Tag Archives: Samson

31: Cave Man

31 cave stocksnap

He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.” Judges 15:8

I am thinking about caverns, the places we hide ourselves or retreat to today, and this example from the life of Samson intrigued me. When we’ve been through something traumatic or exhausting, a cavern seems like a good place to be. We often draw ourselves in, like a snail into its shell, treating our own bodies or homes as a sanctuary, a place to lick our wounds or just take some time to breathe and recover ourselves.

For some of us, this can take many years. I often see it written or hear it said that men need “cave time” after confrontation or difficulty, but I think the same is true of women too, and even children do this. But an interior place of silence where we feel we can protect ourselves and defend our ground, is a very useful life-tool to have, and sadly, few emotional outlets are deemed acceptable to men, so perhaps this is why this one is well-used by them in particular. But these caves we hole ourselves up in are meant to be temporary: places of respite and restoration.

Staying here for long periods of time can lead to an isolation and seclusion that may become unhealthy for us. I guess it really depends on why we are there, why we are drawn back into our shells. These places can become a breeding ground for self-pity or a foundation for a deeper relationship with the Lord. If we find ourselves sickened by the violence of the world (including our own, as perhaps Samson felt), then time set aside in solitude and silence can become a hermitage, a place of peace and prayer.

So as with anything in life, it is about recognising seasons and not outstaying them. I find this a hard truth to take in today, since my life for the last twenty years has been an enforced cave dwelling, with my chronic illness keeping me hidden away from the world. I have come to love the quiet and hate the busy-ness of the world, and don’t have the energy to partake in society in any case. I hope I have used some of my cave time well, becoming a contemplative creative. God has certainly used my setting aside to mould me better into my true self. Perhaps I shall remain a recluse. But if the seasons change, my health improves and I feel the light at the entrance intriguing or calling me, I might venture out into new pastures.

All timings are the Lord’s and he uses our times of society and of seclusion for good, if only they are given over to him. So even in the recesses of our caverns, in the dark and failing light, we can say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from stocksnap.com

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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.

 

141: Bee’s Nest

honeycomb 141

Sweetness dripping from heavy honey-laden combs. Heavenly hexagons filled with a million dance steps and a billion flights of winged fancy. Paniers loaded with petal-pried plenty, transformed by ancient magicks and the weaving of workers; mage and drone, queen and community. Cellular constructs rivalling model molecules, waxing fully lyrical and loaded, connected and sealed by logic and love. Lion’s belly splayed and empty, yet full of buzzing life. A nutshell riddle cracked wide for germination and the birthing of bees.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015