Category: quotes

Exhibition Road

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

We knew it would be busy at the museum with it being half term but we were not expecting the crowds to be quite as big as they were. The queue was so long that they took us on a tour of the grounds including garden areas we did not even know existed let alone seen before. Most of the queues was for the dinosaur exhibition which we have visited a couple of times before but this time it was not on our itinerary.

Our destination was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which features its winners and finalists. Naturally we were not permitted to take any photos so you will have to take our word for it when we tell you that some of the pictures were truly stunning. I can see why the overall winner got first prize but, for myself, I did not enjoy the sight of one fox carrying the bloodied corpse of another. True to life, “nature red in tooth and claw” and all that, but not pretty.

After lunch we wandered down Exhibition Road. This street made the news recently as an experiment in pedestrian/traffic management. There are no kerbs and all travellers are supposed to share the same space. Think of a pedestrianised street down which everyday traffic is allowed to travel: bicycles could and did go anywhere, for instance. It sort of worked in that it slowed everyone down. Meanwhile we came across this sculpture…

"When Soak Becomes Spill" by Subodh Gupta

“When Soak Becomes Spill” by Subodh Gupta

It is supposed to show a drink poured out and over flowing (think of a fizzy drink being poured into a glass, bubbling up and over). It was made from various steel buckets, pots and pans.

close up of "When Soak Becomes Spill"

close up of “When Soak Becomes Spill”

You can see it on the corner between the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums. The sculpture was said to represent a comment on the wastefulness of consumer society. I thought that there was a resemblance of the ancient notion of a cornucopia: a horn of plenty. That represented good harvests, more than enough for everyone, a generous blessing. How did we get from generosity to wastefulness? Perhaps the difference is whether we use left overs on another day or simply throw them away; whether we use the generous blessings we receive for ourselves alone or to help others as well.

french flag Unfortunately the murders in Paris yesterday are neither the first and unlikely to be the last of their kind but fact does not make them any less personal or painful. This week’s collect (special prayer in Church) seems apposite:

Almighty Father, your will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the king of all. Govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule. Amen.

“It is not the refugees who create terrorism but terrorism that causes refugees.” (anon on the internet)

Peace be with you.

There are some children’s hymns and songs which seem rather twee and the one I am sharing with you could easily fit into that category. However, the other day, as the grey clouds lowered and it grew gloomier, I found myself whistling the tune and repeating “You in your small corner, and I in mine”. It is not a complete theology by a long stretch but it is cheerful enough if you know the tune. The general point is that Jesus, the light of the world, is with us during our daily tasks, no matter how dark and dull it is outside.

1. Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

2. Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
Well He sees and knows it if our light is dim;
He looks down from heaven, sees us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

3. Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around,
Many kinds of darkness in this world abound:
Sin, and want, and sorrow—we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

Susan Warner, 1868

A haiku for National Poetry day: Light

ease the burden of darkness
beaming light relief

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato

Tears, idle tears

William Wordsworth was moved to write about Tintern Abbey, and so was Alfred Lord Tennyson. Of the two I find Tennyson’s the more moving. The sight of the abbey evoked a sense of a lost past and the transience of life so much so that Tennyson began to weep. So there is a sense of times lost and the sadness of nostalgia. This is not a poem to cheer us up but its eloquence may give voice to our sadness and, by expressing it, relax its hold on us.

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken’d birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign’d
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!

“Love lives beyond …

“Love lives beyond, the tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew”

These are lines from one of John Clare’s poems and one of my favourites. He lived the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the anniversary of his birth is 13th July.


“Manchester, the belly and guts of the nation.” George Orwell. Apparently, in Manchester they do not get hung up over which is England’s second city – Birmingham and London can sort it our among themselves!

Well, I don’t know about that. I do know that we had a pleasant few days in Manchester city – and, yes, it did rain, but not too much. We stayed in the Youth Hostel which is a stone’s throw from the Museum of Science and Industry and one day we went to Media City UK by tram. Highlights for us included the world’s oldest “intercity” passenger station, namely Liverpool Road which is situated in the MOSI. You may know that the first regular passenger service ran between Manchester and Liverpool on that line from 1830 to 1844.

We also made a point of visiting the “Blue Peter” garden which is next to the tram station at Media City. Children of a certain age and fans of “Blue Peter” would understand. It was interesting enough but smaller than we imagined. Worth a look if you are passing through – we were en route to the Imperial War Museum North which is several minutes’ walk away.

The architecture of the IWM (North) is worth a mention. It looks, at first glance, a bit disjointed or haphazard. It turns out that the architect took inspiration from imagining a shattered globe and taking some of the pieces to make the building. The sense of war belonging to a broken world is written into the very shape of the museum. Meanwhile the inside tells some of the history of war and conflict as it has been experienced particularly during the 20th and early 21st centuries. If you are looking for details of military campaigns and scores of maps you will find those few and far between. This museum does not celebrate military victories as such; it is more of a social history where issues of justice and of peace collide. Among the items to note are the cross and the twisted girders from among the ruins of the Twin Towers of New York.

We did visit the Lowry Gallery during our wander round the quaysides but it was being refurbished and few pictures were on display. Perhaps we’ll get a better view another time.

A mention should be made of the Bollywood Masala restaurant near Deansgate. I enjoyed probably the nicest chicken korma I have had for a long time and the crispiest “family naan” ever.

Deus Meus et Omnia

The Franciscan motto: “My God – and all things.”

“‘Spirituality’, in itself and apart from others, without service and concrete love, often leads people to immense ego inflation and delusion”

“The great irony of faith is that authentic God experience does indeed make you know you are quite special, favourite, and chosen – but you realise others are too!” Richard Rohr

“Eager to Love. The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi,” by Richard Rohr, p14

This week some churches will be remembering Julian of Norwich. She lived in the 14th century in the city of Norwich. Little is known about her background. Her name, Julian, is taken from St Julian which is the name of the church she lived next to – we don’t know the name her family would have known her by. Most of what we do know about her comes from her writings, “Revelations of Divine Love” which is the earliest example of women’s writing in English that we have. (There may have been others but they are lost in the mists of time.)

She wrote about her experiences of suffering a severe, life-threatening illness. As she recovered she had a series of vision, or “Showings”, about God, the Trinity, the world, suffering and love. The book is a record of what happened and include her reflections about the meaning of her visions. Typically she would say what she saw and felt and then continue with what she had learnt or understood from that particular experience.

“Revelations of Divine Love” is a classic of English spirituality and is well worth a read – but not at one sitting!

You might think that Julian is obscure but you might recognise this quote: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.

This is another: “Our Lord never said, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted’. But he does say, ‘You shall not be overcome’.”

And then, in one vision, she sees the whole creation the size of a nut being held in the palm of God’s hand. “He’s got the whole world in his hand” comes to mind.

A prayer for St Julian of Norwich’s day (8th May)

Almighty and most merciful God, you hold the whole universe together and sustain it with your love. As we recall the revelation of divine love to your servant Lady Julian, give us wisdom to learn knowledge of your truth both in suffering and in joy. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Saviour, who lives and reign with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Advice to Friars Minor

“Not only were we Franciscans not to be prelates in the church, but we should not hobnob with them too much. You tend to think like those with whom you party” Richard Rohr.

I was particularly struck by the last sentence. It is during leisure that our guard is down (and I wouldn’t expect otherwise or it wouldn’t be leisure) and we may absorb unconsciously the prevailing attitudes and assumptions of our fellow party-goers. You could say “be careful who you party with” but there will be occasions when we go to a social event outside our comfort zone because our work or our conscience requires it.

“Eager to Love. The Alternative Way of St Francis,” Richard Rohr, p13

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