Hello friends, I hope this finds you in fine fettle? Which is to say I hope you’re in ‘very fine health or condition’. My own fettle is quite fine, I’ve been loving the warmer weather, new flowers appearing, my tomatoes are showing lots of promise. Life continues on its steady course with grown kid’s study and work, photography, leisurely long talks in my little piece of heaven in the garden with friends, weekly trips to Oxford for bible study with Sally Clarkson, book club on Facebook with the Mum Heart UK ladies, slowly things are opening back up. I love my little drives to Oxford each week, I get in the car and set off, excited to meet with women familiar and new, Oxford is very international, it keeps me sharp and revived. If I’m ever tempted to feel guilty for going anywhere alone I simply think of Lottie’s words in the Enchanted April and how it would be quite selfish not to go as I always come back happier, the whole family benefits when we get a little time to ourselves.
The story behind what drives me on.
Still Life: not one but two!
Book: This Beautiful Truth, Sarah Clarkson
Poems: Christmas Beauty, Eugene Peterson. Isn’t That Something, Rumi
Poet and artist: Morgan Harper Nichols.
Inspiration: America’s Got Talent, Nightbirde.
Recipes: Ricotta Dumplings and Pavlova
Films: Minari and The Heights
Music: BFB Monthly playlist + highlights.
Artist: Kirsty Mitchell, creator of the Wonderland series.
Snaps from home: my candid monthly adventures.
Each month end as I begin writing and compiling the Beagle I’m not always aware of the direction it will take, what its theme will be. The Beagle is a visual journal of my inner travels. I sit here now, editing and considering the sum of it all, I see the threads forming a pattern.
Life as you know is not all sunshine and roses, usually it’s peppered with difficulty and challenges, sometimes too much pepper. We question whether the meal can be salvaged, can life still taste good?
”There had been many occasions in earlier days when he had been near to ending it but yet had always been held back by the strange hope that he had always had, the hope of the artist in pursuit of beauty, the hope that there was going to be something incredibly lovely round the corner. . . . a refuge in the wood . . . something . . . some sort of rest . . . some sort of abiding place.” - The Castle On The Hill, Elizabeth Goudge I adore these words, I adore this book. Set against the backdrop of WWII, The Castle On The Hill is a story about finding oneself in the pattern of things though it seems the very fabric has been blown to pieces. A peppered life indeed, can good be found amongst the rubble? Interestingly a flower quite profuse and known to spring up in the brick heaps of London during WWII is the Buddleia. This hardy purple plant flourished in the scars the Luftwaffe carved into the landscape. I think this is the quest I’ve been on for many years; to find good amongst the ruins. I have the hope of the artist in pursuit of beauty, not because life is perfect but because it is broken. Hope that there is going to be something incredibly lovely round the corner drives me on. Why is this? On the 14th Sept 1996 a close and very dear friend of mine, Vince, was overcome by hopelessness, he couldn’t believe that there was something incredibly lovely round the corner. He lost the battle. The news dropped like a heavy payload and tore a gaping wound in my heart. For many months a question played on repeat in my mind, ‘How, how could he not see any hope? Couldn’t see anything more attractive than stepping into the silent darkness. There must be more, there must be something to hope for’.
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear”
The next eleven months were traumatic, magical, unexplainable and utterly beautiful. I found a torn up bible strewn along a rained drenched street, dampened breadcrumbs scattered for my hungry heart to follow. As I began to read those precious rain wrinkled pages a light began to flicker in the hollow darkness of my sorrow. Here was hope, here was love and life eternal. I gave my life to Jesus almost a year after Vince’s passing. I set my heart to honour Vince, to make his life count for something. From death came life, from a wound sprung healing. My own life was quite confused at this point; An alcoholic, abusive father who’d left when I was two. Three subsequent step-fathers (in title only), an unstable home life with many changes of address which opened the door for exposure to traumatic experiences, anxiety disorder, a need for alcohol to escape myself, a failed short marriage. By the time I reached my 25th birthday I was exhausted and couldn’t see a way forward. What I saw in Vince’s final act was a storyline I refused to be written into and one which I despised on his behalf. He deserved more. He should have been loved and held, known and championed. He was worth so much more. Something beautiful needed to come from this, this couldn't be the final word.