The red shoes hang on a nail by their trailing ribbons, looking innocent for all the world, though no-one is looking at them today but this tired old ballerina. She knows them only too well and will not be fooled again. New, they were the colour of nascent shell, or the inside of a kitten’s ear, all velvet oyster pinkly grey. Nude as Eve’s Edenic soles, and probably as old. Once worn and worn once, they ripped en pointe feet to shreds and quickly filled with scarlet offerings.
The world will not cease its vampiric feasting, once it has begun to make you dance to its manic tunes. Our only hope is to rip the ribbons that seemed so delightful from our calves, and tear the suckering soles from our souls. In one wrench, band-aid like tossed aside, or hung here on the wall like trophy antlers, the hooks that barbed us. Only the free can see them for what they are, and the rest gawp at the bloodied rags, astonished that we no longer wear them.
We refuse to dance ourselves to death, and now walk healing paths in streams and forests, barefoot. If we must wear red shoes, they will be ruby slippers that have sequins missing, and when tapped together, take us home.
Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Composite art by R R Wyatt © used with permission.
Shortly after I began practising prayer and meditation as a central part of my life rather than an “add-on” the Lord started talking to me about colour. He reminded me how my favourite film as a child was The Wizard of Oz and hinted that my life was soon to be transformed from black and white to glorious Technicolor in the same way that the world changes for Dorothy when she travels from Kansas to Oz. After living so many years in what seemed a grey and deserted wasteland suffering with M.E. this came as very welcome news. The Lord drew out of me the realisation that colour is something that makes my heart leap.
As a child one of the most exciting things I could possibly find in a shop was a set of colouring pens or pencils. The range of pens all lined up shouting out their colours like a packaged rainbow was thrilling to me. It made me joyful. As an adult I had my capacity for joy stolen from me for a long time, due to this long and terrible illness and a crushing divorce. For years, my only consolation was doing cross stitch. The huge range of colours of embroidery thread were soothing to my soul, as was the act of creating. Next came a new, loving husband, thank God, and my new hobby, crochet, and although I could only do a very little at a time, the colours of all the yarn were balm to my wounds.
For my 40th birthday seven years ago, my parents bought me a retreat at Aylesford Priory in Kent. This was before my latest relapse which has left me almost entirely housebound. But back then, when I was sitting in the Relic Chapel which has the most beautiful coloured stained-glass windows (see my photograph above). I was thinking about prayer and colour when I felt the Lord strongly imprint a commission on my heart and I knew it was to be a writer. The first thing he wanted me to write about was colour. I duly wrote a short book which brought me great joy. I’ve not yet been able to publish it, since it needs colour printing which is very expensive!
Three years ago, the Lord brought out of me a talent for art, and no-one was more surprised than I! My passion for colours had finally found its full outlet. I am deeply grateful. A few times over the years I have come back to writing here and there about my heart for colour, but now seems a good time to marry that with my love of art and photography, and my blog about Creating Encounter with God on our Lakelight Sanctuary website, as well as resurrecting bits and pieces from that very first book.
My intention, God and health willing, is to post a piece a week on both that blog and this, of my trademark poetic prose, reflecting on colour as prayerful meditation. I hope that you will find your heart lifted and enjoy my little offerings. See you next week for piece one!
God bless you,