the art of ruddell

The Cloudwatcher. The Cloudwatcher posts started life as image based meditations at LSR Church called Spiritual Man in the Natural World.
going down

the sun going down behind the Greek island of Samos

always travel with an open mind,
open eyes and
an open heart

The best journeys answer questions which at the beginning you didn't even think to ask. Jeff Johnson

the chair

take a seat
pick up a book
make yourself at home

When a person is at home in their life, they always have a clear instinct about the shape of external situations; even in the midst of confusion they can discern the traces of the path forward. When one is at home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance. John O'Donohue



time to head back

in the desert

in the desert there is space

in the desert there is silence

in the desert there is dry, clear air
in the desert there is time . . .
in the desert I can see great distances

"even through the wilderness I shall make a way and paths in the barren desert
for I shall provide water in the wilderness and rivers in the barren desert” (the prophet Isaiah)

The four pillars of learning

Learning to know - increasing knowledge
Learning to do - increasing skills
Learning to be - increasing mindfulness
Learning to live together - increasing sociable-ness

Marco Magrini

after three days

After two days he will revive us
on the third day he will restore us
that we may live in his presence.
Let us press on to acknowledge to the Lord

As surely as the sun rises, he will appear
he will come to us like the winter rains
like the spring rains that water the earth

the prophet Hosea

Conservación Patagónica

off the grid
Conservación Patagónica
organic farming
wood burning stove
reading books

Doug and Kris Tompkins' cabin in the wilds of Conservación Patagónica in Chile.

Retreat is a state of mind and you can experience it anywhere. Sally Brockway


building strength
finding balance
gaining flexibility

love the contrast between the soft flowing lines of Leia Cohen's Tai Chi and the monolithic, brutal architecture of the Wudang Temple in China.

For me it is all about finding a balance in a world that has lost its equilibrium. Leia Cohen

silent ships

silent ships
tranquil oceans
distant mountains
lone palm trees

just another quiet morning in Kusadasi on the Aegean Sea . . .

Catalunya morning

Iglesia de Sant Esteve
mediterranean palette
nooks and crannies
morning shadows
hidden paths

I think a anybody who travels knows that you're not really doing so in order to move around - you're travelling in order to be moved. Micheal Crichton

Bajondillo Apartamentos

Mediterranean morning
Andalusian retreat
coastal walk
ocean calm
solar therapy

pursuing a place of stillness, both physically and inside oneself . . is not about enriching the sanctuary or improving the mountain top; it's about bringing calm into the commotion of the world. Pico Lyer


the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time. Oxford Dictionary

the practice of contemplation seeks a direct awareness of the divine which transcends the intellect, often in concert with prayer or meditation.. Wikipedia

The only thing we can bring to a contemplative life is a willing heart.
The one thing that will shut down the contemplative life is a holding on, a grasping.
Gerald May


turn your face towards the light and feel it's warmth
become aware of the fresh air and breathe it in deeply . . it's good for you

move through the frustrations and find your path forward:
It's there.

Quiet Days

quiet days
new paintings
fresh air
good exercise
stacked bookshelves
fresh coffee
warm bread

Dark Thoughts

Dark Thoughts from the King of Jerusalem

everything is meaningless
all things are wearisome
the eye never sees enough
the ear never hears enough
there is nothing new under the sun
with much wisdom comes much sorrow

Love it!!
Welcome to the 21st Century Solomon!

warm sand

quiet surf
gentle breeze
warm sand
clear air
long walk

life doesn't need to be lived at a hectic pace . . .
walking sets the mind adrift,
clarifying and organising thoughts

Kathryn Aalto

Back to Sabbath:

Sabbath is a gift we can receive

come to a complete stop
let the brakes cool down
let the air clear
let the noise disperse

"It takes a lot of energy to stop" Wes Finch

"Sabbath is about being released from "the ticking clock"" David Hammond

"Sabbath is not about achievement, it's about being, it's about doing things that give us life, and refresh our souls." Katherine Martin

so my question to you is:
when did you last take a Sabbath?


meditation is characterized more by reflecting than by studying,
more by listening than by thinking,
more by releasing than by grabbing

In the discipline of meditation we are not so much acting as opening ourselves to be acted upon. We invite the Holy Spirit to come and work within us

Richard Foster

be present

be present
help others
eat more fruit
surf often
be thankful
spread aloha

SoHa Living, Noosa

somewhere in France

Somewhere in France the retreat house closes up for the night. The light sea mist coming off the ocean seems to increase the pervading sense of stillness as the studies of the day fill our thoughts . . .

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses
respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow it's path
John O'Donohue

coastal path

morning workout
pick up the pace
outrun your stress
challenge your preconceptions
change your mind
new day
new opportunity

change with the seasons . . your mission should you choose to accept it, is to turn with the tide when the tide turns, to morph and bend and stretch when nature encourages you to do so. Oliver Luke Delorie

Treasure in jars of clay

quiet corner
sunbaked pots
treasure in jars of clay
kiln fired art
weathered beauty

Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. Hermann Hesse

Andalusia Morning

clear sky
ocean quiet
morning stillness
fresh coffee
new day

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

snow in the woods

one morning . .

we served bread and wine from the heavy oak table that I had designed on CAD

it was not winter and yet a peace descended, like a blanket of snow

street sounds faded away; the cacophony of inner voices became still

just as the snow covers everything with its magical whiteness, so a quietness entered the landscape of our souls

stillness is, sometimes, the most beautiful experience

the couple . . .

my last morning in Spain this summer is mellow after overnight rain: unknown couple walk past as I drink coffee at the Llevant

so my question to you is:
does your life have

peace and tranquility

purpose and direction

personal refreshment and restoration

restoring my soul

walking the trails and restoring my soul at Westonbirt Arboretum

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired.
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength and been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year.

Robert Frost

walking in silence

white cliffs
writing stories
walking in silence
gathering stones

James Bond and Gala Brand walked in silence until they came to the two mile stretch of shingle that runs at low tide beneath the towering white cliffs to St Margaret’s bay. Ian Fleming from Moonraker

deep waters

deep waters

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

the door

cool interiors
stacked bookshelves
fresh coffee
spiritual retreat
off the grid

the leaves and the pot

quiet corner
still life
leaves by design
copper pot

Trust that still, small voice that says, "This might work and I'll try it" Diane Mariechild

Back to Nature

First impressions, after clearing the jungle and constructing our bamboo home on the former royal terrace in the Omoa Valley:

Wherever we walked, wherever we looked, we were filled
with new impressions, new sentiments, changing emotions.
The lights, the colours, the sounds, the perfumes, the touch, the shapes . . .
were never the same,
and were playing on our minds like a vast orchestra.

After living for a year on the Marquesan Island of Fatu Hiva in 1937 Thor Heyerdahl reflected:

We hated leaving. We hated going back to civilization, but we had to do it . . we were sure then, and I still am, that the only place where it is possible to find nature as it always was is within man himself.

Mediterranean Recipe

1 Principality
10 Formula One Teams
20 Grand Prix cars
100 laps
1000 decibels
3000 gear changes

I am an artist, the track is my canvas and the car is my brush. Graham Hill (five time winner of the Monaco Grand Prix)

Evening Light . .

there is no restriction on where you can journey in your mind . . .

beach view
water colour
ocean palette
sun drenched quiet
time to reflect

the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: the psalmist

Forest Dacha

lock the door
walk off the fatigue
listen to the silence

let go of your anxieties . . .
receive what your spirit is telling you

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. Friedrich Nietzsche

which door?

we definitely like having more than one choice

often though, despite there being two similar looking options, one will have more going for it . .

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by . . .
And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost

paradise pathway . .

you will hear a voice behind you saying "this is the way . . walk in it"

step of faith

the heart leads the way, the feet follow

do not fear mistakes, there are none - Miles Davis

we learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way . . John Holt

snow . .

snow had fallen
snow on snow
quietness entered the landscape of my soul
stillness is, sometimes, the most beautiful experience

the woods are lovely, dark and deep
but I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep
and miles to go before I sleep. . . Robert Frost

reluctance . .

doubt . .
in two minds . .
step of faith

" The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?" . . Robert Frost

waiting . .

waiting for the sun
waiting for the waves
waiting for things to come into focus

waiting for the mist to clear
waiting to put brush to canvas

drawing and painting is life . . anything that happens before or after is just waiting

sunset in the desert

father and daughter time

warm days, cool nights, time to catch up . . .

sharing hopes, holding onto the good and dreaming big dreams

exploding . .

exploding . . from a bygone age!!

the sublime Jaguar XJ6
1968, the year I started work as a Jaguar Apprentice

to drive a Jaguar is to compress years of research and development into a moment in time . . a moment in which it is difficult not to be impressed!

Don't assume . . .

Don't assume . . .
Don't assume things will be right first time!!

and test again.

Richard Cresswell gets airborne during pre-production testing of the camouflaged Jaguar XJ4/3 in Clun Forest Shropshire, probably during 1967

table for two

table for two in desert oasis

sitting down and sharing with one another over a drink is one of life's greatest pleasures

" as you use steel to sharpen steel, so one friend sharpens another ". . . the poet

the door

I have set before you an open door that no man can shut (Rev 3:8)

what door are you standing in front of, considering whether or not to go through, to a new opportunity?

what will you do?

take courage and step over . .

"Attraversiamo" (let's cross over)

spanish morning

the morning shadows are accompanied by the sound of a spanish guitar coming from an open window somewhere, and the aromas from the patisserie up the hill

it's day 21 . . the inertia of travelling, and the multitude of noisy thoughts from a busy year have receded

"It takes a lot of energy to stop" Wes Finch


the waters are rippling towards you

let them flush out your frustrations and stresses

expose your dry and dusty places, and watch as life returns to your hopes and dreams . . .

" . . . he saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new" - Hermann Hesse

Gothic Pause

it's time

to step out of the rush
to move away from the noise
to feel the dappled sunshine
to absorb the Gothic silence

it's time

to restore your soul with still waters
to refresh your imagination with revivalist architecture
to accept the light and shade of life
to receive what your spirit is telling you

it's time

the far side of the sea

colours - to shock your retina
fresh air - to blow away your cobwebs
miles of sand - to walk off your fatigue
great distances - to adjust your perspective

"for the world is not painted or adorned but is from the beginning beautiful" . . Ralph Waldo Emerson

"if I rise on the wings of the dawn,
and settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me" . . . the Psalmist

change your viewpoint

things often look different from high up

so look up
look further ahead

there are:

paths to discover
possibilities to choose
people to encounter
promises to fulfil
callings to pursue

prayer in the storm:

far be it from me not to believe
even when my eyes can't see

and this mountain that's in front of me
will be thrown into the midst of the sea

so let go my soul, and trust in him
the winds and waves still know his name

it is well, it is well
it is well, with my soul.

image source: Callaghan
painting: Ruddell
song lyrics: Riddle/Spafford

waiting . . .
it is 1997 . . and the Victorian Melon House at Heligan has been wonderfully restored
the first melons are being grown,
the sun is needed for the female flowers to open, to be pollinated . .
but it just rains . . . and rains and rains . . .

there is no fruitfulness without careful planting and proper groundwork . .
but also . . there is no fruitfulness without the sun!!
let's turn and face the light . .

the vision. . though it be delayed, wait for it, it will surely come

unanswered yet . . .
the prayer your lips have pleaded
in agony of heart these many years?
does faith begin to fail, is hope declining,
and think you all in vain those falling tears?
say not the Father has not heard your prayer;
you shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere. - anon

the path
You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” . . the prophet

two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and I took the one less travelled by
and that has made all the difference . . .Robert Frost

As you embark on a new path you feel a new wave of possibility; your mind feels the potential of going toward something greater . . something unknown . . . Hannah Ruddell

the Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore . . . the psalmist

without shadows life is two dimensional

without shadows there is detail without definition, jumble without design.

you may be in the shadows at the moment, but remember shadows are produced because you are close to the light, and although the shadows are dark, there is a purpose and design which, from a distance, will become clear.

he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty . . . the psalmist

a royal moment
The 1948 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, designed by John Blatchley, conveyed Princess Margaret to Sandringham for Christmas in 1956, took James Bond into the heart of Spectre in 2015 and brought Megan Markle to Windsor Castle for her wedding in 2018

What will bring your royal moment this Christmas?

What will bring . .

Joy to your world

Peace to your life

Stillness to your heart

" my joy will be in you, and your joy will be full " . . . the disciple

moved by colour . . .
walking amongst the orange and amber shades at Westonbirt

what are you building?
and will it last? . .

watercolour painting of H J Lawson's Daimler factory power house, built in 1907, where Britain's first motor car was manufactured . . . car factories have come and have gone; the power house has just gone gently to sleep, but still stands as a powerful reminder of where it all started!!

"we overlay these buildings with the memories of what went on in them. This creates a very powerful idea about a place. Buildings are about people, and place and time, they're about use, and they're about context" . . . Kevin McCloud

fine tuning . . .
what is in your heart will eventually show itself outwardly . .

marker and gouache painting of Richard Cresswell's rebuilt 3.8 XK engine, the day it was started up 10th June 2011, showing the "bluing" on the race manifolds; the colours denote that cylinders five and six are running too rich and are not yet hot enough!!

do the desires and ambitions of your heart need some fine tuning?

be assured that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it . . . the apostle

nothing new . . .
there is nothing new under the sun . .

overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, twin SU carburetters . . . .

my watercolour homage to the wondrous monoblock 4½ litre 1928 Bentley engine with which Woolf Barnato won the Le Mans 24 hours 90 years ago this week-end at an average speed of 70mph . .

"To build a fast car, a good car, and the best car in it's class.” . . WO Bentley sharing his company's mission statement

"their works do follow them" . .

the tide is out . . .
"This sure looks different from Jacksonville" . . .

the tide is out
everything comes to those who wait . .
there is a time for everything

" The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places" . . the psalmist

pressure waves . . .
the sudden impact of a fast moving vehicle against the air creates huge pressure waves . .

the mid 60s were exciting times for racing car designers as they sought to harness the resultant airflow; here with the Lola T70 they found that the flip up at the rear of the body added downforce to the rear wheels

I saw this image in my sleep with these colours a couple of weeks ago . .

form follows function . . .
form follows function in perfect harmony -

The Lotus 25, Colin Chapman's groundbreaking monocoque F1 car of 1963, won seven Grand Prix in the hands of Jim Clark . . four of them on the same set of tyres!! . .

watercolour from the Westwood art conservatoire:

the rain has stopped,
the picture is finished . .
unfortunately the cakes have gone as well . .

a spanish moment . . .
with designers gouache, Rembrant pastels and fine point marker pen to bring Blanca Padilla to life on the paper

Blanca Padilla is a spanish model from Collado Villaba who was discovered by a model talent scout whilst she was changing trains at Madrid's Plaza de España metro station in 2013.

"for the world is not painted or adorned but is from the beginning beautiful" . . Ralph Waldo Emerson

spanish prophesy from Caleta de Fuste:
“ this is how it is going to be on your journey . . .
some work is going to flow towards you in abundance,
and some work will recede away from you when you thought it was coming . .
but at all times you will be surrounded by peace, beauty and colour.”

alignment . .
- imagine a dark, windy day of gloom and rain in Gloucestershire
- imagine a crazy photographer squatting under a tree behind his camera and tripod . . with nothing but cramped muscles . . and faith
- imagine an unexpected gap in the clouds, and a blaze of light through the rain . .


alignment is when circumstances fall into place and bring:

- colour
- beauty
- deliverance

does your life need some alignment?

we know who is good at that . .

ambient conditions . .
the landscape of our lives is often the same year on year . .

however with a change in ambient conditions that same landscape can look and feel very different . .

- it has the same challenging hills to conquer
- the same narrow paths to walk
- the same remote aspect to overcome

but with a different atmosphere:

- warmth instead of coldness
- approval instead of hostility
- affirmation instead of negativity

the sun will really rise in our lives.

what aspect of your landscape needs a change in ambient conditions?

warm, straight rain . . .
I remember it was a day of warm, straight rain . . .

the lakeside gazebo was deserted but it suggested to me a place of pause and reflection amongst the rich tapestry of trees and shrubs that make up this part of Longwood Gardens

a place to savour the blanket of peace
a place to consider the light and shade of life
a place to rest after a morning spent in busy traffic

"I believe,
help my unbelief
What was true in the light
Is still true in the dark ". . . Rend Collective

the pathway . . .
the pathway ahead:

You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” . . the prophet Isaiah

archway and path in the grounds of Gosford Castle:

the next step is visible
the steps beyond not so clear
the way we could have taken has been bricked up . . this is called divine guidance
2018 beckons

in the shadows . . .
the world was dark and out of control . . a land of gloom and utter darkness, of deepest night and utter disorder, where even the light was like darkness. (the book of job)

we may be journeying in deep shadow . .

but the people who dwelt for so long in the half light saw a great brightness emerging; and to them who were lost in the shadows the morning has come:

let your tensions go . . . for God is present. . .

other stuff can wait, because everything is in his hands. . .

emerging . . .
the morning sun begins to wash through Yosemite Valley picking out the slender Bridalveil Falls:

some thoughts on the new season:

we need to let the old season go
we need to step out in faith, for the path ahead may only be partly visible at the moment
un-expected things await in a landscape that will feel familiar and yet will be breathtakingly new

" . . . like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain . . . "

the exchange . . .
in February 1962 U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers was exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolph Ivanovich Abel at Berlin's Glienicker Bridge

moving from captivity to freedom
moving from limitations to possibilities
moving from black and white to colour

do you need to exchange::

a hope for every despair
a strength for every weakness
a healing for every regret
a peace for every turmoil
an ocean for every thirst
a supply for every lack

I reach to you the one who makes the blind eyes see
who breaks the chains of sickness with authority
restoring what was broken
so it may fly again . . Lara Martin

you know what to do

crossing into freedom . . .
I first crossed into the East (that was) beneath the Brandenburg Gate at midnight on 3rd November 1992. The temperature was below freezing and there was hardly a soul about as I pretended to be a character out of a Len Deighton thriller!! But despite the low temperatures the cold war was a thing of the past: the wall had been broken down.

In the cold war of the soul the wall has also been broken down . . . and we get to choose:

wisdom over and above knowledge
integrity over expediency
freedom over captivity

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere . . . james the apostle

Are you walking in freedom?

It is time to set down those heavy weights that are no longer yours to carry!

the journey . . .

just another Sunday afternoon, pulling out of the port . .

"Soon we'll be away from here
step on the gas and wipe that tear away
One sweet dream
came true
today" . . . Lennon/ McCartney

How is it on your journey?

the goal is not to finish the journey, but to savour each moment . . Caroline Hammond

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. David the psalmist

"we have traded off a lot of the feelings of contentment that you might feel when you get a little way into adulthood, for . . . wings, for freedom: we're free; if tomorrow we want to take off over that hill, we can go, we can do it . . . "

Paul Cruise: member of the 1977 National Geographic Society expedition The Yukon Passage

I am refreshed in the journey . . the constantly changing landscape, the different time zones, the sense of movement, the fresh air, the newness around each corner. I like to travel slow, and see the gradual change of season, of weather and culture . . I like to feel the temperature go down as we travel north . . to see the snow arrive and the world become still and magical . . . .

I think there is something romantic about a journey, whether it be sat alone on a bus heading to a town 3 hours away, or a month long trip down the coast: As soon as you embark you feel a new wave of possibility; your mind wanders to remembered movie scenes and travel posts, and you can project these onto your own journey, with the potential of going toward something greater . . something unknown . .

Hannah Ruddell

emerging . . .

"the artist who conjured up this fabulous imagery must have had limitless resources and tremendous fun". . Thor Heyerdahl on Fatu Hiva

"I get new ideas as I ride the metro, walk the Saint Lawrence seaway, move amongst the buildings and people; fresh riffs, different melody lines, light and shade . . . so I switch on the keyboard and begin" . . Anomalie, explaining his creative process at Nexus-ICA

the former days, which sometimes moved at caterpillar pace, are passed, and I am now flying amongst creation, stunned by the colours and amazed by the light which is bursting out all around . .

when I need to get home you're my guiding light . . Foy Vance

hunting . . .

"The recent rain is the cause of many of the luxuriant fresh smells among the hanging vines, dead bamboo; hidden flowers and dense green tradução.

It is two hours since we left the treacherously slippy estrada and parked the truck among the bushes, before heading straight into the forest:

Antonio is in front, crouching as he goes, rifle in hand, Jack next, checking the path, buffer next carrying the bins and me last with camera and tape recorder."

" My eyes have grown accustomed to the many shades of green, the variety of trees and bushes; all picked out, in varying intensity by the sun, depending on how dense the tree canopy is high overhead.

Crickets squeak continuously but a multitude of other noises can be heard . . shrieking birds, hooting sounds that echo through the trees, trills, things that vibrate like tiny motors, all set against the backdrop of a thousand bird-songs!"

from the ruddell travel journal . . . October 1977

a job that's worth doing . . .

I saw World Champion Denny Hulme win the F1 race at Silverstone in the new McLaren M7A 49 years ago

I began research into the best angle to paint the M7A 10 years ago

I started painting the M7A at the Westwood art group last week

I finished the M7A painting 10 minutes ago

Some things take time

a job that's worth doing is worth doing well . . .

time for reflection . . . . . .

time for reflection . . or . . don't forget to recount all his blessings

time to let the light shine through . . or . . time to share what's in your heart

the time for pretence and procrastination has past . . you need to start pursuing what's in your heart!!

in the jungle . . .

in the jungle things can get clogged up
in the jungle the forest closes in around me
in the jungle the humidity can rise to extreme levels

in the jungle my brain feels like it's becoming saturated
in the jungle there is no clear path forward, just obstacles and possible danger . . .

in the desert there is space

in the desert there is silence

in the desert there is dry, clear air
in the desert there is time . . .

in the desert I can see great distances

“Stop dwelling on past events
and brooding over days gone by
I am about to do something new
this moment it will unfold

even through the wilderness I shall make a way

and paths in the barren desert
for I shall provide water in the wilderness
and rivers in the barren desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Faith . . .

If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat . . . John Ortberg

Faith is the confidence of what you hope for, and the assurance of what you cannot see . . the apostle

Relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the field of the unknown and you will step into the place of all possibilities . . Deepak Chopra

for those who dream

"you don't need eyes to see . . you need vision" Maxi Jazz
individuals have dreams
corporations rarely have dreams

animals don’t have dreams
a tree may live for a 1000 years but it never aspires to be anything other than a tree …

we have all been warned about crossing bridges before we get to them, but the prize belongs to those who cross bridges in their minds ahead of everybody else

"the man who sees no vision, will undertake no great enterprise" . . Woodrow Wilson

remember to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you
be assured that He who has begun a work in you will complete it

your vision. . though it be delayed, wait for it, it will surely come

release . . .

time out
escape the bounds
leave the white cliffs behind
there is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them
there is a time to plant and a time to uproot

blow the cobwebs away
free the mind

move out of earshot
let it go

brace yourself, breathe deep and head into the wind
walk off the fatigue

be assured that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it . . . the apostle

Quintessentially . . .

my morning walk is quintessentially English: half timbered cottages, empty lanes and blue skies . . . .

"You were made for a lifetime of hope" . . Adair Richards

"As your days, so shall your strength be . ." Deut 33:25

new notes

whether a freshly stumbled on mountain stream, a new jazz groove at Nexus-ICA or a Gibson V-8 on the Mulsanne straight, new notes speak into previously untouched areas of our souls to bring refreshment, joy and healing

"new sounds provide a place for your left and right brain to unwind at the end of day." . . John Schaefer

are you listening for new notes today?

fresh flowers

the light was amazing, the sky was clear and the morning colours rivalled even the greatest artist's palette

It is this sense of the newness of something that gives us life, that feeds our soul in a world that is worn out with sameness and staleness

where is your new life coming from today?

personal pictures

put down a marker, create memories and construct memorials by creating personal pictures; pictures that will tell your story and document the journey you are on . . .

this was late afternoon on a freezing November day catching the last of the sunlight through the trees, I was working in pencil, my daughter was working in pastels: our hands were beginning to freeze

"these are the good old days . . just wait and see"

"praise the Lord O my soul, my inmost being, and don't forget his benefits" Psalm 103

what kind of air are you breathing?

are you suffocating?
do you feel stifled?
hemmed in?

I sit on the wall by your door
I've knocked 3 times and I'll knock 3 more
won't you come outside with me
and breathe the air
I've given you to breathe

and I know that inside you are cold
choking on air that is stale and old . . .
won't you come outside with me
and breathe the air
I've given you to breathe ( Roger Mason . . from Painting Different Pictures )

when I stepped outside my senses were almost overwhelmed: fresh air poured into my lungs, and the fragrance of the morning seemed to bring healing to my bones!!

" . . . like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain . . . "

"Petrichor" (n) the pleasant, earthy smell, when rain falls on dry soil

I remember that through all chaos or problems, there is a solution. So I separate myself for just a moment, whether that means zoning everyone out or taking a little walk to get some fresh air. I take this time to clear my head, breathe and reassess the problem and how I'm feeling. . . Allison Holker

paintings in the Canyon

to follow your heart, pursue your calling, or to realise your dream will often involve setting out on unfamiliar paths and even passing through deep canyons.

there may be uncertainty, even danger, but also fulfillment, beauty and purpose reborn.

signs warn a traveller on the Bright Angel Trail that they may encounter: dehydration, sudden rainstorms, flash flooding, loose footing, rockfall, encounters with wildlife and extreme heat....

but to descend into the Grand Canyon is to enter a different world: a world of stunning rock formations, spectacular spectrums of colour, sheer cliff faces and silent beauty.

in 1869 John Wesley Powell, the first man to map the Grand Canyon (who also named it), wrote in his journal:

" We are ready to start our way down into the great unknown ... we are three quarters of a mile in the depths of the earth and the great river shrinks into insignificance as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs that rise to the world above ... We have an unknown river to explore, and an unknown distance to travel."

the thing I remember about painting Cape Royal that evening was the stillness . . a couple of dozen people had made the long journey through the forest to get to this isolated look out point on the North Rim, but nobody spoke; each person was in some way lost in their own thoughts in the face of nature's spectacular sunset symphony

where the river flows

stop scratching around in the dry ground of the wilderness

it is wearing you out!

get yourself down to the refreshing waters

"where the river flows everything will live" - the prophet Ezekiel

" . . . he saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new" - Hermann Hesse

stop living at 100 m.p.h. dashing from pillar to post

give yourself a day off . .

or a week, or three months . .

" we work . . . out of rest." - David Hammond

you know it makes sense

when . . .

when you can't see the wood for the trees
when you don't know who to turn to
when you need a way out

here's a clue:

light . . . to show the way
word . . . to reveal The One
door . . . open and start afresh

soaking . . .

"the angels were on the doors that evening. . .
the spirits of discouragement were barred from entering. . .

regrets, memories and problems were welcome, and were then washed in the immense ocean of peace. . .

the warm blanket of acceptance brought healing to the darkest corners ". . . from the Westwood half night of prayer

"we overlay these buildings with the memories of what went on in them. This creates a very powerful idea about a place. Buildings are about people, and place and time, they're about use, and they're about context" . . . Kevin McCloud

pools of silence . . .

if we are to witness to Christ in today’s non-stop world, where there are constant demands on our whole person, we need silence . . .
pools of silence are a state of mind and heart, and can be found in the midst of the city . .

these small solitudes are often right behind a door we can open,
or a corner where we can stop to look at a tree,

where we peel away everything but God alone

even if it is only for two or three minutes . . . Joyce Huggett

Exposure . . .

an old, yet strangely up to date prayer from the Celtic tradition:

Reveal, O Lord, to my eyes your glory
Expose, O Lord, to my heart your love
Disperse, O Lord, from my mind the darkness
Fill, O Lord, my life with your light

Protect, O Lord, from thoughts without action
Guard, O Lord, from words without feelings
Defend, O Lord,from ideas without results
And surround me with your Presence

Open my eyes
my heart
my mind
my will
my soul

To the blowing of your Spirit.

pespective . . .

a shelter from the sun
a rest along the way
a breakthrough for every battle

an ocean for every thirst
a supply for every lack
a cleansing for every stain

what is your area of need today?

you know what to do

the open door . . .

I have set before you an open door that no man can shut . . the apostle John

every journey begins with an open door . . .

the door also suggests movement and change; entering a new season

sometimes you travel through a very dark and cold season

but now a new path is opening up before you

you may not see the ultimate destination, but you have enough light to make the first steps

the goal is not to finish the walk, but to savour each moment - Caroline Hammond

what door is open before you today?

what darkness do you need to move out from today?

the mountains . . .

"I care to live only to entice people to look at nature's loveliness . . the mountains are calling I must go" John Muir, Yosemite Valley Sept 3rd 1873

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121

There is delight to be had in the mountains, but the unspeakable joy of the high places is reserved for those who have journeyed through deepest sorrow.

Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. Theodore Roethke

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. psalm 121

cometh the morning . . .

It was an irresistible morning: the long shadows danced on the white buildings, in a symphony unseen by the sleeping world. With the occasional wispy cloud drifting across the sky, the promise of the new day filled my heart and the sun warmed my bones.

weeping may continue on during the dark night, but joy comes with the morning

" . . . like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain . . . "

The people who dwelt for so long in the half light saw a great brightness emerging; and to them who were lost in the shadows the morning has come.

restoring the vines . .

I am drawn back again and again to Tim Smit's story of his discovery of the lost gardens of Heligan in 1990, when he and John Willis first looked round the forgotten estate:

"After the first impressions of it being hideously overgrown, it was a wonderful day - a day that will live with me for ever . . . you genuinely had a feeling of discovery, you'd cut through the brambles, and find secret places . . places that had stories that maybe you'd never know but you could let your imagination run riot . . but to me the most powerful moment was finding the doorway, and seeing a chink of light through it . .

. .a motto was etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”, with the names of those who worked there signed under the date – August 1914."

The gardeners had left shortly after, never to return, over half losing their lives in the fields of Flanders.
The estate owners lost heart and abandoned their thousand acres, which fell quietly to sleep for 75 years.

Today the Joseph Paxton greenhouses have been rebuilt, the vines have been regrown and the pineapple pits have been brought back to life..

Three things are needed for any restoration:
  • a realisation of what has been lost
  • an understanding of what needs to be done
  • the will and determination to do it
I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten - Joel 2:25

what restoration do you need to tackle this year?

pots on a wall . . somewhere in France

these pots speak to me of


So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. – the prophet Jeremiah

pots on the stone floor

all pots are not the same pots -

Some are small, some are large, some intricate, some basic in form, some will withstand great temperatures, and others hold large volumes, but all are needed

look up

Brasilian president Juscelino Kubitschek was a visionary leader, who moved the country's seat of power from Rio de Janerio to the newly built Brasilia, 700 miles inland, in 1960. At the inauguration of Oscar Niemeyer's wondrous Palácio da Alvorada he said this:
"From this central plateau, this vast loneliness that will soon become the centre of national decisions, I look once more at the future of my country and foresee this dawn with an unshakeable faith in it's great destiny" October 2, 1956

How do we look at our future this New Year? Unshakeable faith in the God who provides will enable us to look forward in hope, assured that he knows every path that we will walk along this year.

look out

On Montserrat, in the Catalan Pre Coastal Mountain Range, there is time for quiet and reflection. From the beautiful seclusion of this Benedictine Abbey you can look down the 4000ft to the Llobregat Valley below . . .

but its down in the valley, in the towns and cities, where faith will be put through the fire, and truth tested up against the daily reality of life.

look in

Don't be afraid to enter the secret place of your soul and look inward at your deepest desires . . . to measure how you match up against the dreams and longings of your heart.

This may be the year where you need to gather up your courage . . and follow your heart!!

The Psalmist David wrote this prayer of Examen:
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."

a 1,000 shades of sadness

The week after 9/11 Karen Parr asked me to lead her school year group assembly in prayers for the people of NYC

At that time I was walking every morning in the Memorial Park and I spent some time pondering how I could make a prayer in the midst of such tragedy. In the park you walk beneath huge fagus sylvatica purpurea, - (Copper Beech) trees . .
and as an artist I was stunned by the deep, intense tones of the leaves; the browns, the reds, the purples . . the palette ran into thousands. Each leaf has its own shape and colour and seems to breathe agony; if each one brings to mind a memory, or many memories, of a loved one . . .

then all the trees combined could represent the immensity of the anguish that has been felt since that terrible week.

The creator knows each leaf he has made, and feels each sorrow, even multiplied many times over.

trees I remember

Aughrimderg, the family home in County Tyrone: the box trees either side of the front path had their middle hollowed out so they contained hidden seats!!

I recall the aroma of the trees, the paraffin lamps in the house, and the slow ticking of the grandfather clock, memories of a bygone age . . .

"we overlay these buildings with the memories of what went on in them. This creates a very powerful idea about a place. Buildings are about people, and place and time, they're about use, and they're about context" . . . Kevin McCloud

this fledgling pine was just another tree in the woods . . until, just as I approached, the morning sun lit it up and set it apart from its surroundings

do you ever feel lost in the crowd?

you have been formed as an instrument, suitable for the master's use, and prepared for every good work

remember to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you

walking back through the forest after my morning swim across the bay, I am enveloped in the scent of Catatonia pine

this particular clump of trees, right on top of the hill, has always made me feel very happy!!

"Lord you are in this place
Fill us with your power
Cover us with your peace
Show us your presence" . . . David Adam

rubble and restoration
the rubble has been cleared away and the house has been restored

the wells, that were blocked, have been dug out and the water supply has been re-connected

the prayers I haven't actually got around to praying yet . . . have been answered

I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten - Joel 2:25

windows and waterfalls

as I stood in the sanctuary, it changed from being a building of stone and stained glass and became a tree lined gorge filled with cascading waters

the sound of the rushing water seemed to reach every corner of my soul

I experienced something like inner healing

in my vision I saw water coming from the threshold of the temple . . .
where the river flows everything will live
and the water flows from the sanctuary for the healing of the nations - Ezekiel 47

cheques and jugs of water

how do you know when you are too busy?

when your brain is writing cheques that your body can't cash!

trying to pour a mountain lake into a tumbler is never going to work . . . but neither can you fit 2 litres into a 1 litre glass; it's close . . . but physically impossible

The first chapter of Martha Beck's book The Joy Diet is entitled "nothing" . .
"To begin the joy diet you must do nothing for at least 15 minutes a day."

doing nothing is being still,
quieting your mind (and the cacophony of voices) and simply . . being

not praying
not planning
not problem solving

what occupies your mind 24/7 carries a lot of inertia, and it can be difficult to switch off
put aside time to be still
other things can wait . . because everything is in God's hands

you know it makes sense

seasons and choices

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot
a time to keep and a time to throw away . . . King Solomon

two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both
and be one traveler, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth . . . Robert Frost

make time

the goal is not to finish the walk, but to savour each moment

we're in a season of change when things are changing all around us

the fallen fruit will be the fertiliser for the next season's growth . . . Caroline Hammond

make room

one of our traditions was to swim across the river to get to this small French cafe, battling the strong current

this tree lined gorge in the Dordogne brings to mind Ezekiel (47:9) "where the river flows everything will live" and Hermann Hesse " . . . he saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new" (from Siddhartha)

the tranquil beauty and yet silent power of the Dordogne speaks to me of personal renewal and refreshment

exploring a few hundred metres downstream (we had spotted a small stone cross poking up above the trees) we found a church built in the cliff face!!

how wonderfully absurd . . . but I love the symbolism of this remote sanctuary, hewn out of solid rock . .

off the grid

a place of safety

make time to be still

Water into Wine - Transformation
John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants "Fill the jars with water" So they filled them to the brim.

It had rained for 30 days; we had just arrived in Prague to celebrate our wedding anniversary and it was still raining. We sat down in the Old Town Square and as they brought us wine, the sun came out!! It was a memorable moment.

Lack of wine in Cana of Galilee that day wasn’t going to result in a national emergency. No one was going to die, but Jesus performed his first miracle and brought great joy to the wedding guests.

Jesus demonstrated a truth that remains valid to this day; his presence in the ordinary details of your day can make it extra ordinary. Your day can taste like water or it can be savoured like wine. You know what to do . . .

Waters to swim in - Fulfillment
Ezekiel 47:5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.

This was a sequential vision that Ezekiel was led through. Ankle deep water became knee deep, and then waist deep water. This was only going one way . . towards the depths.

It is often the case that when we follow our heart we will have to exercise trust . . that we won’t drown. Faith that God knows what he’s doing.

The river of God’s purposes for us is often sequential, but it is only in the deep water we will find fulfillment; its dangerous . . . but also exhilarating. Are you still paddling in the shallows? Its time to launch out . . .

Still Waters – Refreshment
Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters

Tradition has it that David penned this Psalm on the 4th day of his escape from Absalom’s pursuing armies. Danger was close, “in the presence of my enemies” and the valley of the shadow was probably an echo of the jungle lands the other side of Jordan, and of the treacherous Jabbok Ravine that they had to journey through to get to safety.

Psalm 23 was not composed in a tranquil setting with wishful thinking, it was hewn from the hard rock of physical danger and an uncertain path ahead.

Still today if you will walk in the direction he guides you, waters of refreshment will help you on your way. You know who to turn to. . .