St Gerassimos Greek Orthodox Monastery, the Judean desert.

The Monastery of St Gerassimus, one of the earliest of the 70-plus monasteries in the Judaean desert, on the north bank of the Dead Sea, is named in honour of a pioneering monk who is usually depicted with a pet lion, having removed a thorn from its paw.
The monastery functioned in the form of a laura — with a cluster of hermits’ caves located around a community and worship centre. The hermits spent weekdays alone in their caves, occupied in prayer and making ropes and baskets. They went to the centre for Saturdays and Sundays, taking their handiwork and partaking in Divine Liturgy and communal activities.
The monastic rule was strict. During the week the hermit monks survived on dry bread, dates and water. At the weekends they ate cooked food and drank wine. Their only personal belongings were a rush mat and a drinking bowl.
Hermits’ caves can still be seen in the steep cliffs east of the monastery and in the adjacent mountains.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran

One of the most important discoveries of the 20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls include fragments from every book of the Old Testament except for the Book of Esther. They have provided Old Testament manuscripts a thousand years older than known previously. They demonstrate how the Old Testament was accurately transmitted during that time, and in addition provide a wealth of information on the times leading up to, and during, the life of Jesus.

The cliffs and caves of Qumran looking towards the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

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Zedekiah’s Cave – “King Solomon’s Quarries, Old Jerusalem.

These ancient quarries are directly under the Old City. I walk through them on my own, while the Old City above teems with life. On both sides of the path are hugh supporting columns, dug out of the quarried rock. These columns were left by the stone cutters to support the rock ceiling, which measures 300 x 600 feet, and weighs approximately half a million tons.

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College Grounds, St George’s College, Jerusalem.

Enjoying some down time in the beautiful college grounds before the commencement of my course.
The college is a ten minute walk away from the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City, Jerusalem.

Fresh limes growing outside the college doors

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St George’s College, Jerusalem.

In October 2017 I was awarded two study grants to study “Ways of the Wilderness” at St Georges College, Jerusalem. To study and reflect in situ the Israelite wilderness experience, the role of the wilderness in the ministry of Jesus, the development of Judean monasticism and its related archeology. To explore Christian traditions and images of wilderness/desert, pilgrimage and monasticism. To provide opportunities to reflect upon my own personal narratives of wilderness and to discover and rediscover the Christian heritage of wilderness spirituality.
To apply insights and experiences of wilderness pilgrimage to our lives and our communities back home.

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‘External detail at Blackwell’ – the Arts and Crafts House, Windermere, Cumbria.

“The love of the workman for his work is the essential difference between the lifeless commercial product and the vital work of art.”
Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott. The Studio, 1895

Arts and Crafts artists and supporters were passionate about keeping traditional handicrafts alive during the early days of mass production. They believed a world built by machines would lack soul.

‘External detail at Blackwell’ – the Arts and Crafts House, Windermere, Cumbria.
Beautiful attention to design detail on all the external leadwork

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‘Stained Glass and textiles at Blackwell’ – the Arts and Crafts House, Windermere, Cumbria.

Baillie Scott would select one motif, such as a flower, to symbolise a room and create a cohesive design. In Houses and Gardens he explained how the rowan tree was ‘specifically desired as the subject for decoration’ because it featured in the Holt family crest.The rowan tree appears in Blackwell’s stained glass windows, woodcarvings, plasterwork and wall coverings.

‘Blackwell’ – 2017 and a newly restored bedroom, with stunning detail throughout.

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