Posts tagged ‘HDR’

May 13, 2016

Meditation: Jesus calms the storm

 

 

IMG_0014_HDR_wp

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow (April 2016)

As part of our school’s “Mental Health Week”, I did a meditation in the morning Chapel Service. It’s based on the wonderful account written in Mark 4:35-41.

 

It’s been a really long and tiring day, a day where so many thousands of people were surrounding Jesus. It was wonderful to see Him heal so many of them, and in between to teach such beautiful parables. But everyone is really tired. Jesus knows this and he calls out: “Come on let’s go down to the beach, let’s get into the boat and cross over to the other side of the Lake”. As he leads, you walk along with the group behind him … he walks down the hill towards the shore, the dustiness of the bare earth turns to sandy gravel, which crunches beneath your feet. You notice the sun getting low in the sky, casting an orange glow across the water. As you walk along the shoreline, the cool water washes against your sore feet. Peter is there by the boat, holding onto the rope, as one by one, the disciples get in … and now you get in. As you put a hand down on the side of the boat you notice the smoothness of the well-worn wood under your palm. Jesus climbs in just behind you. Peter casts off the rope and the boat drifts away from the shore. Peter skillfully spins the boat around and you head out into the deeper water. In the gathering gloom you can just about make out a few dim lights and some smoke from fires far away along the shore. But ahead is just too dark to see.

Everyone is settled into the boat, there’s not much conversation as you and the others are just so tired. As night falls, you notice the breeze getting stronger and the boat starting to rock a little as you continue to head towards the centre of the lake… You drift into a daydream remembering the faces of all the people who came to Jesus today. There’s just something about Him…

Suddenly, shockingly, things become scary. The waves are huge and the boat is being swamped. Peter, James and John are desperately trying to tie up the sail as it flaps about uncontrollably. Before anyone has realised what is happening you are suddenly in the middle of a violent, lethal storm. The water is filling the boat and you join in with the others trying to bail, but it’s no use. The wind is so loud but you just about hear Peter shouting to hold on tight to the ropes around the edge of the boat. But even as he shouts you see the fear in the eyes of this experienced fisherman. But it’s not just Peter, everyone is terrified. No one has ever seen a storm like this before, there is something primeval, something supernatural about its ferocity. Suddenly you remember Jesus, you don’t know why you didn’t think of Him before. You look about and you can’t believe what you are seeing. Everyone is terrified and thinks they are about to be thrown into the chaos of the deep and there is Jesus, asleep! His head resting on a cushion with a serenity that seems totally misplaced. Stunned, you shout out from the depths of your being, “Jesus, Jesus, wake up, don’t you care about us, we’re going to drown!” The others look at you and then at Jesus, you think maybe You said too much, but this is serious. Jesus slowly wakes up and looks around him and he seems surprised by our fear. He stands up in a way that he seems to hardly notice the boat rocking violently about. He looks at you and says in a voice that although quiet, can be heard easily and says “Why are you afraid, when are you going to get some faith?” Then he looks about at the others too, none of us can look Him in the eye, we all know that we doubted Him. Then in a way that seems so normal, so natural he shouts out, his voice has a power, a resonance that is at once the most beautiful and most terrifying voice you have ever heard. “Peace, … Be still!”… Like someone closing a door the wind immediately stops. The waves take a few moments longer, but soon you notice a peace and tranquility that would have seemed impossible just a few moments before.

You become aware that this is more than just a physical stillness, it is a peace that is beyond the natural. It is not just the water and the air that are now still. You feel a deep-down stillness within yourself also… As Jesus looks at you, you know that His peace will remain, so that no matter what will ever happen in your life, no matter what storms lie ahead, you will always be able to remember that peace you feel inside right now, the day that Jesus calmed the storm. In the very depth of your being, you know that His peace will carry you through anything because you now know that Jesus will always, always be there … Amen.

 

February 2, 2012

A cold and frosty morning

A cold and frosty morning

This was the view from the other side of our garden wall at 8 o’clock this morning.  Now that we are officially in to Spring, it seems that Winter is reluctant to bid farewell just yet…

June 8, 2011

Two hundred years old

Church of the Ascension Timoleague

Last week we had a special occasion in the life of the parish – the Bicentenary of the Church of the Ascension in Timoleague.  It was great to welcome the Bishop, the Clerks Choral choir and lots of friends and visitors.  The Bishop in his sermon reminded us that the problems faced by people two hundred years ago are not all that different to those of today – and of course the mission of the Church remains the same as it always has been, to live out and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ near and far…

June 1, 2011

The first cut

the first cut

Well it’s got to that time of year again; no sooner have all the Calves arrived than the farmers have to turn their attention to Silage cutting.  The above picture is the field behind our house, but it could be anywhere in West Cork or rural Ireland at the moment.  Late into the night tractors, trailers and giant forage harvesters are hurtling along country lanes and boreens (as I discovered coming back from Dunmanway yesterday evening)!

Today the above field is bare except for hundreds of crows – I’m not sure what they are all so excited about so if anyone would be able to tell me that would be great.

Of course we are all affected by the seasons and routines of the year and all the ‘interesting’ weather we have here, but none more so than the farmers.  It must be very stressful for them at times and it is interesting to see how among all the farmers I know how well they cope with that stress.  Those that have a strong faith and trust in God find a help and support that I would think is absolutely essential for dealing with such demanding work.  May God bless and be with them all at this time.

January 10, 2011

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead (tonemapped)

Walking with my family along the sea front at Aberaeron as 2010 drew to a close, something about this little telescope caught my attention.  Perhaps it was the sheer lack of view on offer; it was hard to see even where the sea and sky met, the horizon lost in a featureless haze.  And such is the future, we have shadows and glimpses of what might be and what may become, but it is all just out of reach – and probably for the best.  What will happen this year, what good will come to pass, what tragedies will unfold?

There will certainly be an election in this country (though the present Taoiseach will do his utmost to delay it as long as possible), even more people will lose their jobs, even more will emigrate and it is hard to see any positives at all on the political / economic end of things.

As I look at the mess this country has increasingly become, my prayer for this year is that people will let God into their lives, their homes, families and workplaces, that the countless failings of the churches will not continue to drive people away from faith and that people would not make up their mind to reject God because of the failings of God’s followers but would instead look to Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life.  How wonderful it would be this time next year to be able to think of many people who have let God into their lives and been utterly transformed as a result – at the moment I can think of a few, but I am greedy for more!

And so I wish you a belated Happy New Year with a quote from “Trotty” in Dickens’ short story The Chimes:

So may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many more whose happiness depends on you!  So may each year be happier than the last, and not the meanest of our brethren or sisterhood debarred their rightful share, in what our Great Creator formed them to enjoy.

June 30, 2010

Golden Hour

Towards Castlefreke and Long Strand

Towards Castlefreke and Long Strand

There’s a time in the evening when the sun is thinking about setting but seems reluctant to do so.  Low in the sky the light is soft and filtered, imparting a certain ‘glow’ to everything.

As I stood in that field of Barley, I felt like I was in the midst of a great painting, a work of genius, by the great Artist.  It was a moment of beauty; I could hear the sea rush against the shore to my left and I could smell the earthy ground, still wet from the recent rainfall.  A breeze was gently blowing across the fields so that the Barley seemed – almost – to mimic the movement of the nearby waves.  There was a mist beginning to rise in the distant hollows and I knew that the special light was about to leave, so I reluctantly did the same.

April 18, 2010

Peter and Jesus

Photo notes:  This is a picture from about three years ago.  Much as I would like to have a picture of the shores of the Sea of Galilee, this is the next best thing, the north shore of Great Island!  The funny cartoonish effect (especially noticeable in the clouds and the trees) is HDR, the effect you get from combing three different exposures of the same scene into one.  This was achieved using a trial version of Photomatix.  
Today’s Sermon:  John 21:1-19
Have you ever let Jesus down?  If you have you will know how crushing the disappointment can be. But Jesus is not like anyone else – He doesn’t go off in a huff, He wants us back and living with Him and for Him once again.  
You may remember from last week that the Lord Jesus had appeared to the disciples previously, when they were all huddled together in a locked room.  You may remember ‘doubting Thomas’ seeing the risen Lord for himself, seeing the scars in Jesus’ hands left by the nails and the scar in his side left by the spear and how he exclaimed “My Lord and my God”.  Well if last week it was about Thomas’ encounter with Jesus then this week it is about Peter’s encounter.  
Peter had a very heavy heart.  He had denied his Lord and master three times.  He felt very bad about it, he was crushingly disappointed with himself.   Seeing Jesus again in that locked room brought him joy but it also brought him pain.  Just when his Friend needed him most, he three times denied to complete strangers that He even knew Jesus.  
Peter is hanging out with Thomas, Nathanael, the brothers James and John and two other disciples.  Peter wants to go fishing.  Perhaps returning to what he did before he met Jesus will help him in some way.  His friends say that they will go with him so, as the day is coming to a close they set out in a boat onto the sea of Galilee.  
It is a fruitless night, they catch nothing.  The fish are having none of it!  Early in the morning, as the darkness is lifting a little and the sun is thinking about poking its head over the horizon, Peter and the others see a man standing on the shore.  There is not enough light yet to see who it might be.  The man calls out to them saying
“Children, you have no fish, have you?”
They still don’t recognise the man or His voice.  
“No”, they answer.  
The man says: 
“Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some”  
Maybe at this point they are getting an inkling as to who this man might be.  A few years before something similar happened when Peter received his call from Jesus.  On that day he put his net into the water and was overwhelmed by the number of fish, but even more overwhelmed by this carpenter from Nazareth, to whom he had said “Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).  But Jesus replied to him on that day  “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch people” (Luke 5:10).  That day, Peter had left his boat and hits nets and everything to follow Jesus.   
Now here we were again. Déjà vu.  They put the net over the right side of the boat just as the man said and what do you know, yes, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish!  
John looked at Peter and said “It is the Lord!”  Peter doesn’t hesitate, he loves Jesus, He loves Jesus with all his heart, he is so sorry for ever letting Him down, he so wants to see Him again, to talk to Him so that Jesus knows he is sorry.  Peter quickly puts on his clothes and jumps into the water.  Peter swims the hundred yards or so to the shore with the others coming behind him in the boat.  By the time the others arrive towing the bulging net of fish behind them, Peter is ashore with Jesus and a fire has been lit.  Jesus already has some fish cooking and some bread and He calls out to them to bring some of the fish that they have just caught.  Peter jumps aboard and helps pull the overflowing net ashore. John tells us that there were 153 large fish and is surprised that the net is not even torn.  Jesus calls them to come and have breakfast.  They all know that it is the Lord but they are afraid to ask.  Having breakfast on the beach with someone who has risen from the dead is not an everyday experience.  
Once they finish breakfast Jesus speaks to Peter and says:  
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  Peter has desperately wanted this moment, this chance to try and restore his relationship with Jesus, but he is understandably also a little afraid.  He replies
“Yes Lord; you know that I love you.”  
Now the word ‘love’ in the Greek has subtle differences.  The word Jesus uses for love is agape which means a complete love that is even prepared to sacrifice oneself on behalf of the person you love, (for example Jesus’ love for us by sacrificing himself on a cross, or a parents love for their child).  Jesus asks Peter do you love me sacrificially, are you prepared to give up everything even your life to follow me?  
Peter replies “Yes Lord you know that I love you”.  Peter knows that he has made great claims before about following Jesus.  He had said to Him “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14:31).  Now he says it from the heart and as best as he can “Yes Lord you know that I love you”.  But Peter does not say that he loves Jesus with agape sacrificial love, the word that he uses is phileo.  This is still love, but it is more an affectionate brotherly love.  
Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my lambs”.  Peter is to look after Jesus’ followers and to take care of them when He has gone.  Then Jesus says to Peter more directly;  
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  
Again Jesus uses the word agape for love.  Does Peter love Jesus fully and sacrificially.  Perhaps he does but he is not yet ready to openly admit it, perhaps for fear of letting Jesus down again.  He replies:  
“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”  
Again Peter uses the affectionate Phileo word for love.  Again Jesus says to him “Tend my sheep”.  
Three times Peter denied Jesus, now to help restore their relationship Jesus asks Peter for the third time:  
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Jesus no longer uses the agape word for love, He uses Phileo.  In effect He is saying:  “Peter, Peter are you even my friend?”  Perhaps Peter is not quite ready to trust himself again after letting his Master and friend down so heavily before.  Peter is hurt and upset and perhaps doesn’t yet understand why Jesus is talking to him like this.  Peter can still only reply using the Phileo, brotherly love word as he replies for the third time saying:  
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
What a change has taken place in Peter.  This was a man who was full of life and energy and ultra-enthusiastic.  The sort of person who charged into everything, often without thinking first.  There was no keener follower of Jesus and yet when it came to the crunch, when he was asked publicly whether or not he was a follower of Jesus he had sworn that he was not (Matt. 26:72).  Peter was completely devastated by his behaviour.  He had wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75) it was perhaps the saddest moment of his life.  And now here Jesus had asked him three times whether he loved Him or not, once for each of the time that he had denied Jesus.  Peter is able to reply that yes he does love Jesus, but not as strongly as Jesus would like.  Peter is now perhaps being over cautious.  
But Jesus knows Peter’s heart.  For the third time He says to him: “Feed my sheep”.  Jesus knows that Peter does love Him, He knows that Peter will be a key leader in the Church.  He knows that Peter and the others will be given all the courage and strength that they need when the Spirit would come in power upon them on the day of Pentecost.  
Jesus knows the future.  He knows that Peter will love Him so much that, in the end he would give his life willingly and unquestioningly for Jesus.  (Legend tells us that Peter was crucified upside-down because he refused to killed in the same way that his master had.  Even at Peter’s death he was thinking about his Master’s glory.)   
And what about us?  Perhaps we can think of a time or times that we have let Jesus down, perhaps we have been ashamed or embarrassed to admit that we know Him as our Lord and Saviour.  Perhaps we worry that people will think we are a bit odd for doing so.  Yes if we deny Jesus we should be devastated for doing so – but that is not the end, like Peter, we can be restored and reconciled with Jesus, we only have to be willing to give Him our love and He will do the rest.  
To Peter Jesus said “Follow me”.  He says the same today to you and to me:  Come, Follow me… Amen.  
April 1, 2009

Old Toll Gates

Panasonic LX1, f3.6, 1/125 sec, -0.33 EV, ISO 80, 55mm equivalent (Click to enlarge)

I came across these yesterday near Watergrasshill. Apparently they are the old Toll Gates for entry into Cork city from the North. (This road continues on eventually linking up with the “Dublin Road” into the city.)

I don’t suppose they had any problems with “Eazy Pass” back then ;-)