Category Archives: Animals

39. Two for Joy (hope)

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Only the British would make up a rhyme “one for sorrow, two for joy” about a fairly solitary bird, though I’m reliably informed it was first assigned to rooks. At any rate, trust us to make things harder for ourselves. You don’t often see two magpies in close proximity, so I expect these two are a breeding pair. They’ve been hanging around a while, taking it in turns to make noises like football rattles and to sit on heat ducts in the cold weather. I’m not one for signs or omens, mostly because they tend to show themselves just when you are most desperate and vulnerable. But I’ll take this one today, even if it is only because I can’t help but smile at a pair of raucous, spied pied thieves.

 

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

27. Goldfinches (sense of wonder)

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Colours are a huge source of inspiration to me, as many of you know, and goldfinches a particular favourite bird, for their brightness, their sweet chitter-chatter, and their grace. I am especially wowed by the yellow and the red livery, and by the swooping curve of their flight pattern, which looks like they are making the shape of waves in the air. A sight like this is quite simply, treasure.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

 

11. Little Bird

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Seeing you there, sat tight in the branches, unaware of my eyeline, or of the creator, watching your every swoop, feeling each tiny beat of the seed-small heart in your brown feathered breast, I wonder. Am I really worth more than you? My heart swells with love even as yours does with song, soft and sweet. Despite your muted markings, you seem like a pearl of great price to me, lost in a maze of kelpish magnolia branches, and at the moment of sight, I’d willingly sell all to keep it.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

8. In Flight

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A world turned upside down, for you the work of moments, for us a lifetime’s wisdom. That everything can become other in a split second, or turned “right” way up again as swiftly. That it doesn’t matter which or why, only that we fly. That balletic grace is given even to the smallest, dullest wings.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

Some News, and a Spider in a Bucket.

Dear friends, my health is not good, my energy very limited. Blogging every day is too much for me, especially when I feel called to write so many books! So I am going to change the habit of a lifetime and be sensible. I shall still write here, but not so often, and with much more spontaneity than discipline.  There will still be some Veil of Tears or Landscape of Love pieces, but also other types of sharing. I hope you will find the variety refreshing and stick with me as I work on all the outpourings the Lord is so gracious as to give me.

My readers will be the first to hear about everything!

Blessings, Keren

Read on to encounter a spider in a bucket….

 

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In my back garden there is a spider in a bucket. She has been in there some weeks now, and she does not move, save for a few steps back and forth now and again to avoid rain, or to move round to a more sheltered side of her slippery home. I don’t know how she is staying stuck there living in the perpendicular, how she doesn’t fall down, or how she is still alive, since she does not appear to eat or drink.

She is staying still because she is wrapped tightly around a precious bundle. She holds under her thorax, a white parcel papoose, at least as big as her own body. It is an egg sac, where her young are swaddled, and are making ready to hatch and come forth into life, even as she, presumably, is waiting to die. I wonder if the young will eat her, as happens with some spidery beginnings. I could Google it, but I’d rather not know for sure. I wonder if she knows what will happen next. I wonder where her self-preservation went, and how a spider can lend itself so completely to the ways of its own nature that she doesn’t run from her responsibilities, but just sits.

And I wonder how like that spider I am, sitting here in bed, waiting for something, for anything good, to come forth from me. I am sat here with my belly full of wonder, of ideas and imaginings, of stories and theories and the love of God, and I ponder his word here and hold it all precious in my heart.

Will my words pour forth and turn on me and eat me up? Or will they thank me and run to spin their own webs, live their own lives, tell their own tales?

I do not know. But like my immobile arachnid friend, I will wait and see. Too tired now to run away, and in any case, how could I leave my bundle of beautiful word weavings unborn and never known? I must protect them, and they must be released. We sit and we wait.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

 

16: Savage Wolves

 

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“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” Acts 20:29 NIV

Paul’s parting from the Elders of the Ephesian church, whom he summons to himself at Miletus before leaving on the next leg of his journey to Jerusalem, is a tearful one. He is keen to warn them with this prophetic word, even though it means telling them that some of these wolves will rise from among their own number. He is being hounded by the Jewish persecutors (of which he used to be one) who will soon jail and kill him. He knows the end is near, and yet his thoughts and worries are all for this church he has spent three years teaching and loving. And this is not a new fear:

“So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Acts 20:31 NIV

Jesus too, talked about wolves that would rise from amongst the flock, wearing sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Even in the midst of our Christian communities, we need to keep our eyes peeled for danger, for wrong teaching and for those who would lead us astray or attempt to do the devil’s work for him. I suppose that it is in the fold, in our places of safety where we are most likely to let down our spiritual guard, even at the same time as we worship or receive instruction. Here, right in the centre of communion, we can be at our most vulnerable. And as the Church and her members know to their cost, abuses of power have been all too common.

But we must remain gentle and open at the same time as being wary, for our innocence shines out the beauty of God, and our gentle hearts available to all are a powerful testimony of the Lord’s grace. Jesus told his Disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NIV

Please be shrewd as my readers. I have no training in theology and I write mainly from prayer and my own study. I hope there is wisdom buried in my words. Be wary of those who are vehement in their preaching though, for self-proclaimed mystics like myself will lead you astray, if we ever do so, entirely without intent. The Ephesians, and us through them, are being warned here, not of the ignorant or mistaken, but of the deliberate, subtle turners of hearts, bringers of fear, those who would delude and persuade us to disbelieve the goodness of God, the power of his Grace, the fullness and inclusivity of the Gospel; to doubt the wisdom contained within Holy Scripture.

Shrewdness, awareness means using our brains, our hearts, our instincts, and above all the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It does not mean throwing out hermeneutics, study, self-disciplined prayer, contemplation or thought, for the Lord gave us intelligence for a reason. I think that as well as being wary around our own known weak areas, the main things that should ring alarm bells in us are when people display characteristics that are ungodly: undermining, ridicule, gossip, judgement, division, fear and smugness. When there is a temptation to take sides, to point, to feel superior, to hold a grudge, to fall into self-righteousness instead of God’s grace, those are the hot breaths of the wolf and his or her ways.

And so today I can finish with the advice from one of my favourite verses, let truth and beauty be our guides:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

Text and artwork ©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

15: Cruelty

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Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.” Judges 15:3-5 NIV

There is, whether we choose to admit it or not, an awful lot of cruelty portrayed in the Bible. Some people ignore it because they think it reflects badly on God, or that it contradicts his loving nature. I’ve heard it said many times that the Bible contradicts itself or doesn’t add up, and this is said as often by Christians (albeit whispered) as by those who’ve never opened a Bible in their lives.

But there it is, in black and white. Those poor foxes! And the violence quickly escalates. In the next verse, Samson’s wife and her father are burned to death, then he wreaks revenge, then the Philistines come at him with three thousand men, and he slays a thousand of them. For me, such episodes are a part of our relationship with God because they are a part of our lives. Cruelty, unfairness, nastiness, vicious horror, are things people do to one another and to animals.

We might accept that most awful things in the Scriptures are perpetrated by humans, but perhaps the reason we balk at it being part of a Bible story, is because God seems to use it. Verse 4 of the previous chapter bears this out: “(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)” (Judges 14:4 NIV) How can such awfulness be part of his plans? I say that he doesn’t work through such things by choice, but because we choose to make them part of our lives, he redeems them in part by using them for his own, good ends.

Mother Julian of Norwich received a seeing that made her very sure that all the sin and suffering life on earth goes through, will be redeemed by yet another action of Christ’s, akin to or part of what he did on the cross, or something equally wonderful and mysterious, once we come to the end of days (Chapter 36, Revelations of Divine Love). It is a hope I hold onto gladly, since there seems to be so much that we all suffer, so much unnecessary pain, violence and betrayal. It makes sense that we should one day understand it will all be made right. This is one of the reasons behind the constant refrain in God’s relationship with her, “All manner of things shall be well.” In this hope, I believe we can trust, and not just because of her proclamation of it, but because it is the message borne out by all biblical stories, and the Bible itself as a whole.

The story of our relationship with God is messy, it has more X ratings that you could throw a stick at, more gore and intense violence than we can stomach. But such is the nature of humankind, as is quickly borne out by the savagery we still dish out to foxes in the UK today, despite hunting with dogs being ostensibly illegal.

Thankfully, we also reflect the goodness and mercy of our Father God and we also live under his auspices. He can and does turn anything around, so that even wanton cruelty can be harnessed for good. It doesn’t make the action right, and it doesn’t minimise the suffering, but it does give us a hope in a Creator who knows our hearts and still chooses to work with their darkness, which shall be overcome.

“It is true that sin is the cause of all this pain, but all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” (Thirteenth Revelation, chapter 27, Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich)

 

 

Text and artwork ©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Fox from a reference photo by Rev. Jeannie Kendall, with permission.

 

159: Footprints

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Not neatly in a line, singly spaced on a clean beach, waiting for the clichéd response. Not theologically twee and comforting, suffering castrated of its messy, birthing dance steps, but instead, dog’s feet, running through mud, splattering sods everywhere and all about. Paws at full pelt, eyes on the ball, not caring about dirt or the inevitability of B. A. T. H. s to come later but completely alive, here in the now, mastering mucky mindfulness. Sinking only for a moment, splayed across the surface, connected to the earth, but skating across it. Leaving our marks and knowing that when God walks alongside us, his dusty, bleeding feet make tracks beside, before, behind, above and below ours. Not one set of footprints, but seven holy treads, Emmanuel on the way to Emmaus.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016