Projects: 2017 / 2016 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012

100 Days Of Observing Divine Beauty

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At the end of 2015 my wife Wendy and I embarked on a mid-life adventure - moving to Europe from NZ. For my 100 days project I plan to post pictures, captions and quotes, reflecting the beauty I have discovered here in my new home. Sometimes the photos will be new. Other days I may curate a moment, a day, or a theme from pictures taken over the past 18 months. My project is inspired by John O'Donoghue's "Divine Beauty", a book which speaks of the secret wisdom of creation expressed in the ever present beauty that surrounds us. - Alastair Thompson 22nd May 2017


Day 2 - Watching the Light Dance in St Sauveur Basilica, Dinan

[ TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: ] >> These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty… in the hearts of people some natural ease has been broken. Our trust in the future has lost its innocence, We know now that anything can happen from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. Politics, religion and economics and the institutions of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis. << - From the introduction to John O'Donohue's "Divine Beauty" (2003 – Bantam Books) Today I have been uncharacteristically hiding from the news. Normally the cacophony of contemporary history has me transfixed. But I have become increasingly aware these past few years that the rising noise in my head is harming me. This morning BBC Radio 4 interrupted my slumber with news of the monstrous, horrific events in Manchester – half an hour later the news stopped – and ever since I have been avoiding hearing more. There is little constructive that can be done in the face of such evil – except to seek to resurrect hope. Therefore today the words of John O'Donohue and the purpose of this 100 days exercise in observation ( ) seem all the more necessary. John's words written in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 now appear prophetic. Our need for a path back to something closer to sanity is far greater now than it was back then. And my intention to invoke the beauty I see in my life is made more resolute. Today's images ( See album here >> ) are from the interior of St Sauveur Basilica in Dinan, Brittany. They were taken exactly one month ago, on the day of the first round of the French Presidential Election, an election that has given considerable hope to political observers the world over. I have chosen these for today because they express somewhat literally the concept of the divinity of beauty that O'Donohue speaks about when he writes: >> Only the blindness of habit convinces us that we continue to live in the same place. In truth no place ever remains the same because light has no mind for repetition; it adores difference. Through its illuminations, it strives to suggest the silent depths that hide in the dark. << After I discovered how wonderfully the way sunlight danced through the stained glass windows of St Sauveur I sought it out over several days, and I felt the healing power of its beauty.