A recent reflection

18 10 2016

I recently wrote this for a gathering at Inverness Cathedral back in September 2016. I wrote it as an Ordinand struggling to make sense of some of the commitments that the Church has towards renewables, while questioning just how much awareness the Church has in its support for say, wind farms. There will be those who are NIMBYs, and those who think of themselves as totally in favour. But I have to stop and ask would those in favour turn into NIMBYs if a wind turbine was going to be in their backyard?

Perhaps I’m stepping into muddy waters, perhaps I can’t see the bottom and perhaps it’s just as well. I think this is a subject to which I will return time and again over. Below is the text and I would be keen to know your thoughts, insights, niggles. But please keep it clean – I will only publish those comments which are clean.


I’d like to share with you some of the struggles that I have not just as a Christian, but also as an Ordinand, about the love / sense of duty I have for the environment.

When I was growing up, the conservation sector in Africa was waking up to the consequences of the fences which had been placed across large tracts of land both in East Africa and also Botswana. Fences that slowed down or in some cases stopped the migration of animals that had previously migrated across the land. There was a growing sense of frustration as various species of animal encroached onto farm land, tore up crops and fed as they passed through on their migration. Other migratory animals would halt at fences built perpendicular to their migratory route, unable to go on, and invariably there was increasing conflict between man and beast.

This conflict continues to this day. We might think that urban foxes are an issue, or badgers on farmland, but is that because all that has really happened is that humanity has decided to build on more land, which reduces the natural habitat of these animals? And thereby bringing us into closer contact and conflict with them? Is this something that we, as Christians should be worried about? Our ever increasing expansion and use of the environment?

I was reading only this week that the first tidal turbine has been unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon to be placed in the Pentland Firth and will eventually be joined by 268 similar turbines. The project is said to be the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm, has taken over 10 years to come to fruition and will create around 100 jobs.

Now, this is an area where I struggle. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t think about these things and question their validity and my response as a Christian. And I struggle because surely using tidal power is good.  It’ll create electricity and thereby the hundreds of homes that would have used electricity created using fossil fuels will be able to harness this green energy. That has to be good.

The project will create 100 or so jobs in the north of Scotland and that has to be a good thing, right? Will the company train the people living there so they can maintain the site? Or will highly specialised people come into the area to work on the site? But that in itself will bring money into the region so that has to be good.

But.. what about the raw materials and energy used to create each turbine? Where does that come from? How much energy was required to build the prototypes and the turbines? Will they have used fossil fuels?  Will that be offset somehow against what will be produced? What mileage would have been required to transport the raw materials to the manufacturing site (in this case, Nigg)? And then on to the Pentland Firth? How much of the material used to make the turbine could have come from under developed countries with little or no regard for human safety or the impact on the environment? And should I as a Christian be concerned about any of that?

There are a few more queries that I would like you to consider. How many of us love hearing the sound of whale song? Or have a special memory of seeing whales breaching, or a tail fluke slap down on to the sea? Or seen dolphins feeding offshore? The waters of the Pentland Firth are rich in nutrients and any of us who have been over to Orkney will have seen the upwellings of water mixing those nutrients in the water column. The Pentland Firth is a major migratory route of many of our whale species from the North Atlantic to the North Sea, and also vice versa.

One of my fears is that the whale sightings that draw some of our visitors to the north coast will decrease as whales collide with these man made structures. Their migratory routes aren’t going to change simply because humanity has put an obstacle in their way.

Can I be happy that Scotland is at the forefront of such technology, that so many jobs will be created, that so many homes can receive that energy? I might cautiously offer a yes, but I still have many unanswered queries.

As Scottish Natural Heritage quite rightly state, if sensitively designed and sited, marine renewable energy developments have the potential to not only contribute a large proportion of Scotland’s renewable electricity but also should be at lower environmental cost than comparable land-based systems.

I’ve looked at the maps that MayGen (the project company) have created and I’ve looked at the harbour seal/grey seal telemetry maps and research that Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland have published. Unfortunately whales cannot be monitored in a similar manner to seals so there is far less data for whale species, and there is great concern for physical damage to these animals, but from what I’ve read there has been a great deal of scientific research which has gone in to mitigating the effect of this tidal farm on the environment.

And why should I care? Because I believe its one of the duties as a Christian to steward God’s kingdom. Without it, without every single part of the fragile ecosystem that we call Earth, humanity will not survive. Our call and duty is written into the five marks of mission of the Anglican Communion, which are about our lifestyle and who we are in Christ.

It is one of the reasons that we have a celebration. It is why we need to explore what it means for our faith to be part of this created world. I hope I’ve managed to explore one of the issues with you that I wrestle with, and I hope I’ve left you with perhaps some different perspectives and possibly more questions than you thought you had.

Photographic exhibition

27 04 2014

On a whim, I recently decided I would like to hold a photographic exhibition to showcase some of my photos. This is something I did once before (back in 2008), but back then all I produced were the actual framed pictures. No text, no context, nothing. This time I want to support a charity that is very important to me. How many of you have heard of street pastors? Some of you may have come across them in the city centre, and have thought of them as nothing more than people giving out flip flops. But there’s more to them than that.

Street Pastors is defined as being an inter-denominational Church response to urban problems, engaging with people on the streets to care, listen and dialogue. It was pioneered in London in January 2003 by Rev Les Isaac, Director of the Ascension Trust, and has seen some remarkable results, including drops in crime in areas where teams have been working. There are now some 11000 trained volunteers in around 250 teams around the United Kingdom. Each city/town project is set up by Ascension Trust and run by a local coordinator with support from Ascension Trust and local churches and community groups, in partnership with Police, Council and other statutory agencies.

There are now seventeen cities or towns with Street Pastor initiatives across Scotland, plus teams for festivals like Rockness and also the Commonwealth Games. Within Inverness there are three areas that have teams: city centre, Hilton and Merkinch. I lead a street pastors team once a month in Hilton, where flip flops aren’t required. It’s about being there for people to talk to; to provide a listening ear; to be there for young people who feel themselves to be excluded and marginalised and to be with them wherever they are – be it on the streets, in a pub, or at parties.

The exhibition is currently on display in Great Glen House, Inverness. Opening hours are 9-5, Monday-Friday.

Framed photograph ……………………… £20
6” x 6” card ……….…….. £3.50

Please note that copyright and all intellectual property rights of purchased images remains with me, the photographer. 50% of all sales will go to the Street Pastor initiative in Inverness.


If you would like to buy a framed print or cards, please contact me at https://www.facebook.com/energeticepistle

Spirals… to be continued.

7 12 2013

A couple of Christmasses ago, I decided not to do the usual, expected thing and go home for Christmas, but instead stayed in Inverness. I had a few days of intense spiritual creativity, and made and dabbled in different types of creativity. It was wonderful.

One of these dabblings was a foray into the world of acrylics. I set a cheap canvas down on the carpet, and then thought I ought to put some backing paper down behind it. Just in case I make a mess…

My first try was what I consider quite amateurish. I had no idea what I was painting, how I was painting, or indeed what any of the tools and methods were. I painted what I thought was a waterfall (in portrait), but was dissatisfied with the result. Never mind, I have to start somewhere. I plonked it down on the piano to dry and got on with the next canvas. I ha the notion that this, whatever it was, had be along one of the diagonals. I took my time, and spent 5 hours on this canvas. Paint did go everywhere, and I had to scrape drying acrylics off various pieces of furniture, and still have small blobs of paint on my halogen heater. That is what comes of employing a toothbrush and a stiff piece of card! When this was finished, this also went on to the piano to dry.

A friend came round to visit, and spotted these two new pieces of creativity and exclaimed at all the fish. ‘What fish?’ I asked, rather confused. Nothing about the galaxy painting I thought was rather good. No, it was the initial painting I had created that had caught her eye – the one that I didn’t know what it was. She picked it up and turned it 90°, and then pointed out the fish to me. Sure enough there were fish. I was amazed. How many times do we do something that we think is no good but it touches someone’s heart? And how many times do we think something we’ve done is quite good, and give ourselves a pat on the back, and nobody takes any notice?

My galaxy painting for instance isn’t a picture that everyone would recognise immediately as being a galaxy. To some people it’s just a mess of colour. To me it’s a design that I had not seen in my mind’s eye when I began to paint. I was just extremely conscious that I was painting freehand – there were no sketches or lines to hold the paint in. As I painted I was being healed – healed of the ingrained belief that I could only paint within lines, and if I went over these lines, my painting/drawing would be ruined. I had to be very strong in myself to ensure that I didn’t try and paint a broad strong stroke which would then act as some delineation which I would then have to follow. I had to keep reminding myself to only do a few strokes, before sitting back and asking the Holy Spirit which colour to use next, and in what way.

When I look at you I see… spirals

7 12 2013

A common theme of last year were spirals. These came in many different forms, and were described by many different people throughout the year in regard to different things.

In my mind’s eye, one of these images described had lights so twinklingly bright. Another sculpture. A piece of mdf later, and a set of lights from a well known DIY store, I set about designing this sculpture. Each hole which needed drilling through the mdf needed to be a set distance away, and this distance had to allow the light the slotted into the hole, without danger from overheating. Each spiral needed a set number of lights, and this had to be calculated too. How many lights were to be set in the centre of the sculpture?

Drilling the mdf had to be done in such a way that removed/reduced the need for sanding down any sharp edges. If you mark the right side of the board, it is thus marked. But if you drill down from the wrong side to the right you risk jagged edges.

Having drilled circa 200 holes in five spirals, I then painted the mdf with special mdf paint. And had to wait 3 or so days between each coat of paint – ensuring of course that I did not fill up any of the specially drilled holes with paint, nor have any drips. Easier said than done, when the viscosity of the paint is like thick molasses, and the smell is rather potent. Three coats of paint on each side (and don’t forget the edges too), and then out came the glitter spray to add some further sparkle to the sculpture.

Next I had to think how the lights would stay attached to the sculpture, and invested in some thick electrical tape, again with a potent smell), but also with good sticking capabilities. This, over the lighting cabling ensures that if the sculpture is tipped upside down, the lights do not fall out. Kinda important.

This sculpture is currently in the conservatory, being used as a wall light. To me, it can be used as a tool for meditation…

Thought for the day

7 12 2013

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. —Philippians 2:12-13

We are all commissioned to grow up in Him to the point where we accept and walk in His will in every area of our lives. It is the difference between infancy and maturity.

True maturity comes when God’s will can be worked through your will. This can only happen when your flesh is dead enough, and your will becomes submitted enough and you have been truly resurrected with Christ. Then what you will is not your will, but God’s.

When you are dead to your own will, you can get up at 4:00 in the morning to pray; you can forgive the hurt; and you can have peace in the midst of the storm.

When you have grown into the fullness of the image of Jesus your prayer will be, “Not my will, but thine be done.” God will then answer your prayer and impregnate you with His will for your life.

Lord Jesus, I submit my will to Yours. I pray that
You do whatever You desire in my life.
I am yours, O Lord. Amen.

Taken from charisma mag

It’s a hard call to die to self. To no longer want the acclaim for yourself, but to submit to God in everything. To no longer hide behind the walls of safety, but to be out on the ramparts, watching, waiting. Knowing that your safety is paramount to Him, that in our submission to His will, we are safe. Safe in Him. He is my refuge and my high tower.

Deeper still

17 07 2013

Deeper still

It is the well of God’s presence. This cross section is but a part of a huge well, from which all wells are drawn.

Through our own limitations the well we see is that from story books – unassuming and ordinary. Many bypass it because of its appearance; some will dip a cup into its waters, because they have been invited by others, and go on their way. Even fewer will dive into it, with the equipment already given to them by their Father, and swim in it – their curiosity and their desire to know God compelling them to take action. Seeking God takes us deeper into the well. The underground cavities are filled with numerous jewels – the sediments and rocks are imbued with crystals – all formed in the presence of God.

Diving deeper into the aquifer, below the level where sunlight reaches, riches of God are present that eye has not seen and ear has not heard. A place where sunlight is not needed because the light of God’s glory is enough. It is more than enough, it is abundance, richly and greatly adorned.

The water shimmers with gold dust; jewels sparkle in the crystal clear water, gold nuggets lie in the sand, and on the rocks.

We have all been given the equipment we need to find the treasures hidden in the well. God seeks to permeate our lives so that we may truly live in Him and He in us. The water may look dark and uninviting when looking in from the surface, but those who are hungry for more of God, will find Him, but they have to press in. They have to go deeper.

This well is part of every single of us who has chosen to follow Christ. It is there to renew us every moment of every day. It is there so we can seek more of Him, not just for ourselves but also to share with others, so they too may begin to dive deeper.


16 07 2013


I felt that pressing in to the depths of God I was swimming in the depths of space. That in the intensity of what man would term a black hole I was to keep pressing in – into the intensity.. into the brooding… into the place where all colour and light comes forth. Where it appears dark but is actually colour squished and waiting to explode into a myriad of colours. Those that we see and know, and those that we do not yet see and know.

This was painted over Christmas period 2012.