Tag Archives: life

Creating Encounter in Colour: Blue Butterfly

Butterfly

Pain and exhaustion are consuming me today, and my head feels as though it is drowning in a blue mist, killing me softly.  I see a small blue butterfly, flitting in joyous abandon through the chalk meadow, as though a fragment of the summer sky had broken free and was dancing between the waters. I too, should like to be clothed in heaven and mantled in such azure delight.

Perhaps then, I might in turn see my fractured self break away on wings of lapis, the weight of suffering gradually becoming less and less, a blue ballast taking flight and allowing all to fall apart, as it finally should: my ashes softly scattering themselves amongst the bluebonnets and carrying me home.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt  Composite art by R R Wyatt  © used with permission.

130. Contrast (Light 3)

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Light and shadow together create beautiful patterns. This is true of all things in life, I think. Contrast, held in a moment, is often painful, but nevertheless, lovely.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

107. Life and Death (Juxtaposition 7)

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Wabi sabi, the Japanese call it when we see beauty in the ugly, or life within death – essentially beauty within imperfection. Put the two things together and they can often seem like two halves of a whole. Both are present, both are necessary. The death of a caterpillar is the birth of a butterfly, after all.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

At the Name of Jesus, Advent 8

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Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:16 NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Landscape of Love 97: Churchyard

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Ancient of Days, yew circles the holy ground and stands sacred guard. Her hollowness disguises fullness, and even her dank rotten places are teeming with abundant life; jewelled scarabs and luminescent fungi adorn the lightning wounds and tend the darkness. Toothed fort of the dead, domino headstones re-etched by lichen look ready to fall after centuries of marking mounds of mourning. And life, undeterred, springs up in grasses and buttercups, golden grails full of dew, bluebells ringing out the hours, a carpet of prayer covering the crypt.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

Landscape of Love 90: Circus

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The plates spin and the sweat beads on the brow under the harsh yet inadequate lighting. The speed of each circle on its axis all within a greater ring, enclosed and concentrated, the fear, the tension, the potential for ceramic disaster feeds contagion, and the audience all hold plastic chair edges with clammy curled fingers. To one side of this manufactured solar system, something star-like catches my eye, bright Middle Eastern warmth clothed in white. Up, out of my seat, flown to in outrageous love and melded with, heart to heart. Everything else flung to the purgatory of periphery. Here is the centrifugal force pinpointed, centred, begun. Here is the life-changing, heart singing, joy-giver. Here is the main attraction and the ringmaster, in whom all things hold together. Knock those plates flying! Come as partying Greeks and dash them to the ground! Spin and struggle and juggle no more! Hold fast only to the one thing that matters and be love, oh be love!

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

 

Veil of Tears 98: Disappointed

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They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed.” Job 6:20 NIV

When we get to our destination, and after all those hours travelling, that tearing of hair and yelling at the kids, having spent weeks washing and sorting the right laundry, waiting around in airports, and we find the hotel is infested with cockroaches, we are disappointed by circumstances.

When we put our all into something, maybe our heart into writing a poem, and no-one notices, worse, someone gives us harsh criticism, or we put our best efforts into a friendship and the friend ditches us at the first sign of someone who is better connected, we are disappointed by people.

When our dreams are tied up in frazzled nothing days where there is no time and we can’t get motivated, or the procrastination or our own self-doubts stop us from even thinking about beginning, then we are disappointed in ourselves.

And when our prayers seem to go unanswered and yet more difficulties come, and there is only silence where we were hoping for loving words and affirmation, then we can also find ourselves disappointed in God.

Hopes and dreams are wonderful things, but they are also deeply painful, concealing as they do, great pits of despair and disappointment which we fall into time and time again, the golden boughs above us laid as if purposely criss-crossed above the top of the hole, luring us into expectation and letting us fall flat on our faces. Life really can feel like that a lot of the time.

But the Lord does not give us hopes in order to cause us to fall into despair, and he does not give us dreams in order to have them break our hearts when they arrive in a different form to the one we imagined. Our God is a God of “endurance and encouragement” (Romans 15:5) and though often he works through miracles, we see over and over again in the Scriptures and in our lives, that he works far more frequently through the process of blessings. A growth and a blossoming, with all in its rightful place and season.

If the Lord gives us silence, or a no, then that is in some unfathomable way, what we need right now. It is sometimes, of course, that our own emotional pain is so loud we cannot hear over it, or through it, but where the silence is God’s, it is sent gently and with love. Perhaps it is an opportunity to exercise faith and patience, or an invitation to simply sit and learn to listen in a different way. Maybe it is a direction in itself to see the Lord in other things, to experience him in his creation, through other people, in our own actions and self-love, in liturgy, in any number of different ways rather than in the ways to which we have become accustomed and which are now, not enough on their own. The Lord is always wanting his relationship with us to become deeper, and wider, greater, more and more full, and more centred around his Trinitarian personhood. There are many times in our spiritual lives where a painful epiphany needs to move that forward. At such times, disappointment can be a catalyst, like a stick of dynamite that shifts some rubble and allows us to enter a new place, a new level of intimacy, a new room, perhaps of Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. We are downcast, disheartened, and so we move deeper into God, into that one necessity, that one being who is love, and who will, at the end of the journey, never ever disappoint us.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

 

Veil of Tears 97: Frozen

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Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased.” Exodus 15:16 ESV

Fear and terror can be numbing. We use the word “petrified” meaning turned to stone to describe that feeling of being so frightened that we can’t even move; we say we were so scared that we were frozen to the spot. Like a rabbit in the headlights, the fear overpowers us and although our only hope is to move, we simply cannot do it.

There is a phenomenon called sleep paralysis which is surprisingly common. This is where we wake during the night to find that we feel weighed down and unable to move. It is very frightening, but is a neurological paralysis caused by the body’s own self-defence mechanisms. It is put in place to stop us acting out the dreams we are having during REM and actually is quite normal. It is just frightening when it carries on over into waking. But it does pass and is usually nothing to worry about.

Likewise, the frozen reaction to fear happens for a reason. It is an age old response to overwhelming danger, the third option after the well-known “fight or flight.” If neither of these options is possible or credible, we may freeze. It is a lot like playing possum, a way of trying to convince the threat that we are not there, or not alive, or not worth chasing. Victims of violence often feel ashamed that they froze when attacked, but in actual fact, they were beyond their rational selves and only doing what the ancient survival programming was telling them to do. Sadly though, the frozen experience can become an ingrained part of the trauma.

Thank God that we serve the Lord who knows all this and made us just as we are. He understands the parts of us that need healing and knows that there are times for keeping still, things too scary to be faced, parts of ourselves and our histories we need to protect ourselves from, things that cannot be outrun. Gently he will lead us to the cure.

Like Aslan breathing warm life into the statues frozen in front of the White Witch’s palace, he comes with a gradual freedom that will enable muscles to move again; hope that will help us find the determination and courage to stretch, and an abundance of grace and mercy that as we take it in, will enable us to forgive, to begin again, to come back to life.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

77: Overwhelmed

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“From the ends of the earth,

I cry to you for help

when my heart is overwhelmed.

Lead me to the towering rock of safety,” Psalm 61:2 NLT

 

We’ve mentioned being overwhelmed by problems, horror, and things that annoy us. Perhaps now is a good time to talk about emotional overwhelm. Those times when we feel so much that it is like we are just gasping for a breath when another wave of sorrow or shock rolls over us. Grief is a lot like that, and if you are a highly sensitive person, watching the news can have a similar effect. As I write, the western world is still reeling from the Orlando killings, and a Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, has been murdered here in the UK yesterday.

We can feel, in the aftermath of such events, completely adrift in a sea of unfamiliar or difficult emotions. We can’t imagine how horrendous it is for the families involved, but even at a distance we feel swept out of control by our feelings of sadness and disbelief that these things can happen. When these are the stories in the media, even the small disturbances in our own lives can send us into heights of anxiety and depths of despair, because we were already hurting so badly. Writing (and reading) about the dark things of life as we have been doing, can also be too much. This blog has even been rather intense the last few days. I will try to space out the really tough stuff so that we can stay on an even keel.

Sometimes, even good things happening can feel utterly overwhelming. I have a book coming out soon and that is great, but still a strain on a person with delicate health. There are days when we feel that the mixture, or juxtaposition of good and bad, joy and sorrow, can itself feel like a seesaw we are incapable of coping with, a rollercoaster we just do not feel capable of riding.

What does the scripture advise us to do at such times? To cry out to God. To know that in him we can find (as most translations put it) “the rock that is higher than I.” Our God is higher ground, a safe place, a tower or a plateau where we can get our breath back and get our emotional spirit levels balanced. Let us then, make the time to rest in him when everything around us is too much and our racing hearts are struggling to beat with his.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay