Stop and Stare

Cottrell reminds us of the nature of art (p87) “raising as many questions as they answer” – or as my tutor from college would famously say,

there are many meanings

We come to all forms of art at different times and from different places in our lives.  It will speak to us differently each time.  We will be fed by our experiences, the opinions of others, and where we are that moment.  All of what art triggers is valid, and joins to help build the bigger picture.  In that way art nourishes us.  Because Cottrell also reminds us that art “leads us deeply into the grace-filled mystery of Christ’s own relationship with the earth, his relationship with God and his relationship with us.”

And so art encourages to stand and stare a moment.  To soak in what is happening – which is not necessarily what always appears at first looking; to allow it to speak, not just to our minds, but to our souls.  And as Cottrell says, in these pictures we have to let them lead us into the wilderness (p88) – to be there with Christ.

By Julio Rojas [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps this is a metaphor for life.  To take more time to stop and stare.  To look not just at the obvious meaning, but to see what is lying underneath.  To take time to unlock the layers of meaning,  To not assume we know it all, but to keep coming back and see what more we can learn.

This is perhaps most famously expressed in this poem:

Time to Stop & Stare

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies 1871 – 1940

So, as Lent progresses, lets take the time to pause, to reflect, to stop and stare

at what God is doing

at what God is saying

at what is happening in the lives of others that we can help

to consider situations from a different angle

to see if there is more than we first thought

Lets take time,




live with the wilderness,

and know God with us

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts

~ by pamjw on March 20, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: