The ruins of war – 12 November 2018

Here is a scene of destruction. It shows the ravaged land, littered with industrial weaponry, in the aftermath of a battle. There are no people in this picture. We do not see those who lived in this place before the battle, or those that caused this devastation, nor those who might come to establish reconstruction. The picture raises the possibility that there is no one left.

The picture is a kind of calvary, the low view point lifting up the landscape so that we can see that even the earth has died. The death that has taken place is total. The sky fills two thirds of the picture, troubled by the conflict that has taken place below, the clouds coloured by the annihilation. There is nothing left unaffected by this war.

This picture is ‘Ruins between Bernafay Wood and Maricourt’ by Adrian Hill, who was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum during World War I to record the conflict on the Western Front. This is one of his many images from the Somme.


And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places:

Matthew 24:6-7

Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Matthew 27:50-51

O gracious God, we will never understand the sorrows of the world, but by your grace we will not turn away from them. Renew and sustain in us the spirit of love that crosses miles. Cheer and encourage those who labour to help the injured, the homeless, the hungry and those in despair. Bless and soften the hearts of those who would take advantage of tragedy for their own profit, that they may come to know where true joy is to be found. Unite us in prayer with all those who look for help, and use us to come speedily to them with the things that they need. We ask these things in your own most holy Name. Amen.

Barbara Crafton, Episcopal Priest