Tag Archives: ego

50: Idolising

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King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,a and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:1 NIV

The culture of celebrity is a huge deal these days, but at least none of the walking egos that deign to grace our tv screens and magazines have gone to quite the lengths of King Nebuchadnezzar to persuade people to worship him. I’m sure there are some celebrity “personalities” who would like to have a 90-foot statue of themselves built out of pure gold, but fortunately none of them have gone that far just yet. Give it time and one of them will.

The scripture itself doesn’t specify that the statue is of the King himself, only that he sets it up and requires its worship, so it may in actual fact have been a statue of one of the Babylonian gods. But for our purposes let’s imagine it was of Nebuchadnezzar. Was this pure ego, or was it a canny way to discover those amongst his people who would not fall down and worship at his say so? Was it a way of controlling the populace? State religions have always had that dubious honour.

What might that do to a person’s spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health, to be literally idolized in this fashion? I truly dread to think. And yet, we all do this to some extent. I mock the famous people I think are egotistical above, knowing full well I am no better than they. What right do I have to set myself up as judge over their behaviour? All measuring and judging comes from a place of smugness, or self-righteousness, or of a desperation to imagine ourselves better than someone else so that we can proclaim ourselves worthy or entitled. This is how the ego defends itself. And if the world tells you that you are right, by making you a king or an heiress or a billionaire, if the world watches your every move and records your image constantly, then this may well feed your grasping ego to the point where it nears bursting with pride, and where it feels completely natural and right to feel superior.

Religion can have similar effects. We only have to look at the Pharisees to see that. And there is an ugly kind of salvation smugness that believes itself now so incapable of sinning that it happily looks down its long nose at everyone else’s moral behaviour, and usually through a microscope. Let us never forget then, not even long enough to write a scathing opening paragraph, that we are each a child of God, beloved beyond ideas of merit, and that each life and path is so different that it is impossible and ill-advised to fall into any comparison. As soon as we do that, we start building that golden statue in the coldness of our hearts.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay of a golden statue of Buddha in Urumqi, China, not disparaging Buddhism, just wanted a picture that shows the scale of a large gold statue and surprisingly there aren’t that many about. J

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14: Death Warrant

14 death warrant mensatic MF

“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

179: Castle

179 RoganJosh MF castle

Interior rooms await us once the drawbridge has been crossed with silver, and the battlements admired and passed under. And then the real journey begins, and we balk, and wonder why we came at all, or even started out. Because these are our secret places and our hidden armouries, and to open the heavy oaken doors and let the light of familiar divinity in, this is painful. Our lips crack in dry fear and our egos shriek as their ice shards fall in the thaw and crash into the moat, never to be seen again.

Yet. Deep in the smallest cellar, a trapdoor awaits the one who can navigate the spiral staircases of her own soul, and find the centre, leaving the grand ballrooms behind, chandeliers sparkling with anger, crystallised neglected debutantes. And shall she have the courage to lift the iron ring? And when she sees the sky beneath her and stands on the clear melted sand, will she realise that the fall is the Way, and take her life in her hands, letting the weight of her true self gather and build until it breaks the emergency looking glass and lets her pass through into the light?

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

 

170: Moat

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Photo by Jusben on http://www.morguefile.com

A ring around the Roses, river going nowhere, ouroboros snaking its way back to the start, over and over again. Goldfish asking, “Haven’t we been here before?” and “Are we nearly there yet?” like children in the back seat. Defence is the best offence, they say, full of eels and pike, slippery slopes and spiked jaws, ready to snap into action. Steep sides and woebetide anyone who clambers down in the drunken dark, larking for a swim and a kiss with the deep.

But what really stands between the inner sanctum and the world, the only boundary, the thinnest skin, the softest veil? A curtain of water, swirling thoughts and eddying pretences. And even if we drained you, wouldn’t we just be staring disappointedly into a muddy mire, fins faintly flapping here and there? Best you carry on going in circles then, and let the lilies float, remembering what is at stake and using the drawbridge when needs must.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

 

130: Pond

130 pond

Bulging frog eyes, lidded, the first drops of summer storm splatting on the lily platforms beside us. Till moments ago, a chorus sang advice and well-meaning platitudes all around. Now few remain, all flippers flapping downwards, into more familiar wetness where the world stays still. Above and between the waters, some are happy to be manhandled by excessive weather, bruised by heaven- sent tumbling globes, battered by dewdrops. We are refreshed and moved, renewed and serenely unsteadied, glad to know our own uncertainty, we laugh and croak in the rain.

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015