"I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains" Anne Frank
‘The winter winds and rains were coming and the woods knew it, yet against the grey sad background they spread themselves in a beauty that was like a shout of triumph in the face of death’.
The Castle on The Hill, Elizabeth Goudge.
Hello kindred ones,
A warm autumn fireside welcome to everyone who has joined us through the giveaway this week. The enthusiastic response has been wonderful, I can't wait to get these life-giving goodies into yours hands. I hope the invitation to the Beagle will open a door for relationship with you and that'll you'll stick around for a longer spell after the giveaway is over.
If you're wondering who I am?
My name is Jacqui (Jacqueline as a naughty child) and I live with my Australian hubby of 25 years, our two grown children and our 12yo Viszla, Alba, the Ginger Ninja as we call her. We live on the outskirts of London. Here I am pictured in one of my happy places, walking, connecting, talking with a kindred and gathering wild flowers. I love slow living, it's a fight to keep it that way.
I'm 52, hot flashed, strength training (gym loathing), a graduated Home Educator, photographer, writer, reader, student of poetry, hope bringer, encourager, curator and creator of beauty, nettle grasper when it comes to sticky topics. I'm more curious than certain. Being an INFJ I can take things too seriously so have to practice the art of play, it's very restorative.
I came to Christ at 27, two weeks after my wedding and following the loss of a very close friend. At the time I was an aspiring screen writer, had written a self-help book for teens and was a friend to booze and cigarettes. I had anxiety disorder. Hot mess basically. My friend's loss of hope which ultimately claimed his life was and is, the catalyst for my quest for all things meaningful. I am driven by the desire to instil a sense of worth and value in others. Jesus is not an abstract intellectual idea, nor a set of rules or behaviour modification to adhere to. The Word became flesh and lived among us, God became human and God loves humans, every part of us not just our Sunday best. I think when we learn to love our humanness we will lean into a deeper more fully blossomed level of God's love. I love this tapestry of Jesus handing his mum a flower. Imagine the scene, "look mama, I picked you a flower. Actually, I made it for you, like literally." 😄 Humanness. Beautiful.
I believe as Sarah Clarkson says that 'words form worlds'. My bookshelves, bedside table, baskets, nooks and crannies are filled with various authors. Some are yet unread waiting in the wings, I always have several books on the go and never enough time to read. I am a student of theodicy.
Theodicy: A vindication of God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil.
In addition to my still life creations, art, poetry, food, film, music recommendations etc each month you may find here conversations about church culture, spiritual abuse, childhood trauma, theology, beauty, parenting 'out of the box 'children (OCD/ASD), but always with hope. I have a burden for those struggling under religious shame or guilt. Nothing gets my dander up more to be honest. I was in a cult for seven years in a Word of Faith environment. Much of my Christian journey has been about unlearning.
I believe it's vital that we engage with faith in a robust proactive way and endeavour to wrestle with some of the hardest doubts and fears we have. We are called to explore together not blindly follow. Discipleship not dogma.
"Our task is the very opposite of reductionism"
Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God.
Once upon a pre-menopausal time I was a portrait photographer. My hubby became desperately ill in 2015 for a prolonged period and I had to lay my camera down. Lockdown 2020 saw us all with far too much time on our hands and so I picked up the lens again and this time started with flowers. I became enchanted with the Dutch Masters style of oil painting and wanted to capture that mood with my digital images. Still life is a beautiful balance between the abundance of life now in the face of the life hereafter. It's a visual prompt that says enjoy it but don't count on it in the long run.
It's been two years since my first Beagle. The journey continues.
So hey, welcome to the community and I hope you stick around.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
I'm gearing up for a couple of weeks in the States so this month has been particularly squeezed as I try and get all my ducks in a row pre-trip. I was very honoured to be on my friend Sally's podcast last month where she invited me to share this little piece I'd composed. Many of you have written me asking for it so here it is in full.
The Wink of Blue: Placing Ourselves Back Into Beauty.
“𝐿𝑒𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑢𝑡𝑦 𝑤𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑏𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒 𝑑𝑜．𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 ℎ𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑤𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑘𝑖𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑔𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑“ ~ 𝑅𝑢𝑚𝑖
It is a daily, moment by moment practice to place myself back into beauty. The darkness of life overhangs like a storm-angry cloud but I am always looking for that wink of blue beyond the dark scowl. As Rumi said there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground, countless opportunities to notice the in-breaking of God’s presence and goodness if I can but lift my weary eyes to notice them.
I love drawing people’s attention to beauty through my photography, it’s just one small way I can say ‘look, here is goodness, here is delight, colour and intricate design offered by a beautiful Creator, all for you, yes for you’. Today will present itself ordinary even frightening, but I hope you see the invitations to remembrance that God is with you and for you at every step.
〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰 〰
I'd written this little thought in the morning and shared it to my Insta before heading out for a day in the city with my niece. It was very serendipitous that as we were leaving The National Gallery we came across two arresting paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder. I spied the wink of blue in each stormy scene from the across the gallery and was magnetically drawn in. This first image is called A Sea Storm and was the one which caught my particular attention. The second is Christ Preaching on the Shore of Galilee.
My niece said, “We were meant to come in here today”.
Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted and underlined simply click the link.
I picked up these gorgeous blooms from a little florist I love in Oxford. The creams and greens went so well with little Brad so I gave him his own pumpkin perch. The light is fading, autumn is pouring herself out, we stand in the early evening glow looking towards winter and the stripping away of all that remains.
Her Most Serene Highness Princess Pumpkin
You might recognise the little crown from last month, Isabella didn't mind sharing. I confess I wasn't totally satisfied with Isabella's still life as I somehow neglected the detail of turning the crown to face forward. This was my opportunity to rectify that and show it off to the full.
I created a fun Reel of how I made HRH.
This piece moved me to tears. It's not often you come across art which so perfectly articulates through performance a deep spiritual truth. If I could name this it would be called 'Faith Feels Like Falling' but the beauty of art is that it speaks to everyone personally, what does it say to you? We often talk about our walk with God as if it's a linear walk in the park but in reality it's more like this dance, filled with halts, progress, highs and deep lows. This was created and choreographed by the inimitable Yoann Bourgeois. His body of work is breath taking, boundary breaking, he also choreographed the music video for As It Was by Harry Styles.
For a larger screen version you can watch it on YouTube HERE.
Kaiserschmarrn. Oh my, you're in for a treat! My friends accidentally sent me this recipe and I'm so glad they did. Kaiserschmarrn or Kaiserschmarren is a lightly sweetened pancake that takes its name from the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of this kind of fluffy shredded pancake. It is served as a dessert or as a light lunch. I'd made some apple pies the day before and had some sauce left over so we had that alongside. You can adapt it as needed or use dairy free alternatives. Scroll down to the bottom for the ingredients but there are some helpful tips in the blurb HERE.
I also made apple pie for our family and a neighbour with the last apples from the garden. I buy the ready made pastry as it's so easy and just as good, even Mary Berry (GBBO) agrees!
If Wendell Berry wrote a film (maybe) . . . .
Wild Mountain Thyme starring Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken and Jon Hamm.
How have I missed this one since it's release in 2020! Ok you are going to have to forgive some accents and cultural stereotypes but to me it's beautiful. The title song is achingly lovely and I've included it in this month's playlist.
Irish landscapes, folk songs, family relationships and unrequited love, this is my idea of movie heaven.
John Patrick Shanley, who created the classic Moonstruck, brings his sweeping romantic vision to Ireland with Wild Mountain Thyme. The headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her neighbor Anthony Reilly’s love. The problem is Anthony (Jamie Dornan) seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father Tony Reilly's (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted into pursing his dreams in this comedic, moving and wildly romantic tale.
[My recommendations may not be for everyone. My choice of films, books etc are based on my particular tastes, tolerances and interests. Just a note for my G-rated friends]
BEMA Discipleship podcast.
Breath by Chad Lawson. Probably the most peaceful album I've found in a long time.
My favourite song at the moment from Wild Mountain Thyme, I have this on repeat.
I finally finished the first book of Dune! I really enjoyed this, especially towards the end (maybe a sense of relief at finally finishing it!) but the saviour themes and religious imagery is quite compelling.
Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. I'm 80% through this and continuing to appreciate his unpicking of bad theology and reframing of what it looks like to trust God in the darkness of life. Chapter 27 on Why God Doesn't Intervene has been the most revelatory with regards to the embodiment of Christ in us and in the church.
"Embodiment is the end of all God's works"
He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:10-16 NIV
A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles. About to re-start this after a stall a few chapters in a couple of years back. Determined to finish and am reading along with a friend so chances are higher.
The Wild Geese by Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning, harvest over, we taste persimmon and wild grape, sharp sweet of summer's end. In time's maze over fall fields, we name names that went west from here, names that rest on graves. We open a persimmon seed to find the tree that stands in promise, pale, in the seed's marrow. Geese appear high over us, pass, and the sky closes. Abandon, as in love or sleep, holds them to their way, clear, in the ancient faith: what we need is here. And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here.
I did a live poetry reading a couple of weeks ago if you'd enjoy hearing my thoughts on this beautiful piece. Maybe you'd like to grab a cup of something delicious and come join me in my little London studio.
⭐️ GIVEAWAY WINNER ⭐️
A huge and heartfelt thank you to every who entered. The response has been wonderful and I honestly wish I could send everyone a gift. But the special winner is.....drum roll.........
✨ TRUDY ROYSTON ✨
Huge congrats to you Trudy I'm so excited for you! Please email me as soon as you can with your mailing address and I will get your bundle in the post. I leave for the States shortly so the sooner the better and hopefully you'll get it before Christmas.
The Gallery Gift Shop - EXCITING NEWS!
I have just partnered with a wonderful printer here in London, The Print Space, and am beyond thrilled to let you know I can now offer worldwide shipping on all print orders with shipping included! Not only that but I have moved to a new fine art museum quality bamboo paper which is not only high quality but very kind to the planet. In addition, The Print Space is the UK's first fine art and photographic service 100% end-to-end carbon neutral. So if you missed out today but would love to have a piece of my work hanging on your wall please visit my Gallery Gift Shop on your way out. After all, isn't the gift shop the best last stop on any gallery trip?
I will be adding more prints by the end of November once I've reedited them for the bamboo paper - definitely a day job with a steady stream of tea and biscuits required!
Snaps From Home
A very floral Sherlock Holmes outside Baker Street station last month, a promo for the new Enola Holmes series. Kudos to the appropriately dressed super-sleuth.
Autumnal scenes at Hughehdon Manor, former home to Queen Victoria's favourite Prime Minster Benjamin Disraeli. I took myself off here for the afternoon last month for a dose of loveliness and refilling.
Those interiors and views! I think I could think good thoughts from this writing station. Spotted a literal 'sack' of tea through the potting shed window.
My daughter Zoe had her first live gig post lockdown. I loved her smile when I started singing along, yes I'm her biggest fan of course 😁 You can stream Zoe's music on Spotify. This original song is called Self-Talk and deals with anxiety and feelings isolation. Zoe's has written about issues such as school bullying, relationships, personal growth, anxiety and being clumsy!
A lovely day out with my niece. Covent Garden beauty, Swiss bakery, street performers, The National Gallery.
Monday night Oxford bible study. Cotswolds adventures with Sally. You can hear about our silly adventures HERE. Check out the blooper shots trying to take a selfie in the Dahlias!
Slow, sunny October scenes. Photography tip: One simple way you can improve your images is by either capturing straight horizon lines or adjusting them in edit afterwards.
Until next time . . .
Thank you for being here today, I hope you've found something beautiful and interesting for your spirit, mind or soul. If you know someone who would enjoy this content please do invite them along or share on your social media. I mentioned last edition that I would be moving the Beagle to a subscription publication but I've put that on hold for the time being. If in the mean time you've enjoyed the Beagle and would like to say thank you you're welcome to make a contribution HERE.
I'm off to the States and look forward to some wonderful content for December. I'm hoping to make it back to the Getty where I saw my art-crush Jan van Huysum.
Advent beckons, I feel the stirring of poetry, comfort recipes and a special still life. Until then, God bless you and keep you, have a wonderful month.