Tag Archives: joy

133. Joy (light 6)

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I find light filtering through into my life a joyful thing. When depression strikes, many people find the need to shut out the light. We draw the curtains and find somehow the false crepuscular half-light suits our mood better. Bright light can be simply too much, harsh or blinding, and this goes for those of us who suffer with processing disorders too. Lots of times during my illness I have needed to protect my eyes against the sunlight and artificial light in shops when my brain simply could not take it on board. Soft light, dappling through a curtain, or trees, or both, as here, has a gentle sweetness that lifts my spirits.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

 

115. Moustache (Humour 2)

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Okay, I’m not sure this really qualifies as a contemplative photograph, but what the heck! This was my finding humour in the large amount of hair I received as a gift for brushing our cat. So obviously it became a lovely handlebar moustache. Perhaps it is a good illustration of how we can take even the detritus of life and make something cheerful out of it. I hope it makes you smile. I like to think that contemplation (in whatever form) is almost always a bringer of joy.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

37: Back to Front

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In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV

This was Paul’s description of what was happening in the Macedonian churches as he wrote to the Church at Corinth. It sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it? How can joy overflow in the midst of a very severe trial? How can poverty well up into generosity? How can we give out joy we don’t have any reason to feel or be generous with things we don’t have?

Well, the short answer is, that in the earthly we can’t. You can’t fake joy, or magic something from nothing. But with God anything is possible, and when our joy and our riches have their source in him, then the outward circumstances are of little consequence to our effectiveness in these two areas in particular. Think of loaves and fishes, perhaps.

A contrast often strikes me when I see film footage from poorer places, between the wonderful smiles and laughter we see there, and the financially better off but miserable faces we get to look at close up over here. Joy clearly comes from somewhere deeper than our pockets. But to be able to experience so much of it in terrible times that it brims over to others? That is a tough ask. James also asks it of us straight away in the first chapter of his letter. It seems back to front and upside down to imagine that we can “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2 NIV)

Have you heard of the phrase “counter cultural” that gets bandied about a lot in churches? If we really understood just how counter to our culture the gospel of Christ was, I’m sure things would be very different. Because it is downright topsy-turvy. We are meant to be poor in spirit, meek, able to turn the other cheek, not take offence, give even more than we are asked for, and to love our enemies, amongst other things.

So, yes, also to be joyful when everything is pulling us towards despair. How can we do that? And the answer is, not by sticking our head in the sand and pretending all is well, but by our reliance on God’s goodness. By being constant in our prayers, and certain in our hope. By knowing that however hard it is here and now, all shall we well and all manner of things shall be well, one day. By understanding that all of these troubles are temporal, and that the eternal awaits us. It is not easy, it isn’t even human, but rather, divine. It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing in us that we can do this. Likewise, to be generous in poverty, is about learning to flow in love. It is giving the widow’s mite, finding different ways to give, including with our time, our listening ears, our compassion, our empathy, our wisdom, our creativity, or whatever we may have to give. It is all part of living within the abundance of God, life in all its fullness.

I hope that I might learn to live more like this. And perhaps my writing on this would mean less if I didn’t tell you that I have my fair share of tough stuff at the moment, and there is a lot of misery, trial and financial difficulty in my life. I choose to trust God, and to pray often. And some of that prayer is whinging prayer, I admit. But some of it is also thankful and joyous (mostly the parts where I’m listening rather than speaking). These back to front attitudes are hard to live out, but crucial to learn if we are to follow the King who serves.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo used under creative commons licence.

 

142: Dancing on the Beach

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Stepping forth from the thawed crest of a frozen wave, I stand gazing, immobilized by the strangeness of the sand, and the space so alien before me. Born from the belly of the whale, my cell now turned and gone with a splash and a dive; I know myself, but not what to do or how to tread, nor even yet how to breathe this fresh air, free from the smell of stale shrimp.

And the grin that breaks forth, as I have, when I see your face, your smile, and how you throw your head back joyously and reach out for my hands! And so I am pulled into the dance and the spinning, whirling colours are intoxicating, I cannot breathe for the air rushing into my resurrected lungs. So we turn, pirouetting, and we catch each other’s laughter, like a bouquet constantly thrown back and forth. And the waiting welcome committee in their terribly straight line, stand and fume, as we play and delight in this New Thing.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015

 

NB Photo is a placeholder whilst my copyright free reference library seems to be down! Will amend asap.

 

124: Hill

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The view was worth the climb perhaps, but that is not why you are here. For the purpose of reaching heights is to learn how to fall. Fall disgracefully then, Franciscan tumbling over your own free-flowing limbs, nursery rhyme rolling, shrieking with joy-fear, feeling the bumps and stones and collecting straw and goose grass orbs on your woollens and the memory of unfamiliar leafy aromas in your nostrils. Come to a full stop, breathless and delighted, bedecked in Gummidge-gear. Your straw woman cries, “Again, again!” as she heads, child-like, to run up the slope, neither the top nor the bottom able to hold her.

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015