Instagram: @tothesaints @shellseaellem
Poetry: A quick fix for insomnia and an unsettled soul
Poetry is like a chamomile tea before bedtime. I turned to poetry a few years ago because it helped me fall asleep at night. After only a few lines I would be dozing contentedly. Still, every night, I turn to poetry before I turn the lights out. It is the cheap fix for insomnia that pharmacists don’t hand over the counter.
Although a ninth grader in a Shakespeare class would declare (without putting their hand up) that poetry is boring, I would have to respectfully disagree. It is not the dry abstractions that high school poetry is famous for that put me to sleep, but rather the gentle way that it probes at the world and all its cosmic possibilities. Poetry pokes and prods at everything like a curious little boy with a stick asking, “What’s this and why is it here and what does it mean?”. Late at night I find it consoling that I am not the only one with questions.
The most animating forms of faith I have witnessed are the ones unafraid to ask questions. Daring to ask the risky questions is what has moved my faith into the deeper places. But asking questions is messy. It is a confrontation with mystery, opening up a new world of possibilities and requiring a lot of unlearning and doubt. This can be frightening, and for a long time this is what kept me up at night. However, a fully-embodied Christianity should be messy, right? A lived-out spirituality has mystery in its marrow, and mystery is always messy. It refuses reason and is always ready for the absurdities of the divine. It was the poets who taught me that mystery moves us into a listening distance to God.
Now, when I can’t sleep at night, I write poetry myself. Writing poetry has become a form of prayer to me, a late-night place where the unknowns are celebrated. I write myself out of the urge to understand it all, and into the mysterious resting place of God. Before long, the unfathomable starry night sky becomes a far easier place to fall asleep under.
Newcastle Uni Adventist Church, NSW
Being a florist has changed the way I see the world and the way I see God. I now notice every hedge, every tree and every flower I walk or drive past. I notice how God has placed, grouped and scattered flowers in the natural environment, and I try and mimic that in my work. Nature is so restful to the eye—every field, every forest, every flower. There is vibrance, diversity and colour. It’s beautiful! What will heaven be like in its perfectly created form? I can’t even imagine! God is creative. God is in the details. He takes care of even the small things He has created, like flowers. As I work with them, I am constantly reminded of a God who cares even more for me. I know that if God hasn’t neglected the flowers, He definitely hasn’t neglected me.
Alice Springs, NT
kemyogendi.bandcamp.com | Spotify: Kemy Ogendi
The apostle Paul talks about how God comforts us in our suffering so that we can comfort others with the same comfort we’ve received from Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). That’s songwriting for me! I write to weather life’s craziness while comforting others with the very same words. I like copying hymns, psalms and spiritual songs into my diary. My own writing is chock-a-block with questions, confessions, praise and thanksgiving . . . it’s all tangled together in a weird, wonderful tapestry that only makes sense in His hands. Singing is an anchor that keeps me joyful. Songwriting helps me share that joy.
Raymond Terrace, NSW
Facebook: @carlyfletchermusic | carlyfletchermusic.weebly.com
For many years I struggled with low self-confidence, and I tried to find meaning in the things of the world. But when I met Jesus, for real, I found the One who gives true satisfaction and fulfilment. My songs are a way to express my own personal struggles and my walk with God. I also love to write songs based on biblical themes that God is teaching me about. It is funny how He uses these songs to convict me and remind me of His ways! I pray that the music I write will draw people closer to Jesus.
Burwood church, Melbourne, Vic
Instagram: @georgie_daphne | georgiedaphne.com.au
I have recently had a huge realisation that art really does bring joy and contributes to a happy, warm home, especially after seeing people lose their homes in the fires. And now that people are stuck at home—quarantining themselves—having a welcoming home is also equally important. I love that through God I can bring beauty and warmth into people’s homes.
The natural world that God created for us is incredibly beautiful and immersing myself into its wonder by painting it brings me so much joy. I would love other home-lovers to appreciate the beauty of nature and bring it into their homes through art.
Creation to me is a combination of the tangible and imagination manifesting. There is something very satisfying about crafting and shaping something physical or in your mind. I feel like there is connection with the Creator in being creative yourself.
I live with a potter and his family and the first time he walked into his studio this song shuffled on: “Have Thine own way Lord, Have Thine own way, Thou art the potter I am the clay, Mould me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting yielded and still.”
That stuff gives me goosebumps. As if God was saying, “Hey, let’s create together.”
Wattle Grove, WA
When I photograph nature, I see the “Hand Of God”. Let me enlarge that thought. The images I capture show His handiwork in many facets. He is a designer and creator. He is a protector, a sustainer, a provider and a carer of His creatures. His love of beauty is seen in the way He mixes a palette of colours. If God does this for His birds and animals, how much more will He care for me! Am I not more valuable than a sparrow?
“Under His wings I am safely abiding, though the night deepens and tempests are wild. . . . Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me; Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.”
Devoting your time under the twinkling of starlight will force you to wonder. You don’t know what to make of what you see. You forget so easily that we are here. Peering up into the cosmos, it makes me consider my own size. I thought I was tall. I thought I was great. The man I am, so minuscule, who am I that You are mindful of me? You feel the fragility of life. The ants I stand on day to day, well I truly felt like one right then . . . but I know that God cares even about the ants.
Haynes Posala (“Haynza”)
Springwood church, Brisbane, Qld
Instagram @haynza | Spotify: Haynza | smarturl.it/haynzadebutalbum
Using my gift to glorify the Giver of all gifts ushers me into the throne room of God like nothing else. There’s something about music that screams the existence of a Creator to me, especially as a creative person. To think that every note and tone from any instrument can come together to create an array of beautiful melodies and harmonies blows my mind! Music, when made in a God-fearing way, can break the chains of this world and direct the spirit towards heaven. From the early stages of writing songs that come from seeking Jesus in that quiet place to hearing about how those songs have helped bring others to that very same place, this gift reminds me that I am just a blank canvas who longs to be made into a beautiful artwork by the beautiful Creator Himself.
Many people see God in nature. I certainly do, and particularly love travel photography. But I am mostly drawn to portraiture. I see the image of God in the connections we share, the expressions of love and the emotions of humanity. Naturally, I take a lot of photos of my children; including my son who has Down syndrome. His life has deeply impacted my connection with God. Sadly, most people who have prenatal testing, choose to abort their child if they discover they have Downs. Using the #downsyndromelife, I hope people will see that a life with Down syndrome is definitely a life worth living.