Saturday, 9 March 2019

Into the Wilderness...

What does this painting say to you ?

If you find it useful to begin your time of prayer with a painting, then you might like to try the daily Lenten Retreat emails from  The painting above was from Ash Wednesday, and today’s painting was a Carravaggio...

Its amazing how spending time with a painting can show you something you have never noticed before... I had always assumed that Matthew was the young man in this detail below...

But this time I thought ‘wait a mininute, he could almost have been anyone in this painting... mabe he is the most unlikely one !’  And I wonder, what does that tell me, now, at this moment in my life?
And you?

Friday, 1 March 2019

Confirmation & Transfiguration

“Spirit of God unseen as the wind,
gentle as is the dove...”

 c. Yvonne Bell
artist unknown

Transfiguration   by  Jyoti Sahi
I love this painting, because Jesus is shown mysteriously identified with all the exotic Indian plants... they grow within him, revealing his unity with the whole creation: “All things were made by him was life and the life was the light of humankind...”  [St John 1 v 1f] And the more you spend time genly looking at this painting, the more you see...people hidden within the branches...a waterfall flowing through Jesus [or is it somethimg else?]  Look for yourself...enlarge the image...what do you see ?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Prodigal Son

Following the Holy Ground on Sunday 17th Feb...
Some of you might like to see the paintings from artists around the world again...

from India

by Siede Koder

Jesusmafa: Cameroon

It is possible to search  ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt ‘ for a larger image of the painting. Go deeper with the book : The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. [ ISBN:
0-232-52078-x  ] where he reflects on this painting in light of his own life journey.
The next Day of Silent Prayer will be the Saturday before Whitsun: 8th June 2019.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Jesus’ early life

Jesus “seminar” with elders in Temple: Jesusmafa: Cameroon
We know very little about Jesus’ early life... 
But Luke’s Gospel gives this story of Jesus in the Temple amazing the teachers there with his questions and answers...
Just look at the expressions on their faces !  

And maybe the two people just outside remind us of Mary & Joseph searching everywhere for him... [ Luke 2 v41-52 ]
[ I hope the Jesusmafa website will return. A whole series of beautiful paintings were available to buy as posters, originally made by a group of villagers who acted out New Testament narratives so that an artist could paint them, giving an African interpretation & context. These were highly valued by people who remember their roots in Africa.]

Georges de la Tour: Jesus & Joseph
By contrast, this painting of Jesus & Joseph in the carpenter’s workshop ... though we have  no written mention of this ... gives a vivid feel of Jesus’ home background in Nazareth.

Sunday, 3 February 2019


This painting in a small side-chapel seemed to jump out at me... but who was this elderly man looking so lovingly down at the baby ?
At first I thought the artist was following the tradition that Joseph was quite elderly...but then its more ususal to have a “Madonna & Child” painting, rather than “Joseph & child “... 
Who was this loving father/ grandfather?
But as I allowed myself to be quietly absorbed into the painting that question faded away...
the artist had something far more profound and timeless to communicate...

before leavingthe chapel, some timelater, my curiosity returned...tiny print on the frame revealed this was Simeon recognising Jesus as the Messiah...painted here in the Cameroon, with Simeon, Anna, Mary & Joseph...each in their own way regarding Jesus with awe.
St Luke 2 v 21- 38

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Advent: Visiting Bethlehem

Advent: Visiting Bethlehem

Travelling with a group of fellow students, it must be just over fifty years ago now since I visited Bethlehem. 
Entering the church of the Nativity by the low little door felt very odd, and I suppose rather humbling as we each stumbled under the lintel. But by contrast, the sense of space inside seemed quite amazing. But soon as a guide began his practiced babble at wonder only a handful chose to follow towards the steps leading down to “ye traditional cave, discovered centuries ago as the true birthplace of Jesus...yes, ancient tradition...go slowly, slowly ...steps worn down by pilgrims back to time of Jesus... yes, yes... blessed be he...” so we began slowly down into semi darkness, the only light from intermittent flickering oil lamps, and our hands guided by the cold rough rock-face... until we heard the slight echoing slap of sandals coming up from below & paused to allow an Orthodox monk to pass...he paused and smiled in greeting...and his whole face seemed to be shining with joy...something I vividly remember, even half a century later!

And somehow, amidst the never-ending babble of strange fables from our guide, there was an underlying silence...a profound sense of going back in no longer mattered whether Jesus was born in a cave deep below ground, in a stable, the back room of an inn, or a distant relative’s animal byre...maybe this marble slab did mark the spot, who knows? But a sense of peace and deep inner thankfulness that we were part of hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world who through the centuries had come to pray in this cave...this became for me one of those profound points in life where prayer has been valid.
This was before the walls...and now I pray for another miracle of reconciliation...