100 days with Christ - Day 1
Today is the 10th of December 2021. In 100 days it will be the 6th March 2022 and four days into Lent. Inspired yesterday during a walk up the mountain with my dog, Rover, I am starting this series of contemplative reflections. My Little Chapel of Cwm Garw has been patiently waiting for me to get over my most recent and longest artistic block. But what is a block? Perhaps just a time of sifting and letting things be in readiness for something new.
As an amateur astronomer, I know that the formation of a star is preceded by millennia of collisions, interactions, random events, gravitational attractions and thermonuclear reactions before the star finally begins to shine.
I love stars. The elements in the pigments I use to paint icons are made from the fusion reactions of stars and supernovae - elements such as iron. Humble red ochre, iron oxide, created at a time in Earth's history when oxygen first began to enter the atmosphere from photosynthesising plants. An icon is built from the stuff of the Universe, as are we.
100 days with Christ
For this focused period of time, I feel inspired to make an extra effort to deepen my relationship with Christ by making a conscious effort every day to be with him as he is with me. The image above of the icon of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, I painted many years ago now, has reminded me how easy it is to have a relationship with Christ. Most of the time I potter along blissfully unaware of his accompaniment. Then when I do my prayers I remember him, or when I am in need, I remember him. Somehow I feel he wants to be part of every single moment of my day, even if it is incredibly banal. But I will, each day for the next 100 days, document some of the noticing I do with him. I am interested to discover where this might lead.
Walk with me
As part of this journey I am creating a page of downloadable resources, 100 days with Christ, you can access for free, to use as you will alone; in a group; to modify but mostly to explore and deepen your relationship with Christ.
We walked together, me, my dog and Jesus, on the dog beach at A......... It was 6 am. Dark, cold and windy. I saw the constellation of Leo up above and the orange-red flames on the horizon from the Tata crucible cast a mellow glow on the wet sand. The sound of the sea and the fresh wind blow away all the sticky unhelpful thoughts that pass through my mind, just as the remnant clouds of Storm Barra scud across the indigo sky.
The words of a song, in a language I do not know, come from my lips and I feel an inner freedom and simultaneous connection with all things. At this time of the morning, there is a beauty in the stillness and quietness of the world around me.
Rover, in his simple, doggy way, is cheerfully content to sniff and rummage on the beach. I know he is happy as his tail goes round in helicopter rotor circles constantly and then he rushes to roll over and scratch his back on the sand. He looks at me expectantly and we run together for a short while.
This is a good moment, a good memory, a time to cherish for its utter ordinariness.
I thank God now for bringing me this dear animal who had been so badly treated, and then abandoned for months in Ireland to walk and fend for himself. A recent visit to the vets and their delight at how well he is doing made me feel very proud of him.
My mind wanders to all those people and animals and plants in the world who are subject to thoughtlessness and acts of cruelty. We have been severely affected by the Covid pandemic but there is this pandemic of cruelty that has pervaded the world for centuries due to our inattention to our own natures.
Impermanaence and permanance
I look at Leo and the stars forming his shape, Denebola, Zosma and Regulus.
Constant wintry companions in the early December sky. Our whole civilisation has come into being, and these stars have existed during that whole time, a time before and they will be in a time after. We are no more than the grains of sand being buffeted by the waves lapping at my feet on this dark, cold morning. They are built up into little humps for a day and then as the tide comes in again they are gone.
But the love of Christ is eternal.
On that we can surely depend.