Posts tagged ‘28-105 D’

August 13, 2015

“Imprints of Light” Exhibition

Soon we will be leaving Cork to move to Dublin, where I will take on a new role as a school chaplain (more on that another day). We have greatly enjoyed our twelve years in this wonderful part of Ireland and God-willing we will return for holidays and other adventures in the future.

One of the things I have been asked to do before we go is to have an exhibition of photographs for the Timoleague Festival. I feel very honoured to have been asked and a little daunted by the whole undertaking. Thankfully I have some excellent help from a parishioner who is also a very accomplished and gifted photographer and who knows a good deal about this sort of thing. The photos will go up later today and the display will be open to the public from Saturday for a week.

Here is a gallery of the photos that have been printed for the exhibition; some of them have appeared on this blog before and others are new:

June 19, 2012


When I was taking the picture (back in January at Broadstrand, near Courtmacsherry), I thought these birds were Black-headed Gulls (I know I know, so unlearned  in these matters I am).  Thanks to a great little nature book we have (and Wikipedia) I learned that these are in fact Oystercatchers – sounds a bit more exotic than the poor old Gulls I thought they were don’t you think?

Larger version on Flickr here.

March 30, 2012

You’re the colour of my world.


Driving along listening to a C.D. by the Rend Collective Experiment, a line caught my attention and reawakened an old, precious memory.  The song is called ‘Exalt‘ and the line I got so excited about is the title of this post, ‘You’re the colour of my world.’  The music brought me back to when I was nineteen, when after several years of ‘off and on’ trying to understand Christianity and Jesus in particular, one afternoon as I was reading the Bible, it was like everything suddenly made sense.  It was a ‘Eureka’ moment; Jesus, the cross, my sin, His forgiveness just suddenly all made sense.  I knelt, I prayed and was overcome with sheer blissful happiness at the newfound realisation of God’s love for me, even me.  It felt akin to seeing everything in black and white throughout my whole life until that point and now suddenly I was seeing in colour for the first time!  I ran downstairs and much to my poor Mother’s amusement and confusion I shouted out ‘Mum, Mum, I know everything!’  Of course I didn’t know even the tiniest fraction of ‘everything’ but at that brief moment it felt like I did; even though I was less than the minutest speck in the universe I actually mattered to God and He actually cared about me…

Here’s the rest of the lyrics to ‘Exalt’:

I’m bare before You, O risen Jesus.
I can’t hide from You, Your kindness is too strong.
Today You kneel, You wash my feet,
Where the dirt of sin has harmed me.
Who has heard of such majesty?
Glorious One, I let down the walls again.
There’s nothing that’s sweeter than Your friendship,
There’s nothing that’s greater than Your Lordship.

I exalt You, I exalt You,
I exalt You and enjoy You.
I exalt You, I exalt You, I exalt You,
You’re the colour of my world.
You’re the colour of my world.

There’s nothing that’s sweeter than Your friendship,
There’s nothing that’s greater than Your Lordship.
There’s nothing that’s stronger than Your overwhelming grace,
And Your truth is my wide open space.

You are my sight, my life’s guide;
Though I’m blind, You brighten the way.
The troubles they are many,
And I feel I’m losing,
But You rescue me in Your time.
Glorious One, You redeem all my mistakes;
There’s nothing that’s stronger than Your overwhelming grace,
And Your truth is my wide open space.

February 13, 2012



Yesterday’s Sermon.  Text Mark 1:40-45

Have you ever experienced being an outcast?  Probably most of us have little idea what it is like, yet in the world today there are many people who are exactly that.  Imagine if wherever you went people shrank away from you and shielded their children from you lest they be contaminated!  Leprosy has over the centuries been a disease that if you suffered from it, you were forced to live apart from even your family, you were physically and emotionally made to be an outcast.  Of course Leprosy is better understood these days so thankfully the stigma associated with it is not as great as it once was.  However, many people today who suffer from AIDS can meet the same kind of rejection as Lepers used to, and then you have the Dalits in India, the so called ‘untouchables’ that make up 16% of the population of that vast country.  But what about you and me, have we ever experienced rejection?  We probably all have at one time or another, so it is not totally impossible for us to try and understand what it must be like to be an outcast.  I was never much good at soccer, and so I can remember what it felt like to be standing there, wearing overly large National Health Prescription glasses and sporting the most knobby knees, the last one chosen after all the other children had been picked for a team!  But joking aside, maybe you are facing rejection now in one way or another; at home or at work or at school or college.  Let us all try and bring our experiences to the reading from Mark’s Gospel today[1].

The Lord Jesus is near the beginning of His ministry and he is traveling around the villages in the region of Galilee when a man with leprosy came to him and kneels down, begging Jesus to make him clean.  the Lord’s response is both wonderful and miraculous.  No-one is an outcast with Jesus; to Him no-one is unclean or unworthy of his great compassion.  To everyone else this man suffering from Leprosy is an outcast, but to Jesus this man is another lost soul that needs healing and rescuing.  The man seems to have heard about Jesus and even though it was forbidden for a Leper to come into close contact with others, (Leviticus 13:45,46) this man is so desperate to meet Jesus that he disregards the rules.  He does not presume that Jesus will heal him, so he says:

‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ (40)

The Lord is deeply moved by this sight before Him, a man suffering so dreadfully from an awful disease.  Jesus’ response is not just compassion, but action, he responds to the man by saying:

‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ (41b)

The man had a desperate need and he had the faith to believe that Jesus could heal him.  Jesus responds by touching the man who was untouchable and he instantly and miraculously heals the disease that was in that day likened to being a living corpse and considered as hard to heal as resurrecting someone from the dead! [2] To Jesus, God the Son, this is all part of His work of redemption which would have its ultimate fulfillment in what He would achieve on the cross.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for this man who was untouchable to be touched by Jesus?  Perhaps one of the most terrible things about suffering from Leprosy was that he was completely deprived of any human contact; how long would it have been since he had even been close to a person, let alone felt the touch of someone who cared for and loved him?

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge spoke of all of our need to be touched when he told the story of his three year old son, who awoke in the middle of one night and called out to his mother:

“Touch me, only touch me with your finger,”
The child’s mother was astonished.  “Why?” she asked.
“I’m not here,” the boy cried. “Touch me, Mother, so I may be here.”[3]

All young children crave to be held and I suppose this boy, the son of a great poet, was able to express it particularly eloquently!  But it is not just children, all of us long for physical contact, God made us that way, not only for human relationships but also for our relationship with Him.  Yes all of us need human touch but how much more do we need the touch of God to soften our hardened hearts and damaged lives?  Jesus longs for us to come to him, like this man with Leprosy, to come to him on our knees and ask Him to touch us and heal us and cleanse us.

I recently read something written by a lady called Jan, who wrote a letter to her Pastor, (who with her permission shared it online).  In her letter, she wanted to share her experience of illness.  Maybe some of you will be able to relate to this.  She writes:

It was the end. I knew it. I could no longer fight. I sat here emotionless. I was totally alone. Others had tried to help—doctors, nurses, parents, husband, children. But they were gone…

…Deep within myself I knew I was still sick. My symptoms worsened. So, here I was, back in the hospital.

I sat in the bathroom. It was the middle of the night. No people, no “miracle” medicine, no strength left. I was too tired to fight. I sat there—four walls surrounding me. And a bleak, monotonous “bleep” from my battery-operated IV filled the silence. I couldn’t stop the sound of that miserable machine, anymore than I could control my own miserable life. So I sat there—dull, miserable, in pain, with no hope.

It was while I was there that I finally did hear something else. I didn’t hear it with my ears—but I did in my spirit. I heard someone crying. And I immediately knew that it was Jesus crying for me. I was shocked—totally surprised. I didn’t think he would do that for me.

This experience did not leave me emotionally elated. Nor did I feel a physical touch. Life was the same; except I now knew I really was not in this battle alone. Jesus cared in a way my wildest imagination would never have hoped for or expected.

Slowly I got up and shuffled back to bed, my IV still “bleeping” in my ears. Life was the same but different entirely. I believe that Jesus at that time made intercession to the Father for me. When there was absolutely no one else that would help me, he cried for me. And I did recover. Thank you, Jesus.[4]

None of us need to be alone, ever, at any time, no matter what it is that we are going through.

Understandably, the man who was healed of Leprosy, was filled with great excitement.  The Lord then sternly warns him and says something that we might think a little strange:

‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ (44)

If you or I were healed of something as minor as hay-fever we would want to be telling everyone about it, how much more so if it was something as dreadful as Leprosy!? But perhaps the Lord does not want people to know Him only as a miracle-worker, with a reputation like a travelling magician.  Also, don’t forget that this is near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; He does not want the opposition to that ministry to grow too great too soon.  But as well as telling the man not to do something, He also gives him something that he is required to do.  As an act of witness to the priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, this man is to go and show himself.  The priest would then perform the ritual cleansing of the man and learn that it was Jesus who had performed the miracle.

Thankfully, when we go to church to worship we only need to bring ourselves, and maybe a Bible and hymnnal. This man however had to bring with him two clean living birds!  One bird then had to be killed and in its blood the bird that was alive had to be dipped.  the blood of the slain bird was also sprinkled seven times over the healed man, after which he would be pronounced cured.  Of course this sacrifice and the blood of cleansing was all pointing towards that ultimate Sacrifice which the Lord Jesus Himself would perform on the cross.  An act of sacrifice so total that it would never need to be performed again and an act of sacrifice that makes anyone who comes to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith clean, not just once, but always.

Because of what the Lord Jesus has done, we are no longer outcasts.  If you have not already done so, allow Him into your heart, into your life, let Him be your Friend, your Lord and your Saviour, let Him touch you and heal you inside and out … Let us pray … Amen.


[1] Much of this opening paragraph is either taken from or inspired by Susan Sayer’s notes from “Living Stones” Year B Resource Book, Kevin Mayhew 1999, p.61.

[2] S.U. Notes “Closer to God”, Vol.13 2002, p.15

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…

September 20, 2011


Hungry Caterpillars munching away on the remains of our broccoli plants!

One of my favourite books as a child was Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.  It begins with the words:

In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.

Then continues a wonderful story, complete with caterpillar holes in the pages, eventually ending up with the hungry chap becoming a “beautiful butterfly.”

It has been a joy to read this story again to our boys and is perhaps one of the reasons why they get so excited about seeing caterpillars in the garden and especially when they find Pupa delicately hanging from underneath windowsills and other hidden places!

People have often found the transformative process of a caterpillar becoming a ‘beautiful butterfly, as something reflective of the process of coming to faith in Christ; we leave our old way of life behind and begin a new life with Christ (rather than ourselves) at the centre.  Of course the physical reality is usually not so clean, for the Christian continually battles with their old way of life and with selfishness, greed and all the rest of the baggage that we all carry.   The process of change is piecemeal; little by little He works in us and so even if to ourselves (and to those who know us well) there might seem like a very long way to go, the end result is that we shall (eventually) become  the way that we were always meant to be.  We cannot of course take any credit for this change at all, it is all because of His love and His grace…

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

November 4, 2010

Towards the Sun – a lesson from nature.

Towards the Light

Sunflowers are amazing; we all love the large yellow flowerheads and the fact that they can grow so tall with little or no help from the gardener.  The most wonderful thing about them is their ability to track the Sun.  At night, the flowers move either not at all or randomly about, but with sunrise they immediately (in plant terms) turn to face the east and then follow the Sun throughout the day until it finally sets in the west.  They call this Heliotropism (thanks to Wikipedia for that one) and this reminds me of a great truth…

The Lord Jesus said:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

(John 8:12)
Like the Sunflower, we were made to follow the light.  The Sunflower follows the Sun, we follow The Son, the Light of the World.  
And another verse, this time from Ephesians 5:8

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

Photo notes:  I’m fairly sure that I couldn’t have taken this picture with my digital camera (a Nikon D70s); the sun would have been overexposed to the point that the whole right hand side of the picture would have been white, with no clear definition in it at all.  I could have then exposed for the sun, but that would have meant that the left hand side of the picture would have been very dull.  If I had a graduated neutral density filter I could have used it but I don’t have one :-(  However, a great advantage of slide film is increased dynamic range (you can get more detail in the highlights and in the shadows than you can with all but the most expensive digital cameras).  Of course you get great colour and a three dimensional look too, and you also get the joy of not knowing what your pictures will look like until that little box arrives in the post and you hold up those small plastic slides to the light…
September 24, 2010


At Home
The snail he lives in his hard round house,
In the orchard, under the tree:
Says he, “I have but a single room;
But it’s large enough for me.”
September 13, 2010

Faded Glory

Faded Beauty

I suppose we don’t need any reminder that Summer has now reluctantly begun to make way for Autumn.  All around, the leaves are beginning to change colour, many flowers parade their final encore and the sounds are those of finality (for this year at least); the swan song is in the air.

I came across this butterfly whilst recovering a rugby ball from a flower bed.  Like the autumn leaves, its wings are fading; once glorious colours are now only shades of brown.  Yet it is still beautiful.

Having helped with a couple of funerals recently, the words of the old funeral service (which is seldom used now) came to mind:

Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live … He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.  

A little bleak perhaps, but a stark reminder of not only the fragility of life but its transience also.  Not only we but all of Creation are in an inevitable Autumn, waiting patiently for that eternal Spring to come…