Hello dear friends, and welcome to April's edition of the Beagle.
I hope you have a comfy chair, some quiet and a nice drink to hand. Today we have had blazes of sunshine and snow flurries here in London, the weather is quite confused. In the next couple of days my daughter is shooting a short film in our home so I've been cleaning every nook and cranny, moving furniture, sourcing props and hoping the dog copes with all the incoming crew. It's going to be a new experience for us, one I'm eagerly looking forward to.
I've been pondering many things these past few weeks as I suspect have you. I find I'm always wrestling some truth out, wanting to plumb to the depth of those questions. It takes time. Bible literacy really matters to me. Having been in a Christian cult for the first formative years as a believer, knowing what the word of God actually says, its meaning, intended audience and context, is key to seeing God rightly. Coming out of that situation I not only had to learn some truth but unlearn some error. My heart aches for those caught in spiritual abuse, sometimes I think I should speak into it more.
An overarching theme this month has been renewal, I believe you'll see this reflected in my own photography and the features I've selected. I wrote in one of my previous editions about Afroz Shah who took it upon himslef to clean up the heavily polluted Versova Beach in India. Soon after he started others joined the cause and eventually it was restored. What they hadn't anticipated was the return of nature. After a 20 year absence turtles once again began to lay their eggs there. Do go watch the clip, Afroz is inspirational and funny, "I tell people go date with the ocean, the ocean will never ditch you".
And as Easter approaches my thoughts turn to Jesus who didn't just clean us up and make us as we were before, he made us altogether new. I love how the Amplified puts it in 2 Cor 5:17;
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!
This month will be slightly scaled down as I've had such a busy time with family. I did however have a chance to create two new still life for you. Both Renewal and Remnant images are available in the Gallery Gift Shop as a fine art print, see the link at the top of this page.
Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted and underlined simply click the link.
Yellow Craspedia, or the 'lollipop flower' I've heard it called really does make this arrangement pop! Contrasting beautifully with the deep bluish almost purple Delphiniums it makes for a stunning image. A touch of white is brought in by the one open Campanula. I wanted to create something to stand with the people of Ukraine but also as a symbolic representation for all those finding themselves in conflict or under oppression, of which there are far too many to mention.
One of my mentors Paul Scanlon has taught a lot on transition, one of the examples he uses is that of the butterfly. If you were to look into the chrysalis mid-transition all you'd find is a kind of caterpillar soup. For anyone not understanding the process you'd rightly assume what a useless mess. Of course though this is just the breaking down before the new emergence of something entirely new.
I feel the stillness in this final crop.
The day after I shot Renewal I thought I'd create a flat lay using the remaining flowers. Flat lays are super fun but I don't do them often. I'm very happy with it, the lighting and deep tones are a chef-kiss! Isn't it striking how the black background emphasises the colour further and isolates the subject more. Symbolically this speaks to me of those suffering under persecution, their faith, hope and resilience. I wanted them to know they are seen.
Resurrection by R.S.Thomas
Easter. The grave clothes of winter
are still here, but the sepulchre
is empty. A messenger
from the tomb tells us
how a stone has been rolled
from the mind, and a tree lightens
the darkness with its blossom.
There are travellers upon the roads
who have heard music blown
from a bare bough, and a child
tells us how the accident
of last year, a machine stranded
beside the way for lack
of petrol is covered with flowers.
Wisdom Comes by Tamar Karni
Photography - On the theme of renewal (or rather, repurposed!)
A family of polar bears has taken up residence in an abandoned weather station in the Antarctic. These enchanting images were captured by photographer Dmitry Kokh, it was really hard not to share them all. I wonder if Goldilocks would dare venture in there! Enjoy more images in The Guardian feature.
I love a good meme 😜 I also love emojis, I believe it's a legitimate language 😏
Awe and Wonder
I'm beginning to hear the drumming of the Woodpecker here in suburban London. This footage showcases the incredible force they use to carve out their nest as well as the precision it takes. Skip to 2:56 to see the perfect row he pecks top to bottom, God is a wonderful Creator.
These are so so good and this will be the second year I make them. They do take a little more faff and prep but the results are well worth the effort for this special occasion on Easter Sunday. Eat them hot and fresh, I'd suggest sharing with the neighbours but that might be asking too much, you'll want them all. I think I need to lift my icing game this year! Do you have a favourite easter treat?
'Forgiven' by Daniel F. Gerhartz
How does this make you feel looking at this image?
I have a beautiful song to accompany it which I first heard and saw live twenty or so years ago. I was touched with an inexpressible mix of love, gratitude and resonance, tears streamed down my cheeks as Cindy Cruse Ratcliffe sang. Her vocals, skill and artistry are truly God-kissed. I hope you find it as grace-giving as I did. The image quality isn't great but her voice remains just as powerful. (This was taken from a Lakewood church service but I can't hold that against her 😜)
Making Art Not War In Liberia. I shared this 7 years ago with the girl's group I used to run, it spoke to me again in light of recent and ongoing conflicts.
The Lord will mediate between nations
and will settle international