“Close” is one of those words with multiple meanings and it has a usage peculiar to my home town of Edinburgh, where a close is a small alleyway or courtyard leading from the Royal Mile to the North and South of the City (usually with lots of worn and steep steps involved). The close was usually named after a memorable occupant of one of the apartments reached by the common entrance, or a trade plied by one or more residents.

So today’s picture is of Advocate’s Close and, as I am not in Edinburgh, the picture is by Jonny Baker on Flickr:


Summer is here…


Well it is hot and sunny here in Scotland, not something we experience that often!

So I think it is time for a little Mary Oliver…

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

(from New and Selected Poems, 1992)

Picture is ‘flow[er]” by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Hope revisited


Kent Nerburn also finds hope in the everyday… in the quiet corners of the ordinary.

Like Chittister (yesterday) he finds hope lies in the small actions we perform everyday which have the power to transform not only our own lives, but the lives of other people.

“We are not saints, we are not heroes.

Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary.

We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth. But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation.

“It is not given us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen. We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand.

“A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle.

A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame.

It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity.

It is simply an issue of the presence of light.”

Picture is‘candlesanctuary2’ byJonny Baker


The gift of a moment…

8389401660_80c02055ae_bI ask for the gift
of a moment
to sit by Your side
The work that I have in hand
I can finish afterwards.

Now it is time to sit quiet
alone with You
and to Sing
a re-dedication of my life
in this Silent
and overflowing joy.

(Rabindranath Tagore)

A poem for Monday.

If you are already clutching your ‘to do’ list and wondering how you will make it through the week then this is for you – ask for the gift of a moment 🙂

Picture is ‘rhythm of the tides’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

The Peace of Wild Things

flight from aboveWhen despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Wendell Berry)

There is something wonderfully comforting about this poem – despair and fear give way to peace, grace and freedom in a few short verses. Perspective is good 🙂

Picture is ‘flight from above’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Every little wonder…

2115078089_57ac35813f_bAmid the January gloom (well maybe it’s just me with the cough and the virus that just won’t go away) I thought I would post something uplifting.

A friend and colleague became a father last week, so here are words written by Cheryl at [hold this space] to celebrate the birth of a baby.

Even if we have not witnessed (or participated in) that particularly awesome miracle, life is peppered with these sort of wow moments – moments when we catch our breath in awe; moments when God confounds us and we stand amazed, at a loss for words.

Life is fragile, and never more so than at the point of birth or death, but we humans are extraordinary, remarkable. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  And sometimes we need to stop and confront that, to embrace our fragility and to put our hand into the outstretched hand of God – the God who gives us strength for the journey.


Welcome to the world

there are some moments
at which we should only look sideways
because to face them head on will blind us

moments where words like wonder
and awe
are completely inadequate;

where we search in vain for new words
as yet uninvented
to tell of the truth

moments where it seems impossible
that we will ever forget
how extraordinary,
how remarkable
this life is.

until we do

so in this moment,
when we stand blinded by fragility
and wonder
we pause

and for all those moments we forget,
we take a breath
and say

thank you.

(Photo: Gunnersbury by Jonny Baker)

Go beyond…

7907576498_1dc8661971_bToday – a short quotation from Rabindranath Tagore

I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power – that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time come to take shelter in silent obscurity. But I find that Thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.

Seemed appropriate for January… and hopeful for those who have reached the end of their rope!

Photo is “beyond” by Jonny Baker on Flickr