Life Out Of Death

Wildflowers growing up against a gravestone

Life and death seem inextricably linked.

All the time our body cells are dying, giving way to new, living cells.

Last autumn, as I watched leaves falling and plants dying back, I reflected on the fact that it’s all a process of renewal. The fallen vegetation simply turns into life-giving compost for new shoots.

Death often means loss and heartache, but it’s also rarely, if ever, the end.

A life well-lived leaves a legacy of hope and thanks – and hearts of positive momentum.

I read an article by Richard Rohr recently, in which the Franciscan friar stated that we shouldn’t be surprised at Jesus’ resurrection, because dying and rebirth seems to be the pattern written into the very fabric of the universe.

This principle seems to be borne out in one of my favourite local nature haunts: fittingly, the grounds of an old church, whose ruined building and neglected graveyard have become a haven for wildlife.

Last summer, when I visited with my family, it was an absolute delight to see the graveyard teeming with Common Blue butterflies. Because it was evening, when the butterflies become less active, they could be picked up in my young daughter’s hands, and I could get up close with a short-range zoom and take pictures like this one:

Common Blue, July 2018, Old St Helen’s Church

Today we visited Old St Helen’s Church but the sun had gone in and perhaps it was a little too early in the year for the Common Blues. In fact, disappointingly, we didn’t see a single butterfly. However, I did spot this Common Marbled Carpet. A blurry photo (because it settled on a tree branch in very low light), but a rather beautiful and unusual moth:

Common Marbled Carpet moth
Life out of death

Read About Spirit of Nature here.

Spring 2019 Butterflies

When I was growing up, the stunning Small Tortoiseshell was one of the most frequently seen Spring butterflies, as they emerged from hibernation. In mid-summer, they’d be seen in significant numbers on buddleias, along with Peacocks and Red Admirals.

Now they seem to be sadly scarce, at least in my part of the world. This shiny specimen, that I managed to photograph on the edge of East Hill, Hastings, on 5th May, is in fact the only Small Tortoiseshell I’ve seen so far this year….

The butterflies I’ve seen most commonly this Spring have been the Speckled Wood (as usual)…

…and (more unusually) the Holly Blue.

The Holly Blue, with its delicate silver-blue underwings, has been conspicuously prolific round this neck of the woods this Spring. I don’t remember seeing this many in any previous year. Apparently, they’re renowned for fluctuating wildly in numbers, believed to be caused by parasitism from the wasp Listrodomus nycthemerus.

“This neck of the woods”, by the way, is mainly Summerfields Woods in Hastings, where I snapped this particular Holly Blue feeding on something in the brickwork of the Walled Garden, as well as the Speckled Wood above.

Always good to see a life or a species doing well, giving us a glimpse of beauty beyond.


You might also be interested in my book: Coming Home for Good (available on Amazon) is autobiographical, describing my journey out of spiritual, psychological and (chosen) physical homelessness into a spiritual, psychological and physical home and a career managing a homeless healthcare service. 

Blackfly, beetles and butterflies

Yesterday saw a taste of summer in Hastings Country Park, with a proliferation of insects including swarms of blackfly (ecologically important, but not so pleasant to walk through!), but also many more enjoyable sights, such as these….

Common Blue – always one of summer’s delights
Cardinal beetle
Large White Butterfly on sea thrift

Read About Spirit of Nature here.