At Grace we celebrated Easter with an early morning communion service and breakfast, followed by a walk in Osterley Park for hardy souls willing to brave the snow. We created some liturgy in the service, which has become the last entry in the 2008 Grace Lent Blog. Do take a look at the Good Friday entry, And you held me, by Anna Poulson. This is the most beautiful reflection on the Passion I've read in a long while, and it's shaped my Easter.
I went to Cambridge yesterday for the annual Higher Education Chaplaincy Association conference and AGM. It was great to share news, thinking and ideas about chaplaincy with a spread of people from across the UK. And there was time to take a few photos during the gloriously sunny lunch break!
On July 20th last year, my parents were flooded out of their house in Berkshire. Last Sunday, 2nd March, they were finally able to move back in. They spent have spent a little over seven months living in hotels and temporary accommodation while negotiating with insurance companies, claims managers, plumbers, electricians and, most painfully, the awful builders appointed by the insurers. They have still got many months of work replacing and repairing things that were damaged, and their strength and fortitude through all this has been an inspiration.
Along their road, people are still living in caravans on their front gardens. The area is not known as a flood risk, and the local council and water company seem at a loss to explain why it happened, still less as to how it may be prevented in future.
David tagged me in game to pick up the nearest book and quote from it. He said he thought I wouldn't play, probably the best way to get me to take part (even if it took me almost 3 weeks to notice!) The challenge is thus;
Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages). Open the book to page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag five people.
My book is Alain de Botton's The architecture of happiness, and in these three sentences he's talking about a neolithic tomb in Pembrokeshire;
But what remains to these stones is their eloquent ability to deliver the message common to all funerary architecture, from marble tomb to rough wooden roadside shrine - namely, 'Remember'. The poignancy of the roughly chiselled family of mossy orthostats, keeping their lonely watch over a landscape around which none save sheep and the occasional rain-proofed hiker now roam, is heightened only by the awareness that we recall nothing whatsoever about the one they memorialise - aside, that is, from this leader's evident desire, strong enough to inspire his clan to raise a forty-tonne capstone in his honour, that he not be forgotten.
The fear of forgetting anything precious can trigger in us the wish to raise a structure, like a paperweight to hold down our memories.
For an arbitrary quote produced by an algorithm, I rather like it.
My Watching the Fireworks photo is to be on the cover of Belgian band Monza's new album, Attica! The album will be released in Belgium next month, and isn't available in the UK. But I'm really excited to see my photo on their website.
The image above is a wallpaper image, freely downloadable from the 'Downloads' section of the Monza site. I cropped the original image hard before uploading it. The uncropped image is seen here for the first time.
I've scheduled a few quiet days in the diary during Lent, to provide time to pray and reflect, usually whilst walking through some familiar countryside. Yesterday I walked up onto Watership Down, surrounded by fog. I loved the way that landmarks emerged out of the mist as I approached them, and quickly receded into a wall of white. When I came back down, the fog gave way to cloud, and for a few seconds the sunshine peeped through, creating an incredible shaft of colour amidst the muted mist. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments that filled me with a sense of wonder. And then the clouds rolled on, and the colour faded. But the memory lingered, and the knowledge that the vibrancy of the world is still there, even if the sight is obscured.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. "
A number of buildings in London around the Thames are being illuminated with low-energy lighting for an event called Switched on London. The event raises the need to balance the importance of lighting in the nocturnal urban landscape with the need to save energy.
Being low-energy, some of the buildings weren't quite as stunning as I had hoped, but it's worth a stroll nevertheless. But you'll have to be quick; it finishes tomorrow, 14th February.
The picture is of Southwark Cathedral, but there are a few more in my set on Flickr.