What is this all about?

This is a website for poems that are both searching and finding, poems with spiritual inquiry in a secular world. They are honest poems, not shying away from doubt and fear. The psalmist David didn’t so why should I? They are poems that try hard to avoid Christian cliché but still get called back to the scriptures.

OK, consider them Psalms for the 21st century … subject to the doubt and fear this life can bring, but refusing to wallow there, often drawing on history and the natural world but sweeping outwards and upwards in worship and thanksgiving, often introspective and ruminating but always looking for reasons to take wing and soar like an eagle, breaking out in praise and wonder.

The psalmist David did these, so why can’t I, in my much more modest way, attempt to do something like it too?

Here is a list of the poems on the main page https://thensingsmysoul555886192.wordpress.com/ I will add to them as inspiration visits, no doubt changing the order around from time to time.

I was pleased to be asked by Pastor Dave Wellington of Elim Church, Cheltenham, to write a poem for Good Friday 2021. I love trees and walking in woods, and began to think about how important trees and wood are throughout the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation. This poem and voice recording resulted. Bean Baker at Cheltenham Elim sourced the images and music … and put them together with my words, creating this video which was projected during the streamed Good Friday service, and is also available on You Tube. Thank you, Bean.

WELL, Inspired by John’s Gospel, Chapter 4, Verses 4-26
I was delighted that Bean Baker of Elim Church in Cheltenham took this poem up as a challenge, commissioned his artistically gifted mother to illustrate it, while Bean himself provided the music and created the film to accompany the poem and developing picture. Thank you Bean, and Bean’s Mum.

BEACH BREAKFAST, Inspired by Chapter 21, St John’s Gospel
This is a retelling of the restoration of Peter after the resurrection. It was first published in my (secular) pamphlet of poems Interned at the Food Factory, published by Indigo Dreams in 2019.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING FOR THE MORE ADVANCED, Responding to the call to “Follow Me”
This poem was first published in my (secular) collection Dualities published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020. A poem in which I acknowledge the need to ‘submit to a higher being’ in order to ‘reach the heights’.

FIREWORDS Inspired by Psalm 127
I wrote this poem after reading the psalm. It sums up how I feel after 40 years of marriage, and just over 30 of being a mother. The poem is the last one in my collection Dualities.

AFTER THE CEREMONY ’The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Another poem from Dualities. This poem was inspired by a picture of a bride running on a beach which I used as a poetry workshop in an Eating Disorders clinic (where I was a patient). As so often happens, the poetry workshop leader manages to write a poem during her own workshop! I’m glad that fellow patients did too!

A recent poem, from Pentecost 2020 … a strange year when everyone was ‘closeted’ for a ‘sabbath year’. So a blessed year too! Oh for another Time of Refreshing like the one many of us experienced in the 1990s!

At one time, I used to make regular journeys to South Wales and found that travelling went more smoothly, and was more enjoyable, if I prayed en route. This poem is about that.

A poem inspired by a recurring ‘vision’ that I get sometimes on falling asleep … I think I know what it means. If you have a gift, use it or lose it!

ON THE UP Inspired by Psalm 126, a Song of Ascent
Written during the same period as FIREWORDS (see above). I wanted to convey the idea of ‘bringing in the sheaves with rejoicing’ … and I love flowers, so what better way to attempt to convey that?

Recognition that my poems ain’t gonna set the world alight! But, thinking again about that stick, scratching in the sand, or the drawing of a line in the sand, perhaps a modest ambition to be ‘a poet-cum-change agent’ is just about plausible.

Thinking about a ‘work of art’ and how it can be both satisfying artistically and consistent with a desire to work more closely with the divine artist-creator, and how finely balanced this can be. Use the creative gift … or abuse it.

Being an artist – in whatever medium – in a secular age, brings with it many traps. Seeking recognition and the ‘praise of man’ are two such traps. The pride of life and selfish ambition are hard to avoid when a poet, for example, is trying to get his/her words ‘out there’. Publication and performance bring praise and applause. When this begins to overtake the simple practice of a God-given gift, there is bound to be trouble! The difficult and contrived form of a sestina seemed right for this theme,

Picking up a stone to hurl it at an offender, then recognising one’s own offensive ways, then laying the stone down again. Watching the writing in the sand … then drawing one’s own line in it.

A jingly-jangly rhythmical and rhyming poem, the form of which I don’t write much nowadays! A Masters in Creative Writing knocks all that out of you! I wrote this poem for a Christmas show at Elim Church in Cheltenham many years ago. I still trot it out when asked!

Peter is again the inspiration for this poem … translated to a 21st century woman wanting to be bolder!

Another sestina, this time for a poem which harks back to simple plough Sunday services I remember as a child, then skips forward to an age where our contact with the land has loosened, even as agriculture has become increasingly dehumanised and at risk of adding to the stresses on the God-given planet we were given stewardship over.

A simple and short poem of intimacy with the divine presence, hinting loosely at the Biblical stories of the washing of the disciples’ feet and the anointing of His feet … with the injunction for us to love one another.

This poem recalls a Good Friday sermon by a pastor of my acquaintance a few years ago. Tetelestai is New Testament Greek for ‘It is finished’ … the words Christ spoke from the cross, and words which help us to realise that we don’t need to do much more in this life than to accept what Christ achieved for us, enabling us to enjoy all that is made available to us … with the appropriate degree of discipline, obviously!

I felt honoured as a child to hear that my name was specifically chosen from The Bible … Song of Songs Chapter II Verse 2, and insisted on it being pronounced ‘Sharon to rhyme with Aaron’. As I got older, the name acquired ‘baggage’ because of certain celebrities and characters in film and TV who had the audacity to share it with me! Then I felt pleased again, since those celebrities were generally 15 years or so younger than I! Now, I am justly honoured to share one of the names of the Master … the Rose of Sharon. Thanks to Mum and Dad for choosing it.

One of two poems that draw on the story of the Syro-Phonoecian woman in the Bible. I wrote this poem first, at a time when I felt unworthy of the very thought of being ‘in the presence of a holy presence’. In that state, I could well relate to the woman in the story … desperate for healing but mindful of ‘where she was coming from’.

LOOKING FOR CRUMBS – THE ACTUAL ACT, Inspired by Matthew 15:21-28
The second poem based on the story of the Syro-Phonoecian woman … written at a time when I feel slightly more confidence in asking for healing, and with more hope of receiving it.

I love old hymns in a minor key (especially Welsh ones). I particularly love ‘Lead Kindly Light’ … and the thought that we simply have to take ‘the next step’ when all around is dark. ‘One step enough for me’ because His Word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.

I once saw an aquarium in this condition. Poor fish! I wanted to rescue them … and it got me thinking of God’s rescue plan for mankind in this world we have been busy spoiling and suffering in. Whether you read it as a ‘climate’ poem, or a ‘redemption’ poem … I think it does the necessary.

I felt frustrated for a number of years earlier in my life because I simply could not accept that anyone could become or feel ‘a new creation’. However much I wanted ‘out’ of the consequences of bad choices I had made, and however much I prayed, the assurance that the ‘old has gone, the new has come’ eluded me … yes, and annoyed me.

My Dad had a simple faith and most of the time, he seemed assured that he was a ‘new creation’. He also loved the natural – created – world, the countryside … and his garden. And I loved my Dad. Welsh, he was, see. This poem was first published at https://Gooddadhood.com

Another poem about fatherhood … as much about God the Father as about my earthly one. This is another of the poems up on my Good Dadhood website, which publishes (largely secular) poems from poets around the world https://Gooddadhood.com

This poem had its origins in a time when I felt God was remote, cold, uncaring … and at the time in the 1980s when I came to the realisation that he was far from being that.

Another poem, a short one, where I am thinking about the Big Picture … creation, mankind’s bad treatment of our earthly home, and The Great Rescue Plan.

An old poem of mine (it rhymes!) where I was considering the all-pervasiveness of sin, and the all-consuming nature of fire, and how exposure to the former can destroy but also impel us towards the holy, cleansing flame.

The earliest poem I have written to be included here (it rhymes, a little!) written about the time I was considering enrolling for a Masters in Creative Writing, and wondering what impact that might have on my ‘spiritual walk’. I feared for a while. I fear less now.

All the above poems can be read on the main page of this website, here: https://thensingsmysoul555886192.wordpress.com/

Sharon Larkin … . at the foot of a tree, Welshman’s Wood, near Snowshill, Glos

For information about my secular poetry, please visit ‘Coming Up With The Words’ https://sharonlarkinjones.com


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