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Photographs

Wake while it is still dark.  Dress.  Light the fire.  Make coffee.  Read the New Testament.  Sit in silence.  Here is the scaffolding I use to construct the day, a frame which gives shape to and bears the weight of everything that follows. The silence wraps itself around two concepts too big for right now: intention and consent; perhaps I'll try and speak of them at another time.  And then, when the light turns blue silver, before it gets all directional and golden, before the sky has its brief fling with the long end of the colour spectrum, I drive around the harbour.  The light plays and dances. Light off the sea is reflected, and therefore polarized so it has a different character from that which is flooding the new sky. Light filtered through clouds is softer and bluer than the fresh edged stuff, which has only had to contend with air. There are shadows and lines and colours and reflections everywhere. There are photographs lying about at every turn, but I don't need to po
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70

This photo was taken by my daughter Catherine, when I was about 50. I think she did a pretty good job.  The number 70 has a kind of Biblical gravitas. It’s the number of elders appointed by Moses to lead the recalcitrant Israelites, and the number of people who went down to join Joseph, in Egypt. Jesus sent 70 disciples out to minister in his name, and the first Jewish Sanhedrin had 70 blokes in it. And, of course, there is Psalm 90:10:  “ The days of our life are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore, yet is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away ”. All this has some personal import because I turn 70 today, and can no longer fool myself that I am middle aged. I’m old. And before you feed me one of the lines of balderdash that pass for wisdom in our culture - “you’re only as old as you feel”; “70 is the new 50”; “age is just a number” or some other such nonsense, let me tell you that I am happy to be old. Deliriously

Centering Prayer Retreat

    A 3 day taught retreat in the practice of Centering Prayer.   Saturday October 2 2021 - Monday October 4 2021 Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent contemplative prayer. This retreat is suitable for beginners in silent prayer, or for more experienced practitioners wishing to refresh their practice.  The retreat will be held in the En Hakkore retreat centre in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo. There will be daily sessions of silent prayer, instruction and discussion. The venue is spacious and set in an expansive landscape. there will be some time for personal reflection.  The cost is $175 per person which includes 2 nights accommodation and all meals.   Since the beginning, following the example of Jesus, there has been a tradition of silent prayer in the Christian Church. Over the centuries this tradition faded from the popular view and became confined to monasteries. It was kept alive by a largely ignored, but never fading lineage of Christian contemplatives.  

Resolutions

  The evidence is there and it's not good. Most people break their New Year's resolutions. On average, people hold out 'til January 19, apparently although about 8% of people manage to abide by their self imposed strictures for a year or more.  We make New Year's resolutions because there's bits of us we don't like and because we fall for one of the most common misperceptions that people  have about themselves: that our failings are just a matter of  will power and that if only we had a bit of discipline we could all smarten our individual and corporate  acts up. Bah humbug, I say.  There's a French saying,  tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner . To understand all is to forgive all. This is profoundly true. Pretty much everything we do, we do for a reason. What trips us up is that a) our reasoning is faulty,  based as it is on inaccurate premises and incomplete information and b) our reasoning is usually completely invisible to us. So we notice that we

Bees

Sometime back in 2018 I set myself the task of photographing a bumblebee in flight. I did this not because I especially liked bumblebees - though I didn't mind them - but because it seemed difficult. They were small and moved fast, and the process of getting a photo would improve my camera handling skills. And besides, we had plenty of them in the garden so I would be able to get in lots of practice. So I sat by the plants that seemed to attract them. I took hundred of pictures, mostly of blurry striped blobs or of recently vacated flowers. I watched. I learned - about the camera, the lens, certainly, but also quite a lot about the bees. And quite a lot about myself, which I guess was the point of the exercise all along. There were honeybees in the garden as well as bumblebees, so naturally I took a few snaps of them as well, but I didn't find them nearly such a challenge. They have clearly defined little bodies and they have a tendency to hover obligingly while the shot is tak

Sign, Symbol and Sacrament

  This is a sign in the door of a café in Finisterre. Finisterre means "The End of the Earth", so it's a kind of joke: the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe - Douglas Adams! Geddit? ...Oh never mind. Anyway, when I got to this place the café was closed, and had a sign on the door to say precisely that, but unless you read a little Spanish you might still try the door. That's the thing about signs: they are one dimensional and depend, for their effectiveness in communicating information, on a commonality of understanding between signer and signee. All across Spain we blissfully entered museums by the wrong doors, parked in the wrong places and queued at the wrong ticket windows because our commonality of understanding was somewhat impaired.  But there were other signs we encountered that didn't depend on language.  Like this one for instance.  Walking past this little chapel, on a mountainside at sunrise, I didn't have to ask what kind of building it was. B

The Comfort of the Resurrection

    When a photo appears capture it. Don't think you will come back later and get it, because it will be gone and that particular pattern of cloud and sea and rocks and sand will never be repeated. And don't think that something as limited and primitive as a camera is going to reveal  the coldness of the damp sand beneath your bare feet; or the sound of the oystercatchers warning each other that you might want to make an omelette out of their eggs; or the liminal stillness of the morning air before the wind rises. And that redness in the sky and the breadth of it - don't delude yourself that you are going to show that to anyone. All you can ever do is suggest.  **** Heraclitus was a philosopher who lived about 500 BC in Greece. He thought that the universe was not so much a thing as a process. We, and all the stuff we see about us are in a state of becoming. Nothing is constant and the apparent solidity of things is an illusion caused by the comparative slowness of some cha