Archive for January 2010

Light shining through willow-herb.  The petals with the strong sun behind them looking like deep pink stained glass.  The pistils: small white crosses, a bit like the crosses you see on hot cross buns that are available in the shops now (already!)

Simple scene though this is, it is speaking to me of the grace of God.  Simply by being, these petals are beautiful, and by allowing the sun to pour through them, they’re becoming even more beautiful. 

God’s grace is a great stress-reliever.  It means we are not the final judge of our own conduct (amongst other things – it would take a lifetime to understand everything grace means to mankind).  Sometimes we are judge and jury of our day-to-day behaviour and thought-life.  Although we’re meant to ‘examine ourselves’ at times, I don’t think we should be taking a minute-to-minute audit of our lives’ progress.  That way madness would lie!

Grace means that sin has been judged – but Jesus has taken the place of that sin.  (Jesus was willing to become identified with sin – our sin – not just take the punishment for it).  But once we have accepted that grace, we are not judged any more.

I love the exuberance of this flower.  Although it’s officially a weed, I’ve heard several people say they have a special affection for it.  Seed-time, in late September, is an equally attractive time.  Then the leaves turn a variety of colours, displaying on one single stem, green, beige, sunset yellow, and apricot orange.  (And russet red sometimes, too.)  And above the leaves, there is a mass of fluffy seed in the place of the flowers.   

Weeds that are really beautiful flowers.  What does that remind me of?  Perhaps ‘the stone the builders rejected..’?

Pink Riddle

I return to my birthplace
when it’s time to reproduce.
I love to jump
out of one element
and into another,
then back again.
Though I have no feet (or even legs)
a ladder was built for my use.

[If you would like to know the answer – or have your guess confirmed as the right answer! – email me on rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]

[In case you’re wondering why there’s a pink post, when there is no pink in the rainbow – I’m alternating between pink and white for Post No 7 each time.  Indigo and violet are being combined for Post No 6.]


In the midst of winter, this flower’s vivid colour is like an injection of vitality.  Pansies also appeal to the sense of touch, as their petals are beautifully velvety and soft.

A few years ago, browsing in a second-hand ‘Language of Flowers’ book, I learnt that pansy means ‘a thought’.  Then the penny dropped.  It must be from the name – ‘thought’  in French is ‘pensee’.   I wondered why the French gave this flower that meaningful name.  Maybe (I was thinking, today) it’s because the flowers look like little faces – each one wearing a pensive expression.  Just now I had a fresh look at this photo (above) with this in mind – and concluded that they certainly don’t seem to be smiling!

Sometimes a smile is what we need.  Other times, knowing that we are in someone’s thoughts, in a prolonged sort of way, is more valuable.   Come to think of it, generally speaking I would rather be thought about, than be smiled at by someone, if I had to choose.  (A smile can be just a quick flash of someone’s good intent towards you!  Or it can just reflect their passing state of mind!)  And perhaps there’s nothing people desire more than that others should take an interest in their thoughts.  Psalm 139 (in the Old Testament) says ‘You understand my thought afar off’ (verse 2).  My pastor has suggested that our quiet times go well when we allow the Holy Spirit to walk among our thoughts. 

I’m so glad God places such a high value on our thoughts.  The downside is that we can fall into sin just by thinking something.  But the upside is that we can please God and give Him great delight, through the way we direct the flow of thoughts inside our heads – a pattern we create unique to each one of us, and unique to each ‘thinking occasion’.

Indigo & Violet Riddle

At summer’s end, I clothe the land,
Sometimes my roughness tears your hasty hand,
I am not water, yet you wade in me,
I ripple in the wild wind – yet I am not the sea.

[If you would like to receive the answer – or have your guess confirmed as the correct answer! – email me on rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]

Only a small area of this picture is actually blue.  But I’ve counted it as a ‘blue’ photograph, since the blue is the strongest colour, being very much brighter than the other colours.  Your eye is drawn to the nearer of the three boats, with the blue plastic cover making it the brightest thing in the scene.  (And this boat’s simple shape is very appealing, wouldn’t you agree?) 

It was an early afternoon during the heart of winter, on a raw day with a lot of moisture in the air.  It was very still, as can be seen by the way the boats and the trees are creating perfect reflections.

The boat is really quite dilapidated, it’s plain to see, and if you look closely, you’ll find that it needs at least one coat of fresh paint.  But for some of us, the ramshackle appearance of things like this is very attractive.  ‘Characterful’ is how I would describe it.  Old things seem to carry a breath of nostalgia, which (for me anyway) is near to the heart of beauty. 

The greys and browns remind me of the delicate colouring of some moths.  If I were to give this photograph a title, I think I’d call it ‘Winter Stillness’.  Some people love winter scenes with sparkling white snow and blue skies.  But I feel there is such an underrated beauty in these kinds of winter scenes, when the sky is covered with clouds, and the light coming through them is just strong enough to create a wonderful pearly glow. 

Does anyone else feel this way about so-called ‘dull days’? 

Blue Riddle

With a slender stem, I bulge in the blustery wind.
I often dwell in the midst of heather. 
Sometimes I grow among the short turf
of chalky downland.
Scotland and England do not agree
about how I should be named.

[If you’d like to know the answers – or to have your guesses confirmed as the correct answer! – email me on rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]

A canopy of leaves – isn’t there something about that, that is just so reassuring?  It provides shade – light filtered through leaves, anyway –  yet it also lets a large amount of sunlight through.  This particular canopy was seen overhanging the River Stort, near Harlow in Essex. 

Nearby is The Moorhen restaurant and pub, and a mini-marina, where lots of colourful barges are moored.  Also a row of stately, attractive weeping willow trees.  (They loom so large, if you could hear them, you’d surely be deafened by the sound of blubbering!) 

A couple of days after New Year, while waiting at the nearby station, I glimpsed the partially-frozen water near The Moorhen – it appeared not translucent, but white.  There must have been ice on the river, then an extra layer on top that looked like icing, or ‘frosting’ as the Americans say. 

It shone like snow in the sunshine.  Also saw brightly-coloured mallard ducks, noticing especially the males, with their blue-green head plumage.  There seemed to be an excited mood among them.  I was in two minds whether to catch my train, or delay my trip and spend some time there, in that place of frosty beauty.  In the end, the train won out.  I still wonder about the photographs I might have taken, if I’d stayed. 

Green Riddle

I have a cup, but I don’t have a saucer,
I’m as British as tea, Miss Marple, or Chaucer,
Sometimes I’m brown, sometimes I’m green,
It’s in the autumn that I am seen.

I am little, but lead to something big,
A fruit I am – but not like a fig,
No, I’m afraid I’m not very tasty,
Come solve this riddle, I’m sure you’ll be hasty!

I think this is a really easy one!  But then that is easy for me to say.
BTW I know tea is not really British.

[If you’d like to know the answer – or to have your guess confirmed as the correct answer! – email me on rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]

I love the way that the bee is surrounded by bright yellow petals, in this picture.  And the neat way that it is almost covering the whole of the flower centre, with its left leg extended to the bottom of the circle, and its head nearly at the top.

The lines on the petals remind me of rays of sunshine you sometimes see pouring out of the sun.  The bee seems to be at the heart of something bright and beautiful – right at the heart of something good!  Very appropriate – when the honey it produces is one of life’s ‘good things’. 

Yellow Riddle.

Take a frightening number – non-mathematically speaking, take any third. 
This forms the underlying principle of my answer!
You see this pattern in a 50 pence piece, or at the Giant’s Causeway.
Half of me sounds like something a mermaid might use.
My name contains the thing I contain.

[If you’d like to know the answer – or to have your guess confirmed as the correct answer! – email me on rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]


  • None
  • Carole: Beautiful!
  • Amy: Sounds like a beautiful color and dress. And I would love to see a picture of that tree! I do love trees of all kinds, and you make some great points
  • Amy: What a beautiful poem or song to God, love it! We're exciting to see spring here up in the northeast after a long, cold, snowy winter! Blessings, A