Words and Pictures

From the Outside

These images are gateways to meditation. Each one represents a particular period in my life or an aspect of it.

From early childhood I always felt slightly detached from the events and emotions of living – an observer who looked in on life from the outside. This feeling has never left me. Over the last few years, after much reflection, I have realised that standing back, being quiet and pondering an event or situation is simply my way of being. It is who I am.

For a long while my life was extremely busy bringing up three children and developing an unplanned career. When an illness called a halt to this hectic existence, I breathed an unexpected sigh of relief. It took a considerable length of time to adjust, but time was now available. Being at home alone in the house allowed me space, quietness and solitude to retreat from the world.

One rainy day I was stood at the kitchen window looking out at the garden. The sun broke through the clouds and the raindrops on the glass sparkled like jewels. Through these raindrops a small snail made its way slowly from one side of the window to the other. It was a beautiful sight and I wanted to express the joy and wonder I felt so wrote this little poem.

Because I had time
I watched you snake an unplanned route
Through pictures hung in raindrops
And I knew I was blessed.

I was the observer – on the outside looking in. It felt good.

When it was suggested that I should use a vase and water to create some images I had no idea where it would take me. The short quotation,

Do not show me what it is, show me what else it is.
(attributed to the photographer Minor White)

opened the door that I had been knocking on for some time. Ideas that I had been unable to bring together in an appealing and appropriate way began to take shape and form. Images, poems and the story of my life could provide an opportunity for reflection.

Each image contains a vase. The vase is a metaphor for my life, half full of water or half empty depending on my viewpoint or frame of mind at the time of viewing. My life is the flower in the picture, but always outside the vase. This is not an exclusion, for I am choosing to look in from the outside. It is where I want to be. The odd number of images is deliberate. My obsession with order and perfection is challenged. Life is not tidy, nor is it orderly, and so the empty space has a part to play in this work.

Included in the telling of my story are some poems I had written since retiring from work. I have printed a few here.


In the solitude of darkness and the peace of that small room, the seconds ticked by as time stood still.

Wrapped in a cocoon of protected emptiness a life dissolved.

Whilst others lost in sleep were gone, the unstoppable metamorphosis of a new life began.

Slowly and cautiously it emerged into a world hitherto unknown of such beauty, such peace, such presence …….. a new dawn.

The Hole

There is a hole and the hole is deep
And it hurts.
Sometimes the hole is covered and it stops hurting
But it is always there.

Just now the hole is deep and it hurts.

What made the hole I’m not sure.

I don’t like anyone to see it or know it is there
Because I don’t like the hole
And I somehow have a feeling that I made it.

I want to fill in that hole and to be whole
But I don’t know how.

I’m searching for something that will fill me up
But, like the hole in a path that disappears in sunshine
My hole always shows itself in rain.

Today it is raining.


Side by side, in the ease of companionable silence, we sat on the old wooden bench drinking in the blueness of the uninterrupted vista of sea and sky.

Caressed by the soft, fragrant breeze perfumed by grasses and heather, we listened to the melodious songs of those who live there.

Far below, a white gannet sailed gracefully above the calm, still water searching for a meal on which to feed its calling chicks abandoned on the craggy rock.

High above the rumble of a distant aeroplane fractured this sacred peace as it carried entombed people to lands far away in search of somewhere beautiful.

Tai Chi

It was a rare sight!

To one side the rushing, swollen stream thrust its way over pebble and boulder towards the waiting sea.
Energised by the steep sided valley, curtains of water and dancing spray battled to return to the master.

To the other side, a woman balanced high on a gigantic boulder and faced the sea.
Oblivious of the uneasy glances of the less confident, she danced her way through a practised routine and absorbed the energy of a miraculous cycle.

Later, confident and fulfilled, she forded the forbidding, ice cold rush of water and strode silently away.

Stretched out before me
Sun drenched path leading to home
I will go slowly.