From the pen of Keren Dibbens-Wyatt, author of Recital of Love: Sacred Receivings, which releases on September 8 from Paraclete Press. Available wherever books are sold.
People have been asking me lately about where my new book, Recital of Love, came from. Thinking about this, I have to conclude that it has its roots in failure, sickness, and purposelessness. As Christians, we are not always told that good can come from such things, but given to God, any kind of suffering can bring about wonders. Just as a rosebush needs a good layer of manure to feed it, maybe sometimes we don’t come into full bloom until we’ve spent a while on the dungheap. That’s certainly true of my life.
Twenty-five years ago I got very sick with myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and had to stop working. My whole life fell apart and the faith which had been little more than a kind of emergency prop for some years (at least on the surface) suddenly had a great deal of work to do to keep me afloat.
This neurological illness plays havoc with all physical systems and damages your ability to produce energy. The more I pushed against it, the worse I got. The more I fought, the less I had left to fight with. I ended up using a wheelchair, relying on caregivers, and spending most of the day resting in bed. I still do, all this time later. For the last two years I’ve simply not had the strength to leave the house and my wonderful husband Rowan takes care of me.
This illness has put me in a cell. At first, it felt like a prison cell, but over the years, I developed a deeper prayer practice, and it has come to often feel more like a monastic cell. I felt God calling me to spend more and more time with him, and as many loved ones distanced themselves, and more physical function left me, well, let’s just say there wasn’t really much else I was able to do. God was waiting for me in the gap created by loss.
I began to practice daily contemplation. Stillness and silence gradually became precious to me and once I’d learnt to let my busy mind chatter away above the more important things that were taking place in my spirit, I found God taking me to new places and showing me new things, and even speaking wonderful words into my heart.
I wrote them down in my journals, and a few years later, started to collate them into documents on the computer. I had no idea then, of these things becoming a book, but rather, wanted to keep a record for myself of the time God and I were spending together, and the dear things he was showing me.
And then, nine years ago, before I was housebound, my parents bought me a few days’ retreat at Aylesford Priory for my fortieth birthday. Whilst I was there, I sat in the Relic Chapel, in awe at the sense of God’s presence that manifested through the prayerful atmosphere, and through the beautiful ceramics, woodwork and stained glass. God spoke to my heart very clearly. He told me he was commissioning me to be a writer.
From that point on I set myself to the task of making the gifts I was being given into pieces that would bless others. There has been an outpouring of understandings, seeings, poems and stories, as well as of artwork. My hope is that as I continue to share this flow of creativity, readers will be drawn into deeper relationship with God, who is love, and all that I weave with God’s help and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will be an encouragement and joy to my fellow Christians, and perhaps even to those who have yet to be still, and begin to know God.
Keren Dibbens-Wyatt is a contemplative in the Christian tradition. She writes to encourage others, to know the Lord more intimately, and to share the poetic ponderings of her heart. She lives in southeast England with her husband.
Copyright ©2020 by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt. Shared by permission.
Recital of Love: Sacred Receivings by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
ISBN 978-1-64060-406-3│September 8, 2020│Hardcover│$16.99