Tag Archives: heaven

Creating Encounter in Colour: Blue Pool

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Come lay yourself down on this lilo of leisure, close your screen-weary eyes and float to somewhere lostly deep. The pool is azure punctured with zaps of lightning sun, refracted zig zags of gold lapping at the lapis lazuli tiles. All is Mediterranean wonder and bright cobalt ceramic.

Feel the celestial coolness below you, imagine how the floor of heaven must feel to feet of bronze coming home after walking the earth on a summer’s day. Let your soul right itself, a Spirit levelled horizontally as you recalibrate your centre and plumb the depths in your mind’s eye. All other measuring can be released as the foolishness it is, attention given to cool turquoise surrounding you with softly undulating mammatus clouds of water, ripples kissing your sun-drenched skin and imparting life to arid places.

text © K Dibbens-Wyatt  Photo from Pixabay

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Lent 4

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When we receive as Manna a foretaste of heaven, we are still unsatisfied, because we want immediate gratification, immediate perfection, and instead we have to scrape our food off the desert floor. Bent down with our noses to the ground, we quickly become tired of the same fare, even when it tastes of heaven.

Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2018

Veil of Tears 100: Aging

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in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,” Ecclesiastes 12:3

It seems appropriate to pause on our hundredth day of looking at human misery and hope and wish ourselves a happy “century” by looking at old age. Here we have dear Eccles again, with a humorous metaphor of the aging body as a house or mill that is slowly coming to a frail halt. The limbs begin to shake, the back bows, the teeth are few, and the eyesight is not what it used to be. No it is not much fun getting older.

And yet… the Bible also tells us that there are compensations:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness,” (Proverbs 16:31 NIV) How different from the world’s insistence that we dye away every sign of grey and trim every unruly hair! The worldly, fleshly view places all the value and glory on the young, the good-looking, the fit and healthy, but it misses the treasure as always, of wisdom and insight and experience. We are forever asking questions about how to “do” church better, what vision to follow, how to be better disciples of Christ. Do we stop and ask the advice of those who have seen far more than we have, who have watched trends come and go and who have settled into a deeper place untouched by the ungodly ways of shifting culture?

Not all older people have chosen the path of wisdom of course, and one can find many who are entrenched in bitterness or so set in their ways that there is little good advice to be gleaned from their conversation. But so many have wonderful stories, almost whole lives to share with us, if we will just take the time to listen, to really listen, to watch the gleam in the eye and see the years fall to one side as they speak their histories and tales.

Another advantage to getting older is that we start to care less about the opinion of the world and of others, we hear the critical voices far less, and this can set us free to hear the deeper, more affirming word of God in our lives. It really can feel like a liberation to realise that we are no longer beholden to this temporal kingdom and can look further into an eternity that begins now and is all about love and encouragement. And sometimes, just sometimes, we meet an elderly person so close to that newness burgeoning within them, that their skin is translucent, not with age or frailty, but with becoming. And that is a signpost to heaven.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

Veil of Tears 88: Undeserving

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And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ “ Matthew 25:30 NIV

The parable of the talents from which our verse today is taken, is a difficult one for us. It seems to speak of a different way of doing things than seems fair. We are not used to the idea of someone being punished for having been afraid to act. And yet, perhaps the worthless servant’s real crime is to have judged his boss instead of doing his job. We are probably all guilty of that particular wrong!

But how awful to find ourselves denied the good things and rewards that others are given. This parable speaks to me of the difference between those who take what life gives them and try to do something with it, however hard a taskmaster circumstances seem to be, and those who don’t think it is their job to do very much except judge others harshly, expect payment for nothing and make excuses for having lived a life without any abundance to show for it.

If we live our lives under a curse of entitlement, doing nothing with our gifts and using nothing to bring abundance, expecting our existence to bring us rewards, then we will receive nothing in return. It is a sad state of affairs, but if we are this immature and lazy with our spiritual gifts and with the love of God given to us, then it is impossible for God to let us into the overflowing wonders of life in his kingdom, because we will not be able to use or understand them. It is for this reason, I believe, that such a person will be condemned to the outside, the Gehenna, the rubbish pit, rather than able to enter the New Jerusalem. Not that he or she is not allowed, or even necessarily judged morally wanting, but because they have stayed unable to make anything of goodness and love, and will not yet be open to its glories.

Selfishness is then, probably the worst thing we can suffer, because it leads nowhere and to nothing. If we close ourselves off and centre our being on our own wants and think nothing of others, then we will have learnt nothing at all. Reaching out, helping, loving and giving, this is where God’s kind of treasure lies. And paradoxically the more we give, the more we receive. This is not about earning our place in heaven, nor is it about being condemned for all eternity, as some might counsel. It is more about cultivating an awareness of the needs of others, in order to become mature and fulfilled ourselves. In order to become larger, better, to grow and flourish, this rooting in love is necessary. If we choose not to give, then we will find ourselves diminished and relegated to our own smallness.

We have all failed on this one, let’s not kid (pun intended!) ourselves. When Jesus separates us into sheep and goats, which is the next part of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, who amongst us can say that we always gave when there was a need? But we are told that most of our good deeds are unknown even to ourselves! I wonder then if the worthless servant and the goats are the parts of ourselves that need to be acknowledged and purged. Middle Eastern sheep and goats look very similar, when you think about it, so this is no easy task. Just as Jesus says the wheat and the tares must grow up together so that the good in the harvest remains unharmed, perhaps the same is true of the differences that exist even within each individual. These motives and ways of being are what the Lord needs to separate, to put aside, to deal with, in the crucibles of testing as with dear old Ebenezer Scrooge (above), so that the parts of us that cannot see heaven will die off, and the parts of ourselves that are capable of seeing and hearing, can then walk forward with our God, in this life and then in the next. Perhaps, in the end, this is about what needs to be left behind and understood as of no worth, before we can progress further into the Lord’s heart.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is tended receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless, and its curse is imminent. In the end it will be burned.” Hebrews 6:7 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo used under creative commons license

34: Homesick

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For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4 NIV

My first experience of home sickness was when I went to stay for a couple of nights with a school friend. I was about six years old. I thought it would be fun, but the whole time I just wanted to go home. I wanted familiar things and people around me, so I cried and cried. On the second day my friend’s parents drove us to the seaside, to Weston Supermare, a famous British beach where the tide goes out for miles. I wept the whole way there, desperate for home and my own parents, looking back out of the rear windscreen towards where I thought they were. The strength of my feelings shocked and upset me, and my hosts were none too pleased either. I remember my friend’s mother got particularly narked, since she was determined we were to have fun no matter what. This soppy six-year-old crying her eyes out was scuppering her perfect plans.

When things are extra tough as they are at the moment, I long for home. I really want to not have to face the daily grind of lack and ill health, and to be able to come home to my heavenly father’s dwelling place. I long for that sense of peace and the idea of being fully known. I have had a taste here on earth by the grace of God, of what that relationship might begin to taste like, and I yearn for more.

But there is work to be done. And this is true for all of us, whether we are consciously in the Lord’s service or not. I don’t know how my writing or art might ever be used of the Lord, but I hope it will be, and because I am his servant I must carry on. But I do not continue without groaning, or feeling burdened. I daily feel heavy with the heartache of it all.

One of my dearest friends calls me her snail, and hopefully not just because I am slow. These days I find that home is being with God and so in a way, I can carry my home around with me wherever I go. This is a great comfort. I love being creative and I love prayer which is the mainstay of my life, and these things sustain me in my tiny life, but there are many times when I feel like a castaway who often looks out to sea with a profound yearning to journey home, or like that little me who looked back through the car window all the way to the beach.

Paul speaks this longing out in his beautiful way, saying that we feel naked without our true bodies. An amazing metaphor for the hunger to be really ourselves, knowing deep down that we are immortal beings whose souls need to fly home to their legitimate nesting place in the heart of God, as one day we shall.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile

179: Castle

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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