Tag Archives: death

Creating Encounter in Colour: Blue Butterfly

Butterfly

Pain and exhaustion are consuming me today, and my head feels as though it is drowning in a blue mist, killing me softly.  I see a small blue butterfly, flitting in joyous abandon through the chalk meadow, as though a fragment of the summer sky had broken free and was dancing between the waters. I too, should like to be clothed in heaven and mantled in such azure delight.

Perhaps then, I might in turn see my fractured self break away on wings of lapis, the weight of suffering gradually becoming less and less, a blue ballast taking flight and allowing all to fall apart, as it finally should: my ashes softly scattering themselves amongst the bluebonnets and carrying me home.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt  Composite art by R R Wyatt  © used with permission.

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107. Life and Death (Juxtaposition 7)

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Wabi sabi, the Japanese call it when we see beauty in the ugly, or life within death – essentially beauty within imperfection. Put the two things together and they can often seem like two halves of a whole. Both are present, both are necessary. The death of a caterpillar is the birth of a butterfly, after all.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

Landscape of Love 97: Churchyard

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Ancient of Days, yew circles the holy ground and stands sacred guard. Her hollowness disguises fullness, and even her dank rotten places are teeming with abundant life; jewelled scarabs and luminescent fungi adorn the lightning wounds and tend the darkness. Toothed fort of the dead, domino headstones re-etched by lichen look ready to fall after centuries of marking mounds of mourning. And life, undeterred, springs up in grasses and buttercups, golden grails full of dew, bluebells ringing out the hours, a carpet of prayer covering the crypt.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

Landscape of Love 95: Catacombs

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Cocooned in leaves, wrapped like fresh caught fish, woven into casings by the zig zag zipped silken spinnings of grace, here we curl up and die, and wait for new life. Here we lie and dream of spacious places where our feet will soon be set, whilst the world sees only a fresco of shallow caves, grave in their claustrophobic smallness. Inside, our wings form and we fly, my brothers, my sisters, we fly!

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

 

14: Death Warrant

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“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 2 Samuel 11:14-15

Evil begins slowly but surely and escalates out of control almost on its own. This murderous letter, delivered by the loyal hand of its victim, had its beginnings in sloth and boredom. For King David decided to stay at home in the Spring, instead of traditionally going off with his armies to war. Was he tired of killing perhaps? Was he weary of fighting? Bored and with nothing to do, he wanders on the palace roof and lusts after a woman he can see bathing. How easy it must be to look down on the rest of the world as your own from the top of a palace! We all know the rest of the story. Bathsheba is sent for (you don’t refuse the King), she gets pregnant; David racks his brains and does everything he can think of to get Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife so that the child will seem his and get David off the hook. But Uriah won’t play the game, and he ends up dead for his integrity. David, avoiding the killing of war, ends up committing adultery and murder.

 

Life and death are incredibly unfair often. But fairness is more of a human concept than a divine one. Our God is not as interested in fairness as he is in justice. David will be made to answer for his crimes, but others will have to live or die because of them. Free will has a high price tag attached to it. David is one of God’s favourites, a special and anointed friend of the Living God, picked out for an amazing relationship with the Lord, and yet he too was capable of being sucked into a vortex of sin.

We talk, in the Church, of falling from grace, of backsliding, we are aware that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, and that we walk on as redeemed sinners. All is indeed paid for, but our sinful nature still overtakes us, and the need to constantly turn back to the Lord, renewing our vows and our loyalty, this is a process that we have to repeat again and again, but it is also one we can do under the new covenant in a joyful instant of remembering God’s goodness and mercy, and one we can receive without performing any penance (though I understand and respect why the Catholic Church still uses this idea). I like to think of this process as a pendulum, swinging back to the centre over and over, and the movements becoming smaller and smaller as we remember God’s heart more and more swiftly, until we appear to have stopped altogether. In reality we are turning back to God so quickly that he becomes the centre of our stillness. This is humility. It does us good to confess our sins to one another as James advises, to those we trust, and also to do so before God in the prayer of examen, so that we can turn the tide of the smaller sins before they swell into a flood of wrongdoing that threatens to overwhelm us and those we seek to harm.

We are so expert at covering our own tracks and building ourselves up in our own minds, that if we are not careful, we have spun a web of intrigue for the saving of our own faces and egos before our feet hit the floor in the morning. This service to ego and to our own pleasure-seeking is a certain choosing of death, and not just for ourselves, for the choice between life and death is one we make every moment and flows out into the lives of everyone around us. The Lord is the giver of life, and we are his children, so let us be channels of life and of love.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com

4: Dust to Dust

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“All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”

Ecclesiastes 3:20

 

Since our theme for this year is misery and brokenness, I suspect we shall be revisiting Ecclesiastes (known in our house as the Book of Eccles) quite often. Seen as quite a depressing collection of wisdom sayings, I grow fonder of it as I grow older, for the sight here is plain and free of ego, and all is laid bare. This facing of facts is refreshing in a Christian culture that seeks to put a positive spin on everything.

Because sometimes, there isn’t a silver lining, only more cloud. Some people never get to see their potential fulfilled (in fact, I’d argue that most don’t). Some people don’t even get to be born, or they leave us far too early because of a drunk driver, or because they were a drunk driver. Or they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Reminding us that the main certainty in life is that we are all headed for death, is actually quite comforting to me, and it can be so not from a nihilistic point of view, that such thinking makes life devoid of all meaning, but because it reinforces the transient and temporal nature of this earthly life and our often weary or slowly disintegrating bodies.

We are all, like it or not, falling to bits, and the real questions are not about how we avoid that, or stay fit or try to look younger, or find our God-given health and prosperity (and yacht, don’t forget the yacht), but rather, what do we believe that makes this life bearable? What is actually the meaning that transcends the dust? Can we live with the faith that eternity with our Lord is the real prize? That there is a part of us that returns home to him at the end of our days and is free?

If we cannot see beyond our three score and ten, we are blind indeed, and whilst God is intimately interested in all we do, and does have plans for us, loving us in our flesh so much that he chose to live out a life within it too, it is our immortal spirit that truly needs to find its way. And we begin that journey here and now, for the Kingdom of God, the realm of the eternal, is indeed near at hand, close as our own breath.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com

193: Tomb

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Laid out cold, frankincense rising. Your spirit soars downwards through the stone manger, and the fall is into the arms of an unseen victory. The echo of it rises and fills the empty chamber, music to heal the world when it is set free. For now, your swaddled form sleeps and far away you wake, embracing death as you did life, in all its fullness.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

192: Place of Skulls

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Three prongs of a wooden pitchfork await us then, after the long and bloody climb that births a new pilgrimage. Flesh already shredded, hanging limp, needing lifting. A mock rising, a thorny gehenna, human refuse disposed of along with God’s golden boy. No longer any separation between the holy of holies and the thieving murderers, the wheat and the tares burn together, and the incense that rises opens the gates of heaven and hell, and all is let loose, so that even the moon burns and the sun melts and the curtain is unseamed.

Everything falls apart here, and the unexpectedness of its totality catches the enemy unawares, open mouthed, jaw in another dimension. All history transfixed by this pivot of pained perfection, in which everything is held together, in this eternal, beautiful, brokenness.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

 

178: Oil Field

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The black gold oozes, rich as Croesus, from ancient ferns, leaking aeons everywhere. Time spreading out, bursting forth, rising in inky geysers. We bottle it in tankers, sending it forth into a world thirsty for diesel, choking on its own compacted addiction.

But here, deep under the derricks, where the sound of pistons cannot reach, the blackness is softly dark and quietly blanketing the rocks, soothing them to sleep. Trickling Texan treacle treasure, the compost of centuries. What legacy shall our laying down of death sow, spread on the mantle of earth? Will our ground bones and cremated dust one day be dug out, sparkling and true, given new life as fossil fuel? How we shall laugh, looking down from the stars!

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

 

129: Depths

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Down in the turquoise blue I see shapes as I skim across the water like a winged stone. My dragon eyes pick out fossil, skeletal structures in waiting, impatient for flesh to find them. The framework is all given, ready for the making now that it has been glimpsed. For what are we all waiting for but life? And what are we all constructed of, but our inner workings? To be clothed in art, truth and glory, this is our destiny.

And meanwhile, we sit on the seabed, sleeping, on the rock shelf, straining to see beyond the meniscus. We need the mantle to be passed on, a wrapping, ravelling, a new skin, now that we are down to the bare bone.

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015