55. Prayer (potential)

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Prayer took me in an unexpected direction today, as it quite often does. There’s not really much point having expectations beyond meeting with God, really, as every time is different.

Some people begin their prayer lives (myself included) by treating time with God like prayer is a wish list, or worse, as though he were a one-armed bandit, with us pulling the lever and hoping some kind of reward will be forthcoming, if we stand there long enough.

But as we come to know God, we learn that presenting our requests is fine and often necessary, soul searching comes frequently, as it did today, but that nestling into his heart is better. Prayer can become almost anything: tears; ministrations; lament; praise; thankfulness; instruction; petition; intercession; contemplation; listening; singing….. it is one of the most potent “potentials” there is.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

54. Ceiling (potential)

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Today I am still struggling, and perhaps daftly, decided to rework the cover of my upcoming book, Garden of God’s Heart (I wasn’t happy with the proof copy) from within a haze of painkillers. So, I am now awaiting the second proof. I stare up at my ceiling, from my castle made of duvet, and wonder whether I am about to break through a ceiling, or is one about to fall upon me? Ventures in life can go either way. Almost everything we do has the potential for disaster or success. We are supposed to treat them both the same, as the imposters they are, of course. I’m still working on that. But as with all my creations, it’s given to God. So, whether the next copy looks just right, or if I have to tweak it some more, whether it sells to a few people or lots, I know I put my heart and soul into it for the Lord, and he is in charge of the rest.

I remember too, whilst ceiling gazing, how I used to be so desperate to kill the time, and distract myself from the pain, that I would begin counting the peaks in the Artex. Are they stalactites? Or the surface of a strange planet? When my house was a complete tip, due to zero energy, I would think, well, at least my ceilings are tidy. That’s one surface in each room. If there’s one thing this illness has taught me, it’s the power of looking at things in a different way…..

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

 

53. Waves and Breakers (potential)

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Today is a very rough day with my chronic illness. I barely know how to keep going, to be honest with you. It was preceded by a night of tears, and I did not feel much like praying this morning. But I’ve lived long enough to know that it is precisely at times like this that prayer is even more important than usual. Even if it is asking other people to do it for me.

It’s days like this where even an innocent blanket can look like a raging sea, where the exhaustion wraps itself around me like miles of kelp and pulls me under. These kind of depths are full of potential. They can become sea monsters, full of fear and doubt, worse, self-pity, or a powerless, tiring rant; or they can be given over to God and become a lament, a sobbing prayer, a silent, dull, duvet-coddled sort of day. A day when I ask friends to pray for me and tell God I don’t understand but I love him and know he is good, a strange, grey, unusual blogging sort of a day, where my words might reach someone else drifting in the same sort of painful, difficult, world-weary boat, and we might both receive some kind of solace from knowing we are not the only ones on this quietly terrifying ocean.

 

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

52. Pens (potential)

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Ever since I was little, nothing has made my heart zing quite as much as brand new art supplies. I look at all those colours waiting to be unleashed on paper and feel so much joy. Even these black fineliner pens, with all that gorgeous ink waiting to become shapes and lines, faces and whiskers, sends my imagination soaring. They look like beauty sleeping in her glass coffin, just waiting for a creative person to come along and kiss her awake, releasing her from coma to the sweeping action of drawing.   How many pictures are there, dreaming in a pen?

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

51. Magnus (potential)

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Magnus Magnoliason is about to peg it, by the looks of him. This is very sad for us as we’ve been looking after him for over a year now and we had high hopes of his growing into a proper plant, hatched as he was from seed kept refrigerated carefully and planted out as per the RHS’s instructions. But we forgot to put him outside in September, and since then he has just wilted and gone brown. My husband is now convinced he’s not a magnolia at all, but Japanese Knotweed, or something equally sly. He may well be right.

I am not good at giving up on things (or people) generally, and so I have determined to plant Magnus out in a nice pot as soon as Spring comes. It will either kill him off completely, or be his saving grace. He has the potential for life and death in him. Those few cells of green could take him over, or fade away. I am foolish to hope, I know, but we all need as many chances as possible to come to life, don’t we?

 

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

50. Buds (potential)

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The magnolia tree in our garden started growing this Spring’s buds in November. It does that, holds everything inside. The ones that dared to start opening during the winter have gone brown on the inside, killed by frost and impatience. But most of them have held on, waiting for the right time to bloom, and knowing still, that it is not yet here. But bloom they will, for two short weeks, in the earliest warmth, and those flowers will be stunningly beautiful. I wonder if they know that.

Perhaps, for them, held closed, zipped up for so long, sensing those brave enough to open have died, they feel the time will never come for their freedom. Perhaps their hope is waning now. But from outside, where the seeing is easier, we can look at them and tell they are going to be flowers, that all that constricted energy will burst out soon in a heartachingly exquisite display of pale pink.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

49. What’s in a Name? (potential)

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I’m glad I depicted my name in such big, bright letters in that cross stitch we looked at yesterday, because it’s not a name you see very often. Here it is on my first book cover. I know it’s not a great example of humility, but being the only Keren anywhere always made me feel a bit special (unless I was trying to find it on a key ring, and then it made me annoyed). Still today when I tell people it’s a name from the Bible, I get blank looks. Even from vicars. But it is rather hidden away, a bit like me.

Kerenhappuch was one of three sisters, the second lot of Job’s daughters, born after his restoration. I hope that there will be some poetic justice in my naming, and that I will get to have my own second half of life blessings. I’ve always felt that I would, in the bones of my name.

This is a thought that keeps me going, especially when people call me Karen, which they do a lot, particularly when using predictive text! It’s a nice name, but it’s not my name, you see. I like my name, it fits me, and it feels heavy with potential, with possibilities. Even if in the long form it does mean “horn of eyelash paint.” I maybe an Old Testament bottle of mascara, but I am still a daughter who was granted an inheritance along with her brothers.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

48. In stitches (potential)

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My name on this piece is the first cross stitch I ever did. It was something done at primary school, but I didn’t take it up as a hobby till after I became ill in my twenties. When I was at my worst, it was about the only thing I could do, albeit very slowly. Consequently, most of my friends and family have pieces in their houses, some are even on display.

Just in time for Christmas 2016, I finished what is my last cross stitch (for now at least). It was a present for my husband, and I did not enjoy making it at all, it was a struggle for my middle-aged eyes and a bore for my now far more active brain. It took me four years and I was very glad to finish it, and it is a little more intricate than the one above! I got a lot of enjoyment out of this craft overall though, and it helped me through some really tough bedridden/housebound times. There was potential even in that little piece of red Binca.

But perhaps, also, sometimes potential is in the realisation that comes from setting something down, the space that is made when we set aside a thing- an activity or habit from our lives- in order to turn to something new. Stitches too, have their seasons.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

47. Report (potential)

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I’ve been looking back at some of my old school reports this month. It is clear that my teachers thought I had some potential. They talk a lot about the areas I need to focus on, rather than giving out much praise for what’s already been achieved. Potential is always about looking forward to what may be, rather than recognising what was and is. I find this a little unbalanced in its approach, for the patterns of the past and the state of the now are important for helping us to work out what we might become and how our journey might be supported. 

The end goal (a great grade, a university place) might be wonderful, but humanly we can fail to see the patterns of an unfurling life right there in front of us.  It is perhaps not surprising that the teacher I remember with most fondness is Mrs Ghent, in my third year of juniors (year 5 for you youngsters), who, once I’d done my obligatory maths/P.E. etc. always allowed me great swathes of time to write and to paint.  She knew what I loved, saw the potential in it, and let me get on with it. What a shame that same creativity she recognised so early got crushed for so long by the hurry and expectations of being more academic that were to come. 

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

46. Sketch (potential)

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When I start a painting, the first stage is sketching it out. I need to make sure my placement on the paper is fairly accurate – the nose just the right distance below the eyes, that distinctive dimple in the right place, that patch of yellow feathers, that twinkle in the beady eye.  If one little thing is wrong, the whole will be skewed. In this way our starting places are as much a part of the finishing as they are of the beginning, and our sketches need to comprise the vision of the end whole in all its essentials.

 

Photo, text and artwork © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017 artwork from a reference photo by Lawrence Splitter, used with permission.

 

Just in case you wanted to see the end product:

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