Trainee vicar offers lockdown hope through daily poems
A trainee vicar in Wales is posting a poem a day on social media to try and lift people's spirits during the lockdown.
Ben Lines composes and films minute-long poems to encourage people to keep going with a simple message of hope and faith.
They reflect his own experience of his faith and family life during lockdown – recording the joys and the challenges of studying from home, looking after his two young sons with his wife, Catrin, and keeping up his fitness as a marathon runner.
“Lockdown has left the whole of the UK searching for a new normal,” says Ben, an ordinand at St Padarn’s Institute, who was due to be ordained in June and is on student placement at Llandudno Junction and Deganwy in St Asaph Diocese.
“Most of us have lost our routines and rhythms that we depend upon. Instead we are confined to our homes, attempting to work and function remotely. We are all more familiar now with Zoom and other video conferencing software than we would ever want to be.
“Some are thriving in isolation whilst others are struggling to keep themselves going. I am at home with Catrin, who is a teacher, and therefore still working, and two young boys (aged four and two). Being an ordinand and a master’s student with essays still to write has bought extra pressure on us as a family. We have had moments of joy and moments of despair. We are conscious that our situation is not unique and it has been important for us to be honest and share our story with others.”
Ben, who ran three marathons last year and is training for another later this year, was inspired to write poetry by seeing how churches were reaching out to their communities in new and creative ways when their doors had to close.
“The church is desperately trying to ensure that we continue to be the voice of hope and a beacon of light to those we are privileged to serve,” he says. “That same desire is what has prompted me to write a short daily poem. I have always loved poetry and have recently rediscovered a joy of writing. I wrote a longer piece inspired by the children’s book ‘Hamilton’s Hats’ for Easter Sunday which we enjoyed filming as a family. We had a great response to that and so I decided to challenge myself to write something everyday during lockdown.
“It keeps me going, gives me purpose and space to reflect, and I hope encourages and blesses others in the process. The poems so far have been personal reflections, reflections on bible passages and bible characters, and the general circumstance that we find ourselves in. Each one has been roughly a minute, to ensure they are accessible, and has included a point of encouragement or challenge.
“It has been wonderful to receive positive feedback from those who do not attend church and wouldn’t identify as ‘religious’, whilst also receiving encouragement from the congregation I serve and people within the wider church. We may be socially distant but we don’t have to be isolated from one another. We are all weathering the same storm, albeit in different boats, and can all do our own bit to keep one another going. My hope and prayer is that, in a very simple way, I am able to be an honest voice of hope and joy during these difficult days.”
Follow Ben at:
- Twitter: benjamin_lines
- YouTube: Ben Lines
Poems and prayers
Day #6 -Another 3 weeks
So another 3 weeks of lockdown are here,
I have to admit, I’ve shed many a tear.
The intensity of lockdown as a family of four,
Is causing fractions and tensions like never before.
Wee on the sofa and some poo for good measure,
Have stretched us and pushed us to the end of our tether.
There is no time of silence, no rest or break,
At the end of each day, back and forth we both shake.
Yet in the midst of it all there have been moments of joy,
Plenty of cuddles and surprise from each boy.
They are growing so fast, too fast I might say,
And considering our struggle they’re doing okay.
So as much as it’s tough in these strangest of times,
Try your hardest to cherish and look for the signs.
Of grace, hope and love that will make themselves known,
Give thanks for what you can, your family and home.
I don’t believe that God orchestrated this mess,
He loves us too much to cause this level of stress.
Yet in His great mercy He restores and redeems,
So we’ll trust in His goodness that flows in great streams.
Keep going, be strong and courageous and know,
You are loved, You are cherished … Go with the flow.
Day #14 – Another Monday
Tell me why I don't like Mondays they say,
Monday right now is just another lockdown day.
The days of the week have lost significance and meaning,
I'm bored and running out of things that need cleaning.
I have essays to write and admin for what's next,
But in the weirdness of it all, everything seems complex.
I'm procrastinating, avoiding and doing all that I can,
To escape and run from all that's written in the plan.
I am told I must be thankful and grateful for all,
But there are days when I feel like I've hit a brick wall.
That's ok, I'm not perfect and bad days are fine,
We all need to realise we can't be good all the time.
As I reflect on my faults, failures and flaws,
They don't define me, because Christ has opened the door.
To daily mercy, forgiveness and newness of life,
He is with us and wont leave in the trouble and strife.
So if today's a bad day and you're not feeling great
Turn to Jesus in prayer and let him take the weight.
A Prayer for ‘Corona-tide’
May the Christ who spoke boldly and calmed the seas,
Grant us unending peace as we pray on our knees.
May the Father who welcomes the prodigal home,
Embrace us and be present so we don't feel alone.
May the Spirit that grants us great courage and power,
Cast out fear and anxiety in this darkest hour.
May the unity of God, the great three in one,
Lead our communities in love even when this is done.
May the stillness of knowing the great I am,
Give us security and hope that He has a plan.
May the resurrected Christ, whom death could not hold,
Grant us knowledge and hope that death doesn't control.
May the creator God, who formed all that's around,
Reveal glory and goodness so we don't feel drowned.
May God's grace that was revealed through Christ on the cross,
Lead us on the narrow way so we don't get lost.