Written by hand – 8 July 2019

A young girl sits at a table writing. She has a pen in her hand, and is half way down a written page, practising writing. On the table in front of her is a pile of books, one open, others read and bookmarked. To her left there are wild flowers and some fruit. She has been outside, and this is what she has brought back. The picture celebrates the joy of writing, pen on paper, understood here as an integration of the girl’s interior and exterior world.

On the table next to her sits a little bird, flown down from the open cage. It does not fly away, but remains with her. It is a goldfinch, the bird associated with the passion of Christ. This picture brings to mind Dutch genre scenes, with all their symbolism relating to an inner life of faith. That the subject here is a girl is remarkable.

The painting, ‘Enfant ecrivant’ c1870, is by Henriette Browne, the pseudonym of Sophie de Bouteiller (1829-1901). Mostly know as an orientalist, Henriette’s earlier paintings were scenes concerned with religion and/or children.


‘I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.’

Emily Dickinson

Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and to insight, “You are my relative.”

Proverbs 7:2-4

Prayer of a Writer 
Lord of all things, whose wondrous gifts to humans
Include the shining symbols known as words
Grant that I may use their mighty power only for good.
Help me to pass on
Small fragments of Your wisdom, truth, and love.
Teach me to touch the unseen, lonely heart
With laughter, or the quick release of tears.
Let me portray the courage that endures,
Defiant in the face of pain or death;
The kindness and the gentleness of those
Who fight against the anger of the world;
The beauty hidden in the smallest things;
The mystery, the wonder of it all….
Open my ears, my eyes; unlock my heart.
Speak through me Lord, if it be Your will.  Amen

Arthur Gordon