Tag Archives: healing

Creating Encounter in Colour

Relic chapel

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,

Keren

 

167. Turquoise (colour 12)

aqua

This top of a deodorant bottle looks from this angle like a fantastical long lost dinosaur egg (okay I do have an overactive imagination, but still). Aqua has a special glow to it that speaks of healing and gentleness. It makes me think of underground caves and verdigris, and of Mary too, as my Marian prayers book has a lovely turquoise cover. Aegean seas and peace, the calm of deep waves rolling in. Softness and maybe the otherworldliness of something as yet unhatched.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

 

Landscape of Love 91: Grotto

91 grotto-1095054_1280

Pale blue lady, aqua mantled, kindness gazing out from your alabaster face, carved deep into the rock and our hurting souls. You smile, and the world is changed. Adoring the love on your dappled skin, ripples of reflected grace, the water feels less cold somehow, though we are up to our necks; and the tide is of no concern, merely the sea breathing: in and out, in and out. A caverned womb of healing, where we might be knit together once more, and our stretched sinews feel the call to entwine and relax. We go under and rise again, replenished by the carrier of living water.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

 

Veil of Tears 94: Harsh Words

harsh words child-1439468_1920 Counselling pixabay

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” James 3:9 NIV

Don’t you just hate that saying, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but names will never hurt me,”? It is the most ridiculous lie to instil into children. Name-calling and vicious words wound us just as much as if they did physical harm, and the injuries can take far longer to heal. In addition, the wrong word spoken to us, if we take it on board, can turn our course as surely as the rudder in James’ analogy can turn a whole ship.

Harsh words about my painting from a teacher when I was six stopped me investigating art or the possibility of my own creativity being at all worthwhile. It took nearly forty years to undo that particular sentence’s power over me. A few words are all it takes to break a relationship irretrievably, or to hurt someone so badly that they will never recover. It is also all it takes to hurt ourselves, for once words are spoken or written (and read) they cannot be unsaid or rolled back into our mouths.

In ancient times people spoke words as spells or incantations, believing words to have power. In the Bible we see people and God speaking blessings and curses over others. It is a solemn and precious thing to be able to have an effect on people’s lives by pronouncing truths and promises on their heads. We can say it is all mumbo jumbo, but whatever we hear about ourselves will mark us in some way, especially if it is said by people we love, or who profess to love us. Harsh words, ridicule, insults from a parent or grandparent, or (perhaps inevitably) siblings, are most likely to cause us real pain and form a barrier not only in those relationships but between ourselves and our own sense of self-worth or belonging. Gossip, lies, slander and the tabloid press are also power tools for hurt, causing swathes of untold damage.

Unkind words hurt us right at our very core. They unbalance our confidence, make us doubt ourselves and our value, push us into thinking we are somehow less than others or that we are unsightly or blemished, either outside or in. And because the wounds are invisible, they often go unnoticed and therefore unhealed. Half the time we accept them as truth so deep down (especially if they tap into similar lies told us as children) that we don’t even know that we are swallowing more lies. These untruths are like knots that we need help to untie.

As God’s people, we must pour out gentle words, affirmations and blessings and encouragements, where there have been nasty or vitriolic or untrue things said. This is part of our kingdom work, to heal the world with our tongues. To be the difference, to sing the praise of our fellows in their likeness to their heavenly father. To help each one of us make that connection, so that we can see that we too are lovely. To reteach one another our loveliness as poet Galway Kinnell has it.

When God speaks his love over us of course, we may rely on it, for God’s word always accomplishes what it sets out to do (Isaiah 55:11) and so we can also depend upon his promises, his character and his goodness. For God’s words are always truth and always working for love. Likewise, our speech should be tempered wherever possible with gentleness and grace. There is no more important time to ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” than when we are about to open our mouths.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

74: Night Terrors (trauma trigger warning)

 

74 night terrors CORRIDOR 13

When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine.” Job 7: 13-15 NIV

Given that Job had been through a set of traumatic losses, it is perhaps no wonder that he began to exhibit the symptoms of what we might well recognise today as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Two of the worst parts of this distressing condition are the reliving of the trauma, like a waking nightmare, and what we call night terrors, which are horrifically realistic nightmares, of such power that shake and scream in your sleep. In a bad phase, getting any real rest, let alone refreshing sleep, is nigh on impossible. I can’t help but feel this is what Job is describing here, it sounds so similar.

In any case, there is no rest from the horror of what he has been through. We might think he is mistaken in attributing this part of his suffering to his body, as it seems a straightforwardly mental disorder, but this is not the case. More and more we are finding that the body holds the memory of traumatic events and replays them, reacting in fight or flight modes. An episode triggered by a memory (this can be anything, even a song, a phrase, sound or taste that has some kind of connection to whatever happened to us) is intensely physical as well as emotional and mental. Trauma sufferers experience their pain holistically and it is one of the reasons it is so horrendous.

Another effect of great suffering and loss is that we lose our hope. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope,” says Job, “…and my eyes will never see happiness again.” (Job 7: 6-7 partial NIV). Thankfully as we read Job’s story, we find that it does have a happy ending, since the second half of his life is doubly blessed and he receives a great deal more than he ever did before. But, perhaps tellingly, there is no mention of healing. I personally believe that Job’s wholeness is restored by and in his encounter with the Living God. Such an encounter, which chooses to meet us where we are without answering our myriad of questions; which chooses to show us the great I AM in all the Lord’s glory (and therefore goodness), is powerful beyond all measure and redeems all our suffering, perhaps just as much by a healing of our perspective as of our wholeness as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from morguefile

If you or someone you love is affected by PTSD do check out the help available via your medical practitioner/GP  Here is a useful link: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/#.V2P6m8vSnIU

49: The Incurable Wound

48 WOUND pixabay

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?” Jeremiah 18:15 ESV

 

As a chronically sick person, I can so identify with Jeremiah’s way of expressing his and Israel’s pain in this way. The help that doesn’t come is unbearable. Spiritual wounds can feel like this too, never-ending, incurable, seeping and festering.

In my prayer time today the Lord shared with me about the idea of a “soul wound,” a place in us where the enemy finds a potential weakness. He wounds us there, and keeps stabbing away at the same place over and over again, so that each time we think we have got a handle on it and found healing, it is opened up again and never gets a chance to truly be made well. We looked back over the toughest times in my life and I saw in a way I’ve not been able to comprehend before, that each time I was soul wounded, it happened in several similar areas. I wonder if this is the same for other people too? It could be a myriad of things. Loneliness, helplessness, disappointment, misunderstanding, cruelty, abuse, violation of boundaries, addiction, fear of commitment, running with the crowd. You name a weakness and it is doubtless exploitable. The thing is, if the devil can keep picking away at the scab, and sticking those places with any sharp object he can find, that place will become weaker and weaker and its defence non-existent. So we end up with a seemingly incurable wound.

But what I was also shown, was that each of these wounds is based on or around a lie which we can counteract with scripture. So, for instance, a false aim, like trying to be good enough for God to love you. The premise that you need to strive to be good enough is a lie. You don’t need to try, because you never will be good enough for God to love you. God loves you now, already, as you are. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 NLT) God does the doing in this relationship. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

Another one might be finding yourself constantly misunderstood. The lie here is that no-one understands you. But God does.

You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139: 1-4 NIV

Unike Achilles, most of us have more than one dodgy heel, those places where a correctly thrown dart or spear can get under our skin and slow us down. To be sure of what they are, we can listen to the discouraging voices that appear whenever we resolve to do something good, kind or for God. These will most likely also be the same discouragements that try to tempt us away from God’s will. They nearly always have their roots, just as temptations do, in three kinds of misrepresentation. Misrepresentation of God’s word: “did God really say that?” asks the serpent, pointing out other verses and counting on us not to bother to check their validity, context or cultural relevance. Misrepresentation of God’s character: “is God really good? He wouldn’t have done that if he were! He wouldn’t have given me these parents, let that happen” etc. And lastly the misrepresentation of our identity and worth in Christ: “you’re no good, you’re not good enough, you’ll never measure up”, and at the other end of the worth spectrum, “I deserve better, I’m better than that, I don’t need to lower myself.”

Our countering must be swift in order to stop the rot. Just as Jesus came back at the enemy in the wilderness with a neutralising scripture as the antidote to his poison, so can we. Scripture is holy, God is good, there is no condemnation in Christ. And so for every wound there is a lie and many corresponding truths. If we can gather the strength to collect some of these scriptures together, we might make a poultice from their collective goodness, applying them often as a balm to those stubborn wounds. In this way healing can gradually come and the truth really can set us free.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

 

40: Put it Away!

giraffe

if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. 16You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.” Job 11:14-16 NIV

So here is some of the rest of Zophar’s speech to Job, who is sitting, sick, boil-covered and grief-stricken on the dungheap of terrible suffering. Zophar’s logic is that Job couldn’t possibly be suffering this much as an innocent, he must have done or be doing something terrible. As soon as he turns from his wicked ways and repents, everything will suddenly go right with his life.

Sadly, this is still a nonsense that gets thrown around at the sick and the hurting today in church. I know, because I’ve had this boomerang hurled at me enough times. Put the sin away from yourself and suddenly all will be well. Well I say, put that self-righteous, ignorance away and I might be more inclined to listen to you!

Of course habitual sin is bad for us, and of course no-one is without sin. But when Jesus’ disciples see a blind man begging at the roadside, and ask, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus treats the question as the nonsense it is. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:2-3 NIV To the Lord, every piece of suffering is an opportunity to put things right. It is an opening for grace to be encountered, not a time to talk of blame or sin. God answers Job’s suffering with encounter, and Jesus does the same with the man born blind. Encounter for this man brings healing, but it also (maybe even more importantly) allows this man to become an evangelist. He turns out to be a very vocal and courageous supporter of the gospel, defying the leaders of the synagogue and even his own parents to tell the truth about Jesus.

I don’t pretend to know a great deal about healing, it’s a very complicated subject often, but I believe that with God, encounter and healing are always about wholeness. God doesn’t deal with us in bits, the way that our modern medical systems are geared to do. If God heals you physically, he will most likely heal your purpose and your being, and I think this is why he says to so many that he heals, “Your sins are forgiven you,” not because it was their sin causing the harm, though sometimes holding in hurts can cause us great bodily, mental and emotional grief, but because the transformational work he does treats us as entire, complex and spiritual beings.

In any case, most of us who are genuinely seeking God, like Job, and hopefully those of us in church, find one of the toughest things to do is forgiving ourselves (hence perhaps Jesus’ reassurance), we really don’t need any help looking for inner or “hidden” sins. If you are sick a long time, believe me, you’ve done a lot of soul searching already.

Equating sin with punishment in this life is to not understand the grace and the goodness of God. The Lord is all compassion and mercy and loving kindness. The greatest barrier and the greatest help to healing in the gospels is faith or lack of it, and usually this is the faith of the person or people praying for the sick, as it is also in James’ letter. We are scripturally more at liberty to blame our intercessors when healing doesn’t come, rather than those being prayed for. But blame in all its forms is to rather miss the point. Zophar and the rest of Job’s “friends” do this rather spectacularly. Suffering that presents an opportunity for God to be given glory is just not on their radar. I wonder if it is on ours?

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Artwork “Put it Away!” by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

 

137: Canopy

canopy 137

A covering of grace; fragrant prayers rising from those standing by, holding their hands out in holy harbouring, cottoned hips brushing gently. A lifting breeze, wafting the satin roof, filling her empty sail with healing winds, carrying cares onwards to the compassionate sunlit gaze of fresh waters. A veil between two worlds, thin as a butterfly wing, is this mantle of intercession, this gossamer woven of well wishes, hanging over her head. Untouchable now, sheltered and sustained, transported into wounded palms, fronds fluttering up and down above her, undulating waves of love.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015