Creating Encounter in Colour: Grey Cat

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I dreamed of a grey cat, who walks like a blueing mist, curling her tail around her favourites and brush-sabre rattling it at those she despises. She slinks by the edges of life and purrs at purrable things. She is fiercely honest, and embraces mystery with every silent padding pawstep. She knows when to sharpen her claws, and when to velvet them away. I have not looked her in the eyes yet, but I am sure they are round topaz wetness, liquid stone in the fog of fur, streaked with streams of moss, and that a sliver of onyx holds the centre in pupilled darkness.

She sleeps in sunbeams when they are slow enough to catch her, and curls up in shadow, happy in light and dark, her seeing clear by either. She always goes around and never through, shedding softness in a stormy carpet behind her for us to follow if we wish to, a cloud of fibrous unknowing. She does not come when called, and in any case, there is no name diaphanous enough to wrap itself around her.

I have only glimpsed the back of her, as she passes the cleft of my rocky hiding place, but as I died in my dream, I knew with all my heart I wished I had got to know her better.

 

text © K Dibbens-Wyatt  Photo from Pixabay

Creating Encounter in Colour: Lilac Lake

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Dewy pearls sit smoking on the grass in the misty morning light. Each one catches a piece of dawn’s lavender lustre  that smiles through tears. The nearly-Spring trumpets in clusters of crocus, each one a saffron-centred pale amethyst, royal resurrection reminders.  Here and there, the pretenders to purple, the soft lilacs of thistle and artichoke, the tips of clover, and the waving flowers of chives, bring their gentle song to the chorus of colour.

There is a pinkly light settling over the waters of the lake, letting us know it is the time for prayer, and we get up and wade out until the heaviness of water makes us start to curl up and fall down, diving without effort into our embryonic selves, able, in the weak light, to float between two worlds, breathe bubbles and watch the birds and butterflies swoop through the holy water.

 

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

Creating Encounter in Colour: Soft Gold

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The cool gold creeps its way across the grass and stone. The dew sparkles, the shadows recede, for they too, must obey the rules of death and resurrection, now fading and passing out to let in the sun. The light seems weak at first, but this is only the sweet gentleness that kisses the world awake and nudges at the edges of the shore, so that everything remembers how to glisten in new mercies before the whole tide comes rolling in.

Soft light breaks into an outpouring of bright light that cannot help but give the best and whole of itself: the sky by noon blindingly adazzle; the ground seared by the seal of golden approval, that having caressed every blade of grass awake, now deluges its heart of gold upon the entire garden. No wonder Mary, who knew him so well, seeing him coronaed in brightness, thought him first a gardener.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt  Photo from Pixabay

Creating Encounter in Colour: Grey Havens

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Through a glass darkly, a smoky quartz seeing, our lives disjointed by the refraction of not holding the lens of eternity. Our sight fogged still, when the elves depart to the west, and the boats wait for us in the cobbled harbour, the mists rolling in from the grey havens. Ships with sails made of gossamer, sparkled with dew in the twilight, twixt dog and wolf, the time to embrace and own our uncertainty, walking by the moorings in the cloud of unknowing.

It is only when we set sail, that we shall begin to see, and all the steel scaffolding we thought held up the truth will fall away, scattering lines, and letting the truth fall clanking like stars. Yes, then we shall see, and all shall turn to silver glass, ice sharp wonder and clarity beyond all our wildest imaginings, even the grass, as his dear fellow inkling guessed, too sharp to set foot on until we have realised where we truly are.

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

Creating Encounter in Colour: Red Shoes

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The red shoes hang on a nail by their trailing ribbons, looking innocent for all the world, though no-one is looking at them today but this tired old ballerina. She knows them only too well and will not be fooled again. New, they were the colour of nascent shell, or the inside of a kitten’s ear, all velvet oyster pinkly grey. Nude as Eve’s Edenic soles, and probably as old. Once worn and worn once, they ripped en pointe feet to shreds and quickly filled with scarlet offerings.

The world will not cease its vampiric feasting, once it has begun to make you dance to its manic tunes. Our only hope is to rip the ribbons that seemed so delightful from our calves, and tear the suckering soles from our souls. In one wrench, band-aid like tossed aside, or hung here on the wall like trophy antlers, the hooks that barbed us.  Only the free can see them for what they are, and the rest gawp at the bloodied rags, astonished that we no longer wear them.

We refuse to dance ourselves to death, and now walk healing paths in streams and forests, barefoot. If we must wear red shoes, they will be ruby slippers that have sequins missing, and when tapped together, take us home.

 

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

Creating Encounter in Colour

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Firstly, apologies for the blog having taken a short break. My M.E. has been so bad that I have got very little writing done and I have had to let some things slide. I have also taken some time to pray into how to keep up this weekly blog. The outcome will be about how we create encounter God in colours, which is something close to my heart. I will be sharing a piece once a week on here and on my Fresh Mercies blog, all being well, and now and then adding extra pieces here (including guest writers) at Lakelight on the continuing theme of encounter. I hope you will enjoy the journey!

(photo from Pixabay of the Glory window in the Thanksgiving Square Chapel at Dallas)

Creating Encounter: In Music

By Rowan Wyatt

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“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” Eph 5: 19-20

 

From Mozart to Motorhead, Beethoven to the Beatles, music is everywhere and with modern technology you can have it performing into your ears every minute of the day. As someone who lives for music I do exactly that, my life is made up of music. Memories are triggered by it, emotions, thoughts and creativity and more are inspired by it.

I am lucky enough also to get another benefit from music for that is where I mostly have my encounters with God. I am very intuitive towards music and I will often ‘get’ something that the composer never intended. Take for example Vaughan-Williams’ “Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis”. Whenever I listen to this music I am transported immediately to be standing beside Mary as she watches her son die on the cross, I feel the raw and wild emotion as grief and love threaten to overwhelm me to the point of drowning. I never cry but when I am here.

It is moments like these that God uses to remind me who he is and who I am in him, what he has done for me and will continue doing so, for his love for me is stronger than Mary’s was for her son as he hung on that cruel scaffold.

It goes without saying that sacred choral works move me in faith as well, but they pale into insignificance next to how I feel when I am listening to plainsong and chanting, most often nowadays erroneously labelled Gregorian Chant.

I value music as a most highly prized treasure and I am so very pleased that God has chosen this way to reveal himself to me, to instruct and support me. Being a musician, I have been able to honour Him with singing and music of my own, nothing as amazing as the Vaughan-Williams but that isn’t important, the intent, the heart is what is important. A triangle played with love and joy is of far more musical value to God and us than a virtuoso violinist ‘going through the motions’.

As an atheist I would imagine Vaughan-Williams would be amused to hear what that piece of music does to me, but I wish to thank him for it, for though his composition I have come face to face with our saviour and fallen in love with him.

Text © R R Wyatt Photo from Pixabay

Creating Encounter: In the Waiting

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Today is Pentecost Sunday when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples gathered in a house in Jerusalem, traditionally thought to be ten days after Jesus had ascended to be with the Father. Ten days and nights of waiting must have seemed a long time. It must have been a strange time, too. It was so generous of the Risen Christ to spend time with them all over a forty day period before his Ascension to make sure they were all certain of the truth.   I wonder if he had only given them fleeting glimpses, there might have been moments or hours, especially when they were trying to sleep, when this band of people would have wondered separately if they had been deluded. Had they really seen the Christ risen from the dead? He made sure they had had ample opportunity to test it out for themselves, to see and even feel his wounds, before doing what he must have longed to do, to take those hard-won battle scars home.

It was almost too amazing to contemplate. And yet, that is exactly what they had time now, to do. To think it all over, to mull, cogitate, meditate on all that had happened during their time with Jesus, and to think on how the Scriptures had been fulfilled. It must have been a time filled with the wisdom of hindsight.  “So that’s why he said that!” “I wondered what he meant by that, and now it is becoming clear!” A time of sharing wisdom and ideas, a time filled as well with “What now?”  Because they all knew they’d been told to wait for something, but they didn’t know what.

Jesus had told them, “ ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ “ (Acts 1: 4-5)

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is when we say the Church was truly born. But I find that short gestation period when the worshippers all met together and prayed, just as fascinating. Those in between times, those waiting times, those times when we are holding on to faith that God will act but have no real idea of what he will do. Those times probably tell us more about where we are spiritually than how we react to outpourings of blessing.

I’ve read a sermon recently where Peter was criticised for backwards thinking in using some of this time to replace Judas with another disciple. But I think that if nothing else it showed great faith, because he was already preparing for the existence of the Church. He was already acting so that all he could do was in place. He knew that this was just the beginning.

In my life, it is a time of waiting on God. It has been for years, but right at this point there are a number of things which may or may not bring great change. Whilst it might seem like living in Limbo, or being sat motionless in the doldrums, the best way I can hold on to my faith is by preparing. I don’t know what for, any more than Peter truly did, but I can put as much in place as possible, so that when God moves, I know I won’t be totally ready, but I can be getting there. Like an athlete who knows there is going to be a competition, I can exercise and practice. Like a chick who has no idea what flight is, I can still follow that instinct to prepare to flap my wings and start venturing out along branches. However still the wind might be now, God is always about to breathe.

 

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay

Creating Encounter: Sculpture

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I have an unlikely ambition for someone as weak and disabled by chronic illness as I am; I should like to sculpt. I have ideas for wood, stone and bronze, that would be pieces of interactive art. I don’t know if they will ever be a reality, and if I ever did have the space and resources, it would be most likely that someone else would have to do the lion’s share of the work. Nothing is impossible with God of course, but some things do seem so far removed from likelihood as to be, not so much pie in the sky, but as we say in our house, flan on the moon.

What is the appeal of sculpture, and how might we let God teach us through it? I think that the idea of carving a substance until it is exactly the shape it ought to be, the one we envisage in our minds or imaginations, is a great analogy for understanding how our Father shapes each one of us, if we will allow ourselves to be moulded by his artist’s hands. The Bible speaks of him as the potter, with us as the clay, and we can take great hope from this idea, knowing that when God throws a pot, no matter how it initially splats on the wheel, or how lopsided it might look during the spinning, when the master is done with us, we will be perfectly ourselves.

The same is true if we see God as the great sculptor, finding us as a slab of marble and hewing us into some kind of rough shape before chipping away and then smoothing us out into the shape that was hiding in the grain of the stone all the time. Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” as well as, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Perhaps when we learn to see with God’s eyes we might be able to perceive the angel that is standing before us in the marble of our fellow human beings, and even occasionally to glimpse them in the mirror. For some reason, God has decided that our true selves are worth setting free, and however hard it is to let him keep on working upon us until that image arises out of the raw material, it will be worth it in the end.

Maybe we might even consider the work of kenosis or self-emptying as giving God free rein with the chisel, and accept that a great deal needs to be let go. Once our outer defences and ego are chipped away, maybe an angel might step out into the light. For God, that beautiful person was there all along, and the layers that trapped him or her, were no barrier to his sight.

For the first forty years of my life, I doubted there was a writer hidden away in me. For the first forty-four, I had no idea I was an artist. Do you think one day God might uncover the sculptress too? What wonders are hiding in you, that might be set free by heavenly hands chiselling away at your earthly rock?

 

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay

Creating Encounter: Story

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Two writer friends, Amy and Fiona, asked an interesting question on social media this week. Will there be books in heaven? My first response was to think, of course, but no Jeffery Archer. Which just goes to show how quickly our instincts fly to exclude those we don’t deem worthy. But I think that probably it is God who chooses the stock for the libraries of heaven, just as he decides who gets to sit where at the feast.

As a writer myself, and someone who was an avid reader when I was well, I can’t imagine an existence without books. When I was tiny, nothing was so magical as sitting cross-legged on the library floor, transported to another world. We are wired for story, and it has a deep and presiding influence in our lives and learning. We learn about good and evil from fairy stories, whilst myth and legend help us to understand life by stretching overarching narratives across it, like skin on a drum frame.  Archetypes, heroes and villains are all helpful tools for navigating reality, and story can be both fiction and non-fiction. We talk, don’t we, about Bible “stories” and we read about the lives of famous people and saints formulated as story in biographies and autobiographies.

How we narrate our own lives, how we tell our story to ourselves and others, is a hugely important thing. We might see ourselves as victim or hero, and more often than not, write a triumphal narrative into the facts, whether it exists or not, because we need to have hope that it all works out in the end. Meaning is the mainstay of a human life, and story gives it to us.

What heaven is like, is something we can have great fun imagining. I feel sure that whilst we are coming home to God when we die, and finding union with his loving being, that we are also going, on some level, to keep becoming more truly ourselves, and that implies that there will continue to be an element of growth. Story, learning and creativity will always play a part in that.

When God has been gracious enough to give me glimpses of my heavenly future, I have always been doing something creative. Embroidering altar cloths as I minister to the broken, or kneeling on the back of a lapis lazuli sky, etching intricate patterns and words into its surface.  We serve a creative God and I think this reflection of who he is in our beings will be part of what is next. Added to which, I truly believe that the stories I have written have been given to me during the stillness of deep prayer. They sadly have the mark of my human expression that cannot capture God’s heart well, but they feel like a holy endeavour.

If we ever, like Richard Dawkins, begin to think that story is superfluous, and that fiction is about lies, rather than heavenly magic, we might do well to remember that Jesus chose to teach us, not by dissecting the universe into facts, nor by preaching clever theology, but by telling stories.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay