Out with the old

When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, what did they find in the temple?

Here in Hampstead, after a much shorter exile, the church is being readied to welcome us back (for private prayer).

Taking a black bin bag inside, Esther collected up flowers that had been abandoned earlier this year.

Through a glass darkly

Recently, I went back to the church, and thought how strangely unsatisfying stained glass is from the outside.

Then as I crept closer, I wondered if I might see through the window to the stained glass on the other side.

I pressed my iPhone to the window and took this rather bleak photo.

Then I popped around the church to do the same thing from the other side – hoping that the afternoon light would shine through more strongly from the south.

It did, but the photo was not exactly cheerful.

I wondered what the Israelites might have thought, in their Babylonian exile, if one of them had been able to pop back and sneak a photo of the inside of Solomon’s temple.

Now that the clergy have been allowed back inside, the church looks much better.

If the exiles in Babylon had been able to watch Facebook Live, and so on, perhaps there would have been less wailing and gnashing of teeth…?

Sorry if this seems frivolous. I have been sitting on these bleak photos while the church was out of access, and now that it’s back in use I suppose I’ve cheered up a bit.

Memories of Hampstead

Sandro Gogidze goes to school in Hampstead (or did, before the pandemic). He is also a member of the choir.

His father Zurab works in Highgate. Kept away by the restrictions of lockdown, they have sent beautiful images, and words of explanation.

“My two favorite places in London are Hampstead and Highgate,” writes Zurab.

“It was lucky that in recent years I happened to be there a lot: In Hampstead my son goes to school and church choir, in Highgate I work. I am longing to be back to normal life, to those beautiful places and the people I would meet there every day.

“Staying at home together with my family though, I find myself in a very supportive and positive atmosphere. This allows me to keep optimistic, and find positive, creative use of free time.

“Here I offer to your attention pieces of drawing that are inspired by the places, so precious to me.”

Sandro too has sent us drawings.

“During this quarantine phase I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. And besides the online school meetings and homework, I try to commit more time to creativity. As ideas rush to my head, I draw them in shapes as doodles.”

Triptych by Jane Hinde

Jane writes:

This lockdown has given me an opportunity to look at unfinished artwork and more time – to reflect, allow ideas to percolate and come to understand the unconscious at work.

This triptych is the fruition of reflection. I completed about 6 images and was not able to order them into any meaning, either aesthetic or emotional.

Two days ago I put them in this order, realising as I did that for me it represents inchoate beings, becoming, and then a visitation and finally on the right, The Holy Trinity.

Doubting Thomas

A bit downbeat, this one: sorry.

Sometimes I feel entirely engaged by the online services and Zooms, and very grateful.

But sometimes I find myself utterly disconnected (no idea why).

Today’s reading (and sermon, which I’ve not watched yet) was about Doubting Thomas.

Ayla, on Facebook Live, projected Caravaggio’s powerful painting onto the wall of her home.

And I stared at the same computer I use to send invoices, read email etc, and sketched how it feels to be so wavering about the value of digital church:

NOTE: When I was baptised last year I took the name Thomas.