Thursday, 18 June 2015

Read, Write, Pray by Joy Lenton

In this season of slowing down to rest and recuperate when M.E symptoms are more manifest, I've found myself wondering about the flip-side of chronic illness.

There must be one, yes? Thorns sit alongside roses and beauty is found in bare-bones places. Each dark cloud has a silver lining, albeit a faint, barely discernible sliver.

As I pondered and prayed I began to see that this less-than-ordinary life many of us live can become a gift of grace if viewed with a new perspective.

When:cognitive ability and energy are more available, I'm enabled to press past the pain, feel my way through flattening fatigue, and there is a slice of time to be present, then I love to read, write and pray.

So I am sharing a taster of the things which are impacting my spirituality and creativity - namely an eclectic mix of books with unifying themes.

Because I'm also at the very early stages of compiling my haphazardly organised poetry into a semblance of an anthology, it means I'm dipping into resources which aid my writing journey.

One that has proved eminently helpful is 'Let's Get Digital:How to Self-Publish and Why You Should' by David Gaughran. Novices like me can feel reassured that it is actually achievable via his step-by-step instructions and warm way of sharing the whole process from conception to completion. Case histories and appendixes also help foster a 'can do' attitude.

Another book I'm dipping into is 'Spin-Taking Your Creativity to the Nth-Degree' by Claire BurgeHer words:"Look outward as well as inward. Balance the two. For me, this is where creativity is found:in that beautiful, brilliant space called being" really spoke to me.

These creative writing exercises are helping me to re-frame past experiences and widen my technique via story-telling, whereas my usual comfort zone as a writer is poetry and non-fiction.

Alongside this, I'm slowly working my way through 'The Artist's Rule:Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom' by Christine Valters Paintner to help unleash my inner monk and artist via its creative exercises, reflections and practices, including silence, solitude and contemplative prayer.

My heart leans strong toward the Christian Contemplative pathway and what better guide than Richard Rohr? His daily meditations, books and teachings speak to me a lot and I especially love 'Falling Upward:A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life' because it defines the place I've been in spiritually for some years but had no name for.

If you're in the second stage of life then this offers a fresh perspective in understanding how challenges and disappointments are actually stepping stones toward a deeper reality, beauty and joy before us if we let their wisdom inform our hearts.

Lastly, many months have been spent in 'Finding Spiritual Whitespace:Awakening Your Soul to Rest' by Bonnie Gray. This is one to savour slowly, stop, pause, pray and return to as I revisit my inner child and her deep need for acceptance and reassurance in being God's beloved.

I really identify with Bonnie's words here:"..the kind of beauty I'm discovering - the creative act of spiritual rest - is found in places of brokenness. When we step into whitespace, we are no longer holding on to our old ways of coping, managing and doing. We are only holding on to Jesus."

And, yes, there is a gap here. I've failed to mention any novels I've read recently (not a lot) because this is a brief review into what's been feeding my creative soul and may be just what you're looking for too.

Joy is a grateful grace-dweller who weaves words out of the fabric of her days, penning poetry and prose in her PJs as she seeks the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal.
As an M.E and chronic illness sufferer (who is also recovering from a painful past), she writes with a heart for the hurting and to support and encourage others who are struggling with life and faith issues.
You can connect with her on Twitter, Google Plus or Pinterest, and find her writing her heart out at 'Poetry Joy' and 'Words of Joy'.


  1. Moving post Joy. I love the quote about spiritual whitespace. That place of letting go of our old ways of doing things into holding on to Jesus instead, going through the valley of brokenness. It brings peace ultimately but can be so hard to walk through.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. Yes, it can feel scary to let go of things which we have depended upon and seek our solace in Jesus alone. Yet He is the source of all true peace and rest. I'm finding the journey quite challenging, so taking it slowly is working best for me!

  2. I love the spiritual whitespace too. It really sums up what it's like when you feel you have nothing left to hold on to and reach out for the hand of God far more desperately. Your honesty and expressive way of communicating it, are always a challenge to me :)

    1. Thanks, Deborah. I wasn't trying to be challenging. Honest admission seems to be my default mode as a writer! I'm glad you like (and are seeking) some spiritual whitespace too. It really is life-transforming. Bless you. :) x

  3. This is great I have never thought to read a book about how to write - I probably need to, especially the one where you say it helps you turn thoughts into a story, like you I write non-fiction and story telling is not easy for me. Time to find some new reading material :)

    1. You're very welcome, Tania! I love to share what is aiding my writing and faith journey. I'm finding that writing advice resources are readily available and I hope you can discover the right ones for you too. Blessings. :) x