December 24, 2012
Photo: Sculpture by Seamus Murphy in the Crawford Gallery, Cork: “Virgin of the twilight” (1941)
Yes I know that this isn’t really a Christmas picture, the Lord Jesus is a bit too grown up! But it was the closest I could find to a “real meaning of Christmas” picture that I had taken in the past few months. I love the tender expression on Mary’s face and the resolute expression on the Lord’s face, as if, even at this age he knows what lies ahead…
To all of you reading this, a very Happy Christmas and may you know even more of God’s plan and purpose for your life in the coming year.
(NOTE APRIL 2013 – for some reason this got deleted – so reinstating it now)
September 9, 2012
If the Eskimos have many different words to describe snow, so here in West Cork there are many words to describe the numerous types of rain that we enjoy in this part of the world. One of my favourites was stated by a wise old farmer who greeted me earlier today with the words:
Grand soft day.
And that was it, no more needed to be said. The rain today was not heavy, it was not that awful sideways stuff that blows in off the Atlantic, it was gentle, misty and slightly swirling; in a word it was most definitely ‘soft’.
I had been invited to come along ‘and show my face’ at a vintage threshing day near Pedlar’s Cross (halfway between Clonakilty and Bandon). Although I brought my camera with me I left it I the car (due to my not wanting to expose it to the ‘soft’ conditions). So I only had the iPhone to take pictures with.
I really love these community events, enjoyed by all ages, farmers and non-farmers alike. There is something here for everyone to enjoy and appreciate and everyone has time to talk, whether it’s about the weather, the price of milk, the hurling final or anything you like.
A grand soft day it was.
April 30, 2012
Often the only camera I have with me is the one on my mobile phone. Here are a few recent ‘phone’ pictures:
Something about the shadow cast by the tree with the yellow and the blue in the warm evening light caught my attention here. Also the shadow on the lower right hand side balances the blue in the top left (or something).
After I had taken the first picture I turned around and noticed the same warm evening light glowing in the stonework of the Church. The blue sky, fluffy clouds and crescent moon all came together and shouted ‘take my picture!’
Rows of plastic with Maize (Corn) growing underneath. The plastic protects the young crop from the frost and then degrades gradually as the crop (which will be harvested probably in October) grows. If you look closely at the picture, you will just see some of the new green shoots poking through the plastic. For more info. see this link.
As a general rule in this part of the world, if it’s not raining, then it’s about to! The view from Duneen strand, near, well not that near anywhere really…
Colourful rocks at Duneen Strand, with tufts of Sea Thrift clinging on here and there.
December 8, 2011
I drive past this local piece of artwork very often, but the other day I was walking and so had the opportunity to have a good look at it. I love the concept; here you have an old dark and damp stone wall, all fairly bleak really, but then a window, to a place where the Sun is shining, the sky is blue and the boats are just waiting for you to take them out on the water. It’s a chance to escape to another time and place where things are better than here (even if it’s only in your imagination and only for a brief moment).
There are many people who would just love to escape right now; to escape from financial hardship, pressures and stresses that are unique to each individual and others that are ubiquitous to us all. Thank God that there is hope and that there is a way out, and what better time to be reminded of this than in the Christmas season when we celebrate that God in Jesus came to us because He cares for us far beyond even our wildest dreams.
The whole ‘door to another world’ theme reminded me of a verse from the last book in the Bible, ‘Revelation’:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
(Revelation 4:1 ESV)
November 13, 2011
Yesterday evening we took a family stroll down at Inchydoney beach. The only camera I had was the one on my phone, which continues to surprise me in how good it can be for what it is. The large words in the sand read “Happy Retirement Mary, from all of us.”
Many others were taking advantage of the unseasonably mild weather too…
We decided to do something a bit different from our usual sandcastle routine!
Within minutes of our arriving home I got a call that an elderly and much loved parishioner had died. I was glad of the peace and contentment that was in my heart after our walk down at the beach, it enabled me to go and minister to the bereaved family free from the stress of a busy week…
November 4, 2011
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…
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…
July 20, 2011
Yesterday I came across another work of art by Clonakilty’s answer to Banksy. You may remember a previous post of Zirak’s work; it’s a bit more thoughtful that your average graffiti.
So we have a young boy holding a placard saying “Where is my future?” He has hollow-looking sunken black eyes, he looks dirty and untidy, a hand is in his pocket and his shoe laces are untied. He looks depressed, lost and fearful, though at the same time his stance is one of innocence mixed with a little defiance. The back-to-front e’s on the placard suggest this boy is old enough to read and write but only just, he is not quite there yet – he has his whole life ahead of him, a future overflowing with dreams, ambitions and possibilities. The world is his oyster. Or is it? I think Zirak is refelcting on the economic woes of this country and how the dreams that many had during the Celtic Tiger years are now in ruins; no longer are the children wearing designer labels and their parents driving around in huge SUV’s. Yes the future for many in this country is bleak compared to what it was, but perhaps a bit of perspective is needed too.
Thinking about this made me remember that wonderful verse from Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
No matter how bleak this life may be, in God there is always a hope and a future for all.
Thank you Zirak for another thoughtful piece of Street Art.
May 27, 2011
Walking down the main street in Clonakilty yesterday evening I was stopped in my tracks by this picture, painted on a board that has been placed over the window of a closed shop. It intrigues me on a number of levels; firstly, although it is a fairly simple painting / stencil, the person depicted is instantly recognisable as the longtime ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi who has been a thorn in the flesh of the U.S. and U.K. at least since the Lockerbie Bombing of December 1988 and probably for many years before that. Of course more recently Gaddafi is in the news for the terrible situation in Libyaat the moment, a heartbreaking conflict between those loyal to Gaddafi and those (inspired by the success of their neighbours in Egypt) wanting the end of Gaddafi’s regime and to replace it with a democracy.
Secondly, the name of the artist is interesting; “Zirak” is not a common name in West Cork! A quick Internet search shows that the name originates from an area overlapping Pakistan and Afghanistan, so perhaps the artist has come from there, or if not then certainly the artist’s ancestors did. Why did they feel the need to paint this? Perhaps it is a very graphic (literally) way of expressing their thoughts on what is happening in Libya at the moment – which brings me to the third level of interest, the words:
They still love me … right?
This puts in a nutshell what it is all about. The conflict in Libya for many people is simply Gaddafi’s ego verses everyone else. He would of course not be the first leader attempting to cling on to power in the face of overwhelming opposition, but it seems that his desire to be liked, respected, feared and revered has cost many lives, including members of his own family – and ultimately it may very well cost him his life also…
Of course we all want to be loved, but when that desire to be loved mutates into a desire to be adulated, whether the person is a rock star, footballer or political leader or even just somebody like you or me, then that is a recipe for grief. It all makes me think of Someone who loves us more than we will ever know, understand or fully appreciate:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
If only Gaddafi had been told this news while he was still a young man…
April 29, 2011
We have just returned from a wonderful few days camping in Sligo and even the seven-and-a-half hour drive home has not taken too much away from the enjoyment of it all. Inspired by being in ‘Yeats Country’, these words come to mind:
“… Land of Heart’s Desire,
Where beauty has no ebb,
decay no flood,
But joy is wisdom,
Time an endless song…”
When surrounded by such natural beauty there is however brief, however imperfect a glimpse of that which is beyond this life; where there shall be no ebb or decay, but an endless song of worship of the One by whom all things came into being…
I apologise to any W.B.Yeats purists who will know that my quote is somewhat out of context, but it is what came to mind as I was trying to photograph Ben Bulben with my newly acquired medium format camera (pictures will be a while as I have to send the films away in the post to be developed). In the meantime here’s some pictures I took with my phone :-)
Ben Bulben from Rosses Point
A bit still for sailing!