Capernaum has come to Ridley Hall
We invited Dr Rick Nelms, who uses a power wheelchair, to bench test the newly installed ramps and lifts. A plant biologist, since his early retirement Rick has become a digital artist. No longer able to hold a paintbrush, he uses an oversized mouse he calls the ‘googly-eyed rat' to create vivid paintings. We are grateful to him for sharing here his paintings and meditations on the visit.
Cycling up Sidgwick Avenue, early 1990s, overwhelming first impression; yet another Cambridge college enclosure, stuffed to bursting with angular buildings of no great architectural merit. Fast forward some years. Parking in Newnham Walk; red brick walls, impenetrable shrubbery; an open gate; a glance; a pause; an unsuspected vista. Drowning in a sea of parked cars and informal greenery; Victorian mock Tudor in red brick, formality, symmetry, coherence, strangely appealing. I wondered what was within.
Fast forward more years. From my own village church, I knew Ridley Hall, producer of a succession of strong ordinands, each making a real impact in their brief placements. Characteristically autistic, I did not join the dots. Fast forward more years. I am in a powerchair, retired early, learning to live with slow-burning Motor Neurone Disease, and Sue is training to be a Licensed Lay Minister. We visit Ridley Hall so Sue can use the library. I can’t get in. There are steps everywhere. However, some dots are joined. Outside, I ponder. I don’t like Victorian mock Tudor red-brick buildings much. I like ones I can’t get into even less. I wondered what was within.
Come the pandemic; Sue is leading an online team church. New friends, new fellowship, new prayer partners, new technical advisors, new constructive critics. A passing comment on accessibility improvements at Ridley Hall, vivid recollection, interest piqued. The Holy Spirit guides. Five photos. Five paintings. Inspired. I haven’t seen within but I have painted it.
Architect’s drawings online and photos from Twitter. Inspired. Bookshelves graduated from monochrome to colour. Inspired. A zip file of photos. Inspired. Photos zipped together. New perspectives. Inspired. Wild- flowers, paving slabs, lifts, Victorian mock Tudor red-brick; integrated, harmonious, beautiful. And a question — would I test it all? Absolutely! Now I know what is within.
I have painted it. I have seen it. I have touched it. Capernaum has come to Ridley Hall. In the library is the Word. In my powerchair I have been lowered through the roof. In the library is indeed the Word. He came not to condemn the world, but to save the world through the forgiveness of sins. And Jesus said to them 'As the Father sent me, so I send you.' Ridley Hall, a beacon of love and of light for all who are called, all, without partiality.