Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Listening

To listen, really listen, is an art which few of us cultivate, and to be heard--really heard---is a privilege few encounter, but when we do there is usually an accompanying transformation, if in no other way, then in the manner in which we feel about the one who listens. If I have any resolution for 2015 it is to listen more, at least to those whose words are spoken in generous truth and who aim to nourish by their speech--there is one who does that above all--and, to those are crying out to be heard, not to impress, flatter, deceive, dominate, manipulate, or suffocate with maligning or cloying words, but to be heard: to these I incline my ear.

Again--and without seeking it out--I came across some more art today that captivated. This is called Listening for Divine Instruction, by Shiloh Sophia McCloud, many of her other pieces weren't so much to my taste, but this, in my eyes, is stunning.




Thursday, 25 December 2014

'Christmas' past and Christmas present

Although I have never been a fan of icons, in the last couple of days two religious pictures have caught my attention; they put in art form both the disquiet and the hope that I can only poorly express in words. There is a sense in which they depict 'Christmas' past and Christmas present. 

In the same time period I have also been introduced to a new artist by a lovely friend, somehow the music and the art align with one another. The first track with the former, and the second with the latter.


* "Virgin Mary Consoles Eve", painted by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, of the Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey



"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" by Ain Vares


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Rachel weeping for her children

"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more." Matthew 2:18

' "Atticus" said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway. What, son?"
"How could they do it? How could they?"
"I don't know but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again. And when they do it--seems that only children weep." ' 
                                                                                                                        To Kill a Mockingbird

What can be said in the face of yet another slaughter of innocents, to yet more who are torn apart by the death of their little ones and left in desolation? May God comfort those who mourn, and have mercy on the rest/the West/the white privileged as we run from Black Friday to Cyber ​​Monday to Christmas sales to buy more for those who have no lack, and who bemoan every little ache and discomfort knowing nothing of the searing and shattering heartache and devastation of much of the world. 





Redeeming the time, for the days are evil...                                                   Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Seal lullaby

Radio 3 came up trumps again this afternoon during one of my enforced listening sessions. They played this beautiful piece, 'The Seal Lullaby' by Eric Whittacre:


and a live performance here with Whittacre conducting:


And, a photo of a seal - for good measure.


Pic from here

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Lisa Hannigan pick up

This was my go to 'pick up' song in the two week insane MA dissertation 20 hour/day blitz back in 2009. Am now hoping it will work for the last push of the thesis - desperate days.



And this is the caaaaaalm down song when it all got too much; needed again, perhaps...


Saturday, 22 November 2014

The haunting sound of a goldfish

On one of my recent enforced hearings of Radio 3, I heard a beautiful flute piece that I misheard as being referred to as 'The Goldfish, by Vivaldi'. I realise that great musicians are ingeniously creative, but I was hard pressed to think of any sound that a goldfish might make beyond a gentle pop as it opens and closes its mouth. As it turns out, the piece is actually appropriately named: the Goldfinch...




Another plainer, and yet still haunting version, can be heard here 

Goldfinch



Not goldfish...



* pics from herehere, and here.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Mouquet's marvellous music

I haven't played this for a long while - and never played it as well as this - but it remains one of my favourite pieces both to play and hear being played; it is exquisite.


Once upon a time I had an amazing poster of a flute with exploding keys with coloured smoke pouring out of them, it comes to mind when I hear this piece. I lent the poster to the music teacher at the school at which I taught to put up in the music room and someone stole it! :-/  So these will have to do:





* from here




                                                                     ** from here

Monday, 27 October 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A little bit of Lauryn Hill, and an Afghan 'sparrow' named Soheila.




*




Some things are timely.



This documentary, To Kill a Sparrow , is both disturbing and moving, and well worth watching. Soheila's father promised her in marriage when she was five years old because her brother ran away with a woman that was due to be the next wife of the man Soheila was consequently promised to. On her wedding day Soheila ran away and a cousin gave her refuge and later married her after the two had fallen in love. Soheila's father had her put in prison. He first says he will agree to her return home if she kills the two year old son she had with the man she married and later that whenever he finds her he will kill her. The brother that caused the problem in the first place promised that he would kill Soheila, like a sparrow.

*Sparrow photo from here.

Autumn Palette - Sumac de virginie

I was captivated by this tree the other day, it provided a moment of wonder in between narrowly escaping being hit by a speeding bus and being scared out of my wits by a 5ft effigy of a girl that someone had curiously placed in their tree.

The depths and shades of the leaves' colours change depending on the angle from which you look at the tree and the amount of light. I was transfixed and could have stayed and marvelled at it for a long time had I not been with someone that was greatly in need of a chocolate buttons fix.











The tree is called Sumac de virgine (rhus typhina), or Sumac Virginia, or Virginia Creeper.

Finlandia in all its bagpipe sublimity

I came across this rendition of Finlandia several years ago whilst living in Cyprus, it was one of my go to pieces when I needed to get back to equilibrium and calm. It is played on the bagpipes - possibly electronically enhanced - by a group called Celtic Expressions, and with each successive verse of the hymn it embeds deeper into the soul.


Sibelius' Finlandia has been used as the tune for several great hymns, for example: Be Still My Soul, and We Rest on Thee Our Shield and Our Defender.

"Be Still, My Soul"

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Hymn #651
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Psalm 46:10
Author: Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752, cento
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1855
Titled: "Stille, mein Wille"
Composer: Jean Sibelius, b. 1865, arr.
Tune: "Finlandia"

We rest on Thee

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender.
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.

Yes, in Thy name, O Captain of salvation,
In Thy dear name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling.
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
"We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go."

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender.
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendour,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

Edith G. Cherry, c.1895
Copyright: Public Domain

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 14:11

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Endellion and Bethge synchronicity

Several times a term I have the privilege of listening to the Endellion string quartet rehearse. This came about because my friend, R, loves to listen to live classical music and she also has locked-in syndrome as the result of a disastrous operation in her teens. In her happiness at hearing the music she will often 'vocalise', aka whoop with joy, which doesn't go down well with other 'serious' music lovers who attend the concert. So, the quartet very kindly allow the two of us to attend their rehearsals - and often give us tea and biscuits too.



They are masters of the strings, and with great synchronicity with my studies, the first violinist is close friends with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's nephew and godson, cellist Dietrich Bethge.

Here they are playing Beethoven Op 59/2 Rasoumovsky first movement



Last week they played a piece that is new to me and it was stunning. Here it is played by a different quartet (sadly, I couldn't find a you tube clip of Endellion playing this).


Friday, 17 October 2014

The cat that looked like it was a fox and the fox that looked like it was asleep

On one of my many walks with Lady R, I came across some unexpected wildlife yesterday. As R lives in a beauty spot, Hansel and Gretel like in a woods, we frequently encounter pheasant, muntjac deer, and the occasional rabbit or hare. Yesterday, we met a cat. That may not sound odd at all but there aren't many cats where she lives, and in those rare moments that we do see one the cat usually runs away at the sight and sound of R's wheelchair; yesterday was different. The cat not only came up for a cuddle, it also very quickly decided that it wanted to climb up onto my shoulders and sit there, this was great as it meant I could lean in towards R and she could get a stroke of the cat too. After I had persuaded the ball of fluffy ginger loveliness that was the cat to disembark, it proceeded to mark R's wheelchair as her territory by rubbing against it, it was then that I saw what a fox-like face she had.


A few moments later we saw an actual fox, the largest one I have ever seen and from the closest distance. Sadly, though it looked asleep, it was dead, road kill no doubt - at least I think it was, the likelihood of a fox simply sleeping by the side of the road is minimal.



We also came across a dead rat on our path, that I didn't photograph, and a tree painted blue, as you do.





Sunday, 12 October 2014

They have their reward

I have a deadline, so after thirty hours of no sleep I got to thinking about other things (and playing with meme generators), in particular this:


 'Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full'

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Blessing on the Day of Atonement

There is a wonderful greeting, in the form of a blessing, which is given on Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement; it is  G'mar Hatimah Tovah  - with the beautiful meaning: may you be sealed (in the book of life) for good. It is a blessing of mercy, grace and good will. What a way to address someone; if only such kindness were extended every day and to enemies as well as those held close. 

Yom Kippur is thus a day of wishing life to others and seeking it for oneself. Therefore, it is a time of prayer, sombre reflection, and most importantly, confession - a subject close to my heart. Confession of sins is repeated ten times throughout the day.* Interestingly, the book of Jonah is traditionally read out on Yom Kippur, it speaks of God's mercy extended to the oppressor, and of forgiveness to those who sin in ignorance; it is a theological treasure mine.

One of the most sublime pieces of music ever conceived (imho) was written in connection with this sombre day. In 1881, Max Bruch published the cello piece, Kol Nidrei (Aramaic for 'All Vows') taking the title from the prayer which is recited at the evening service on the Day of Atonement. Here is Jacqueline Du Pre playing it:



You can find the prayer of confession here which begins like this:

For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness.
For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently.
And for the sin which we have committed before You with an utterance of the lips.
For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality.
And for the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly.
For the sin which we have committed before You with knowledge and with deceit.
And for the sin which we have committed before You through speech.
For the sin which we have committed before You by deceiving a fellowman.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by improper thoughts.
For the sin which we have committed before You by a gathering of lewdness.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by verbal [insincere] confession.
For the sin which we have committed before You by disrespect for parents and teachers.
And for the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally.
For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by  desecrating the Divine Name.
For the sin which we have committed before You by impurity of  speech.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by foolish  talk.
For the sin which we have committed before You with the evil  inclination.
And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly.
For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Little Prince(ss)

Yesterday I had my first extended dialogue with my three year old neighbour; we have had many mini chats and a few lovely hugs but yesterday we had a *real* conversation. It was utterly charming and went something like this:

June: I went three times across the monkey bars...alone...I learnt that at school (or, skoo-ooool, as she calls it).
Me: Well done, that's great! Do you like school?
June: Heuu (her delightful version of 'yes' - sounds a bit like a combination of the Indian manner of saying yes* and clearing your throat)
Me: Good, have you been reading books at school?
June: Heuu, I read... (I could not for the life of me make out the title of the books, and after asking her to repeat them a couple of times I decided to nod and make 'encouraging' sounds instead.)
Me: :-)
June: Have YOU ever been to skoo-ooool?
Me: Ohhh yeah. (I would have liked to answer 'for more years than I care to think about', but far be it from me to dampen her enthusiasm with my adult weariness).
June: These flowers smell like chocolate?
Me: REALLY?
June: Heuu
[walking over to the flowers]
Me: You're right! [and she was - those flowers** actually smell of chocolate, who would have known it!]
There then ensued an 'educational' discussion of bumble bees, flowers and nectar etc until June wisely interjected.
June: Sometimes I am a princess and sometimes I am a bumbly bee! 
Me: That's great, I've seen you dressed as a princess but I didn't know you were also a bee.
June: Heuu. I have lots of puppets.

Wonderful! 


At the point June came over to talk I was sitting in the garden reading this...synchronicity at its best.


(A quick sketch of the situation - with a nod to Mr God This is Anna)




*June's chocolate-smelling flowers





**See 0.46 for an idea of June's 'yes', but imagine making that sound with a bit more of a martial arts sounding kick



Sunday, 28 September 2014

The occasional joys of classical force-feeding


For two consecutive days every week I am force-fed an unrelenting diet of Radio 3; it is frequently a painful and perplexing experience. Although I play a number of musical instruments, some competently, some not so competently, I have limited knowledge of classical music theory and interpretation. That despite flying through grade 5 theory with an exceptionally high grade, much to the teacher's shock  - my brother taught me everything I needed to know the night before the exam, and despite being terrified into passing music o' level ("nobody has EVER failed music o'level with me", bellowed my disgruntled music teacher after I made a particularly unspectacular -and unsuccessful -attempt at the mock...so I hearkened, and passed). Still, I am not entirely sure what the Radio 3 presenters are implying when they state a piece has been played looking back rather than forward, or what they mean when they comment on a piece providing a backdrop for other more askance composers. And, I certainly have no appreciation of raucous bang, crash symphonies first thing in the morning, or women opera singers (apart from the odd piece here and there), and horror of horrors: song cycles - pleeeeease, for the love of mercy, no. 

However, every now and again Radio 3 gets it right, in my eyes, and plays some extraordinarily sublimely beautiful pieces  befitting the time of day when I am awaiting my third cup of tea to jolt my neural pathways into action. At these points, I rush for my phone and photograph the tv to capture a screen shot of the title of the piece so I can listen to it again later.

Here is one of said pieces from this week's diet: 






Oh, and Radio 3, what is it with your overriding preoccupation with Pergolesi's Stabat Mater? It's a great piece, but...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Luther's free will

Despite what you may have read, Luther *is* all in favour of the existence of free will, in fact he takes every opportunity to demonstrate this fact. Yesterday, when I re-encountered him after many months absence I saw that for Luther the will is not bound at all but roaming free and ready to clash with mine, particularly on the subject of precisely which direction we should walk in. I, quite naturally I believe, was set on going to the park, Luther wanted to go on a short circuit around the housing estate, many times over, much to the amusement of some neighbours who soon realised it was in fact I that was being taken for a walk, and not the dog. 


Meet Luther:

We also had very different ideas about what to do with a stick. Luther looked at me as if I were certifiably insane when I threw a stick for him; he certainly had *no* intention of going after it. A little while later, though, he came across a stick that he wanted to carry. His will, his way...



I'm not generally an early riser on a Sunday - or any day if I can help it - but Luther was quite certain that 7.30am* was a fine time to get up and head out for the first of our three walks today. I concurred. It is quite possible that Luther has charmingly wrapped me around his paw. On that note, time to go, I'm being summonsed to a game of tug of war....




Happy days dog-sitting. 

F.Y.I. I feel like a proper person this weekend - I am in a proper house with comfy sofas and everything...roll on the end of studentdom.

*Update: This morning's wake up call was at 5.30am, I'm not usually greeted with such enthusiasm and warmth at that time in the morning, but...
After letting him out in the garden for a bit I went back to bed until I could resist his 'let's go for a walk right now' hints no longer, so, by 6.50am we were out in the cool morning air.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Berries and Storks

Cycling home bathed in warmth and light, rather than trying to navigate along unlit roads barely able to see a foot ahead or feel the end of my fingers, is one of the joys of summer and a reason to resent the encroaching cooler days. However, with these encroaching cooler days come blackberries...in abundance. So, rather than freewheel down the lane below in a couple of minutes, today I spent 30-40 mins progressing slowly, picking as many berries as my sticky mitts could reach. I garnered a couple of nettle stings and thorn pricks along the way too, ouch, but it was well worth the bounty.

The lane


The berries

The bounty



Another happy sight on the way home was this graffiti-ed stork! These are dotted all over the city. Who/why/what for? Whatever, it cheered my day to see it once more.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Odd, but tasty

I'm not one to take or post pictures of my food usually, but, this...


...is gluten, dairy, and sugar free (bar a weeny bit in the 70% cocoa choc) and actually looks, tastes, and has the texture of a brownie, despite containing no recognisable brownie-like ingredients. It's chief ingredient is sweet potato, yes, REALLY.

You can find the recipe here,

I came across it as I need to bolster my immune system, and *of course* looked immediately for recipes for the most important food group: chocolate. Perhaps this monstrous new regime is not going to be so bad after all.

To steal a line:

Brownie already consumed by myself and housemates



and, brownie soon to be consumed...

There are times, when...

There are times, when the best laid plans seem to end up somewhat, well, like this:





Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Radical manners - sage advice from a Stoic

There have been some challenging posts recently on radical hospitality, a practice I have long observed in operation at my parents' home and a habit for which the Greeks and Cypriots, amongst whom I was fortunate enough to live for many years, are rightly known.

      Alongside radical hospitality perhaps we also need radical manners. I don't say that out of entrapment in English sensibilities, the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus commented on the matter long ago. It seems unlikely that it is possible to suddenly become 'radically hospitable' if you first haven't cultivated a disposition that looks away from the self. I suspect that it is easier to give if you have learned not to take, and to offer with a generous hand if you know not to grasp or demand.

        So, here's the 'radical' Epictetus' as seen in  The Enchiridion

Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you? Don't stop it. Is it not yet come? Don't stretch your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods. And if you don't even take the things which are set before you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine. 

                                                            *

A couple of other nuggets from Epictetus while we're at it:

If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you? 

 Is anyone preferred before you at an entertainment, or in a compliment, or in being admitted to a consultation? If these things are good, you ought to be glad that he has gotten them; and if they are evil, don't be grieved that you have not gotten them. And remember that you cannot, without using the same means [which others do] to acquire things not in our own control, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of them. For how can he who does not frequent the door of any [great] man, does not attend him, does not praise him, have an equal share with him who does? You are unjust, then, and insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which these things are sold, and would have them for nothing. For how much is lettuce sold? Fifty cents, for instance. If another, then, paying fifty cents, takes the lettuce, and you, not paying it, go without them, don't imagine that he has gained any advantage over you. For as he has the lettuce, so you have the fifty cents which you did not give. So, in the present case, you have not been invited to such a person's entertainment, because you have not paid him the price for which a supper is sold. It is sold for praise; it is sold for attendance. Give him then the value, if it is for your advantage. But if you would, at the same time, not pay the one and yet receive the other, you are insatiable, and a blockhead. Have you nothing, then, instead of the supper? Yes, indeed, you have: the not praising him, whom you don't like to praise; the not bearing with his behavior at coming in. 

* Picture from here: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus#mediaviewer/File:Epicteti_Enchiridion_Latinis_versibus_adumbratum_(Oxford_1715)_frontispiece.jpg

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

On Greek Tragedy and the (social media) Kierkegaardian Knight of Infinite drama

Come onto the internet all ye who are heavy laden and you will find the chorus you are looking for - to misquote by a long stretch...


                                *

Much has been written about the connection between narcissism and social media; on my cycle home this afternoon I got to thinking about another throwback to ancient Greece, that of Greek tragedy and the tendency of some to present their lives in this genre both in reality and on social media. 

For Greek tragedy to work the basic elements you need are the unfortunate (or, *hilarious*) protagonist, a chorus, and an audience, social media provides just that. In the attempt to keep drama ever present, there are some, thankfully relatively few in my social media world (either that, or I have blocked their posts), who are driven to present their daily lives with the aura of tragedy in order to elicit an outpouring from their waiting chorus. 

As the heroic protagonist, every event related, whether truly concerning them or not, is presented as encircling them so that the intended outcome - the chorus recitation of 'woe' or 'wow' - is procured. The tragedy is worn like a badge of honour to be paraded before all, and its recitation becomes the only way the tragedian relates to others: here I am, pity me, marvel at me, notice me, mE, ME; a cry that rings out through the internet void springing out from the treacly mire of a self-pity/self-adulation pendulum. It is akin to chain-smoking, there must always be a tragedy, or two, or three, on the go. Kierkegaard's tragic hero, the knight of infinite resignation (or, infinite drama...) lives and breathes and posts on facebook or twitter with alarming regularity to present his or her latest plight with great sighs and protestations of resigned sacrifice, and does so with the self-confidence of one convinced by their own plight, exceeding generosity, unfeigned humility, and/or stature as a comedian/enne.

                                      **

Woe and betide those who encounter such in 'real' life and refuse to join the chorus, then they unwittingly become a figure in the protagonist's dramatic monologue, another reason for their fate to be bemoaned.

These dramas bring this brief conversation to mind:

Baldrick: Permission to speak, Sir.
Blackadder: Granted, with a due sense of exhaustion and dread.

Oh, cor incurvatum in se.



http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvr5s7_blackadder-season-04-episode-01-captain-cook_shortfilms (04.44 - 04.49)

Pictures taken from:
*http://www.pen.org/sites/default/files/Oresteia%20-Chorus.jpg

** http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/176/f/7/greek_tragedy_mask_by_gunner9814-d54vpuo.jpg


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sort it out with a bit Bulgarian choral music

This blog post was started at the beginning of June:


Tonight I'm feeling very out of sorts - this has been a theme for the past few days. This is probably not the time to be blogging but since I am unable to focus on the things I should be doing: a) thesis chapter; b) job application; c) supervision/teaching prep, and, d) article, I may as well do something which will have a visible end product -words on a page - and perhaps in the process sort out the 'out of sorts'; perhaps.

It took a while to feel back to something approximating 'normal' - I wouldn't like to make the grand claim of normality, whatever that may entail - and once again I have an imminent deadline so it is OBVIOUSLY the time to do something else...I grew up listening to a tape of Bulgarian choral music - on repeat - that my father had; the choir sings acapella in fifths; it's stunning. With a few minutes of you tube searching, I've found it and it's as wonderful as I remember:




And here's another beautiful piece I came across while looking for the other:



You're welcome.

Now back to the chapter...










Thursday, 13 February 2014

The puddle of love

In honour of Valentine's day, I present the lerv puddle spotted near my road last Sunday.




and this achingly beautiful music (not convinced by the relevance of the fish pics myself but the music is haunting):


 And a song that is fitting for the day: 




The day wouldn't be complete without a suitable meme, so:


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Art reflecting life and all that

There are times when the weather mirrors emotion (I realise this is not a particularly profound thought so I will have to re-word it later once I am overcome with profundity).This was painted on return from years of living in a Mediterranean country, a time which was outwardly between warm and sweltering but inwardly frequently as bleak as the weather we are experiencing at the moment. Cheery thought -I blame it on the weather!



Hah, and to counter this the sun has just burst through the clouds here and the birds are singing. So, in honour of that here's a work of art by uber-talented Cypriot artist and singer, Elias Karseras, who sadly passed away in 2007; lovely man and wonderful artist.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Fading

Grass people,
Glory flower,
...fade.



(Painting by me)

Remember

In conversation with a couple of housemates today these words of C. H. Spurgeon came to mind. Of course, they came into the context of the topic we were discussing but rather than recount that, the words can speak for themselves:


Remember, therefore, it is not your hold on Christ that saves you — it is Christ; 
it is not your joy in Christ that saves you — it is Christ; 
it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument — it is Christ's blood and merits; 
therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but Jesus, the source of your hope — 
look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. 
We will never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; 
it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. 
If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” 
Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh on your mind; when you wake in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him. 
Oh! let not your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail you.




And for those who like beards, another Spurgeon quotation...



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Let it go

A college friend just posted a verse of this fantastic poem:

let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or         
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go it 
was sworn to 
go

let them go - the                                                                        
truthful liars and 
the false fair friends
and the boths and 
neithers - you must let them go they
were born to go

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go
dear

so comes love

~ e.e. cummings ~


...which reminded me of one of my favourite's: 

The Windhover (To Christ our Lord)

I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, 
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, 
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

~Gerard Manley Hopkins~



...and of the breaking out of new life from the ashes of destruction


*picture from here: http://cooleiststuffever.wikispaces.com/Mythical+creatures