Tag Archives: story

Creating Encounter in Colour: Black Forest Gateau (Schwarzwaldtorte)

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We walk through Grimm’s forest tales, peering into witch’s ovens and shaking our heads at young princes on brave steeds as they charge headlong into thorny frontiers, wonder at young maidens sleeping in glass coffins and follow, eventually, the long trail of breadcrumbs that leads us out into the open air. We breathe long and deep, pondering whether or not we have just entered or left reality.

Broken bread leads us, as it always does, to some kind of Kirche, and since we are recently passed through gloomy Austrian pines, to kirsch, oozing into chocolate cake, all of it softening into a dark deliciousness, a velvet plateful of baked flour and alcohol, akin to the mystery of communion.

Is this richness too, a picture of life in all its fullness, and the bleeding of fermented cherries a reminder of how many horrific stories there are, written to prepare children for the dangers that lurk behind close-camped evergreens, or to remind adults that we too, need to be wary of gung-ho princes and apple sellers? And as I think on the syrupy deep morello red drizzle soaking into cocoa, mixing sour and sweet, am I a warning to myself on the perils of an overactive imagination?

This sermon in the Kirsche Kirche Küche has left us glowing with Glühwein, drunkenly drenched by Spirit, flammable for God. A powerful combination of taste sensations, warmed here out of the cold depressing zeitgeist, and aware of another kingdom, where burgundy deep plum aubergine liqueur and plain brown sponge sing to us of flesh and blood, and the possibility that heaven might be sumptuous glory, a melt-in-the-mouth savouring and a colour to get lost in, sustenance so rich we can only be treated once in a while, as we also embrace the poverty of daily bread.  These two, as far and near from one another as fairy stories and liturgy, everything made holy by our cosmic Christ.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt  Photo from Pixabay

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Wonder Wall (Godspace link)

Dear readers, if you enjoy my work, you might like to pop over to Godspace today and read my short story “Wonder Wall” about extending hospitality to ourselves and others. Spoiler: there is a snail in it 🙂   https://godspace-msa.com/2017/07/19/wonder-wall/

Landscape of Love 96: Well

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Here is our shortcut to the underswell, our drawing up of the sweet holy water, the bucket swaying seductively with its load of comely coolness. And the holy man wipes the sweat from his forehead and sits half shaded, so we cannot quite make out his face, as he asks for someone else to serve him. We sashay over, unabashed, until meeting those thirsty eyes makes an honest woman of us. And all of us fall at those feet, pour out our fragrance, weep on them, dry the sweet sinless flesh with our dusty hair, and run to fetch clean, pure water, that we both offer up and drink down, and which sets us free from all unholy desires. We no longer hold our chin up, but level, no longer sink into the sand in shame, but see our worth. We leave our brazen boldness behind and seek to be desired differently, stumbling in our haste to tell of this treasure, thirst slaked by meeting the Truth face to face.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from Pixabay

 

Veil of Tears 106: Scorched

Hi all! I took a couple of days’ break for the launch of the new book “The Garden of God’s Heart.” Did you miss me? But now I am back with more from the Veil of Tears. The Landscape of Love will also be making an occasional comeback, mainly on a Friday. Since it is full summer here, “Scorched” seems as good a place to pick up as any…….

 

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When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:8 NIV

Being chronically ill, the sometimes fierce summer sun is too much for me. I put on my straw hat and venture into the back garden, then find I’m wilting and on the verge of a headache within minutes. So most days at this time of year it’s a slow and short stumble about with my camera to get a few shots of the beauty on my doorstep to take back in and treasure, then back to the cool of my indoor world. I can’t imagine how people in hot countries manage and I certainly empathise with poor Jonah, his head searing in the full sun. No wonder he is so angry and irrational (one might even say hot-headed)!

We can get scorched by other things in this life too, sailing too near to the sun as we do in so many ways. We can be hurt by the flames of passion, the thrill of risk-taking, the abuse of substances, the sting of betrayal. So much of life leaves us “once bitten, twice shy,” rubbing our sore pates and shouting “I’m so angry I could die!” at the God who seemingly sent the worm to eat away our protection.

But there is little to be gained from railing at God, though this is allowed, nor from shaking our fists at the weather, or whatever may have glanced us a burning blow. Instead of or as well as this, we need to hear the lesson implicit in the narrow escape. Life may well be trying to get our attention. And frequently our anger is a catalyst to learning something new about our circumstances or ourselves. God is trying to show Jonah that his anger is misplaced, that he should be at least as compassionate to others as he is about his own injuries. How often, I wonder, do we imagine we have been wronged, and seek to rise to anger, when our ire should really be roused by the terrible injustices we know are visited on others?

Near misses should be pathways to compassion, and in Jonah’s case, joy and thankfulness, that things were not far, far worse, both for him and for the city of Nineveh. Sometimes we are nursing a sulking wound instead of thanking the Lord for his great mercies. I have been doing that today, and thinking on this verse has made me smile at my foolishness and turn to God with a grateful heart.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

 

Veil of Tears 105: Unwashed

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The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.” Mark 7:1 NIV

There is an apocryphal story that surfaces on social media every so often of a pastor, newly appointed to a church, and largely unknown there, who turns up at a service a week before his induction disguised as a tramp. He is covered in ragged clothing and he smells. Though one or two people are kind, he is given a wide berth, snubbed and generally made to feel unwelcome, before being asked to leave. The following week he comes in as the new church leader and tells the congregation what he did to shame them into seeing the unwashed with new eyes.

I doubt the story is true, and I’m not sure that shaming is a particularly kind teaching method, but the fact that this could be true, ought to get everyone thinking who participates in any kind of community that professes to have Christ at its centre.

I don’t believe there is any record of Jesus ever being disgusted by anyone’s outer appearance, gender, race or hygiene. The only thing that seemed to revolt him was the stink of self-righteousness that he found most strongly radiating from the religious people of the day, from the Pharisees in particular. He spent time with tavern keepers, lepers, prostitutes, homeless people, disabled people, loose women, the deranged and the possessed. In short, with all those the “good” people deemed unclean and would not associate with.

He hung around with them, befriended them, taught them, healed them and forgave them when it was necessary. He and his crowd of travelling followers, often dusty and sweaty in the Middle East heat, were no doubt a bit wild and unkempt like the prophets of old, like John the Baptist who heralded Jesus’ arrival clothed in camel’s hair and with bits of honeyed locust in his beard. They were social pariahs, not the goody-two-shoes keeping-their-noses-clean puritanical religious elite.

You know what else? I don’t think Jesus’ robe was white that often. I think he probably needed (by our western modern running water standards) more trips to the river (bath/laundrette) and that he and twelve other blokes walking miles across the whole of Judea, with or without the hundreds of other followers of this strange parochial Rabbi, probably sweated and whiffed a bit on occasion. I think some of them probably swore now and again. I think that they were human and I like that idea.

I also think that if we get caught up in constantly cleaning ourselves on the outside and worrying incessantly about whether we are in a state of grace nor not, that we will spend too much time washing and confessing and not enough time relating and laughing with, learning from, adoring and pondering God. Besides which, if we leave our feet dusty, perspiring and tired, and admit they are made of clay, we might just find our Saviour-friend taking them in his hands over a bowl of water, giving us rest from our toil and removing the burdens from our striving shoulders.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

 

62: Unwanted

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No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.” Ezekiel 16:5 NLT

That we might be ultimately unwanted is one of the deepest and most hurtful lies that the enemy can plant in our souls. When it succeeds in germinating, it is very tough to shift. If you have ever felt unwanted, as though the universe made a mistake letting you in, I am so very sorry for that hurt. Please know that you were created by love and in love and for love, whatever your earthly parenting or early life may have been like. God created you unique and proclaimed you good, and he does not lie. He also proclaimed you loved, time and time and time again. He sings over you with love and delights in you. He longs to mother you and nurture you. He even came down here to show his love for you abroad in the earth by living and dying for you. If not you then no-one, if everyone else, then you too.

The verse after the one above, talking of the Lord’s love for Jerusalem, says that he passed by and saw the unwanted girl child, saying, “Live!” and goes on to speak of the prodigious care he takes over us. He wants us, he sees us, he wants us to make it, to care for us, to help us be all we can be. It shows us too that the Lord sees and is against every abandonment and the heinous practice of exposure, which is far more likely to happen if one is born female. He sees and he cares.

Humans, and especially families, can make us feel unwanted, unloved, unneeded. This is deeply tough if we are abused or adopted for reasons we cannot fathom. Those taking care of us can tell us either outright or by subtle cruelties, that we were a mistake, an accident or a regret. But love knows better, and love is better.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:15-16 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay