Tuesday, June 24, 2008


You can move. But can you move on? We've moved. This is my old shed, and it has taken me a long time to leave it behind. Sometimes it's in the process itself of letting go that we grow - not just in the letting go itself. I still find it moving to see this picture; but now it is less a shedful of nostalgia, and more a space for grateful memories of a happy time.

Monday, October 02, 2006

life story

Telling a story
Originally uploaded by RainAtDawn.
How does the story we tell about ourselves differ from the story other people tell of us? Perhaps we are both/and...

Friday, September 29, 2006

make me hole

Hole in the ground
Originally uploaded by Hoyerlande.
Where do those things go that we can't remember? Do they still count? Have we lost the right things?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

flying in the face of morality

Originally uploaded by FLYER1.
I love air travel. But I know it's not very good for the planet. Each time I take off for foreign climes, I feel slightly more ashamed, like I'm driving a 4x4 on the school run. Increasingly, I think I'm flying in the face of my own morality. Thanks to Paul for pointing out generous.org.uk.

sunset ibiza

sunset ibiza
Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
I've had a 'Sunset Ibiza' album for years, but it was only when I experienced sunset at Cafe Mambo on the island that the music - played in its 'original' setting (in this case, by Erick Morillo) - made sense. I'd never stopped to think about the chillout sound before; I'd just put it on in the background. How easy it is to become a passive consumer, not an active listener.

Friday, July 07, 2006

surface area

two daisies
Originally uploaded by GreetS.
When the sun comes out from behind the clouds, are we ready for it? Flowers grow towards the light and stretch themselves out before it. Perhaps I must increase my surface area; I need to learn to open out and open up.

seeing the light

Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
When the Romans built the Pantheon, they left a hole in the roof to symbolise the connection between us and the gods. The building was later consecrated as a place of Christian worship, and as you sit under that great dome today, it speaks beautifully of the light we reach up to, which simultaneously breaks through to illuminate our dark space below.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

memories, part 3

Originally uploaded by mvandenb.
Susie Lamplugh's mother, Diana, worked energetically and creatively to campaign for greater 'personal safety' in the work place after her daughter was abducted two decades ago.

She suffered a massive stroke in March, and as a result has experienced an almost complete loss of memory.

Her husband Paul spoke movingly on Woman's Hour on Radio 4 about how he visits her every day to take her to the local cafe where he buys her a small bowl of ice-cream, a favourite before the stroke. She doesn't know who he is, but theirs is still a loving relationship, he said.

memories, part 2

lest we forget....
Originally uploaded by monkeyc.net.
'Why sleep with 100 women?' asked the interviewer in the Guardian's Weekend magazine. 'To protect myself a little bit,' answers jake. 'To make it not such a big deal. Part of it is trying to cram in as many memories.'

'Sex Now' by Decca Aitkenhead and Craig Taylor, Guardian Weekend magazine, 15.4.06


Funky Lights
Originally uploaded by flow14.
'I think we are our memories more than we are the sum total of our experiences.'

Martin Seligman, Positive Psychology guru, quoted in Time magazine.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

coiled spring

Originally uploaded by mikehutchinson209.
In a joy-filled run around the lakes this morning it felt as if I truly was caught between a world that is passing and a world that is to come. As the sun felt warm on my face, and with the blossom unpeeling almost before my eyes, I could sense more vividly than ever that God's world flickers and flashes into life right here, right now-but-not-yet.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

lost and found

cash 2
Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
This year, I made a resolution to try to find my voice. However, I've just finished reading Steve Turner's biography of Johnny Cash. It seems Cash spent his whole life looking for his - and found it, just as he began to lose it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

dead interesting

How Will I Die?
Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
Donny Miller seems to have a way with words and pictures. His book Beautiful People with Beautiful Feelings is out on March 31.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

following through

This way
Originally uploaded by Our Bold Hero.
Sometimes you need guts to follow the arrows to where you don't really want to go. Tom Fox of Christian Peacemakers was brave to go to Baghdad. His life brought life; his death is not in vain.

Monday, March 13, 2006

down to earth

pink arrow
Originally uploaded by txmx .2.
Jesus might be 'the Way', but where do we want to get to? Is it to heaven? Most would say 'yes'. And they could be right. But Jesus was about bringing heaven down to earth. Which surely adds flesh to the bones of the phrase, 'Follow me.'

Friday, March 10, 2006

on the up

Originally uploaded by squarerootofnine.
'In a recent speech to his professional colleagues, Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association, reported that he had found over 40,000 studies on depression but ony 40 on the subject of joy, happiness or fulfillment.'*

I know exactly what hurts or depresses me; I don't know always what makes me feel alive. It's easy to pour energy into countering the downside; time, perhaps, to channel some of that into nurturing the up.

*quote from Marcus Buckingham's Now, Discover Your Strengths (Pocket Books, 2004)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

the word

Underlined passage
Originally uploaded by osiris.
As a writer, I wrestle with the tension of turning words into action. When I rediscovered these great words of Jesus, I thought they might help:

'The words that I speak to you aren't mere words. I don't just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.'

(John 14, paraphrased in the Message version)

no justice

Number 26 Ramsay Sreet
Originally uploaded by richardpaddon.
Wisdom can spring from the strangest sources. On the Australian soap Neighbours today, Connor, who lost his girlfriend in a plane crash, sighed and said to the huggable Salvation Army stalwart Harold, "There's no justice in this world, Harold."

To which Harold, on his way to help at a soup kitchen, replied, "Then we must make our own justice."

We're all neighbours in the global village.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by atanas.
I just did one of those psychological business assessments... and found that I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to be labelled by corporate analysts.

However, my initial reaction - that they were wrong in their conclusions about me - is changing a little as I think about it more closely. And I've realised that this is partly what Malcolm Gladwell's driving at in his book Blink, and what the film Crash is also exploring powerfully.

Snap judgements have great power, but they can be powerfully wrong if we base them on presuppositions, prejudice and automatic 'association'.

So I think I'll step back, clear my mind and approach these 'findings' without presuming that I know myself better than others. And maybe I'll learn something along the way.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

happy days

Originally uploaded by zargag.
What was it that made the happiest day of your life?

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Originally uploaded by trfcnte.
What would it take for Guantanamo Bay to become a centre for peace and reconciliation? Faith, after all, is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. The Guantanamo Peace Centre? Imagine it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by Nad.
Dogs are wonderful things. The three we've had over the years as a family all had different personalities; each was a God-breathed gift, a unique and soulful part of creation.

The last of them, Jemma, passed away yesterday. I know that 30,000 children die needlessly in Africa every day - but still, I'd forgotten how much it hurts when someone you know dies, especially when it's your dog.

Friday, February 24, 2006


canary wharf, london
Originally uploaded by damian tokara.
I can understand why the young blades in the news series of The Apprentice will stab each other in the back to succeed. After all, you don't get to be mentored by someone successful every day. The question is, can I match their passion, but help to redefine 'success' in the process? The energy and creativity people release to make money can surely teach us a thing or two about how we try to change the world for good.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Originally uploaded by Patient Boy.
...are there to be scaled.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

step on

Manchester Street
Originally uploaded by gridrunner.
I returned to Manchester for the first time in 16 years the other day. It was a formative year that I spent there; a crucial fork in the road of life and faith. I wonder what I'll feel one day when, long in the future, I return to where I am now. It's strange to think you're living in the past, the present and the future simultaneously. Hope I make this presence count.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


simple life
Originally uploaded by Buttersweet.
Does it matter more that I am fulfilled, or that my vision is?

Friday, February 17, 2006


the dance of love
Originally uploaded by The Norwegian.
Apparently, swans find a partner and stay together for life. This evening I was running in the twilight around the lake, and at the far corner I passed a family of three swans - mum, dad and youngster.

One of the adults was on the ground, dead - feathers everywhere. The other two were standing quietly by, not moving, just standing, staring.

I wondered how long they would stay there for, with their dead parent and partner. I wondered what they were feeling, how they were registering their pain. I wondered if they had any idea about the magnititude of what they were experiencing.

And I thanked God, in a painful moment of helplessness, for the words that I've always applied metaphorically to myself, but not literally to God's creation: 'Are not sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing.'

And I sensed, in that moment, Creation groaning within the silence of a broken family.

Friday, February 10, 2006

believing is seeing

Originally uploaded by Nick Harrison.
'Perhaps the only people who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints. Everybody else may be living in some kind of denial about what is really going on and how things really are. And the only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power and possibility of hope.' Jim Wallis, God's Politics (Lion, 2006)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

looking back

Originally uploaded by Dshot.
I glimpsed my reflection in a window the other day and its slight blurriness revealed something I'd never seen before. There, glancing back at me, was the grandfather who'd died when I was seven. I didn't get the chance to know him well, and so, perhaps, have been unaware of his presence in my present. But now I'm intrigued to wonder, How much of him is there in me?


Originally uploaded by andrewflavin.
We're often searching for the answers to our questions; but there comes a point when we also need to search for the questions to our answers.

I've become so used to doing certain things in certain ways that they've become invisible. The answers have been so well formulated that I've forgotten what the question was in the first place.

I know it's a lot to ask, but I must learn to ask a lot.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

living the i-Life

Originally uploaded by escdotdot.
I went for a run by the canal while listening to Bell Jar, a band from Cheltenham. The combination of surroundings, exercise and music brought me to a 'thin place' - where heaven and earth seem to meet, where boundaries seem to blur, where God's presence flowed like water through the present.

My first i-Pod epiphany, then, but hopefully not my last.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

shades of grey

The Eyes of God
Originally uploaded by mlog.
The blanket greyness of winter can seem like it's stretching on forever. But there's always the tantalising thought that above the cloud, the sun is still shining. I don't know whether that brings hope or frustration. Both and, perhaps. How long, O Lord, to sing this song?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

first listen

Trouble in LaLa land, reel one
Originally uploaded by aroid.
I heard two songs today for the first time, both of which promise to stay burned in the psyche for good: Dylan's 'Blind Willie McTell' and Brian Wilson's 'Love and Mercy'. Something sacred happens when you hear a great song for the first time. It's like meeting someone who's destined to be your close friend. You don't know them, but you know you will. And rather than take up valuable memory on your hard-drive, great songs generate space in which to breathe and stretch and dance to a different tune. Classic.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

volte face

Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
I was looking at photos from two years ago the other day, and felt depressed that I was looking older. But then I realised: right now, I'm the younger face I'll be looking at in another two years' time. So I'll savour that thought and live in the knowledge that I'll always look two years younger than the face I'm set to become.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

and so this is Christmas

Plumetting dove
Originally uploaded by annabellafranc.
War is over...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

even better than the real thing

Originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.
The space cadets who looked out from a simulator on Channel 4's reality TV show had a unique experience. They believed they were in space looking down at Earth, and they were profoundly moved. It's a shame this was built on the premise of a lie; yet still, it was real to them at the time. I wonder how much of what we see or believe is rather what we'd like to believe we're seeing.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Lightning 46
Originally uploaded by dantheade.
Amid the white noise of a world surfing the airwaves from MTV to CNN, amid the narrow casts, broadcasts and webcasts, caught in the radio signals, mobile downloads and podcasts, up with the static and the crackle of interference, one simple signal still pulses from ages past:

Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?

Friday, December 16, 2005

letting go

My Angel and My Devil
Originally uploaded by Thomas Hawk.
Four people I know and have worked with in different spheres have been made redundant just before Christmas. When companies want to travel light they dump human ballast. But the absence of each of these people will be felt in unique ways, just as their presence was. 'We'll have to let you go' is the usual line from the line manager. Those who remain have to let go, too; sometimes that's harder work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

sounds (un)familiar

We live quite close to Hemel and were awoken by the blast. The house shook enough for the loft hatch to come down. It was a horrible way to wake up... and I can't help thinking how terrifying it must been in Baghdad, when we rained down bombs that were designed to terrify and kill.

It's easy to forget about the sight, taste, feel, smell and... sound of war when you watch it on TV. When 'shock' and 'awe' are just a strapline at the bottom of a Fox 'news' report.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

my pleasure

Lines of Sand
Originally uploaded by Len's Journal.
CS Lewis wrote, 'We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.'

Monday, December 12, 2005

killing time

Antidote Found
Originally uploaded by * Honest *.
I can't imagine what it's like to know the hour and manner of your death in advance. Spare a thought for Stan Tookie Williams who is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 00.01 tonight in San Quentin jail, California.

Friday, December 09, 2005

capturing beauty

Originally uploaded by sparty lea.
I was driving through the mist-bound countryside wishing I had a camera to capture the scene. Photography is one way to distill a little of the essence of beauty, though it's still only a partial way of trying to take it in. Beauty is like fog wrapped around the trees. It ebbs and flows; you can't ever catch it, but sometimes you can, at least, catch something great within the view.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

fight for the write

Originally uploaded by flynavydan.
'Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.'

Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech is an unsettling account of the pursuit of truth through words.

post it

good question
Originally uploaded by youarewhatyoudelete.
Sometimes I have to remind myself to ask the question.

As to the answer...

buried treasure

Old Walk-In Safe
Originally uploaded by Smaragd .
Jesus said, 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' I'd like to keep my heart safe; but if my treasure is something that needs to be locked away, then what's it really worth?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

choice cuts

Path Reflection
Originally uploaded by akoestner.
If we exercise our freedom to choose, then ultimately we choose to restrict our freedom. It's hard to narrow down the options; to know which path to take. But once we've done so, we might as well walk with conviction.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by shift..
My watch was runnng slower and slower the other day. Each time I got back into my car (which had the correct time on a clock on the dashboard), I seemed to have lost another two minutes.

We must all reach a point somewhere along the journey when we begin to feel as if we are losing time. But where does it go? And when does the future start blurring into eternity?

Monday, December 05, 2005

vapour trail

Autumnal Vapour Trail
Originally uploaded by *Huw*.
Perhaps what we really leave behind is a vapour trail, as we travel on to the next place. It stretches across the blue, for a time, for others to see. But it slowly disappears from view and leaves no trace, becoming part of everything, not a part of nothing.


Dandelion Clock
Originally uploaded by Dr King Bertt.
I need to realise my potential.

I need to realise my potential rests in you.

Friday, December 02, 2005

deletion row

Originally uploaded by ohioans_to_stop_executions.
Congratulations to the US, which deleted its 1000th citizen last night since the death penalty was re-introduced in 1976. It maintains its place along with Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and China in the top-five most prolific execution-states in the world.

Number 1,000 also had a name: Kenneth Boyd.