Tag Archives: emotions

173. Patronus (Imagination 3)

patronus

The light coming through curtains quite often makes a picture here and there, thanks to our chum pareidolia, and today I saw a stag that made me think of the protective patronus in Harry Potter. IT is an interesting barometer of our inner state, what we “choose” to see in the light and shadows around us. If we are feeling fearful, the patterns can seem threatening, if we are peaceful, there might be a dove or a butterfly. The subconscious always affects our seeing, and this is another thing we need to be aware of when practising contemplation.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

 

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85. Psychic Vampires (Empathy, Lent 26)

85 vampires pixabay

I don’t venture out into the world much, due to my illness and disability, but when I do, I often seem to attract people with a sort of heaviness attached to them. I don’t know if you will know what I mean. They are the people that others try to avoid, and who make a beeline for me. If I had the energy to spare, I would be more giving with them, but as I simply don’t, it often causes me great difficulty. My husband steers me (sometimes literally) away from them. He calls them psychic vampires, people who just drag you down into their difficulties – not just once – but over and over again, so that you feel they are sucking you dry. They do not listen to or take advice, they just want to use you as a mirror to confirm their own reflection (bizarre behaviour for vampires). Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about everyone who is suffering or having troubles, not at all! But the very few whose centre is their own suffering, and whose ears are closed to everyone else’s. I want to think compassionately today about what makes such folk tick.

It’s not that I mean to be a burden, I don’t even realise that I am one. To me it is just that I am leaning on you. I like to be listened to and my problems may be the same ones over and over again, but they are what defines me. The fact that I’m stuck helps me to find an identity as a sufferer. It is all done unconsciously and without malice. If I realised any of this “out loud” as it were, I’d probably be mortified. To me, my neverending cycle of problems is fascinating and impossible. Other people seem to have it so much easier and be able to escape their difficulties. I cannot understand why I can’t, even as I hang onto them with every breath. I treat everyone I meet as a new best friend, or as a parent, because those are the very people who never listened when I was small. So it may seem as though I’m relying on you too much, but I feel as though I’m paying you the great compliment of making you my confidante, even though at the same time my problems overwhelm me so much that I cannot remember a thing about your life.

Photo from Pixabay, text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

36: Lament

36 lament 640px-Western_wall_jerusalem_night pub domain

I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds have all fled and the animals are gone.” Jeremiah 9:10 NIV

 

Laments are something we don’t really do in the western northern hemisphere any more. I think this speaks volumes about the illusions we surround ourselves with. We seem to think that because we have more that we feel less. We seem to understand the world and our emotions in terms of satisfied stomachs and libidos, instead of realising that our hearts are deeper and more easily affected than that.

There are a lot of things to lament, and the loss of wildlife, as in the prophecy above, might well be one of them. Our so-called progress has come at a very high price. We might then, sing or pen a lament about the cruelty to animals, the intensivity of farming or consumer culture, or the oppression of the poor that marks our modernity. We might, in the UK today, sing a lament about the way the junior doctors and the NHS are being treated by the government, or about the rise in use of food banks, or about the refugee crisis.

We need also to sing personal laments, songs of our own misery, not to wallow in the sadness, but to express it. We all have griefs in our lives, and our society does not teach us what to do with them. Some will affect us for the rest of our lives, a loss, a bereavement, an assault, these are things that should be lamented, for those powerful emotions stuffed back down inside will squash our inner selves and suffocate the joy that longs to well up to counter them.

Lamenting is healthy and about giving voice to truth. The Psalms teach us the very best ways to lament, for even in desolate sadness they always come back to a hope in the Living God. Our feelings must never rule us on their own, they need to be tempered by reason and love. This is precisely why they need expression. Our stiff upper lips need permission to wobble a bit and let go. There is no sense in pretending all is well, no medals in life given out for telling everyone everything is going swimmingly when you feel like you are drowning. Let it out, let it go, express it, hear it, learn from it. Repeat if necessary, whenever you feel overwhelmed, especially if you are grieving, which is a never-ending process in many ways. But like breath, don’t hold it in.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

public domain photo, the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem