Tag: Gill Henwood

Through a glass, darkly

This photo of Tarn Hows on a misty morning, was taken by my friend, Gill Henwood. She gave it the title ‘Through a glass darkly,’ which is a quotation from verse 12 of what is probably St. Paul’s most well known writing – 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face. (that is the King James Version. The more recent NRSV has, see in a mirror, dimly, which, to my mind is poetically is weaker.)

As I contemplated the feast day of the ‘Conversion of St. Paul,’ I found the title Gill chose, and the fascinating and rather evocative scene, kept coming back to me. I wrote this poem and tried the let the photo speak to the event I am trying to address.

It is a very amazing photo and it deserves to highlight a very amazing event.

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Brooding mist 
blurs edges of perception.
Colours muted.
A whisper of wind kisses the water,
rippling on the shore of the soul.
Visibility impaired,
a cloak of quietness drawn across the mind.
Stilling all movement.
Intentions passionately  held,
melt into deep darkness.
Yet this is not the cause of fearfulness 
nor of despair.
Out of the shadows,
of seeing “through a glass darkly”
there is a pinprick of growing light
which slowly, perceptively,
burns away the haze
as new vision takes shape.

A Voice,
crisp, gently directive,
unfettered by illusion,
beckons,
touching  eyes to see a wonder,
“face to face.”
The waypath is irrevocably changed.

[Mr. G. Conversion of Paul. 25th January 2023]

Black Beck

Black Beck. Lake District.
A winter reflection by Gill Henwood.

A pair of Dippers are patrolling the Beck,
calling as they fly individually up and down their territory.
One was in the water, dipping under the surface seeking grubs.
On a frosty morning the water was above freezing,
still providing a late breakfast.

The low sun had warmed the mist which formed from the Beck
and Esthwaite Water,
clouding over the frozen earth,
until light broke through. 

Light and warmth,
water and ice cold frost,
elements of God’s glorious winterscapes.

The birds are increasing their activity
but still have to shelter through the storms
and survive the harsh times.
The sun’s warmth promises new life,
heralds the coming of Spring.

It’s only a fortnight to St Brigid’s Day!
and the snowdrops are readying to open their scented
upturned-lily bells.

Endure,
await,
take heart –
the Light of the World is shining through the mists and storms…

Gill x
(Photo also by Gill)

Shekinah ~ Glory

A View from the Lakes

One of the joys of having friends in the Lake District is that I am sent wonderful, scenic photographs from time to time.

Over many years I have visited, camped, trecked over hills and down a few ‘mountains, visited bookshops in Ambleside and Grasmere, where I have also  partaken of the famous and delicious ginger bread. I could go on and on. More recently I have come to know something of Josephina de Vasconcellos, an amazing sculptor and her husband, the watercolourist Delmar Banner. They lived near Hill Top. Through them I have found a connection with Beatrix Potter.

But my ‘living’ connection is with my friend, Gill and Stephen and, further North, Lesley and John, and in Carlisle, my friend Michael who ministers at the Cathedral.
It is through Gill’s camera eye that I am able to share the photos with you. The recent mixture of wild, snowy, frost dressed weather has provided contrasts. We are now in the thick of winter and just over halfway through January. Yet there are signs leading to expectation of new growth and new life.

Gill supplies me with reflections, notes and thoughts.

The photo above looks towards Fairfield Horseshoe on the Helvellyn range, over mist rising from Windermere and the River Rothay. In the foreground, the frosted roof of the sheep shed shelters 250 expectant ewes. Another 95 are due to join them as they prepare for lambing from 12th March.
The local fell breed ewes beloved of Beatrix Potter, Herdwicks, are up on the thin grazing sheltering at night by dry stone walls, foraging in the sunlit uplands by day. Here she suggests, sheep may safely graze, the ‘Herdies’ are sheltering and nibbling their way down the slope.

There has been a recent storm. So much of nature around Tarn Hows has been battered but there is also resilience. We dare to be confident whilst woefully aware that the real damage to Nature is being done by human beings.
Up in the Lakeland Hills it is easier, perhaps, to see that beauty and sustainability come at a cost, not so much to us but the struggling animal kingdom. I often hear  it referred to as the ‘natural world’ (of Nature), which ironically suggests that we are the ‘unnatural’ world. I think that the way our humanity is behaving right now, that could be very true!

Storms in Nature are often followed by silence; a time of re-collection and respite.
Gill talks of a ‘still small voice’, as that which surrounded Elijah on the mountain. (1 Kings 11;9-13)
She calls it The Shekinah – the Glory – of the Lord – as cloud over Hellvellyn ridge.

Frost and snow,
wind and cloud,
rain and sunshine,
air and life.
New growth
bringing new hope.
Gratitude, Thankfulness .
Dependence on God.
Love assured.
Kindness lived out
in hearts warmed by grace.

Creation is stewarded
by us for Creator.

Lord have mercy.

[Gill Henwood & Mr G]

{remembering Ronald Blyth RIP}

All is beauty

The photograph of Hawkshead is by my friend, Gill Henwood.
The quotation is by St John of the Cross whose feast day is December 14th.

John of the Cross was regarded as one of the greatest Spanish mystics of the sixteenth century.
His writings still nourish modern Christians in their hunger for a true experience in the spiritual life.
He was born in 1542 and became a Carmelite friar at the age of twenty-one. Four years later he met Teresa of Avila in one of those God-moment meetings were two souls are fused together by the love of God, for the greater good of Christianity.
Teresa was occupied in reforming the Carmelite Order, instilling renewed vision and discipline and founding many new Convents of Prayer throughout Spain. John of the Cross joined her in this work. He served as a spiritual guide to the nuns and to Teresa herself. He was one who encouraged her to write her teaching on Prayer. His prominence in the reform movement made him a target for those who preferred the more comfortable old ways and twice he was abducted and imprisoned. After Teresa died, he was again targeted, this time by his own superiors in the Reformed Carmelites. Their harshness contributed to his death in 1591.
Nothing, however, took him away from his love of God and he gladly accepted the hardships because he saw them as sharing in the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross. Hence his name.

Like Teresa, he experienced the presence of Christ in “intellectual visions.” His reflection upon these experiences issued, first of all, in poetry of extraordinary power and beauty. At the urging of his disciples, he selected a number of his poems and produced prose commentaries on them, which have become classics of mystical theology. This includes one of his most famous writings on The Dark Night of the Soul.

John united the vocation of a theologian with the experience of a mystic, and his writings are the good example of theology as the fruit of prayer.

The most lovely thing that was ever said about him was by St Teresa.  “I cannot be in the presence of John without being lifted up into the presence of God.”

John said, himself, about God:

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
where in secret You dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory
how tenderly You dwell in my heart
with love
.

from, The Living Flame of Love by St. John of the Cross

and here is something for us to ponder over and pray about, applying it to ourself.

God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known,
than a thousand done with the desire that people know of them.
Those who work for God with purest love not only care nothing about whether others see their works,
but do not even seek that God himself know of them.
Such persons would not cease to render God the same services, with the same joy and purity of love,
even if God were never to know of these.”

― John of the Cross, The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross

[Mr G]