Totara Valley Overnight

Anne and I popped down to Totara Valley for an overnight trip – lawn-mowing and tree planting (as the planned work on the shack was thwarted by rain on Monday morning).

What was particularly marvellous was the late afternoon light and then the next day stunning almost overwhelming dawn before the rain set in.

Take a look…
Totara Valley 1 (1 of 1) Totara Valley 2 (1 of 1)  Totara Valley 3 (1 of 1) Totara Valley 5 (1 of 1) Totara Valley Dawn (1 of 1) Totara Valley 4 (1 of 1)

The Decemberists: what a terrible world, what a beautiful world

I am loving listening to the latest Decemberists album…the worry is that I will wear it out!

My family have been Decemberist fans ever since we arrived in Australia with a rental car and only one CD – The Crane Wife which we were happy to have as the soundtrack of our holiday.  The Crane Wife Part 3 is important to all five of us and takes us straight back to that holiday.

Just like U2s latest, the second ‘half’ of the album seems to hold the treasure.  The earlier songs, while clever and witty and even downright naughty (Philomena!), seem more suited to the market and its appetites (their last album The King is Dead reached #1 in the US album charts), but the later songs are so very well crafted and vary in style in such contrasting ways that it seems a little like a collection of unrelated artists making an album until Colin Meloy sings – he is so distinctive!
As I write Easy Come and Easy Go with its hint of The Shadows is playing.  Earlier the glorious introspective The Lake Song prompted me to get around to writing this blog entry.  For me it is the stand out song of the album – lyrics and glorious bass playing…

The crowning glory is the final track A Beginning Song is referenced in an earlier blog… I love the invitation to celebrate life… and then the CD starts the album all over again… and life is good, very good.

the-decemberists-2015

Thomas, Jesus, doubt, and us. Today’s Sunday after Easter reflection

The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas-Caravaggio_(1601-2)

12-4-15 The Village at Bryndwr John 20:19-31 Thomas, Jesus, doubt, and us.

An interaction with the art of Michelangelo Merisi (or Amerighi) da Caravaggio and a couple of poems.
Reflection by Mart the Rev

We wander this side of Resurrection Day.  It is the only place we have ever wandered, for we weren’t there before the resurrection.  We are ‘after’ people.  Always have been, always will be.

We think we have it hard, being this side.  I mean, we have no hard evidence.  We want and demand proof.  And, if we don’t demand proof then those around us demand proof.  Those around us question resurrection, as they should, but they place limits on how their questions can be answered.  They demand, much as Thomas did, that ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’  But even then, even if they could touch and see, I am not sure that these everyone’s would believe… ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,’ says Jesus.  Belief is not a foregone conclusion after seeing.  People believe what they want to believe, and, people believe in what it suits them to believe.  Belief in the resurrected Jesus demands something.  Continue reading

Resurrection and RS Thomas

I’m preparing for the mandatory post-Easter encounter between the risen Jesus and Thomas (John 20)…it really is one of the best days to be involved in.  I love the Thomas line: ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’  So bold!  So demanding!  So 21st century!

I will post what I come up with after tomorrow, but there is a grand RS Thomas poem that is getting an airing…The Answer:

Not darkness but twilight
In which even the best of minds must make its way
now. And slowly the questions
occur, vague but formidable
for all that. We pass our hands
over their surface like blind
men feeling for the mechanism
that will swing them aside. They
yield, but only to re-form
as new problems; and one
does not even do that
but towers immovable
before us.

[resurrection is one of these questions that towers immovable before us!]

Is there no way
of other thought of answering
its challenge? There is an anticipation
of it to the point of
dying. There have been times
when, after long on my knees
in a cold chancel, a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
grave-clothes of love’s risen body.  The Answer R S Thomas

Thomas of Didymus extract…

I’m working on a Sunday reflection around the post-resurrection encounter of Thomas and Jesus, and I found this wonderful poem…I have extracted this final section of the poem – the full poem can be read here: http://www.betterlivingthroughbeowulf.com/tormented-torn-twisted-with-doubt/

St. Thomas Didymus (extract) by Denise Levertov

So it was
that after Golgotha…
…and after the empty tomb
when they told me that He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,
told me
that though He had passed through the door like a ghost
He had breathed on them
the breath of a living man – 
even then
when hope tried with a flutter of wings
to lift me –
still, alone with myself,
my heavy cry was the same: Lord
I believe,
help thou mine unbelief. Continue reading