Prayer - the Resonant Frequency

Saturday, 1 October 2011

| | | 1 drops in the ocean
If you are an Engineer or a Scientist, you are bound to have heard of resonant frequencies, or resonance.  It can be a pain if, say, you are trying to design a bridge - in which case it is best avoided if you don't want the whole thing collapsing on you, as with the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge .  Resonance can, however, be a useful thing too.  If you have two guitar strings adjacent to each other, tuned to exactly the same pitch and you pluck one of them, the adjacent string will resonate in sympathy with the one you plucked, without you touching it.  Most instruments use resonance in some form or another.

Likewise, if we say that something resonates with us, we mean that we agree with something in a deep way and it has an effect on us.  The idea might influence us in some way or engender our support.  In politics you are most likely to vote for the candidate or party whose manifesto resonates with your core beliefs or ideas.

I think that prayer is like that in many ways.  When our will is perfectly aligned with God's will it is like the two guitar strings being perfectly tuned to each other.  When we are tuned in to God, we can start to resonate at the same frequency and our will becomes His will, or vice versa.  An amazing thing happens when you have a whole bunch of Christians in a room together, all praying - everyone is in agreement with each other because of one key thing - we are all tuned in to God's 'resonant frequency'.  And that, my friends, is when amazing things start to happen.  It is just a small matter of finding that frequency.

So how, you ask, do we do that?  Well, when we start to pray, several things happen.  The first is that we become aware of God listening to us.  The second is that we recognise His Spirit in us, helping us to pray according to His will, and probably realise at that point that we were spouting a load of rubbish (or maybe not 'rubbish', but you know what I mean), and God is wanting us to pray about something else.  We change tack and slowly but surely come to realise that we are on the same frequency.  When that happens, we start to hear Him speaking back to us.  Sometimes it's not that simple.  Sometimes there are clouds separating us from God, our own fears and anxieties and worries, and we cannot pray in alignment with Him.  But all is not lost.  If we are willing, He will help us by His grace.

So let us be in resonance with God's will today.

Sunday musings - the Church

Monday, 19 September 2011

| | | 7 drops in the ocean
Whilst I was in Latvia (and I will tell you all about that soon, but I need to get this off my chest first) we were having a conversation amongst our team, which has just come back to me, and got me thinking.

The Church.  Some go as a Sunday obligation, others to socialise, and some to actually worship God, hear his word and share fellowship with each other.  Today I was thinking about the latter group.  In the church today, we sing lots of songs, many of which are good songs, praising God and what He has done.  But how much do we think about what we are singing?  Sometimes I feel like aspects of the gospel are romanticised and dramatised in our songs, as if they need dressing up, to make them more palatable (not just in songs, but that is my main area of focus at the moment).  Sometimes I feel like we are focussing on a few aspects of God, the ones we feel comfortable with, like His love, mercy etc (which is great, nothing wrong with that) and forgetting that His love meant sending His Son to die on a hard wooden cross...
We use flowery imagery for the Cross and romanticise it like it is something out of a Hollywood movie.  To put it another way, there are a lot of wishy-washy songs out there that are all very nice, but they do not convey the reality of God's word.

Are we becoming wishy-washy Christians?

Ephesians 6 describes how we need to put on the full armour of God in order to take our stand against evil.  The church today needs Men (and strong Women) who will be able to stand firm.  We are in end times; the forces of darkness are closing in.  Today God is calling his Bride to 'arise, shine' and be a light in the darkness.  More than ever, we need to be able to stand, and keep standing.  So are you dressed and ready for battle?

A fellow blogger, Josh, over at his Perspectives blog, has expanded a bit on my post, so do check it out as he has adeptly summed up what I could not put into words myself.

Dear Readers

Saturday, 27 August 2011

| | | 1 drops in the ocean
Thank you for reading my blog.  It is nice to have the freedom to get my thoughts out through this medium and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing.

The main purpose of this post was to inform you that I will be away for a while (again...I can't stay still this summer!) on a cycling trip with a good friend of mine, so there will be an absence of posts for the next week or so.  When I get back I will tell you all about my adventures...

So long, and see you all in a week or so!  (Oh yes, please pray that we have good weather for the week and smooth travel, and no punctured tyres/other accidents!)

Love to you all and God bless,


Heart of Clay

Thursday, 25 August 2011

| | | 4 drops in the ocean
My heart
Is like a piece of clay

Once stubborn
And hard under Your fingers

Gently molded
Into a vessel of Your design

To a malleable consistency

Until finally
It is a finished work of art

Flawless in every way

In the kiln of fire

Ready to be filled

Because I love blogging so much

Monday, 8 August 2011

| | | 8 drops in the ocean
I've decided to do two posts today :)  This is a piece I wrote last year when I was at home, animal-sitting while my parents were away.  It was very quiet...
I don't really know how one is supposed to go about writing poetry, but in a way I don't really mind.  It means I can go wherever the words take me...

I stand
Absorbing the silence
The sound of a million nothings.

The trees
They loom,
Dark figures
Against an expectant sky,
Heavy with anticipation.

A leaf
By the noise of a moth's wingbeat
Cutting through the air like a haphazard glider.

The silence,
Drowning out the multitude of thoughts
Whirring like a tornado through my mind.

The traffic
Persistent, weary
Never ending and distant mumblings of civilisation
Hurrying about its business, another world.

A speck
Of water
Falls, quickly soaks into the dusty ground
The trees heave a sigh of relief

Time is lost
The seconds are years

Orange light
Piercing my thoughts, the silence gone.
Everything as it was left, chaotic.

The clock
It ticks
Reminding us
Of the ephemeral nature of life

Through my fingers,
My mind drifting into oblivion,
Thoughts merging into one:

Love song to God

| | | 1 drops in the ocean
As surely as my heart beats,
I know that you have your hand on my life.

As surely as I hear my thoughts,
I know that you have thought out your plan for me.

Just when I think you are absent,
you remind me you are still behind me, and before me.

Thank you for your unending grace,
When I fall down, you pick me up again.

You pour out your blessings and mercies onto me,
Even when I do not deserve it.

When the clouds obscure my view,
You still shine on me.

Lord, I want to know you,
To see your face.

You are my heart's desire,
My hope.

Be always with me,
Never forsake me.


Carbon neutral blogging...

Sunday, 7 August 2011

| | | 3 drops in the ocean
Hello folks!  Just a quick post...

A fellow blogger just posted about a scheme which is detailed here - at, whereby for every participating blog, a tree is planted to help replenish rainforests.  I love the variety of species found in rainforests, so I'm going to do my bit and help to make sure they still have a habitat.

Currently the project is replanting in Plumas National Forest, Northern California - an area that was badly hit by fire in 2007.

You can read all about the project and how you can help on the website, but anyway I will keep it short and sweet...

So from now on my blog is officially Carbon Neutral.


Hope you've all had a good weekend,


What an honour...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

| | | 2 drops in the ocean
Hello to all my lovely readers!
I have been extremely privileged to have just been given an award by Alexa, of the wonderful Illiterations blog, which I highly recommend you check out as Alexa is a talented writer who always makes me laugh/think...!

So, thank you very much, Alexa!

The award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, and the rules are as below:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

And now...for my five top picks!  And I'm having a (very) hard time many good blogs!
I would like to pass the award on to:
  • Alex, a budding young artist and poet at art-poems-stories.  I always enjoy her poignant and expressive artwork and poetry to go alongside it.  Keep up the good work, Alex :)
  • Nancy, at My Story.  Her beautifully written poetry speaks to my heart and brings a smile to my face :)
  • Just Me, at Just My Stories ...what can I say?  More beautiful writing...
  • Nikki at Christian by Association , because her writing always challenges me and makes me think.
  • Taylor at Penned by Taylor , Great blog, and thought-provoking writings!  Keep it up!
So thank you all, congrats, and thanks again, Alexa!

    Adventures on the high seas...

    Thursday, 4 August 2011

    | | | 4 drops in the ocean
    The last couple of weeks I was sailing aboard the Wylde Swan for the tall ships cruise in company 2011.  It started in Greenock, on the West coast of Scotland - when I arrived it was a beautiful sunny day, the tall ships looking resplendent in their dressing of flags and multitude of masts and yard-arms.  Crowds of people swarmed around the stalls by the dock, leaning over the railing to get a closer look at the ships, which had come from all corners of the world - Russia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Columbia...

    Here's a few snippets from my log (edited slightly)...

    Monday 11th/Tuesday 12th July
    So having wandered round the stalls several times, got sun burnt, and bought the customary bag of fudge and other very sweet and sticky things, it was with much excitement that I boarded the Dutch ship Wylde Swan for what was to be an action-packed 10 days.  After a red arrow display, fireworks (and a cacophony of hooting from the ships' horns), and plenty of (interesting) games to try and learn people's names, we left Greenock amidst cheering from the crowds, much chanting and Mexican-waving from us, and a lot of general good spirit.

    At last, we were at sea.  We sailed out with the foresails and topsail, me getting thoroughly confused at the sheer number of ropes.  We sailed down the Mull of Kintyre, the sun blazing and the cliffs looking scenic.  There were about 26 of us trainees - mostly from Scotland, but a handful of people from Holland and Belgium.  Most of the crew were Dutch, and although the official language on board was English, there was a lot of Dutch banter going on between members of the crew!  They were, however, very friendly, and great fun.

    Wednesday 13th July
    Our next stop was Campbeltown, a small village tucked away almost on the end of the Mull of Kintyre.  We got the ship's tenders out and, having figured out how they were rigged, had a 'race' (although it wasn't much of one, it was flat calm).  The following day was spent in Campbeltown, as the ship was hosting the launch of a new brand to promote marine activities in the west of Scotland and Ireland.  I won't say much about that...(the fancy food they did for it was good, though...)  Having had to represent the trainees at the event and look decorative, I was relieved to be able to go ashore and have a wander round, before making use of the local free internet access...

    Thursday 14th July
    A pleasant sail to Oban today via the Sound of Islay, and for the first time got full sails up.  We moored alongside the pier, at which point 5 other boats decided to moor alongside us.  Had to go up onto the bowsprit to help furl the foresails - an arduous task, however we only had to redo one of them, which I gather was pretty good going!  Some small dingies decided it would be fun to zoom round in circles directly below us.  Shortly afterwards, headed ashore as a group and danced the night away in the local ceilidh (Scottish country dancing) house.  Lots of fun and hilarity had, especially on the part of the Dutch/Belgian trainees...

    Friday 15th July
    2am departure from Oban, however we were all sound asleep - no night watches tonight.  By the time I awoke we were well past the Sound of Mull and Ardnamurchan point, and just at the bottom of Skye.  Hoping to be in Ullapool tonight, as some of the trainees are swapping ships.  Motor sailing most of the day, with topsail, schoonersail, inner jib and outer jib up.  Pleasant surprise when a pod of dolphins came to say hello, jumping acrobatically in and out of our bow-wave.  Had the usual 'happy hour' of cleaning up the ship, before volunteering to climb up the foremast with two other trainees and one of the crew.  Slightly disconcerting on the way up, as the rigging was oscillating vigirously in the wind, and we were sailing at quite an angle...however we made it onto the lower yard-arm for the topsail, and sat and enjoyed the view, and took some pictures.  Got into Ullapool eventually, and we were serenaded by the bands playing in a huge marqee on the pier.

    Saturday 16th July
    Day spent in Ullapool.  Free breakfast rolls were provided for all the crews, as well as a local folk group playing for us... Shortly afterwards we headed out for an island-hopping cruise, which was pleasant, if a bit grey.  We were dropped off on one of the islands, where we climbed to the top and admired the view... This was followed by skiff racing in the harbour, our teams coming 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, and a tug-o'-war, which we did well in, winning two of the contests!  Meanwhile the Wylde Swan took trips of punters out around the harbour...

    Sunday 17th July/Monday 18th July
    Another breakfast on the pier before sailing for Stromness, Orkney at 1100.  Cheered off by all the folk of Ullapool.  Surprisingly rough sea outside - despite never being seasick I took a cautionary seasickness tablet, just in case!  What followed was 24 hours of being tossed about in the Minch/Pentland firth.  I was on the 12-4 watch, the first of which was very wet, and quite cold, but passed quickly.  Got an early sleep at 8pm, then was woken for the 0000-0400 watch by my watch buddy.  On arrival on deck, we were greeted by one of the Radio Scotland guys, who decided it would be a good idea to thrust a microphone in my face when I had just woken up...!  Interviews and watch handovers complete, we got down to business, watching the sails, updating the ship's log, and playing games of 'who am I?' to while away the time.  Slept from 4-8am, then decided it would be worth getting up for breakfast.  Was glad I did as the cook had made a rather interesting 'porridge', but with rice, which was surprisingly tasty.  Showered then slept some more before my watch, and eventually we got into Stromness around 4/5pm.  The evening was spent bbqing on another tall ship, and disco dancing...usually it is quite a job to get me on the dance floor (unless it's Scottish ceilidh dancing), but somehow they managed... oh yes, and a singalong, accompanied by a digeridoo player and a guitarist.

    Tuesday 19th July
    They let us lie in till 10:30 this morning!  Then it was off for a tour of some of the well-known sites of Orkney, including Skara Brae (which I had seen before, but it was nice to see it again), the Ring of Brodgar standing stones, and Skaill House.  One of the locals who had been roped in at the last minute gave a great commentary, which, being into archaeology, I found quite interesting.  When we arrived back at the ship, we had a brief dinner, then had to go ashore for four hours while trips were taken out... At a slight loss as to what to do (all the shops were closed), we hung around, ate some chips, and chatted.  We didn't have to wait long.  Round the corner came a guy on a unicycle, juggling with fire (and eating it), and making fun of the passing traffic.  He was followed by a clown (on stilts), who proceeded to make balloon-animals for us...  Shortly after that we discovered that two of the others were busy entertaining people in the local inn (on fiddle and accordion), so we all trundled down.  I even ended up playing (somehow)... So when we got back to the ship, and the crew thought we must have been bored out of our socks, they were pleasantly surprised to find that we had actually had quite an entertaining evening...

    Wednesday 20th July
    08:00 start this morning, bound for Fair Isle.  12-4 watch consisted of setting forestay sail, inner jib and schoonersail.  Rough weather again - took a seasickness tablet just in case!  Heeling at a spectacular angle... Got into Fair Isle about dinner time.  Food fantastic (again).
    Cliffs of Fair Isle

    Thursday 21st July
    On anchor watch from 1:30 - 3:00am.  Consisted mainly of updating the log, keeping an ear out for alarms, and of course making sure that we were staying within our anchor radius, and not moving.  It was very peaceful, save for the beeping of instruments in the corner of the navigation room.  So at 0200 and 0300 we duly recorded visibility, sea state, wind speed and direction, and pressure.  Headed for bed at 3, and shortly afterwards, the engine was started and we set off for the Shetland Isles.  Got about 3 and a half hours sleep before being awoken for breakfast in the pantry, which I reluctantly got up for, before going back to bed and promptly being woken up again by the shrill strains of our newly composed ship's song eminating from above, which was to be sung at the crew parade.  Had to get up anyway for 'happy hour' (this time washing the decks), then volunteered to go up the mast again and help furl the topsail, thinking it would be nice to get a bit higher than before...
    When we came down, we were just approaching Lerwick.  We were all ready for our lunch and helped ourselves to the (delicious) chicken/salsa rolls (I really will miss the food on this ship), while we thawed out.  The crew parade followed at 3pm, and we all busied ourselves adding the finishing touches to the 'swan' head, and donned the ship's t-shirts and lifejackets (which clashed beautifully with the t-shirts).  We paraded down the main street (adorned with all the ship's flags, too), accompanied by Vikings, Romans, African drummers, you name it, they were there.  The prizegiving followed, and we all cheered when Wylde Swan won a well-deserved prize (to do with being one of the most welcoming ships in the host ports).  The crew party followed, and after dancing, hog roasts, and more dancing, we got back to the ship and crashed out...

    Friday 22nd July
    Time to say goodbye to the ship... having packed, all too soon it was time to say goodbyes, and lots of hugging ensued.  I managed to pull myself away in time to catch the bus to the airport...
    One thing is for certain, I thought to myself, I'm doing this again.
    So, till next time, Wylde Swan!


    Wednesday, 3 August 2011

    | | | 0 drops in the ocean
    "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." ~Albert Schweitzer

    I just came across this quotation, and it happened to sum up my thoughts at that moment exactly.  (well, almost).  You see, I was thinking about relationships (again).  I happened to have just reconnected with some old friends on facebook, who I haven't been in touch with for a good few years, now.  And with that, old and precious memories were rekindled within me, and a flame burst into life again.

    We all have people in our lives, who we interact with to various degrees.  Some of these interactions are life changing, others not so much.  The degree to which we interact with certain people I think determines who we are, our values, and our actions.  You see, whether we realise it or not, we are under the influence of somebody all of the time - as it was once very adeptly put in a song.  When I think of these interactions between different people, an image comes into my head.  An image of threads, reaching out, from heart to heart, some more than others, some connections stronger than others, some failing, some being cut off.  I wonder, if we could see all the connections between people, maybe it would look like a beautiful and complex tapestry, a web of intracate threads all woven together.  Or perhaps like the invisible strings that hold the universe together.   When we meet a stranger for the first time it is like these threads are cautiously reaching out, finding common connections and then attaching themselves.  Like a mother connected by the umbilical cord to her baby, we depend on other people for our nourishment and sustenance in difficult times.  The friends we choose depend of what kind of sustenance we get.  Choose wrongly and we may end up with a very uncomfortable case of indigestion.

    We are relational people.  We need to be connected.  As anyone knows, to be alone for an extended period of time is extremely difficult.

    As Christians we share a special connection within the church or body of believers.  The Connection that holds us together and sustains us, and the head of the body.  To be cut off from Him is to lose our source of nourishment and strength.  To be cut off from each other is to be isolated from the body, to be amputated, to put it more graphically.  We need the veins flowing between us to be functioning at our full potential as a church.

    A thought I wrote a while ago, but have just decided to publish...

    Dusk wood

    Wednesday, 6 July 2011

    | | | 5 drops in the ocean
    I enter into the soft night air.  A lazy summer scent of plants and warm earth.  The trees, standing majestic, and the grass illuminated with a sunset iridescence.  Over the back wall, peach-pink clouds tinged with pastel yellow, brushed carelessly across the sky in broad sweeps.

    Into the wood, treading softly.  The peaceful silence, as civilisation sleeps, seeps through my being.  I pause awhile in stillness, just being, taking it in.

    A canopy of leaves, an impressionist canvas of dusky greens set against a backdrop of peach-tinged blue, whispers and sighs in the evening breeze.  The dark silhouettes of beech and rowan, receding into the deepness of the wood.  A solitary spider, suspended, motionless, on a delicate pattern of invisible threads between two twigs, hanging above.

    The stream murmurs a gentle lullaby as it tumbles on, never-ending.

    Two pipistrelles, with acrobatic precision, flit to and fro, in a daring game of hold-on-and-swerve-at-the-last-minute.

    I could stay here forever.

    I turn and leave the wood.  Back into the noises and glare of civilisation, the harsh orange light drowning out the peace...

    I actually just went out to feed the horse and lock the hens up, but there you go...

    Don't worry, everything's under control...

    Tuesday, 5 July 2011

    | | | 1 drops in the ocean
    Hello to all my lovely followers.

    You may (or may not) have noticed that there has been rather an absence of posts recently.  For this I apologise, it is partly due to  a) A general lack of inspiration, b) commitments outside of cyberspace, and c) me trying to get myself organised for ten days on a tall ship, starting next Monday, followed by a trip to Latvia, both of which have needed quite a lot of preparation and planning!

    If you are interested, the ship I am joining is this one , and so I am very excited about that!  I hope to come back having climbed a few masts, made lots of friends, been lots of exciting places, and (here's hoping) with a nice tan to show for it!

    The Latvia trip is in aid of improving facilities for young people at a church in Platone, just south of Riga.  More specifically we will be helping out with furnishing, wiring, floors, ceilings etc.  What we can't do ourselves we will pay the local tradesmen to do.  We will also be helping out at a youth camp organised by the local church, many of the children having come from difficult domestic situations.

    To that end, we are still looking to raise some money for the trip, to go towards the projects we will be undertaking.  So if you feel you would like to help out, here's the link!  If you would like to pray for us, then please do.  If you want more info, feel free to drop me an email!

    Also, if you fancy teaching me some Latvian phrases, that would be useful too!

    So long and till next time!

    RJ  :)

    Gems from the past

    Thursday, 9 June 2011

    | | | 7 drops in the ocean
    Sorting through an old pile of notebooks and various other items of junk at the bottom of my drawer today, I came across one and flicked through it.

    Reading through my toddler-age scribblings, I came across this (and of course had to share it with you)...

    Written in my scrawliest writing:

    "at 1 akloc ther is news lunch"

    then below, in bold, carefully placed letters:


    Story of my life...

    Well, at least the two most important words were spelled right.

    Watch this space...

    | | | 7 drops in the ocean
    For a most interesting discussion between me and a surprise guest blogger, on life, the universe and everything...    Coming to a blog near you.    :)

    Meantime, here's an interesting photo.  Prize for guessing what it is in the picture...

    ... and I'll reveal the answer next week... (prize could be a guest post, if you like...suggestions welcome...)

    I think it looks like part of a dalek, but that's a matter of opinion...

    Strange noises

    Wednesday, 8 June 2011

    | | | 5 drops in the ocean
    In the corner of my bedroom is a Noise.
    An incessant ticking.

    I hear it, in the corner.
    The noise won't stop.
    Tick tick tock.
    I wish it would.
    It is driving me up the wall.

    I move.
    It stops.

    I stop.
    It starts again.

    I'm told it's expansion.
    (it's not the clock)
    But if it is
    then why does it stop
    when I tap on the wall?
    It seems to be coming from there...

    I wonder what it is...
    (or am I going crazy?)

    Note to Readers:  I have added an email address to my profile so that you can contact me if you wish.  Also, if anyone has a clue as to what the mysterious ticking in my wall might be, I would be interested!

    A labour of love

    Monday, 6 June 2011

    | | | 4 drops in the ocean
    Today I was helping to move some furniture, (some of which will eventually be mine, yay!) from a house down the road to ours.  As we were shifting pieces into our porch, the owners of the other house commented that our house was a real 'labour of love'.  When my parents first acquired our old Victorian place, it was in a sorry state.  There was dry rot everywhere, and bits had to be rebuilt and given a bit of loving care and attention before they were back to their former glory or completely refurbished.

    Naturally that got me thinking about the things I have put a 'labour of love' into.  Since I started this blog, I have come to realise just how much I enjoy writing, and the satisfaction I gain from it, so in a sense this has become a labour of love.  Likewise, when I do a painting, or play an instrument, it is a labour of love; I put my heart and soul into it.

    As I think about these things, I can't help but think we are a real labour of love too.  If we gain so much satisfaction from our creativity, how much more satisfaction and enjoyment must God have got out of creating us?  We are so beautifully well engineered and put together.  As psalm 139 puts it:

    "For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother's womb.
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place.
    When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
    your eyes saw my unformed body.
    All the days ordained for me
    were written in your book
    before one of them came to be."

    I don't know about you, but I love those few verses.  One can hardly imagine the labour of love that went into creating us and the planet we live on.  And how much satisfaction must He get from watching His creations create?  I can only imagine.

    Not only that, but the labour of love that goes into restoring us, when we have become infested with 'dry rot'.  When we become blind and deaf to God's infinite love.  He cares so much that He has provided a way for us to be restored from our sorry state.  Made new.  Cleaned up, given a fresh lick of paint (well, maybe not, but you get the picture) and lovingly restored to something more like what we were always meant to be.  That's a pretty awesome thought.

    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

    God offers to lovingly restore us to our former state of close friendship with Him if only we will let him.  He has so much more in store for us!

    If you wish to go into more depth on Christianity and God's labour of love, then here is probably a good place to start.

    What do you put a labour of love into?

    Talk of the hive

    Friday, 3 June 2011

    | | | 5 drops in the ocean
    It is a bright sunny afternoon.  Mum has announced that the bees need checking on, and I jump at the chance.  I find those creatures fascinating; the way they dance and wiggle when they find a new source of food, the way they carry huge baskets-full of pollen in their leg-sacks back to the hive, the way they fan their wings to say that the queen is in, the way they all work together, like an engine made up of a million small parts.  I am truly in love with them.

    So I don my dad's white bee suit, bee-proof trousers and wellies and head out into the sunshine, where mum is already setting up the smoker, and getting bits of hive together.  We check each other to make sure we are totally bee-proof, then head over to the little village of white boxes, where the bees, having been cooped up in the wind and rain for a fortnight, are dashing to and fro, excitedly gathering supplies while they can.

    The first colony is small, but strong.  Mum runs through each frame, carefully checking it for the expected patterns of brood, pollen and supplies.  I stand by, smoker at the ready, observing carefully, learning.  And as expected, everything is as it should be.

    It is at that moment, mum engrossed in the middle of a set of frames, that we hear the Noise.  Uh-oh, trouble.  Mum looks at me, I look at her.

    "Follow that swarm!"

    "Righto"  I say cheerfully, trundling off in the general direction of the line of bees, now heading in a determined fashion towards the nearest spruce tree.  After some deliberation, they clearly decide spruce is not the word of the day, and settle instead for a small neighbouring bush.  With a sigh of relief that they have not decided to make home twenty feet up the spruce tree, I stand watch over them, in case they decide they really do want to be twenty feet up a spruce tree after all, and move off again.

    Mum finishes reassembling the hive, and fetches the customary cardboard box, with 'quality wines, this way up' printed on the side, and some spare board.  We wait.

    Half an hour later and the swarm has arranged itself in an ungainly clump around the middle branches of the bush.  We place the piece of board carefully below the buzzing mass.  Mum poises with the cardboard box.  The moment of truth has come.  Get it wrong, and, well, goodbye swarm, it was nice meeting you.  We both hope that when we shake the branch, the swarm will plop neatly into the box, complete with queen.  All that follows, then, is for the box to be placed upside-down on the board, with a space underneath, so that stragglers can follow the scent of the queen in to safety.  In theory.  Mum trims the extra foliage from underneath the swarm.  Here goes... Mum gives the bush a sharp shake.  With a large and slightly irritated buzzing (well, how would you like to settle in after a long day, only to be disturbed again?) the cloud of little black things drop (mostly) into the box.  Rapidly it is turned upside down and propped up with a brick.  For the next few minutes we watch, anxiously, as the (by now slightly confused and disorientated) bees make their way into the box, passing on directions via their feelers and little dances.

    Satisfied with our handiwork, we continue with our inspection of the hives.  The next hive we check, comprising mostly of the native black bee, a docile lot, give us no bother at all, and in fact the rest of the inspection passes without mishap.

    Without mishap, that is, except for the the quiet buzzing being punctuated by dozy drones bombarding my hat at regular intervals, and the occasional check to see that the swarm is still there.  We move on, from hive to hive; a fuzzy grey newly hatched worker bee here, a bee laden with pollen from the nearby buttercups there. It appears that none of them has lost any of its population... which can only mean one thing - someone else has - and probably won't be too pleased about it when they find out...!

    At last it is time to re-hive our swarm.  We listen at the edges of the box, looking for a sign that they are still there.  Alas, over the noise of the few bees milling at the entrance, we hear nothing.  Have they gone?  Mum gingerly picks the box up, commenting on it's lightness. We take it over to it's newly prepared home.  Whilst mum holds the box, I bend down and peek underneath the edge. Oh yes, they're still there, alright.  One throbbing rugby-ball size mass of bees.  Hive prepared, mum shakes the swarm down into the hive, through the frames and into the eek space below.  And then wham!  They are up and erupting out through the top of the frames like some kind of mini volcano.  I struggle to fit the crown-board and lid back on hastily, without incurring too many casualties.

    We stand by a while, watching the bees make their way slowly but surely back into their new home, and smile at a job well done.  An almost textbook operation.  Now all that is required is one large cup of tea, and some of those amazing looking home-made biscuits.


    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    | | | 2 drops in the ocean
    Hello folks.

    At the moment I am attempting to give my blog a slightly more stylish/personalised look, but not being particularly proficient at that kind of thing, I am encountering a few technical glitches!  So for the time being it is back to the original one.

    So bear with me...!

    There should be a few more posts on their way shortly...

    Hope you are having a glitch-free week.

    RJ  :)

    PS   I am torn between these designs for my blog:

    Please vote on which one you think I should use below.  Thanks!

    PPS  Apologies as I'm unable to comment at the moment...

    Hey folks...

    Tuesday, 10 May 2011

    | | | 9 drops in the ocean
    Just to let you know, I probably won't be posting for a while due to exams that I have for the next couple of weeks.

    Thanks to you all for reading and taking an interest in my blog.  I appreciate the comments and interest people have shown :)

    Hopefully I will be back soon with (I hope) something worth reading...

    In the meantime here's a random artistic shot of the day:
    This was taken last summer - a local park where I sometimes go cycling or jogging when I'm home from uni...

    Also please feel free to leave some suggestions, now you have a feel for my blog, about layout or content...

    Unspoken Words

    Wednesday, 4 May 2011

    | | | 3 drops in the ocean
    Dear People around me,

    Thankyou for showing your concern and asking for my opinion.  I appreciate that you want to hear my point of view.  But please first understand this.

    I am a sensitive spirit.  I react easily to the things you say.  I may be in among your social circles, you may think that I am the life of the party.  Let me tell you the truth.

    There are times
    When I feel like a fragile bird trapped within a cage
    The words are there
    Eager to escape
    They struggle against the bars of social pressure

    Times when
    Although you may think I am confident
    My spirit retreats within me
    Do you know how difficult it is?
    Do you know how hard
    To speak out?

    Remnants of an old fear
    Never quite dieing
    Always lurking
    Somewhere in the background...

    But please be reassured.
    Ask me, please do.
    Just don't expect a reply straight away.
    I assure you
    I will get there eventually.
    I hope it was worth waiting for

    It is one of those days.
    Tomorrow may be different
    The bird flies free
    Yesterday was the same

    But today
    I ask for your patience

    For tomorrow is a new day
    A day of God's grace
    Silent mouths will not
    Remain silent forever.

    Yours Sincerely,

    A quiet and retreating spirit.


    Saturday, 30 April 2011

    | | | 1 drops in the ocean
    I've had a bad day.

    I slept in, felt lethargic and tired all day, and virtually achieved nothing of any significance (apart from watching doctor who).

    You know the feeling?

    Sometimes I get so frustrated at myself and the world, myself because I'm so weak, I can't motivate myself to study for the exams I have in a week's time, and sometimes I just feel like a bit of a failure.  The world, because, well, it just doesn't seem to be helping.  There's always something else to do, something to watch, another blog to look at, facebook to look at, a whirlwind of entertainment and pointless rubbish to stuff my mind with while I procrastinate yet more.  It's the old affliction 'Exam-time-cannot-be-bothered-itis', and it well and truly has me in its grasp.

    But you know what?

    I will not be defeated!

    As I was flicking through my bible today (jings, was it that long since I last opened it...?)  I was reminded of a verse that has encouraged me before:  "I am he, I am he who will sustain you..."  (Is.46:4)

    Thank God there's Somebody who's succeeded where I've failed.  "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Cor.12:9,10)  Otherwise I don't know what I would do.

    So tomorrow will be a new start.  Goodbye Lethargy, my old friend.

    Solitude, sun and studying

    Thursday, 28 April 2011

    | | | 2 drops in the ocean
    One of my fellow bloggers recently did a 'handwritten' post, so, feeling inspired, I thought I would do the same.  You can probably tell a lot about someone from their handwriting.

    This is about a place I go sometimes to be alone (or to study, away from the gaggles of sunburnt students sprawled out in front of the halls of residence!)

    People I would like to meet (dead or alive)

    Monday, 25 April 2011

    | | | 1 drops in the ocean

    Some inspirational people I would like to meet one day:
    (not expendable...I could go on...)
    1. Albert Einstein
    2. C. S. Lewis
    3. Sir Issac Newton
    4. Antonio Vivaldi
    5. J. S. Bach
    6. David Tennant
    7. My great-grandfather (a mathematician, and I think, very like-minded!)
    8. Martin Luther King
    9. Mother Teresa
    10. Cliff Richard
    Feel free to add some of your own below...

    Things I would like to do...

    | | | 0 drops in the ocean

    Here's a list of things I would like to be able to do some day:
    (NB not in any particular order)
    1. Go hang gliding
    2. Sail around the world
    3. Be able to play some of the famous violin concerti (Mendelssohn, Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius)
    4. Be able to improvise
    5. Make real and tangible a difference to a situation/person's life through engineering
    6. Meet some inspirational people (see next list)
    7. Meet a bloke (though not essential)
    8. Aquire the fine art of Time-Management
    9. Learn Gaelic (it is such a beautiful language)
    10. Make it to heaven
    That is all.  Happy Monday everyone!


    Friday, 22 April 2011

    | | | 4 drops in the ocean
    So, I just got back from my violin lesson.  One of the pieces I'm working on at the moment is the classic 'Czardas' by Vittorio Monti.  In case you don't know it (but I'm sure you will when you hear it) it goes something like this:

    I love how Vengerov and the bassist are trying to outdo each other here...I didn't know a bass could do such athletics!!  However I digress.

    What my violin teacher was trying to get me to do today was to try and connect more in an emotional sense with the piece.   Sometimes I find this difficult.  I tend to go into a 'shell' and don't let people see how I'm actually feeling.  Since being at university I have come out of my shell to some extent, and I am very much a different person to how I used to be.  But I will come on to that.

    This morning I turned on the tv briefly as I was having my breakfast, and I happened to catch the end of this programme:

    and this struck me on a personal level.  I will say now that I have never been through any of the horrors that some of the people interviewed and mentioned went through, and I hope that I will never have to.  It is worth watching the last 15 minutes or so if you have time, as some very profound points are made, ones that can be related to whether you are a Christian or not.

    When I was at school I was not popular.  I was one of those people who would be routinely ignored, and if group-work came up, I was always amongst the 'leftovers'.  If I said anything, I was quite often laughed at, so I decided it would be best if I just kept my mouth shut and my head down and plough on.  Which I did for the most part.  And it seemed to work.  The trouble was that I had no-one to talk to.  As such I kept it all to myself.  I didn't even talk to my parents, much.  A typical conversation as I came through the door at the end of the day would go something like this:

    "And how was school?"

    Then I would depart to the recesses of my room, dump my bag and try not to think about school.  Here I will not go into too much detail as there is no point in reliving these memories again.  When recalling them one has to put oneself back into the old state of mind.  I have since moved on.

    What I came to realise though, is something that has changed me in a deep way.  Something that resonates deeply with the theme of Easter and those radical words:  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing". 

    Throughout my years at high school I reacted to bullying (although I hate that word, as it implies 'victim', which I also don't like, because I wouldn't see myself that way; perhaps because it suggests a sense of helplessness and weakness - which most definitely is not me; I can't really explain but I'm sure you see what I mean.) by closing up.  I would put up an emotional barrier and close in on myself, thereby not letting anything or anyone get to me.  I clung on by a tenuous thread to my faith, weak and small though it was, and that was what kept me going.  I became hard-hearted and gradually more callous.  This in turn had a negative impact on my relationships with people, perhaps more with my parents, and I became self-conscious and introverted.

    When I got to university everything changed.  I suddenly found myself amongst other Christians, and I can't even begin to say how happy I was to be making new friends and moving on.  I began to come out of my shell, and I found that in the process of opening up I could come to terms with the past.  I started to realise that I was still harbouring bitterness and anger at others, although I thought I had let go of it.  It was then that I discovered what it means to forgive, and be forgiven.  It is a letting go, a moving on, an embracing of life in its fullest.  And what a relief it is.

    Expressing myself in music has always been one of the ways I have come to terms with things and let go.  The Czardas by Monti is an interesting piece - full of sharp contrasts and different shades and textures.  It starts with a sad, dramatic opening melody, and then the mood changes to something quite different; a fast bit in the minor key before a victorious climax in the major key, getting more so until the triumphant last notes.

    Forgiveness in many ways I think is a bit like that.  We can choose to harbour bitter emotions and angry thoughts, and let them destroy us and suck the life out of us, or we can let go of them and emerge victorious, into the sunlight.  For some it takes longer than others.  And no-one ever said it would be easy.  But isn't it better to clean wounds sooner rather than later, before they fester?

    I challenge you.  There is always a choice.

    Ps - I know this isn't the best bit of writing ever, there was a lot more I wanted to, and could have said.  In a much better way.  But there we go.  Some days the words just won't come out right...

    Imaginings of a Daydreamer I

    Thursday, 21 April 2011

    | | | 2 drops in the ocean
    Well, the last week or so has been a bit hectic, what with (busy) holidays, my flat being flooded and being moved out and in again (that's student halls for you...*sigh*), coursework etc etc.  So it's time I caught up with a bit of posting.

    I daydream quite a lot, and always have done.  Have you ever looked at an inanimate object and imagined a whole story around it?  Or found within it an analogy to something that has been puzzling you for a while?  Here is one such imagining that came to me as I was sitting at the kitchen table...

    What do you see?
    Like distant galaxies,
    Amidst a vast canvas of space-time
    Its lines bending and warping around them,
    Pulled and twisted by their gravity
    In an eternal dance of celestial bodies.

    And look
    A nebula,
    Its dust all that remains of a star
    Once in its prime.
    Those knots...
    Perhaps they are the lost dimensions
    Curled up in far corners of space...

    I have recently been reading Hawking's 'Briefer History of Time' and also Brian Greene's 'The Elegant Universe', both of which are written for the non-physicist, so are easy to understand, and well worth reading.  Both left me in awe of the beauty and complexity of our universe, as well as the recent BBC series 'The Wonders of the Universe'.  I might have written more had I not left my original notes at home...maybe I'll add to it later!

    Blogging: Escapism or ....?

    Thursday, 7 April 2011

    | | | 7 drops in the ocean
    Since joining the blogging community I have learned a lot.  Even in the short week or so that I've been here.  So to that end I want to share something that I was thinking about last night, and I would be interested to hear some of your views and opinions on this too.  I know this has been covered a lot in various other corners of cyberspace, but I hope it will still be interesting to read.

    The advent of my online social life, predictably, began with facebook.  It was just over a year and a half ago, and I was halfway through the first semester of my first year at university.  I had more or less settled in, I had met a whole load of new and wonderful people, and I wanted to be able to keep in touch with some of them.  People kept talking about facebook.  My new flatmates talked about it frequently: 'oh, so-and-so just said on facebook that they just did such-and-such', or 'have you seen so-and-so's relationship status?'

    Naturally, I was curious.  It seemed this was the answer I had been looking for.  I could keep in touch with people who I had met but didn't necessarily know very well, and find friends who I had long since lost touch with, but wanted to find out how they were getting on.  I went through a phase of cautious fasination with this, adding people and posting occasionally, trying to make my posts meaningful in some way, yet all the time the temptation was there just to post the first thing that came into my head, and I tried, for the larger part, to restrain it.  I won't say too much about it.  Although facebook provided an interesting insight into the day to day lives of my 'friends', I grew a sudden aversion for it and it's shallowness, and only a few months in, I made up my mind that I would delete it.  It was a waste of my time, I told myself.  All people ever post is mindless rubbish, I thought, and I really can't be bothered with this.  I have much better things to do with my life.  Having made it clear via a status that I would be off, I asked people to contact me if they wanted to keep in touch.  I think about two people actually did...

    So, my facebook remains, and since then it has just been a place for communication with people I have no other way to communicate with, seeing pictures friends have put up, and keeping in touch with family and other events (it seems facebook is always the first to know about these things..)

    In a quest for an interesting picture to stick in somewhere around here, I came across this article, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't:

    And that brings me on to my main point.

    Escape from reality turns human being into wild animal
    A picture of the online social life?
    From what I've seen in my early days as a blogger, the blogosphere seems to be different.  The majority of blogs and bloggers I have come across so far seem to be about expressing themselves, and sharing some real meaning and perspective on subjects on a much deeper level than facebook.  Blogging allows people to be anonymous, thereby allowing you to publish your innermost thoughts without the fear of being judged by anyone you know, and thus giving you a sense of freedom.  It is a way to 'let go' of thoughts that bother you and write about situations you are in, giving you a sense of relief and unburdenment from them. (yes, if I can't find a word for something, I will invent one...)

    But what about the impact of blogging and the online social community on 'real life' relationships?

    I believe there are two ways the blogger can be drawn.  This mainly applies to introverted or socially slightly shy people (like myself).

    The first situation:  the person is going through a particularly tough time, and being fairly introverted, feels unable to talk to anyone about it.  He (or she, but I'll just use he for simplicity.  I'm not being sexist in any way.) needs a break from it and is drawn into the blogosphere in order to express his feelings about that situation and get away from it for a time.  He finds security here, where he doesn't have to face up to his situation and can converse with people in similar situations, all the while not having to deal with people face to face.  As such he becomes ever more estranged from 'real life', almost in a state of denial about what is happening outside of cyberspace, while all the time it is still niggling at the back of his mind that he should really face up to it, yet he feels increasingly unable to.

    Before I go any further here's a note:  here I am putting 'real life' in inverted commas, because the blogosphere is real life too.  I think (as someone mentioned recently) people sometimes forget that real people reside behind all the binary and computer code connecting their thoughts with the rest of the world.  Also, I hope nobody takes these comments as applied to them; these are just general observations.  Perhaps you can relate to them; perhaps not.

    The second situation:  the person is going through a particularly tough time.  The same as above applies: he does not feel able to talk it out with someone.  He decides to start blogging in order to express his feelings about the situation, and discovers people who have gone through similar situations.  In the process he finds it easier to express himself and his feelings.  It is almost like a kind of therapy for him.  His confidence in general increases, and finds that his communication skills in the 'real world' have improved greatly, and as a result of this, his relationships with 'real' people flourish, and his quality of life in general improves.  After a while he may not feel the need to blog for a sense of security any more, but may still do it in order to help other people who have had similar experiences, or just for enjoyment.  Cyberspace has done its job in acting as a stepping stone to his final state of self-confidence and enduring relationships.

    I believe that communication skills are essential for the maintenance of any solid relationship, whether in cyberspace or the real world.  If blogging or journalling or whatever it may be helps one to communicate, then that's got to be a good thing.  But I believe there is also the danger of becoming completely isolated from reality, and forgetting how to do 'real life' relationships.  I suppose the answer in part lies in where you find security.  At the end of the day there there is no substitute and nothing like the satisfaction that can be gained from building strong and reliable physical relationships with people.

    the trip that never was...

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    | | | 2 drops in the ocean
    I cannot even begin to describe how I'm feeling just now.

    Something I think which is a turmoil of anger (mainly at myself), disappointment (mainly in myself), disbelief (at my own stupidness), guilt at having let everyone else down, and something resembling an air of defeat.

    I had been looking forward to this for so long.  I did some research into the destination, had everything sorted in plenty of time and even looked up a few Italian phases to be armed with.
    Having packed and readied myself for the trip, I got to bed at a reasonable hour and set both my phone alarm and my bedside alarm for the unearthly hour of 3:45.  I didn't sleep for a while.  My brian was too busy whirring round with arrangements, connections, and thoughts of the place we were visiting.  My flatmate was going in and out of the kitchen, banging the door.  About midnight I decided enough was enough, and put some earplugs in, in the hope of getting some sleep, and knowing full well that I had two alarms set, and that I was easily awoken, on most days, by at least one of them, even with the things in.  So, I'm sure you have guessed by now what happened.  I woke up, having slept like a baby through BOTH alarms, and panicked.  Several phone calls, and much (unsuccessful, though I probably don't need to say that) internet-flight-surfing later, and I'm still here.  Feeling like a complete and utter eejit.

    I suppose it's not the end of the world.  I suppose we all feel like failures from time to time, but we just have to learn to grit our teeth and 'carry on', and learn from our mistakes...  At least I can console myself with the fact that other people have made far greater mistakes in the past...
    Maybe it was providential that I didn't go?  Who knows?  But one thing is for certain: I'm not going anywhere, at least for the next couple of days, anyway....

    Ciao Italia!

    Saturday, 2 April 2011

    | | | 4 drops in the ocean
    It's a beautiful day here and I'm in high spirits.  The sun is shining, it's a Saturday, and it's nearly the holidays.  And... I'm going to Italy!   So I have lots of reasons to be excited:
    1. It will be my first time abroad
    2. It will be my second time flying (that is, if you don't count a spin in a friend's homemade plane, which wobbled somewhat when the prop was spun round, but thankfully held together in the air)
    3. I love Italian food....
    4. I get to see some pretty awesome engineering stuff whilst I'm over there, too (as I'm going with some folk from my department)
    so, the last couple of weeks I've been buzzing round buying a case, 100ml bottles, and plenty of euro to see me through (I was dissappointed to find that they are much like pound notes, only these ones are nice and crisp and new...), etc etc.
    I went on one such shopping trip today, and then remembered, as I played the dodging game, weaving in and out of the throng of dozy shoppers, why I don't usually go shopping on a Saturday... There were numerous buskers out, as usual, and as I meandered round the shop, I was serenaded by some pipes outside, playing such tunes as 'we will rock you', 'if you're happy and you know it', and countless other tunes I didn't even know it was possible to play on the pipes... another piper further down was giving a rendition of 'amazing grace', (in tune, for a change)...and someone else was playing blues.
    Anyway, as I was wandering along, it occured to me that, for once, I didn't feel constrained by anything - no deadlines or worries, and I was immensely thankful for that.  Coming from a small town, the pace of life in a city sometimes gets to me, and I need to remind myself every now and again just to stop, slow down, take a deep breath and stop worrying about tomorrow.
    So, after a long semester, I am looking forward to a bit of a break from the city and (after Italy) time to recharge again ready for the exams...

    Hello, blogosphere...

    Thursday, 31 March 2011

    | | | 5 drops in the ocean
    So, here I am.  And I still haven't quite decided whether it is a good idea or not.  Having thought about it for a while, and then thought a bit more, I have come to the conclusion that the blogosphere is a good place to dump my thoughts on life, the universe and everything, which would otherwise be going round in little circles somewhere in the deepest recesses of my brain, or else residing, unread and forgotten, in a notebook somewhere underneath that pile of (probably useful) junk on my shelf.

    I hope it will provide an entertaining/thought-provoking/interesting/inspiring (or all of the above) read although having never really done anything like this before I may be finding my feet for a while...

    But (and I never thought I would say this), I have an urge to unleash some creativeness in the form of writing, so here goes.