Month: June 2022

Lifting our eyes to the hills

Photo: Gill Henwood.

This amazing view was photographed by my friend, Gill.

Gill writes ~~ This photo of the beautiful Lake District hills and the breathtaking sunset, at nearly 10pmHelvellyn range to the right, with Fairfield Horseshoe silhouette
Gods glory setting our hearts aflame anew, at Petertide.
Blessings outpoured in the heavens. Gx

Once again we look to God’s Grandeur expressed through his creation.
It is full of energy and yet stillness. The earth is quietening itself, drawing breath at the end of a busy day. God is holding it in the palm of His hand.

We too are held and Psalm 121 comes to mind, which begins :
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
It continues and we discover it is a Psalm of trust. Very firmly the Psalmist weaves a picture which places us confidently in God’s hands.
As the psalm unfolds we both appeal to God and we see us how God responds.
Written way back in time, it has a resonance today especially in this time when we and the world are in a vulnerable place. 

It is worth meditating on the Psalm slowly looking at the photo and letting God speak to us through them.


1    I lift up my eyes to the hills;  ♦
from where is my help to come?

2    My help comes from the Lord,  ♦
the maker of heaven and earth.

3    He will not suffer your foot to stumble;  ♦
he who watches over you will not sleep.

4    Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel  ♦
shall neither slumber nor sleep. 

5    The Lord himself watches over you;  ♦
the Lord is your shade at your right hand,

6    So that the sun shall not strike you by day,  ♦
neither the moon by night.

7    The Lord shall keep you from all evil;  ♦
it is he who shall keep your soul.

8    The Lord shall keep watch over your going out
and your coming in,  ♦
from this time forth for evermore.

Psalm text is from Common Worship: Daily Prayer, material from which is included here,
is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005 and published by Church House Publishing.
used under terms of agreement.

A peace to strive for

Jurmala, Latvia

This photo has been sent to me by my friend, Andris, who lives in Latvia.

The photo was taken at Jurmala which is a seaside resort about 16 miles (25 kilometres) from the capital of Latvia, Riga. It has 33km (21 miles) of white-sand beach and a population of almost 50,000
When Latvia was part of the Soviet Union it was a favourite place of Communist Party officials including Presidents Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Krushchev.
The people of Latvia and their Baltic neighbours, Lithuania and Estonia are praying that the current president of Russia doesn’t come calling with his army!
As they are members of NATO there is some defence.

They join with the Nordic States of Finland and Sweden in a watchfulness as things continue to unfold in the Ukraine. They know they are at risk, especially Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as Finland, all of which border Russia. Sweden is also feeling vulnerable.

I write this just after the Russian Terrorist attack in Kremenchuk. Scores of people are dead or injured in what many are now calling a ‘War Crime’. The attack  was a show of power to the G7 leaders but  what it really showed is the demonic force at work in the hearts of Russia’s leaders.

The photos coming out of Ukraine are horrendous.

Contrast that with this beautifully serene photograph of the Baltic Sea. There is an amazing tranquillity with a pale sun kissing the water in the distance. There is a sense of peace.
The sky is uncluttered and blue and even the clouds seem to be resting gently on the surface of the water.
How different that is to the trauma and turmoil in the vortex of violence  near that other sea, the Black Sea.

Yet, there is, too, a little blackness in the clouds, perhaps sending to us a warning. Peace is fragile. Humanity can be threatened and be threatening very quickly. Many of us are fearful of what is happening to our world right now and there is a sense of foreboding and apprehension, not least in the nations close to Russia.

This makes the prayer below all the more poignant and deeply appropriate.
It was written by Jeanne Smith, a Latvian lady in one of the Reformed churches and translated into English.


Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for the people of Ukraine,
give them strength and miraculous protection from the horrors of war.
I pray for the people of Russia,
God, to allow them to see the truth and to give them the courage to face the terrible regime. 
I pray for the people of Latvia and other countries,
give us open hearts and wisdom on how to help the refugees. 
I ask that there be unity and love among people, that evil be destroyed,
and that peace may come, so that more and more people may have the eternal peace
that only You can give.
All this I ask of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and for his merit.

Strawberry squirrel

photo: Lynn Hurry

Squirrels – a reflection from my friend Lynn Hurry

I’ve been thinking about squirrels lately because they keep nicking the vicarage strawberries and they don’t even mind if they are still green,  as seen in the photo above.
A lot of people don’t like them, but I love them!  We call them ’Tree Monkeys’ here at the vicarage and delight in watching their playful antics.

I Have watched them in our garden for years burying all sorts of things they find to eat, not least acorns and peanuts.
And I’ve often wondered if they ever, for a moment, stop to think about their little acorn and wonder if it might turn into a tree at some point.
I doubt it! But there was one acorn that got away when the squirrel forgot where he had buried it. It’s well on the way to being a large oak tree now in our garden.

When I’m in the garden I often praise God for creation and the joy it brings and I think that squirrels can become reminders to us to spend more time in nature. 

The spiritual writer Thomas à Kempis wrote :
“Every creature can be a mirror of life and a book of heavenly teaching.”

I reckon for sure they can become a window to glimpse a bit of the divine and I’m sure God was smiling when he made squirrels!


the squirrel is a busy guy, 
too occupied to to stop 
or wave 
or even say hi! – 

always on the move 
in a very focused searching groove – 
up the tree, down the tree, 
scamper here and there, 
bushy tail alive itself 
flagging everywhere! 

Harlan Simantel

Summer Solstice

Photo of Red Screes, Lake District taken by Gill Henwood

My dear friend Gill Henwood has sent me this to help us celebrate the Longest day or Summer Solstice. *

“Here’s a photo from yesterday evening of Red Screes, the fell between Ambleside and the Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater. The midsummer sun setting at its furthest NNW reach casts a shadow only seen for a few evenings, showing the steep face of the screes’ far side. On the saddle under the deep shadow lies the Kirkstone Inn – bathed in glorious sunlight all day but deepest shadow under the great fell.

It seems a parable of contrast – dazzling glory is heightened by deepest shadow. And the darkest shade has piercing light beyond.

It reminds me of a story that in a night time barn or hall, a huge space, it only takes one candle to give us light. God illuminates us in the Light of Christ, shining in the deepest dangers of our troubled world.”


Dear God
Thank you for light and warmth. 
Thank you for the sun.
Thank you for the gifts of nature and for the annual cycles and seasons.
Today, give us grace to see you as the Creator,
the One who lifts us to the light.


* A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21.