City, Transit, Streetcar, Toronto, Transportation

Image by Bohdan Chreptak from Pixabay 

Homeward bound on the evening train

Past platforms damp with evening rain

Workday over, now the commute

Soon home to comfort, shedding business suit

A bite to eat, tell the kids goodnight

Then with loving spouse by candlelight

A sip of something – stress to allay

And share some tales of our day






Noon: A Tanka

Skyscrapers, Sky, Glass, Buildings, City, Architecture


With sun bathed brightness
Midday has finally come
Shining orb’s zenith
Bored office workers scramble
For coffee and sandwiches


A tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem.  In Japanese, tanka translates as “short song,” and typically takes a five line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable form.

The New Day

Sunset, Dawn, Nature, Mountains


As a new day dawns –

Full of the poetry of life –

My Faith renewed –

My Soul refreshed –

I stop to ponder

All the ways I’m blessed

Opportunities before me

Possibilities to pursue –

Preparing for that dawning

For which I am longing

Where there will be no more night




The Gambler: Song Lyric Sunday

This week, Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday challenge was to come up with a song that features trains.  Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler is set in a quiet railroad carriage, and offers one perspective of facing life.  While, I am not totally in tune with the teaching of the song, I do find it moving and memorable.


On a warm summer’s eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And he began to speak
He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”
So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his faced lost all expression
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep
And when he finished speakin’
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em (when to hold ’em)
Know when to fold ’em (when to fold ’em)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Don Schlitz
The Gambler lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Life’s Journey

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Each traveller starts their path alone

Though they find companions along the way

Some accompany them for but a brief while

While others make long their stay


We each seek a road – our desires to fill

Whether they be base or lofty

To have co-travellers with the self-same goals

Makes the journey go by more softly


I have travelled with such friends so true

And without them I would have struggled

Some have gone on now – going ahead

Their path never again to be troubled


Not only these kindred spirits – do we have-

To encourage, build us, and share

For when these companions onward go

There’s One that will still be there


For those who seek destinations on high

Though the world oft makes hard our way

We have One of manger born – a guide

That will never lead us astray




Life can be taxing.  Struggles and trials may seem ever present.  Having ones of like spirit and purpose with you eases this burden.  My wife has been one of those persons, not only for me but for most people she has met.  She had a gentle spirit, and spent time in prayer for the needs of others.  She encouraged and built me up so I could in turn lift up others.  She like some other inspirational figures in my life has “gone on ahead.”  But one point she was unfailing in believing, is that we are never abandoned by God.  Those seeking Him are cradled in His presence and accompanied to His throne.  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6).”




The Graduate: A Haibun

woman wearing academic regalia during daytime

Photo by Esther Tuttle on Unsplash

It wasn’t easy.  She had left school without any significant qualifications, and married early.  Two children and a messy divorce later, she was finding the series of part-time, go-nowhere jobs increasingly depressing.

But she had drive.  She wanted what would be best for her kids, and if she was honest – for herself.  So after six years of night school classes, and hard work more generally, she was about to cross the stage.  She was now Beverly Smith, B.A.

Terrific feeling
When accomplishing your goal
The end marvelous


RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #267 Marvelous&Terrific

While not strictly biographical, this story is an amalgam of the stories of several inspirational women I have had the honour of knowing.  Their drive and commitment humbles me.



Fairground of Life


The term, “The Roller Coaster of life,” has often been used to describe the ups and downs, sudden twists, and ever changing nature of life.  While it has some application to life as a whole, it fails to meet the reality of day to day existence.

For many of us life is a carousel of repetition.  We wake, groom, eat, commute, work, socialise, relax, eat, sleep, and start again.  Oh, there are those sudden milestones, of new love, marriage, birth, illness, and bereavement, but we return to the pattern.

And while this is true of us individually, as a society we too move from generation to generation.  Nations rise, and nations fall.   But we continue like the ever turning carousel.

For some this day to day is not a carousel, but a ferris wheel.  There is still the repetition of life, but it is marked by more regular highs and lows – the daily grind and the holidays,  loneliness and companionship.

I have known all three of these rides, and occasionally as with heart attack and cancer life has seemed like the bumper cars as well.  Travelling along blissfully just to be hit broadside.  When my stepdaughter was hit by a car while at a bus stop,  when my wife was diagnosed with cancer on the one month anniversary of our wedding – these unexpected bangs shake us.

But for all of its rides, life still has attraction(s).  Life is never simple.  Life is a fairground.  Let’s enjoy it.



Tale Weaver – #235 – 8th August – Roller Coaster


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image: Telegraph



New routes home –

Going abroad alone –

And practice of talking to strangers

They tell us are things detrimental


Juicy red meat –

Fried foods that we eat –

And the amount we drink

Too are things – detrimental


But to see only the same street –

Never a new person to meet –

Bland diets with no treats –

Is this to real life, not detrimental?




Thank you Fandango for the excellent prompt: Detrimental


Of Symbols and Titles


I have fallen under the banner of many symbols and titles in my life.  I became a Christian at a relatively young age in my early teens.  My faith was flavoured by the Celtic and Anabaptist traditions and heritages of my background.  These traditions were sharpened and refined by the Restoration theology of my education and ministry.  And as a growing “seeker” many of the tenets and practices of Pentecostal worship have become part of my relationship with God.

Along this pathway I have had the symbols of the cross and the ichthus as shorthand for my most important defining characteristic of self-identity.  I have always found the ichthus fascinating.  This simple fish symbol is based on an acronym spelling the Greek word for fish.  I – Jesus, X (CH) – Christ, Theta (TH) – God’s, Y (U) – Son, Sigma – Saviour.


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I later joined the forces. My job description was Religious Program Specialist.  A chapel manager; and secretary, driver, and bodyguard to the chaplain.  I to this day am proud of my service to the Chaplains’ Corps and the emblem of my service.  This emblem or symbol consists of a compass signifying that life is given direction though religion;  a globe symbolising the world-wide scope of the ministry; and an anchor to show that it is part of the naval services. The time in the service taught me much about religious toleration and cooperation.  Working with Catholic priests, and Jewish Rabbis gave me a lot of perspective and enriched my Protestant upbringing. This aided me greatly when at a later date I entered into chaplaincy myself.

After the military came university.  I still find it hard to believe that I ended up studying at a university that existed more than 500 years before there was “an America.”  Here at learned to dig deep into my own beliefs.  To question them, and to own them for my own.  As a church historian, I saw how the faith itself had been on a journey like my own, but always (again like myself) clung to its key orthodoxies.  I have attended several universities at various levels (undergraduate, and post graduate) and each has left its mark on me as well.  I can say I am proud to have been associated with each.

Here is where titles come in.  I do have academic titles. I have religious honorifics.  I have had a military rank and rating.

I use the honorific “Padre” as I found it to be a term not only of respect but of endearment used towards me when in chaplaincy.  While the usual title used among the coreligionists of my own tradition and heritage is “brother.”  I had for a while liked the use of the title “parson,” as it fit the character and rural location of the first church I ministered in.

Titles are in many ways linguistic symbols.  They encapsulate the nature of a position or attainment.  But too much should not be read into them.  I am a Christian.  I am a husband.  I am a father.  I am a teacher.  And I am here to try to do some good with or without symbols and titles.



Customer Service


It has been said that “the customer is always right.”  Well we all know that cannot be categorically said.  Customers like all humans make mistakes, have bad days, and sometimes are just difficult.  What is true, however, is that “the customer is always the customer.”  In short your profits and ultimately your job depends on them.

So how do you deal with a customer who is difficult.  Rule one, don’t be difficult back.  It is a hard order, but one that fits into every level of conflict resolution.  Listen carefully to what they are saying and/or asking for.  If it is in your remit give it to them.  If what they are asking for is “above your pay grade,” still hear them out and try to find a compromise, or someone who can address their issue.

We recently had one such exchange.  [And trust me this is not just a blog of sour grapes]. We had arrived at a hotel at the time we had stated on our booking form to be told the room wasn’t ready.  Fair enough these things happen.  But the receptionist went on [rather than letting it go] by saying that in fact rooms are never ready at that time, and we were at fault for arriving to soon.  Oops, herein lies conflict.  The long and short of it is that despite the [eventual] intervention of a manager, we left.  A bad start or first impression will cost you customers.

Winning hearts and minds has been a catch phrase in recent years.  It means getting others to see and understand your point of view.  You may not in the end agree any more than you did at the start, but at least an avenue of understanding has been opened.

The Apostle Paul new this about “selling” a message. In I Corinthians 9 he writes,

“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

Whether selling a product, and idea, or a service – in the end people need to connect with you the provider before they will ever connect with the thing you are promoting.

Key points then:  Listen (don’t argue), be flexible (where you can), be prepared to refer it upwards (not just hold you party line), and be human (officiousness is easy, but it seldom makes people feel valued).

Just some thoughts.