by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
I am sat just off the bark-strewn path. Legs curled seed-like underneath a spine glowing with the memory of pain. In my mind’s eye I come here often, cheating the seasons. That’s one good thing about having to travel by imagination. Now, when I come, the games teacher in the adjoining field cannot take umbrage at my taking photos of flowers and sheep home to paint from. The wheelchair attendant doesn’t talk on and on till I insist on sitting on the ground and still have to beg her for a few moments silence. Even then I could hear her thoughts chomping at the bit, revving their throttle. My sitting here is not now a delicious gulp of clear water thrown down my throat as quickly as possible, a slight wry smile at having to grab at eternity, but a soft, joyously sparkling spring, from which I can drink any time I choose.
I can sit here for as long as my heart can bear it, and the silence is not crushed in a vice, but spread out over me like a blue blanket. The sky is dancing with slender branches of silver birch and sweet chestnut. The robin who followed us by hopping along a dead tree trunk can take his time and bob up and down, sweetly doffing his feathered cap as often as he chooses, and he can let his aria swell with flaming chest and God’s glory with my heart held captive, for the longest concert of his dear, small life. It is of no matter. I am going nowhere. These weak legs and this sickly frame are rooted somewhere different now, and there is no desperation intruding on my time or my daydreams.
I have told you everything about it except the One Thing. Sat here at the Lord’s feet, in the woodland, amongst all the birdsong and the creeping tenderness of ground ivy and sweet violets, I have not mentioned the Holy of Holies. The bluebells. The cobalt chimes ringing out divine fragrance, their little elf hats swinging magically in the breeze, colouring the whole floor of the copse with such beauty that I cannot take even a fraction of it in.
They are why I have come and why I return, and their splendour built from delicate, short-lived late-April showers and shine, is what breaks my heart wide open, searching for the words to explain. Tiny fragments of fragile lapis blue have drifted down from heaven, and settled here on stalks, catching like sunrays on snow, and if this sight did not turn my thoughts to the wonders of eternity, then nothing on this earth could ever have bathed me in that fire.
Keren Dibbens-Wyatt is a chronically-ill contemplative, writer and artist. She has a passion for prayer, poetry, story and colour. Her writing features regularly in literary journals (Fathom, Amethyst Review, The Blue Nib) and on spiritual blogs (Contemplative Light, Godspace). She is the author of the book Recital of Love (Paraclete Press, 2020). Keren lives in England and suffers from M.E. which keeps her housebound and out of the trouble she would doubtless get into otherwise. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and her website.