Tag Archives: mystic

Lent 3

House Finch from James Scott Smith 2 small

The chambers of my heart are open for God to fly in. For there is an altar here to his name, and like the sparrow in the psalm he comes to make his nest before it. In love, I do the same thing in his heart. I in you and you in me.

See Psalm 83:4, John 17:21

Art and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2018 (inspired by a reference photo by James Scott Smith with kind permission)

Advertisements

Eye of Horus 1: New Sight

ank-1215064_640-horus-little-pix

So, I was all set up ready to start the new year with a new blog. 2016’s blogging year had become rather a hodgepodge, thanks to chronic exhaustion and a fair few life disasters which intruded into all my activities. This time I wanted to start fresh, have it all clear and ready to go right from January 1st instead of starting in April as I’d done before. I had it all worked out in my head, it seemed good, and then I made the mistake of taking it to God in prayer more deeply than I had before, to make sure it had his blessing. “No,” He said, “it’s going to be called The Eye of Horus.”

Right. That’s an ancient Egyptian god, yes? Great name for a Christian blog. The name floated in the back of my consciousness for a while, as God things tend to do, a little nagging awareness of something I needed to get my head and heart around. I did some research, and discovered that, in the ancient myths, rather than just being a distinctive image of a highly made up eye (my name, incidentally, is Hebrew for “horn of eyelash paint”) the left eye of Horus was torn out when he and Set were fighting for the throne after Osiris’ death, and then restored, and then given over to Osiris, in order to resurrect him. So, the Eye of Horus is a symbol of new life, resurrection, wholeness, healing, restoration as well as traditionally protection, royal power and good health.

In daily Egyptian life, depictions of the eye were used as pictographs for fractions, each piece of the picture being worth a certain part of the whole. For me, then, praying this symbolism through, it became clear that this year will be about the restoring of sight, fragment by fragment, part into whole, and this seems to sit right with a world that is constantly losing sight of what really matters.

Jesus talked about sight a great deal, especially spiritual sight, and how easily it can be skewed: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.   But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22 NIVUK)

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29 NIVUK)

“‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIVUK)

A few days before Christmas, I dropped my beloved little Samsung point and click digital camera. The zoom stopped working and the pictures all came out very fuzzy. Now, I’m not much of a photographer, but recording sweet moments and pieces of my art, and finding beauty in our tiny garden, are very important parts of my confined life. Thankfully I hadn’t yet spent my parents’ Christmas money, and was able to put that towards a new camera in the sales. Another sign of a broken eye, and a new eye to replace it, perhaps? Or is that stretching a point too far? In any case, it feels right to make this a largely visual blog, using photos taken with a contemplative eye, a caring eye, a spiritual eye, a creative eye, a new eye, for this coming new year.

I often describe myself, as you know, as a mystic. This raises a few eyebrows here and there, but all it really means is one who sees. (I think of myself also as from the Catchphrase school of Christian mysticism – I say what I see!) And perhaps as we journey together this year you will gain insights into what kind of seeing I mean by this. And I pray the fragments will form some kind of wholeness by the end of the year.

I know there will be words too, because with me, there are always words. And I am doing nothing much bar framing the shot, unlike those who make contemplative photography into an art form, like my friend Kate (do check out her amazing blog, Shot at Ten Paces). But I hope you will join me in this prayerful journey, and that we will find some new ways of looking, of seeing, and find our sight restored in plentiful ways.

Blessings, and Happy New Year to all!

Keren x

51: Ignored

stream based on rose marie mattear pfa

For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:19 NIV

Believe me that when you start out to be a writer, you foolishly imagine that people will read your work. It seems simple enough: you write words, other people read them. But the world is so market driven and hurried now that without the right contacts or advertising, you are unlikely to find many people with the time or inclination to pay your writing any attention, however much you may believe you are the next Charlotte Bronte or Steven King. Thank you for being one of those who does take the trouble to read.

Fortunately for everyone else, ignoring my blogs, books and articles doesn’t have the same consequences as ignoring God’s words. This verse is an explanation of why awful things are going to befall the people of Israel. Not listening to God is very hazardous to your health. It is also foolish, for who else can tell you all you need to know? In those days, God spoke mainly through his prophets, and though the Lord still does this today we have the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of course available to all believers, and so as well as the Bible to speak his words, we have an intimate and astounding relationship with the Lord on offer. Within that treasure we can hear and receive all manner of amazing encouragement, direction and blessing, especially if we take the time and trouble to learn how to lean into the Lord and tune into his wavelength.

As a mystic before I am anything else, it is the listening that defines the rest of my life, including how I live out my faith. Loving the Lord gets easier and easier the more time you spend with him, and hearing his voice likewise. Like the sheep that come to know the voice of their shepherd, time in the pasture is our best and richest spiritual seam. We come to know the images he uses, the things he certainly would NOT say, and we gradually become familiar with the calm delight of experiencing the gentleness of a bubbling brook that laughs and sings softly underneath the hubbub of the world’s noise. Who would want to miss out on that?

 

Words and artwork © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

15: Cruelty

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.” Judges 15:3-5 NIV

There is, whether we choose to admit it or not, an awful lot of cruelty portrayed in the Bible. Some people ignore it because they think it reflects badly on God, or that it contradicts his loving nature. I’ve heard it said many times that the Bible contradicts itself or doesn’t add up, and this is said as often by Christians (albeit whispered) as by those who’ve never opened a Bible in their lives.

But there it is, in black and white. Those poor foxes! And the violence quickly escalates. In the next verse, Samson’s wife and her father are burned to death, then he wreaks revenge, then the Philistines come at him with three thousand men, and he slays a thousand of them. For me, such episodes are a part of our relationship with God because they are a part of our lives. Cruelty, unfairness, nastiness, vicious horror, are things people do to one another and to animals.

We might accept that most awful things in the Scriptures are perpetrated by humans, but perhaps the reason we balk at it being part of a Bible story, is because God seems to use it. Verse 4 of the previous chapter bears this out: “(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)” (Judges 14:4 NIV) How can such awfulness be part of his plans? I say that he doesn’t work through such things by choice, but because we choose to make them part of our lives, he redeems them in part by using them for his own, good ends.

Mother Julian of Norwich received a seeing that made her very sure that all the sin and suffering life on earth goes through, will be redeemed by yet another action of Christ’s, akin to or part of what he did on the cross, or something equally wonderful and mysterious, once we come to the end of days (Chapter 36, Revelations of Divine Love). It is a hope I hold onto gladly, since there seems to be so much that we all suffer, so much unnecessary pain, violence and betrayal. It makes sense that we should one day understand it will all be made right. This is one of the reasons behind the constant refrain in God’s relationship with her, “All manner of things shall be well.” In this hope, I believe we can trust, and not just because of her proclamation of it, but because it is the message borne out by all biblical stories, and the Bible itself as a whole.

The story of our relationship with God is messy, it has more X ratings that you could throw a stick at, more gore and intense violence than we can stomach. But such is the nature of humankind, as is quickly borne out by the savagery we still dish out to foxes in the UK today, despite hunting with dogs being ostensibly illegal.

Thankfully, we also reflect the goodness and mercy of our Father God and we also live under his auspices. He can and does turn anything around, so that even wanton cruelty can be harnessed for good. It doesn’t make the action right, and it doesn’t minimise the suffering, but it does give us a hope in a Creator who knows our hearts and still chooses to work with their darkness, which shall be overcome.

“It is true that sin is the cause of all this pain, but all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” (Thirteenth Revelation, chapter 27, Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich)

 

 

Text and artwork ©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Fox from a reference photo by Rev. Jeannie Kendall, with permission.