This photograph was sent to me by my friend Lynn. We are not sure of the origin.
It is an unusual view of an earwig They may look dull—until they open theirwings, shimmering structures that expand 10-fold and lock without the use of muscles. Earwigs are usually reluctant to fly. Unlike most insects, a female earwig is a good mother. She lays 30-50 eggs and protects them through the winter. When they hatch, she feeds and tends the nymphs until they are able to fend for themselves. Despite their name, earwigs are unlikely to venture into a human ear!
I do not just open myself to anyone.
I am cautious, even afraid that you may judge me
without knowing me.
That’s often the way in the human world too.
Yet, if we but have the patience to sit and go deep,
we meet people clothed in all their rich diversity.
Cyclamen in fresh Snow photographed by my friend Gill Henwood in the Lake District.
Gill sent me this photograph a little while ago. It moved me very much at the darkest time of the year just as we were entering the 3rd Lockdown. At the time I couldn’t decide how to respond to it. There were allusions to lockdown, hope, struggle at a very difficult time for us. Gill used the word endurance.
As I continued to mull over it, I discussed it with my friend Piers and he came up with this reflection:
‘Initially I looked at this image and thought of the ice and snow as something that was holding the flowers back; through which they had to struggle – and this made me think of feelings thrown up by this current lockdown. But actually, as I thought more and read Geoffrey’s poem, it dawned on me that the ice and snow protect and insulate the seed as it germinates and emerges to flower. The struggle is filled with new hope and possibilities. We tend to see being in lockdown as a negative, threatening thing but of course it’s a collective act in which we’re protecting each other and ourselves – and looked at that way it feels far more positive. And just as the dormant plant flowers to new life, we can also use it as a time to discover what is truly important: what values and priorities will help to sustain our lives, our society and our planet. What if the snow and ice of lockdown are allowing us to emerge into really new life?‘
Here’s a poem I have written on this photograph.
Earth’s untidy clutter of hurried hibernation covered over with scattered flakes of heaven’s protection. Opaque cloak of winter wraps warmly around dormant seed.
Early buds break open crusty ground scattering melted crystal. Coloured life announces Nature’s lockdown ended, beckoning us to New Beginnings at last!
Anne and Joachim knew you were gift, precious, a blessing to be blessed. Gifted back to God, waiting for the opportune time.
God waited for you, readying you, shaping your womb, carefully. You would carry not only His child but His dreams: vision for a world He formed, brooded over, loved and despaired of. You would bring into the world not just a child but a hope. ‘I’m counting on you’, breathed God expectantly, apprehensively, scarily.
God waited, knowing the power of rejection, knowing what He was asking: well aware that your child would be destined for the rising and falling of many and would know the power of rejection. He too would burden some with His hope and love and they would turn as we might turn. ‘It is too hard for us.’
It was hard for you too. Prophecy sent a sword straight into your heart. Yet you bore it as you bore everything because you were God-bearer – Theotokos – carrying the child of God into the world. Your ‘Yes’ always ‘Yes’.
And gently, beautifully, as you looked on Jesus, you look on us: on each theotokos bearing God today.