Yacht Attached by Umbilical Cord

This stone is tectonic. One can almost see the plates of the Earth being crushed together. And the deep vein of the Mariana Trench reaching upwards. Of course, the plates – faces of passengers on the London Underground being squashed together – can also represent the waves of the sea, on which there is a boat, a yacht, whose mast is the Mariana Trench and whose sail is a letter, A. This ship is held down to the ocean floor by the trench, a kind of umbilical cord. It may strike us as flimsy, kindling waiting to be splintered and thrown on to the fire, or fragile, like a matchbox. And yet it is held down, connected. It will travel to and fro across the surface of the ocean, and mirror the ocean floor.


Meanwhile, in language, there are some wonderfully expressive connections between words. Let us take the example of a pudding, “trifle”, which without the e spells “flirt”. Or let us look at the word “plot”, which in reverse, keeping the consonantal cluster together, spells “topple”. One of my favourites is “episode”, at the end of which there is often a cliffhanger and the story is left awaiting an outcome, “poised”. Opposites are never far away, and I am intrigued by the proximity of the archetypal white and black birds – “swan” and “raven”. They are actually connected by the alphabetical pairs r-s and v-w, addition of e. Opposites can attract or repel, like the poles of a magnet. Word connections can also define, but they are not always obvious. “Roam”, for example, spells “alone” (phonetic pairs l-r, m-n, addition of e), but “alone” can also be found in “belong” (alphabetical pair a-b, addition of g), as can “noble”. And here’s a riddle to end with: what does a “plug” do when it’s finished? “Gulp”, of course.

Three-Masted Ship

On this stone, to the left, I see a cross in the air, a kind of lamp post, and below it the letter “h”, a figure sitting in a chair. The main scene, of course, is in the centre of the stone, a three-masted ship. The three masts are like brothers-in-arms, the two outer figures supporting the one in the middle, or perhaps it is the middle figure spreading light and strength to those on the outside. “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The ship is like a book that can be opened and closed, a picture book that when you open it, the figures rise up. Sitting on the eastern side of Ithaca, looking across the gulf towards the Greek mainland, I saw a ship like this, a cargo ship that had three masts, sailing across my field of vision.


Meanwhile, in language, the word for “heart” in Greek is actually “belly”, and in the Genesis account of creation the woman is given the name “Eve” because it is related to the Hebrew word (verb!) for “living”: belly + Eve = believe. This line from the Gospel of St John is contained in the word “believe”, as so much of God’s truth is contained in language, if only we have eyes to seek it out. Let us remember the phonetic pair l-r and a jump in the alphabet, b-c; we quickly see that “believe” gives “receive”. Christ says in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well that whoever drinks this living water will never be thirsty, but will have “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). We see this in the connection between “believe” and “receive”. We also see it in the connection between “source”, the head of the river, and “course”, the main body of the river as it flows towards the sea, the line that meanders like a tramline through a snowy forest. Once we drink of this living water, from the “course”, we become part of the “source”; our life acquires meaning, and we are never thirsty again.

Yacht on Sea of Branches

In this second image of a ship, I see a boat, a yacht perhaps, sailing across the waves. There are many of these in and around the bays of Ithaca, homing pigeons flitting across the sky, carrying messages from one shore to another, the white could refer to a scrap of paper caught by the wind, or it could be a cloth, a starched garment. The waves themselves look like a footprint, the footprint of a meat-eating dinosaur, the one that crashes out of the forest, where it has been lying in wait, and races towards you, who are miniature in comparison. And yet, turn the stone upside down, and the waves become the branches of a tree providing shade to a couple, one holding a stick, the other throwing back his head in laughter. Waves, footprint, branches, are all one in this composition.


Meanwhile, in language, I would like to look at love, what we get if we count down from the ego, I to O, and turn “live” not into its reverse, “evil”, but into “love” (sin-son, logic-Logos). What is in this word, “love”? Well, we might see “oval”, which is the shape I imagine love to be, that is humble, the shape made by two hands held close together, touching at the base and the fingertips. I don’t think love is so bold as to be round and certainly it wouldn’t want the sharp corners of a square or a rectangle. “Love” is also in “evolve”, where the letters are repeated, it teaches us, it helps us to grow, it is like soil with its nutrients to a flower. The word “love” also contains “I owe” (v-w is very close phonetically, they are also a step in the alphabet), but love, true love, casts out fear – with love, there is no debt, we can rip up the piece of paper, the IOU. “Love” is also in “vowel”, a sound made without the obstruction of flesh, an open sound (“open” is connected with “eros”, n-p-r-s, jumps in the alphabet). But my favourite connection with “love” is “word” – the phonetic pair l-r, plus jumps in the alphabet, d-e and v-w. If God is love, and love is the word, doesn’t that tell us something?


Not all drawings are overtly religious in content. This seems to show a ship in the foreground with three masts that has been washed ashore, a shipwreck perhaps. You can see the curve of the bay behind it. It is quite common for stones to reflect the landscape of which they are a part, so there are sea views, boats, fishermen, vegetation… My wife says the stone has a face. All stones appear to have a face. Other objects too, though sometimes the face only becomes apparent after a while.


Meanwhile, in language, opposites are not always so different. Let us look at “east-west”. These two words may seem to be completely different until we take away the three letters they have in common, “est”, and are left with “a” and “w”, or Alpha and Omega. Alpha and Omega is a name of God, the beginning and the end. Yes, but surely this is just a coincidence? All things are coincidences, happening together. Let us look at “north-south”. Again, they are connected by an alphabetical pair (r-s) and by a physical pair, a pair of letters that resemble each other (n-u, one being an upturned version of the other). So things we think are far apart may not be so far apart, as the word indicates (a part).