Archive for ‘Meandering Thoughts’

November 2, 2012

Autumn

Autumn is a time of mixed emotions. Perhaps the American term ‘Fall’ is more appropriate; we witness the death of summer, multiple hues of green, life, growth, hope and future are cut short, greens become browns, life becomes death.  Growth is halted, cut short, heat gives way to coldness, the sun lowers its arc across the sky, the light changes becoming more silvery and less intense, shadows become longer, the sweet scents and smells of summer give way to dank and damp, moss and mould.

And yet there is a glory to it all. Perhaps it is rather a sleep than a death. Nature is shedding her skin, her demise only skin deep, yet the resurrection of spring none the less impressive in the burst of new life that arises out of the ashes of winter.

Photographs are stories and these mobile phone snaps like sketches on the page, giving a glimpse of that great saga of the seasons we inhabit year by year our whole life long.

Yet the Autumn chapter in the book-of-the-seasons story is surely a God-given reflection or analogy of that greatest story of all; a tale of a birth like no other, life in all its fullness, a death that was beyond darkness and of a resurrection and spring of new hope that would point us to the glorious future of the summer to come that lies beyond the shores of this life in a greater country and place, where there shall be no more pain, death or dying but only the fullness of joy in the presence of our Lord and Saviour, Master and Friend:

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end.

A Prayer of John Donne (1572-1631)

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May 10, 2012

Beauty is everywhere … if you are looking for it.

The light has been interesting today, overcast yet bright and with lots of contrast.  I took the two pictures below during a stroll around the garden after lunch earlier today.

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Since becoming interested in photography again over the past number of years I have gradually developed the habit of looking for photo opportunities everywhere.  I notice all sorts of things that previously I would hardly have paid attention to, such as the way the clouds are forming over the field across the road, the warmth of the light early in the morning and again just before sunset , the look on a child’s face when they are given an ice cream, (not to mention the supposedly more mundane things such as flowers, insects, birds and even plain and simple leaves).

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All these things and more have taken on a new and profound fascination – beauty is everywhere if you are looking for it.

(link to photos on Flickr here and here)

April 24, 2012

Timoleague at night

Timoleague at 10.30 pm, 4/4/2011, link to photo on Flickr here.

I was looking through some photos from this time last year and came across some I had completely forgotten about.  Seeing them again reawakened the memory; I was on my way home from a Bible Study and as I approached Timoleague on the Courtmacsherry road I noticed the reflections on the water (and mud) of the Argideen river / estuary.  Fortunately I had the camera and tripod with me but I remember being disappointed with the results, which is why I suppose I didn’t put them on the blog at the time.  At 10.30 pm, It was just too dark and there was too much mud and not enough water.  But now looking at the photos again just over a year later I thought it would be worth including one of the pictures after all, even if only to see if I can improve on it another time.  I suppose that is a principle that can apply to all sort of things, that given a bit of time our views and perspectives can change; things we didn’t like too much we soften on, and conversely, things that were once important to us, become less so…

January 30, 2012

January has flown by!

Winged head

January has to be my least favourite month of the year but now it is coming to an end I have to say that it hasn’t been too bad this year.  The weather has been ridiculously mild, (especially compared to the last two years) and for a month that normally drags on it just seems to have flown by this year.  January is usually a fairly quiet month work wise, but not this year.  Lots of good stuff is happening in the parish at the moment; the three mid-week home / bible study / worship groups are going well and it’s really exciting to see people getting involved and using their God-given gifts to make a difference in all sorts of ways.  Perhaps we are slowly beginning to open the door to the 21st century and realise that it’s not as scary as we thought it would be…

The interesting headstone above is is the graveyard of Timoleague Abbey, which I drive past several times a week.  I had noticed it on an earlier visit and so when I had a bit of time on my hands on the way back from Courtmacsherry earlier this month I stopped and another look.  I find this winged head fascinating – does it represent the persons soul flying away or does it represent the fleeting nature of life, is it a type of Angel?  I don’t know.  I found a good article on these motifs here.

December 19, 2011

December Daisy

December Daisy

Walking around the garden the other day I nearly trod on it, something so tiny and yet in the cold and darkening gloom perhaps of greater significance than its small size would suggest.  A ‘Daisy’  was not something I expected to see.  Of course in the summer the lawn is covered with hundreds of them, but I can never recall seeing one at this time of year before.  In attempting to take the picture (no doubt a funny sight as I tried to avoid getting my knees wet on the damp grass), I smiled because Spring had claimed a momentary beachhead, reminding me that even in the middle of Winter the hope of Spring is not too far away…

November 4, 2011

Botanical Musings

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Yesterday we visited the amazing National Botanical Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire. It is such a great place for all ages and levels of gardening interest. As you can see from the above picture the vast glass dome is very impressive, it holds a rich variety of plant life that wouldn’t last very long unprotected in this particular climate!

We’ve had a good few days off and are now on the ferry home as I write this (on my phone). Looking at the picture now (and the one below) I am struck by the unreality of it all, (albeit a welcome one), like a kind of zoo for plants…

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Then as I let my mind wander further I’m awed by the contrasts; it was warm and still inside, with exotic plant life and strange tropical sights and smells all around, yet once outside we were blasted by a cold decidedly untropical Welsh wind and that special sideways rain that is the proud preserve of the west coast of the British Isles :-/

But maybe it’s not just plants that can live in an unreal world; the question of what’s really real has been a question on people’s minds at least since Plato’s Cave.  It’s perhaps a question that many of us try to avoid because it can make us feel uncomfortable: “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “How should I live my life?” “Did the Universe come about by chance and if so where did the concept of chance come from?” “How do I know that I know things?” … And so on! But of course it is good to think about and consider such things and then to realise that above all other life we humans hold such a lofty and privileged position – one of great responsibility, which – it is stating the obvious – we have not (on the whole) done a very good job with…

Fueled by too much coffee I could waffle on for ages, but the sea is getting rougher so I need to stop looking at this small screen!

… I struggle to imagine how anyone can consider these things and exclude God from the equation. In some ways I admire the Atheists, they require a depth of faith for their world to hold together that is staggering, far more faith than I could ever claim to have…

September 29, 2011

Gold Coast

On a recent trip up to Co. Waterford, we turned off at the promising sounding ‘Gold Coast’, near Dungarvan.  Perhaps it was because I was expecting something a little more exotic that the reality was a  bit disappointing – ‘Grey Coast’ seemed a more accurate description.  Nevertheless we had a decent scramble across the beach and I wanted to try and get some dramatic shots with a new roll of Kodak Tmax 100.

There was something about the rocks in the above picture that caught my attention; the lines, patterns and textures all tell a story, one of unending erosion, pressure, climate and sea-level changes.  You know how sometimes when you look up at the stars on a clear night it makes you feel so small in the context of things?  Well standing on these rocks of immense age and trying to imagine how this place first looked at the beginning of time / Creation evoked a similar emotion.  But something else too, not just a sense of smallness, but a sense of God’s vastness and greatness, his capacity to know everything infinitely and his unlimited power and yet even though we might be very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, He cares about us so much that He gave His Son…

Perhaps Gold Coast is not a bad name after all.

September 11, 2011

9/11

Photo: U.S. Flag at ‘Utah Beach’, Normandy.

We were living in East Belfast at the time and I was driving to see an elderly man in a nursing home when I heard the news on the radio.  I was listening to 5live and it was Simon Mayo (I think) who broke the news, (which at that stage was still quite vague), about a plane flying into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York.

The man I had gone to see was a World War Two veteran, he had been one of the U.S. infantrymen who had landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944.  He had a photo of himself in uniform from those days above his bed.  He had just heard the news himself, and we discussed the implications, it was the beginning of a new era, we agreed that the world would never be the same again.

I didn’t do any more visits, I just wanted to get home.  I arrived to find Sonja sitting in front of the television horrified at the pictures being shown; she had been watching live footage when the second plane had struck.  I think we hardly moved away from the T.V. for the rest of the day.

It would be easy to be cynical about and condemning of America’s response to these attacks over the years that have followed.  Our freedom of speech and comfortable lives allow us to do this from a lofty place of priviledge and without any fear.  I may join in the chorus of critiscism one day, but not today.

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June 15, 2011

Which way?

Ballinspittle, Co. Cork


I was walking back to the car with two very hot ‘Americanos to go’, so balancing them vertically with my left hand and trying to hold the camera in my right I fired off this quick shot of the signpost in Ballinspittle. It was not until after I had taken the picture that I realised I was unwittingly entertaining some builders who were not working too hard!

Thankfully the picture came out OK, though if I were to take it again I would do so from a lower angle so as to avoid having any background other than the sky (as I think the background here is distracting).

I love those old signs with the distances in miles. Many times I can remember driving to places, and you would see a sign saying, for example, ‘Sligo 16’ and then around a couple of bends there would be another saying ‘Sligo 18’. The old signs are less clinical and have a more ‘ah sure you’ll get there soon enough’ attitude. I miss miles, kilometres are much too European for my liking!

May 18, 2011

Hargadon Bros.

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Back in the days when we lived in Sligo this place was a favourite haunt.  You could buy a box of Cornflakes from the shelves of grocery items (if you felt so inclined) and then a pint of Guinness and no one considered that strange.  The best thing though was the little alcoves to sit it – two or three or perhaps at a push more of you could get a good bowl of soup (and a glass of free water) and have a private lunch screened off from the outside world.  Summer in Sligo only lasted for a couple of days in June but the rest of the time there was always a turf fire going so there was always a haze of smoke giving ‘atmosphere’ to the air.

Sligo has changed much since then; they built a ‘bypass’ through the middle of the town, an architecturally disastrous shopping centre and several housing estates on the outskirts, some of them remaining long half-finished.  But despite all this it remains a special place, with a heart and character able to withstand the greed and ignorance of modern ‘development’ (gosh I’m sounding like a grumpy old windbag so I’ll stop there!)

Anyway, despite being closed for a couple of years (due to the building of the aforementioned shopping centre), it is great to see Hargadon Bros. open again and more or less unchanged from what it was.  If you were wondering why the photo  looks a mess it’s because I took the roll of film out of the camera in bright sunlight – you can get away with this using 35mm film because it’s in a metal cartridge, but I was using medium format 120 film, with only a paper backing :-( lesson learned the hard way…