March 24, 2014

Endless Wonder

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A couple of nights ago the sky was particularly clear.  The photo is a bit blurred but nevertheless it gives a glimpse of just what a wonderfully starlit night it was.  Orion can clearly be seen in the bottom left corner (though not as clearly as I had hoped).  This attempt at photographing the night sky has given me the determination to give it another go soon.

I read a C.S. Lewis quote recently which I think appropriate:

No: Space was the wrong name.  Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens.” (From Out of the Silent Planet).

February 1, 2014

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I

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Photo: Church at Pointe du Van, Brittany.

We visited this wonderful location during the summer. As I read the words of Psalm 61 recently, I remembered this beautiful little Church high up on the rock, far above the crashing Atlantic waves below…

“Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.”  (Psalm 61:1-3)

January 15, 2014

Storms

 

On the 27th December we took a trip down to Red Strand and on to Long Strand and Ownahincha to take a look at the stormy conditions.  It was very windy and quite a job to hold the camera still enough to take pictures …

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It was a wonderful experience, to feel the strength of the wind and to hear the roar of the sea so loud that we had to shout to speak to each other.  It was also good to get back to the car and feel safe!  Looking back at these now I am reminded of all the verses in the Bible about God sheltering us from the storm, such as in Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

November 17, 2013

Prayer

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I think that the longer a person knows God, the more they want to get to know Him.  Prayer is such a wonderfully rich and fathomless subject and something that can be both easy and very hard, uplifting and elusive; something that can release tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

As well as stumbling and stuttering in prayer and in trying to pray throughout the day, directing everything heavenward, I like to write out my prayers in a book too.  That way I can come back to them and see what transpired.  Looking back sometimes I am very grateful that God didn’t answer a prayer the way I wanted Him to!  The best times of prayer are when we pray with our boys at bedtime (some of the things they come out with are priceless!) and then later in the evening with Sonja, when together with God we bring to Him ourselves, our lives, and pray both for those who have asked for our prayers (and also those who have not!), as well as other things and different situations.    

For the beginner (and I think I will always be a beginner but that’s no bad thing), I recently came across an article on the Church of England website entitled “Learn to Pray”, which I really like.   There are lots and lots of books on prayer, but my favourite is Gordon MacDonald’s “Ordering Your Private World”, which has taught me much about how the inner life of prayer affects the outer life we live every day.

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Photo: A man at prayer in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Cirencester

Nikon D7000, 35mm DX lens at f1.8, 1/90 sec, ISO 160

October 8, 2013

Walking home

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Silhouetted against the evening sun, he walks angled with a limp. Even so, he walks quickly and with a definite purpose; he knows where he is going. Is he going home? I guess so, but will there be anyone to greet him, a wife to ask how his day was, or someone else with whom to share the contents of his carrier bag?

I shall never know the answer, but I pray that he was walking home to more than just the brightness of the evening sun; that his home would be a place that is full of light, life and laughter, peace, hope and joy.

Everyone deserves a home to go to, a refuge from the world outside, a sanctuary where one can truly be oneself. Or as the old saying goes, ‘home is where the heart is.’  May that be so for each one of us.

October 2, 2013

Douarnenez marina at dusk

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We had joined an evening walk led by a local guide, walking the narrow and winding paths along the beautiful coastline, we ambled our way into Douarnanez as the sun was setting.  It’s a town full of character and history; an interesting juxtaposition of it’s Communist past (yes really) with Soviet-style housing blocks sitting uncomfortably amongst otherwise typically French provincial architecture.  There was a yachting festival taking place, so the marina was full and busy, however by the time we got there most had retired to one of the many roadside bars and cafés.

One of the challenges with photography is narrowing the gap between what your eyes see and what the camera ‘sees’.  In this case the exposure came out quite flat and the colours muted compared to what I remembered from being there.  Using Lightroom I brought the colours and white balance back to to as close as I can remember.

Info: Nikon D7000, 18-55 vr lens @ 18mm ISO 800, 1/125 sec, NEF file processed in Lightroom 4

September 3, 2013

Le parapluie rouge

Le parapluie rouge

A man standing, waiting for the rain to ease up, looks towards Quimper Cathedral as scurrying shoppers and tourists hurry past its ancient walls.

August 7, 2013

Seeing

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“Glasses” - taken with Samsung Galaxy Note II and processed with Instagram

Prayer is a wonderful thing and answers to prayer are predictably unpredictable.  A few weeks ago we were all enjoying ourselves in the sea, splashing and swimming, jumping and generally having a great time. After a particularly big splash I noticed my glasses had come off (of course I shouldn’t have been wearing my glasses in the sea but my eyesight is very poor without them).

We searched and searched the sandy sea bed for quite a while before finally conceding that the sea was very big and my lost glasses very small.  As we searched we prayed and I remember feeling disappointed that God did not reveal to us where the fallen glasses were.

Over the next 10 days or so we must have visited the beach another 4 or 5 times, we didn’t even bother to look for the glasses.

Then one evening, approximately 2 weeks after the time I had lost the glasses we set out for the beach again. Sonja was driving and as we arrived she parked at a spot along the wall.  It was inch perfect.  I looked out of my window and I was amazed, there were my glasses, on the wall right next to me! They were in remarkably good condition for having been lost in the sand under three feet of water over two weeks previously…

I wound down my window and picked them up. As I did so I thanked God for answered prayer. I imagined (or did I) a feint friendly chuckle in reply…

July 24, 2013

A walk through history

Last Sunday our Parish took part in the Clonakilty 400 celebrations.  We walked from the site of the ancient church to the ‘new’ church that was built in 1818.  Here is a gallery of photos from the day…

Here are the words I spoke in the church service:

21st July 2013, Kilgarriffe Parish Church, Clonakilty.  

I would like to thank Tomás Tuipéar for his excellent talk up at the old church site and for giving me all the fascinating bits of history that I am about to share with you and for all his help in preparation for today.  There are many others to thank also, including Councillor John Loughnan, the Mayor Phil O’Regan and members of the town council, Cork County Council (who did a huge job in preparing the walkway for us today), members of Clonakilty Duchas and of course the Clonakilty 400 committee, without which the walk would not have been possible. Thank you to our bus drivers John and John, and a special thanks to our churchwardens, Joyce and Elma, organist Roy, Ernie, Jean, Tommy and to the many others who have more than played their part in making this event happen…

This church building where we are now takes its name from the ancient church at the old Kilgarriffe, from which many of us have walked.  The name Kilgarriffe comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill’ (kill) meaning church and ‘Garbh’ (gorrive) meaning rough or rough ground.  Kilgarriffe is of course also a townland and gives its name to the Civil Parish of Kilgarriffe as well.

When Clonakilty was set up in the early sixteen hundreds, church life moved from the ancient Kilgarriffe to this place.  Historians believe this was the site of the Clogh ny Kylte castle recorded in 1367; it would have been usual to have a church or chapel of ease attached to such a castle.

The castle of Clogh ny Kylte didn’t survive the many battles of the time but it is possible that the chapel attached to it did.  In 1605 settlers are recorded here and called the ‘Portreve and Corporation of Cloughnakilty’. Their place of worship is not known but when the charter of 1613 was granted, the limits of the borough were measured from this place and referred to as ‘the old chapel’.

Richard Boyle, who was made lord of the town, is credited with building a church for worship on this site in 1613, then In 1615, James Worth is recorded as Vicar.

The next reference is in 1663 when the inhabitants of the parishes of Island, Kilkerranmore, Desert and Ardfield were united by commission to repair the church of Cloghnikilty – 139 years later in 1802, the building was re-roofed and a gallery added.  Then in 1818 it was taken down and the present church erected on the site at a cost of £1,300.  The church contains a chalice (which you can see on the Communion Table) with the following inscription ‘This cup was made in the year 1636. Humphrey Jobson Esq. and John Baker, gentleman, being church wardens.

In the Bible we have a wonderful description of the church as being made up of ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:4-6).  We often think of a church as a building made up of blocks of cut stone, but isn’t it a powerful image to picture the church instead as being made up of living stones, of all the people who worship together with their common foundation in Christ?  As we listened to Tómas earlier, his infectious enthusiasm helped to bring the history of that ancient place to life and my mind was transported back, imagining what the people were like and what kind of lives they lived and how for the vast majority life must have been very hard.  Their belonging to the church of ‘living stones’ must have been at least as important to them as it is for us today.  As their spiritual descendants, may each of us, regardless of what building we worship in remember that as living stones we are part of that one church founded on Christ, whose great privilege is to pass on the faith to those who would come after us so that the history of the church in this part of the world might go on being written.  Wouldn’t it be great if at the celebration of the ‘Clonakilty 800’, a mere 400 years from now that our descendants could celebrate even more than we can today all that God has done in His church and that any religious divisions of the past would be nothing more than an historical footnote?  May God bless us and bring us together more and more as Living Stones for the glory of His name, Amen.

July 17, 2013

Random Light No. 8

Hungry Horse 1

Shire Horse at Courtmacsherry, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/1000 ƒ/6.7 ISO 160 35mm

Manch Woods

Bluebells at Manch Woods, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/90 ƒ/8 ISO 220 35mm

Mullaghmore Harbour

Mullaghmore Harbour, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/250 ƒ/8 ISO 100 35mm

Mullaghmore window

Mullaghmore Window, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/750 ƒ/5.6 ISO 100 35mm

Loughanelteen Panorama

Loughanelteen, Co. Sligo, (Panorama taken with Samsung Galaxy Note II)

Ripening Barley

Ripening Barley, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/6.7 ISO 200 300mm

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Pippa the puppy, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/3.3 ISO 100 35mm

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