When Saturday Comes

I like my early morning dog-walks before work. The fresh air, the quiet, the solitude. The connection with nature in our local woods. The opportunity to reflect and pray.

And yet even the contemplative and spiritual aspects of the morning walk tend to be functional.

They serve as tools – resources to enable me to face the challenges of a demanding job, rather than pleasures in and of themselves. I keep an eye on my watch, aware of my limited time before the start of the working day.

But when Saturday comes (to quote an Undertones classic)….

It’s a different matter. I do the same thing, but differently.

Prayer and meditation are more mindful, less focussed, more open.

The colours around me are brighter. The fresh air feels fresher. Everything’s slowed down.

Saturday walks are a bit later. Nature is a bit more awake. As am I.

The sense of connection with Nature and with God feels – maybe not stronger, but clearer.

I take my time. I take my camera. I notice more, and enjoy some relaxed and relaxing photography.

Good robin photos are ten a penny on t’internet. But no harm in adding a few more.

I took these – with delight – yesterday, on Saturday morning…

Happy weekends, everyone!

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The Fall and Rise of Nature

One of the things I love about the green spaces in urban Hastings (St Helen’s Wood, Alexandra Park, Newgate Woods) is the rich variety of exotic and unusual trees planted decades ago, many helpfully labelled. Many of these are now magnificent, sturdy creatures of stature.  

However, one such tree that I’ve always enjoyed watching through the seasons each year – an Indian Horse-chestnut – came down in last week’s storms.

A native of the Himalayas, the Indian Horse-chestnut (Aesculus indica) is popular in many parks and estates in the UK, where it was introduced in the mid-19th century.

Although in some ways I’m sorry to see the tree fallen, this is not the end of the story.

One of my favourite posts in an old blog of mine is Twist of Fate (do please take a look) – my attempt at poetry about a fallen trunk in Alexandra Park that continues to give life.

Rewilding pioneers Isabella Tree and Sir Charlie Burrell describe how, in their early days of rewilding the Knepp estate in West Sussex, instead of cutting down a previously grand old – now rotting old – oak, made the counterintuitive decision to leave the tree to its own devices – “our first lesson in sitting on our hands and leaving Nature in the driving seat.”

They watched a whole new universe spring to life, as beetles, other saproxylic (dead wood eating) invertebrates and woodpeckers began to find a home and nutrition in this dying habitat.

Voles took up residence in the rabbit warrens amongst the tree’s roots, and a heron frequently perched itself on a lower limb that overlooked a lake.

Isabella and Charlie learnt to leave fallen branches from other trees on the ground – encouraging the natural process of fertilisation for the trees.

As Isabella puts it, “Death became a different kind of living.” [1]

Most spiritualities have a healthy and hopeful outlook on death and dying. My own Christian faith has resurrection hope at its centre. Nature (God’s first “Bible”[2]) has always shown us this, with its patterns of renewal, revival and resurrection amidst its ostensibly messy system of decay and dying.

I write this while struggling with a bereavement myself. Putting these reflections together turns out to be an important cathartic process, reminding me of the hope that I hold.

It’s thought that the Victorians are to blame for our obsession with tidying up. Tidiness may be useful in some contexts, but it spells disaster for ecosystems.

In Nature, nothing is wasted.

Dead wood and fallen trees become sources of vital nutrients, create fresh habitats for new visitors, and give rise to all kinds of life.

The collapse of the Indian Horse-chestnut is by no means the end, either of its own life or that of others. In fact, it might just be an auspicious sign of new beginnings.

I just hope and pray now that the authorities don’t decide to tidy the fallen tree away, but leave it to do what Nature does best.

(Photos all mine, but no copyright!)


[1] Wilding by Isabella Tree (London: Picador, 2018).

[2] See my recent blog post Nature – the first Bible

Nature – the first Bible

I recently had the privilege of taking a group of young children from church on a bug hunt at Ashburnham Place in East Sussex. Or did they take me? I’m not sure.

One of the toads found on the bug hunt
(sorry about the poor pic quality)

Their fascination and enthusiasm for the insects, woodlice, toads and other small creatures they discovered was simply inspiring. No wonder we talk about childlike wonder!

Chrysalis found hanging from tree bark on the bug hunt

I introduced the kids and their parents to the idea of Nature being the ‘first Bible’. As I explained, there seemed to be a lightbulb moment – for children and adults alike.

The Bible means different things to different people.

For some, it’s an outdated book of myths and contradictions.

Or a ‘weapon’ they’ve been ‘bashed’ with, to try and make them convert or conform to a particular brand of religion.

For others, it’s the LITERAL, INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD!

For me, the Bible as we know it, which was first compiled about 200 AD, is a uniquely inspired, messy and diverse collection of literature that has the potential to impart wisdom, wonder and faith, and ultimately to reveal the complex mystery and love of God.

Wild carrot – past its best now but still displaying its complex beauty

For me, the Bible’s variety of verse, presenting a spectrum of spiritual perspectives on life and God, helpfully reflects the paradoxes and contradictions of life, making it a relatable, believable book.

However, this was not the first Bible.

The first Bible is Nature, “written at least 13.8 billion years ago, at the moment that we call the Big Bang, long before the Bible of words,” as Fr. Richard Rohr puts it.

Recent moonrise

As early as the 4th Century AD, Anthony of the Desert made a similar assertion that there were two books of scripture: the Bible and Creation.

Or in the words of Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), “Creation is the primary and most perfect revelation of the Divine.”

Like the Bible of words, this first Bible – Nature – is, amongst other things, a uniquely inspired, messy and diverse collection of (living) literature that has the potential to impart wisdom, wonder and faith, and ultimately to reveal the complex mystery and love of God.

Like the Bible of words, the first Bible, with its strange brew of utter beauty, wild wonder, danger, and downright cruelty, reflects back to us the paradoxes and contradictions of life.

Sparrowhawk (sometimes seen as a ‘cruel’ predator), in our back garden

Standing with the diversity of each ‘Bible’, accepting and holding its differing perspectives simultaneously in tension can give us the strength of spirit to navigate the seeming impossibilities of this life.

The Bible itself is filled with invitations to study and meditate on Nature for wisdom and spiritual direction. Its pages are a constant stream of prophecies and teachings, from ancient prophets and from Jesus himself, inspired by the world of Nature.

Ancient oak – a haven for a wealth of wildlife

It’s almost as if the Bible is saying, “Don’t just look at me and enshrine my words – read the first Bible too! Its wisdom will literally jump off the pages at you!”  

A particularly colourful acorn on a younger oak

One small, simple thing I shared with the group on the bug hunt, which I hadn’t prepared but struck me as we were talking, was this:

“We look at all this Nature, and think how wonderful it all is, and marvel at its beauty. How much more, then, does God look at us, and think how wonderful and special we are.”

May you hear the voice of Nature, God and the Universe for yourself, as you look and listen to the world around you today.

Small Copper, Ashburnham

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(Photos all mine, but no copyright. Feel free to use / share, with my blessing!)

Working from rest

In my family we’ve argued about whether the first day of the week is Sunday or Monday. Do other families have these weird debates or is it just us?

Anyway…according to the ancient Judeo-Christian creation myth, God made mankind on the sixth day, then rested from work on the seventh[1]……

This means that mankind’s first full day was a Sabbath.

Years ago I heard a refreshing talk about this observation, deducing that our natural starting place is one of rest – that our work or activity should therefore spring from a place of restfulness, or simply being, rather than seeing our rest or Sabbath as recuperation from our work.

Common Blue, just chillin’

In the natural rhythms of life, rest is our priority. Then our activity / work / productiveness. This has important implications for our sense of identity – knowing who we are apart from our achievements.

This does not always come naturally to me. I’m full of energy and drive and restlessness. Maybe due to an addiction to productivity, stemming from an insecure childhood. I may even have undiagnosed ADHD. But probably mostly it’s just my innate personality.

I can be a bit like this Hummingbird Hawkmoth, always busy

Which is one of many reasons I find meditative and contemplative practices so vital in my life.

Ideally, what we do streams from who we are, rather than creating who we are.

Living streams, Sheffield

Rest, then work. Not the other way round.

I wrote most of this piece and took most of the photos while on holiday, reflecting on this timeless wisdom and on my work-weariness. The holiday was definitely a rest from work, and that’s fine…

…but I was also conscious of the need to not just switch off and forget about work, but also to renew my sense of identity, to find strength and revive my soul, for its own sake and in preparation for the return to the responsibilities of day-to-day life.

A Buzzard at rest, taking stock before returning to hunting

Despite my assertion above about the designed order of things, sometimes we need both processes (rest-then-work and work-then-rest) to take place, almost at once.

Holidays, Sabbaths, periods of rest and moments of meditation can be both things: first a time of healing and recuperation from the stresses and strains of life and work, sashaying almost imperceptibly into a state of being, of satisfied stillness, simply for the enjoyment of life itself, as well as reviving us in preparation for the return to the 9-5 (or 8-6 or 12-12).

The stillness and serenity of a Supermoon-lit evening, Devon

For some people, Sabbath is a Saturday, for others it’s Sunday, and for still others it’s whenever they can get a day – or a moment – to rest. The first day of the week, I guess, according to Judeo-Christian thought, should technically be whatever day your Sabbath or day off is.

A bay at rest in the evening glow, Brixham

What matters, most, though, is seeing rest as the starting point that we work from. Making restfulness our (my) priority, for the sake of our own souls as well as for those who depend on us.

“But those who trust [rest] in Yahweh [God / Presence / ‘I Am’] will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.

(Isaiah)

Resting comes naturally to Gorka! Here he’s taking shelter from the sun during a recent heatwave.

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(Photos all mine. No copyright. Feel free to use / share, with my blessing!)

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[1] I believe that accepting the Genesis account of Creation as allegorical enables us to understand depths of meaning and breadths of wisdom that might otherwise be lost by taking it literally. Having said that, I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of literal elements! As I expressed in A Natural Creed:

I believe that science gives us wonderful insight into the origins and progression of the Universe and Life;

that the Biblical accounts of Creation are deeply inspired, allegorical myths that reveal much about the Source of the Universe and Life – and about human nature,

but that there may also be elements of literal truth in those ancient texts;

that we would do well to listen to science and religion and philosophy in order to best understand our place in the Universe;  

but that the origins of the Universe and Life remain a mystery and are probably weirder than any scientist or theologian can imagine!”

A Winged Messenger

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

These were some of the reassuring words read out at the funeral I attended of a young man today. A service at which I was filled with sadness.

On the way there I stopped at the Old St Helen’s Church ruins for a few minutes’ contemplative prayer.

As I entered the grounds I saw my first butterfly of the year – a Red Admiral brought out of hibernation by the Spring-like weather. What a wonderful divine reminder of the resurrection hope and eternal life that so many of us believe in. 🦋

(Just a phone pic on this occasion)

When Life Brings Storms…

…pick up the flowers.

Seaspray in 60mph+ winds at Hastings Pier

Last Friday, when Storm Eunice hit, they advised to avoid the seafront here in Hastings, where I live.

Horizontal waves at Harbour Arm, Hastings

Well, that was an invitation for some photography if ever I heard one!

Harbour Arm, Hastings

I had to get down there with my camera.

It was definitely a walk on the wild side, but so worth it!

Not only was I pleased with these results, but our local press used some of the pics as well.

Wave being whipped up vertically, then horizontally, by the wind
Gulls somehow managing to fly against the wind

Like a lot of people, we suffered some storm damage at home. Nothing too dramatic – our next door neighbour’s cherry tree fell on our fence. That is, one major bough toppled on to a fence that was already in need of some repair.

My neighbour and I chopped and sawed the fallen tree, and we’re getting the fence fixed. No lasting harm done.

(I didn’t think to get a picture of the tree first. Sorry for that missing bit of the story!)

Not one to waste an opportunity to delight in the gifts that Nature brings my way, I picked up a few of the snowy blossom-laden twigs to brighten up the kitchen.

Janine and I have enjoyed their presence the last few days as they’ve slowly shed their tiny, white petals over the worktop.

I started this post with my own version of the old “When life gives you lemons…” platitude*:

When Life brings storms, pick up the flowers.”

I’m not much of a fan of far-too-easy platitudes, but sometimes they do resonate.

I’ve experienced a storm of stress and anxiety with physical symptoms recently, which is all calming down now, and I’m beginning to glean some bright fragments of blessing from the debris: things I’ve learned that will carry me through into a better future.

The Divine often has a way of speaking to us through Nature.

Whatever the weather, whatever the season, there’s always something to be received, to connect with, to draw us closer to Divine Reality and therefore closer also to ourselves and others.

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(All photos mine, but I’m not precious about copyright, so feel free to use any of them if you wish, with my blessing.)

*For an “alternative”, less platitudinous version of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, check out Kaitlin Shetler’s version. It’s brilliant.

The Magic of Nature

Everywhere we look, the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes”, according to Vincent van Gogh in the Doctor Who episode, Vincent and the Doctor.

Dragonfly in Newgate Woods, where I walk my dog, Gorka, most mornings

A wealth of artists, from poets and singers such as Van Morrison[1], Mary Oliver and The Unthanks[2], to writers Richard Mabey[3], Brian McLaren[4] and Mackenzie Crook[5], to the genius Vincent van Gogh himself, have helped and inspired me to delve further into the ‘magic of nature’ – to dive deeper into its divine depths.

Combe Valley

Maybe it’s me but I feel that both science and theology sometimes reduce the world around us to a utilitarian thing. An ‘it’. Call me picky (and I have been known to be picky about words), but the religious use of the word ‘creation’ for ‘Nature’ slightly jars with me….

…like Nature is seen as an inanimate object – there simply to ‘give glory to God’….

….rather than being a living, breathing entity given to us, to enjoy and love for her own sake, in her own right….

… to dance with, sing with….

enjoy being a part of.

Be family with.

My daughter with an exquisite male Orange-tip butterfly

I think this delights God’s heart.

Like tree-hugging: an exchange of vital gases, of complementary textures. A sharing of lives, of life. Of the Love that flows through all things.

Religion can sometimes be so intent on trying to worship God that it misses the wood for the trees – literally.

Highwoods

Likewise, science can be known to scrutinise, compartmentalise, to explain away in binary detail, until all awe and wonder have evaporated in the heat of cold analysis (I do like a paradox!).

Of course, it needn’t be – and isn’t always – like this. We need science and religion, both of which have the potential to lead us into the sheer, incredulous amazement that our souls were born for. Brian McLaren’s book, God Unbound: Theology in the Wild, is a great example of this.

As for me, my ever-deepening immersion into Nature, and my habit of talking to birds and trees, has led me to question whether I’m straying from my Christian faith into something more pagan. Fearing that my love for the created world exceeds my love for her Creator.

It’s good and healthy to question ourselves, and my self-query led to self-reassurance.

I find myself walking in the steps of St Francis, who acknowledged the consciousness and unique personality of each wild animal and addressed them as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.

…St Francis, who in turn walked in the steps of Jesus, who in turn followed the pattern of thousands of years of wisdom teachers and prophets, who walked in and with Nature, learned and taught from Nature, found God in the everyday and not-so-everyday miracles of the wild.

My dog, Gorka, bedraggled and yellow-spangled, after running through a rape field!

And, as one of Jesus’ own best friends, John, made clear, our love for other human beings – and by extension all our fellow creatures – is a good barometer of our love for God.[6]

Rather than drawing us away from God, our deepening love for people and Nature is in fact an accurate expression of our love for God. And this is true even for those who profess no religious faith!

Our Western society and, sadly, Christendom, have a poor record of respect for the Earth, preferring largely to conquer rather than acknowledge and celebrate our oneness with her.

And the more industrialised, commercialised and technologised we become, the more we lose touch with Nature, with the Earth – and in the process lose something of ourselves and our experience of the God who lives and shines humbly and vulnerably from the natural world: incarnate through every creature, as well as in the infant Jesus.

Little Egret, at Cuckmere Haven

As we desperately try and reverse our tragic destruction of our home planet (and therefore our self-destruction), it’s surely more vital than ever that we as a human race recapture our oneness with Nature.

I rather like this quote that I recently came across: “Prayer is the act of resacralizing the desacralized world.”[7] I think that a prayerful approach to any situation enables us and those around us to (re)discover the inherent sacredness of anything and everything.

And I realised that when I enjoy my contemplative walks through woods and wilderness, I’m simply enjoying the sacredness, the magic, the holy wonder of Nature (of Creation, if you like!).

Trees – the Earth’s ‘lungs’

Although I do sometimes pray with words during these walks, I often try and avoid using words, even in thought, because words can be so superficial, so one-sided, and a hindrance to the experience of God in the presence of stillness, silence and songs of Nature.

My wife and daughter on Bulverhythe beach

Photos all mine and taken in glorious East Sussex.


[1] E.g. Sense of Wonder; In the Garden.

[2] Folk group featured in Detectorists and Worzel Gummidge

[3] Author of Nature Cure

[4] Author of God Unbound: Theology in the Wild

[5] Writer and star of Detectorists and Worzel Gummidge

[6] 1 John 4:20

[7] Andy Squyres

A Natural Creed

Like anything that is lovingly nurtured (whether by man, God or Nature),

our philosophy, faith or ideology

is likely to grow and evolve over the years,

if we care deeply about what we believe.

Metamorphosing from larval limitations…

Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar

…..to the flightful freedom of winged wonders,

Elephant Hawk-moth adult

the beliefs we hold dear may take on a freer quality as our thinking matures.

My own Christian faith, born in 1987 (as you can read about in my book Coming Home for Good)…

…has been evolving over the years into an increasingly authentic and personal spirituality, that I love more than ever – less swayed by ecclesiastical pressure.

However, with its transitioning nature, I’ve found it more difficult in recent conversations to clearly express that faith.

So, to help articulate my theology, I’ve composed my own personal Creed, which I can adapt and add to as time goes on.

And maybe it’ll help others to reflect on their own spirituality too.

Here it is…

A NATURAL CREED

I believe in Yahweh – I Am– as God self-identified from a miracle of nature – the ‘burning bush’ – to Moses, way, way back…

I believe God is therefore Presence,

The Reality, the Present, the ‘Ground of Being’, the Now.

And that Yahweh is encountered in the Nowness of the moment whenever people – whether religious or spiritual or neither – engage lovingly and mindfully with the present.


I believe Yahweh just is.

I believe Yahweh is Trinity, Three-in-One,

And is therefore inherently Relationship – or Love;

That Yahweh is experienced in loving connections between people, and between people and things.

And that when people – whether religious or spiritual or neither – pursue reconciliation,

when they reach out to ‘the other’, or give selfless love,

they participate in the Love of Yahweh.

I believe that Trinity is Mother/Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

together the Source of all life and all things.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth


I believe that science gives us wonderful insight into the origins and progression of the Universe and Life;

that the Biblical accounts of Creation are deeply inspired, allegorical myths that reveal much about the Source of the Universe and Life – and about human nature,

but that there may also be elements of literal truth in those ancient texts;

that we would do well to listen to science and religion and philosophy in order to best understand our place in the Universe;  

but that the origins of the Universe and Life remain a mystery and are probably weirder than any scientist or theologian can imagine!

The weird and wonderful Cockchafer!


I believe that in Jesus, Yahweh stepped into human space and time,

That his life and teaching showed us what Love looks like,

emphasising the importance of the outsider and the underdog;

That his death and physical resurrection demonstrated the power of nonviolence to break cycles of violence, guilt, shame, addiction and even death itself.

I believe that when we align ourselves with Jesus,

We share in this love, life, and resurrection power.

Little Egret


I believe that some who profess no Christian faith have found the life and love of Jesus by another name (or no name),

While some who say they follow Jesus are following a religious system.

That Jesus and Christianity are not always synonymous.


I believe in the creative Holy Spirit,

Who awakens people of all faiths and none to Reality, to Love, to Yahweh;

Ferns awakening

Who mends our brokenness,

Inspiring us to be more fully ourselves,

So we can contribute the qualities of our unique personhood to our communities, our world.

I believe the Spirit continually energises Nature to unstoppably re-create and renew herself into new life.

Painted Ladies on lavender

I believe in the sanctity of all things – but particularly of living things;

That Nature is a beautiful and powerful expression of the wild love of Yahweh,

Continually revealing wisdom, love and truth, day after day to those who stop and take notice.

Love is in the air!


I believe that many of the thoughts, stories and faces of those who are poor or marginalised, or have experienced great suffering,

are rich expressions of Yahweh’s truth for those who will look and listen,

but that the rich and powerful and privileged are often blind and deaf to them.

I believe there is an undercurrent of Love in every situation,

even the very worst of circumstances:

a spring of compassion and mercy running through the fibre of the universe (the presence of Yahweh),

from which we can draw strength when our own resources run dry.

And that, therefore, those who have suffered the most often love the most.


I believe not just in “the communion of saints”, but in the very real oneness of humanity,

still being revealed and worked out in practice by those committed to community, unity, equality and inclusion.

I believe that the beginning and end of all things is Love,

Leading to ultimate reconciliation between all people and God.

Six-spot Burnet moths


I believe that what we do is more important than what we believe,

but that more important than both are the motives, attitudes and intentions of our hearts,

behind the actions.

And that our hearts have the capacity to change – to make a brand new start,

even to miraculously metamorphose into a whole new person

Metamorphosis: Small Tortoiseshell hatching

– and that faith is key to this: faith in Yahweh, through Jesus, by whatever name.


I believe that we all have the capacity to practise forgiveness and compassion,

expressing the heart of Yahweh.

I believe in the fundamental goodness of humanity

And that there is hope for everyone.

Spring crocuses

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(All photos mine)

As always, Comments are very welcome…

A bird in hand

Wisdom teaches us to meditate on Nature and learn from her. Last Sunday, at HTH (Holy Trinity Hastings) church, the speaker gave us a classic example…

Jesus pointed to the birds and meadows, reminding his listeners to trust the Father who clothes and feeds the world around them, rather than worry about their day-to-day needs. He advised them to seek higher things like compassion, mercy and social justice (“God’s kingdom”), and let the rest take care of itself [1].

After the service, a strange thing happened. My young daughter called me over to look at a crumpled ball of feathers on the mat just inside the church’s main doorway (which is currently out of use while some building work is going on).

The crumpled ball turned out to be a very young bird, not yet fledged. Almost certainly a baby pigeon dislodged from a nest in the walls by the building work.

At first we were sure it was dead, but soon realised to our surprise that it was breathing. Wow! Now we had to do something. But what?

After a few phone calls for advice, we wrapped it in a builders’ cloth lying nearby and jumped in the car, my wife cradling the young bird in her hands to keep it warm.

We whisked it up to Mallydams, our local RSPCA centre, where they gladly received it but said it looked pretty ill and injured, and weren’t sure it would survive.

Well, we thought, at least we tried. And maybe it will survive (we’re still waiting to hear).

We also thought, what a weird thing to find this poor creature inside the church after a talk about looking to birds for inspiration.

What kind of divine message could there possibly be for us here?

I think that, while trusting God and not worrying about our mundane needs, God was also reminding us that very often there are others around us who do lack basics like food or clothing, and that we’re called to care for each other’s needs. The idea of a global family is central to Jesus’ teaching. Yes, God may provide, but God does so through us.

Just the day before that church service, about 50 migrants arrived in a tiny dinghy on the beach just down the road from us – people seeking asylum from desperate situations.

I can’t help but feel there is a prophetic link between these events at the weekend. Jesus said that we humans are far more valuable to our heavenly Father than the birds. Some might argue that all life is equally precious.

Either way, most would agree that the lives of both vulnerable people and animals call for our care and attention and love.

A local group, Hastings Supports Refugees, is welcoming supplies – food and clothing – to support these sisters and brothers of ours. As I write, my family and I are gathering together some donations.

If you’re local to Hastings, you might consider supporting them too. Look them up on Facebook.

If not, who are your (global) neighbours, brothers, sisters, that God / The Universe may be calling you to provide with food and clothing?



[1] Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

The Moths of Brixham 2021

The seeming value or dignity of an object doesn’t matter; it is the dignity of your relationship to the thing that matters. For a true contemplative, a gratuitously falling leaf will awaken awe and wonder just as much as a golden tabernacle in a cathedral.” Richard Rohr.

I’m very grateful to be able to affirm genuinely that I have this kind of relationship with Nature – always. I never tire of her wonders, which help to re-connect me to their Source.

To my Source.

And to myself.

I often like to photograph moths (like this Elephant Hawk-moth) from the light trap, on my hand – to have that direct contact – before releasing them.

Spending the last ten days in Brixham, Devon, enjoying seeing dolphins, seals, a plethora of birds, moths and butterflies, and incredible coastal landscapes, has been tonic for this soul that had been worn down by the wearisome stresses of work.

Coronet moth

Nature (as well as rest and family time) is a true healer of mind and spirit – a conduit of balm from the Creator of life.

We stayed here last year as well, near the wildlife haven that is Berry Head, and delighted in the moths that came to the light trap I set up in the garden – which I wrote about in The Moths of Brixham.

I also love to photograph moths head-on, for an alternative view. This Elephant Hawk-moth’s eyes and furry head appear almost rodent-like.

This year (2021), during a very similar period – 31st July to 4th Aug (actually about a week earlier than last year), the trap turned up some of the same species as in 2020.

Like this Jersey Tiger…

…this Swallow Prominent:

…and this Ruby Tiger:

But also many new ones, like these:

Herald Moth
Small Emerald
Four-spotted Footman (male)
Bird-cherry Ermine
Elderberry Pearl
Riband Wave
Yellow-tail

Of equal delight to the nocturnal visitors have been the moths we found out and about in the daytime, around Berry Head, including Jersey Tigers (again),

these gorgeous Magpie moths…

loads of Six-spot Burnets….

Six-spot Burnet moth

and this exquisite Carrot Seed moth:

The Carrot Seed moth (Sitochroa palealis) is one of the larger micro-moths, but still pretty tiny, as you can probably see from its relative size to the umbellifer in this picture. It’s been quite a rare species in the UK but, from what I’ve gathered, seems to have become fairly well established in the south-west in recent years.

Always so encouraging to hear of any insect species on the rise.

Six-spot Burnet at Berry Head

The following are most of the species attracted to the trap this time round (there were others unidentified):

  1. Bird-cherry Ermine
  2. Blood-vein
  3. Bright-line Brown-eye
  4. Brimstone
  5. Buff Ermine
  6. Common Footman
  7. Common Rustic
  8. Coronet
  9. Elephant Hawk-moth
  10. Four-spotted Footman
  11. Heart and Dart
  12. Herald
  13. Jersey Tiger
  14. July Highflyer
  15. Large Yellow Underwing
  16. Lunar Yellow Underwing
  17. Poplar Hawk-moth
  18. Riband Wave
  19. Ruby Tiger
  20. Shuttle-shaped dart
  21. Silver Y
  22. Small Emerald
  23. Swallow Prominent
  24. Yellow-tail

I leave you with a final pic of a Poplar Hawk….

….and a final quote, this time from the naturalist and conservationist John Muir, by way of a reminder of our therapeutic need to engage our senses with Nature:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”


(All photos taken by me, but not copyright – i.e. feel free to use them, with my blessing!)