By Keren Dibbens-Wyatt —
As regular readers know, I am severely affected by M.E. Sometimes I feel as though my chronic illness is like a wicked witch in a fairy tale, keeping me captive in a tall tower. I remain attached to this analogy despite the fact that I live in a bungalow, and am definitely a very long way from being a princess. My hair has grown very long over the last few years of being unwell enough to get it cut or styled, but I don’t particularly relish the idea of anyone climbing up it. I get more than my share of neck pain as it is. But yes, all joking aside, I do feel shut away from the world, held in a world of living mostly in one room against my will, and almost completely dependent on my uncomplaining, constant husband. And though I am particularly bad this year, I’ve been cloistered to varying degrees for over twenty years.
It is hard, often, to imagine what God is playing at in all this. Why doesn’t he just heal me? I would love to go for long walks. That is the thing I grieve for most, my walking. At best now, I stumble a few times a day from the bedroom to the living room, from the bedroom to the bathroom. The outside world is a closed one to me, bar the occasional daring jaunt to the patio.
I have had to ask myself some difficult questions about the worth of my life. I pray a lot, and I ask God about this too. What is the point of such a life? Is there light shining here too, in this darkness? I have taken Julian of Norwich as a kind of mentor, someone who chose to be shut away, anchored to one place, in order to free up her time for God, and the work of meditating on all the wonderful visions he had given her. I have received a lot from the Lord too, albeit minuscule in comparison, for we are all given the tasks we are capable of. I’ve been given seeings and stories, poems and prayers, and creative talents I never knew were in me.
This time, albeit robbed of the blessings that I hoped would be mine at this stage of life, and despite my often feeling low, is nevertheless full of light. Ideas for books and sharings tumble out of me, muses falling over themselves to get through the clogged doorways of my exhausted mind. Characters come to life in the small hours of insomnia, and in the daytime, paintings and drawings give me great joy in the love of vibrancy and colour that is denied me in so many other areas of my life.
Most of all, there is the presence of the holy three-in-one, who delights in me despite my weakness. He has taught me that if I am an anchoress like Julian, it is to him that I am tethered, like a tree whose roots are forever wrapped around the solidness of rock beneath. He has assured me too, that despite the smallness of my cell, it is teaching me everything, as the desert mothers and fathers knew it would, and there is some small light shining out of the windows here to help guide others either towards God and/or away from the possibility of wrecking rocks. Given the state of my life I suspect I am more likely a horrible warning than a good example! But then, it is his light that is radiating from me, and in spite of me.
The lighthouse is an image we come back to over and over again, God and I. I share it with you here in hopes that those of you who are trapped in difficult or trying circumstances might garner some hope. However small or difficult our lives are, however tiny our sphere of existence, God can and will be with us wherever we find ourselves. He will make himself known through love, truth and his merciful, beautiful grace, whether we are able to see it or not. Wicked witches may do their worst, but they cannot ever stop the light of his love from shining.
Keren Dibbens-Wyatt is a disabled writer and artist with a passion for poetry, mysticism, story and colour. Her writing features regularly on spiritual blogs and in literary journals. Her full-length publications include Garden of God’s Heart and Whale Song: Choosing Life with Jonah. She lives in South East England and is mainly housebound by her illness.