who can see more

©JoyLenton2016

When do we lose our sense of wonder? How long is it before we become complacent about the daily grace gifts before us? What shrinks our vision to that of an endlessly dark tunnel, rather than extending beyond what eyes can see?

All too soon for most of us, it seems. Yet the longer I live, the more I long to hold on to those things which are ordinary-extraordinary, to be aware of God at work in the daily, His majesty invading our mundane.

Because the more intently we look, the more joy we will have in each day’s grace offerings. They are there to be glimpsed, seen and savoured by hearts full of gratitude, but our attitude tends to throw us off course when we become totally absorbed by the pain and problems of today.

We will soon be entering a season I struggle with, where darkness pervades and seems to invade me outside and in, when my soul seems to shrink, curl and die like autumnal leaves become lifeless.

Maybe we can learn to intentionally look for the light at the edges of everything? Watch for its slim fingers infiltrating the hard, opening them up, sliver by sliver, to the radiance of God’s presence, discover His Light burning brightly all around.

All too often I write about the painful things, the hard places where grace seeks us. And that’s well and good, because we can all be held captive to pain. However, my main aim in the next few months is to focus more on the goodness, beauty and joy before me, difficult as it can be to discern, sometimes.

It would be good to have your companionship as I try to embrace the sunshine in these darkening days while we slide toward winter. We can support and encourage one another to stay positive, to remain hope-filled and joy-seeking souls in the midst of life’s all-pervading darkness. Will you join me? Please consider subscribing by email here and over at my main blog, ‘Words of Joy’. I would love to partner with you! 🙂

seeing-life-through-the-eyes-of-a-child-poetryjoy

 

Maintaining a higher perspective

maintaining a higher perspective - PJ

 

When life’s demands send us to our knees, or lay us low with illness and fatigue, we receive all the help we need when we look beyond our current circumstances and look up to God.

In the realisation that we have no resources left we are thrown upon God’s mercy and grace, His unlimited strength, stable unchanging character and limitless love.

During the long summer days when I have been absent here, flat-out with fatigue and often too preoccupied to see more than is before me, I’ve found my greatest peace in knowing God has got me covered.

He has given me supernatural strength to care for my husband after his spinal surgery, and energy enough to take on some of the household tasks I usually need to leave in his capable hands.

Yes it’s been tough, really hard and challenging for this woman with M.E. I’ve ached to resume our  normal routine again, because my husband’s recovery has been slow and support from others naturally lessened as the weeks went by.

I couldn’t write or be present on social media like I used to. My life shifted into a new gear,  demanding all I could give and more besides.

But I always knew (and still do as things ease a little) God was with me, with both of us as we adapted to our challenging changing circumstances.

The cloud of God’s presence overshadows every moment, even as His radiance invites us to look for the glints of light peeking through our own clouds.

He sees all our days. They’re spread out before Him  – a tapestry of grace in all its messy, tangled, colourful glory.

He paints beauty within the commonplace and yearns for us to see and sense it, too, those gentle footprints of His presence.

Some days I’ve looked up and watched the glory in the heavens. I’ve also caught a glimpse of things closer to home.

I’ve deliberately been trying to listen to my life, taking photographs of the beauty surrounding me, seeing things from a fresh perspective.

The poem below reveals the advantage of having a lofty perch mentally, if not physically…

A lofty perch

a lofty perch - PJ

They hover on the brink

close to the edge where

talons meet tile.

Their plump grey plumage

mirroring cloud covering.

Eyes scan the horizon

for a soul mate

to share a lofty perch.

A close companion

become a pigeon pair.

And in the courtship dance

they bill and coo their way

upon life’s stage.

Entranced by heights

they stretch and fly

together now, soft dots

against bright curtain swag

of sun and sky

©JoyLenton2016

Friends, it’s  good to be back to writing and sharing here again. I’ve really missed you! Thank you for your patience. Hope you like the new look. The header image is from an arty-style photo of mine taken this summer – an experiment in expressing creativity differently.  What has God has been revealing to you this season? I’d love you to share in the comments below. 🙂

That’s how the light gets in

how the light gets in - PJ

Light infiltrates a forest. Its fingers spreading wider as it turns from spotlight to flood.

What began as just a small reveal soon illuminates everything. That’s how light works if we let it in.

Brightness beams its way into each day. We may not always see or sense it if our eyes or soul are dulled.

God sends His presence forth in rain and thunder, blaze of creation’s beauty and soft foggy breath of subdued sunlight.

There isn’t a place, space or person that can remain permanently indifferent to His penetrating, laser-light gaze.

Light will find a way to penetrate our days. The tiniest crack in the surface of things becomes an opening to grace. 

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen lyrics from ‘Anthem’ 

God loves us too much to leave us alone to stew in our situations, or become derailed by challenging circumstances.

As our loving heavenly Father, He cares tenderly and compassionately about how His children are and how we feel.

I’ve been laid low lately with increasing physical and mental health challenges. It’s still hard at times to see the positive.

Each day is a fight to choose joy. To choose hope over despair, courage to go on instead of discouragement to grind to a halt.

Being mortal can seem like a burden on days when I yearn for a life beyond the one I am living. Maybe you’ve been there too?

But God… – two of the most important words in the universe – reminds me that you and I are birthed for a reason, here for such a time as this, destined for a purpose we can barely sense or taste the fullness of even as we’re living it.

All God asks is that we allow His Light and Love admittance, one small sliver at a time, letting it warm our hearts, restore gratitude and illuminate the path before us.

As God shines His goodness and grace into our hearts we begin to see how our very weakness and brokenness, the cracks in our earthly existence, are the means by which He enters in. So there is hope for us all.

A small reveal

There’s a sliver of light

snaking through these dark

curtains of discouragement

Barely a beam can be seen

but a softening ray may

just be discernible

It’s thawing shivers of ice

Cracking the surface

of seen things, making way

for the Unseen realm

to penetrate my

feelings of overwhelm

We think we need a road

to Damascus experience

But sometimes God shines

a tiny, subdued light instead

Enough for us to see and kneel

marvelling at this small reveal

©JoyLenton2016

How is God revealing Himself to you in this season? 

What helps to keep you stable in life’s storms?

A small reveal poem pin - PJ