evening

I finally saw the birds today. And plenty of them. It did help I went elsewhere. Curiously, I also saw a coyote late this afternoon. Curiously I say, because it was around when other dogs were out. And it was chasing something, likely a squirrel, in a full run up the driveway. The coyotes had been gone for a couple of weeks, then earlier today as I was preparing to leave I heard them gathering off in a secluded area. Danger was again coming. I don’t want coyotes to feel comfortable around this house, so I went outside. He was by my truck staring down at me. I ran off the deck, up the stairs, right at him, picking up a small branch along the way. I’m not sure why I did this, it really was small, I guess it felt right to have something in my hand. I chased it away from my truck, and down the little access road, only then noticing I wasn’t wearing any shoes. Thoughts of yelling at it passed through my mind. I didn’t follow through, keeping up a quiet chase down the road, past a house, through trees, across a road, down a hill, into the forest. I felt like Natty Bumpo from Last of the Mohicans. Of course, had the coyote turned (and it was a large one) I’m not sure what I would have done. My forest craft ends at actual confrontation. It ran on away, much more fleet of foot than I. The thrill of the chase was in fact exhilarating. There are parts of my being I rarely get to exercise.

Now it is quiet, the wind has died down. Something scurried across my roof a moment ago, and I have no idea what it is. There are night creatures about, but none that I know of which would scurry across my roof.

The day was a restless one in general for me. I don’t know why. I awoke early and while I didn’t get to the tasks I wanted to, I think I made very good use of my time with other tasks. It’s slow going for me at times, but worthwhile. My discontent reared its head, though I tried to do what is right. My increasing patterns of Spirituality, I found today, were very helpful, keeping me focused, if not content.

I mentioned to a friend this evening I felt I had entered into a new stage. To be honest I’m not sure what I meant by that. I even wonder if I just made that up so I didn’t have to say “nothing” when she asked, “What’s new?”. But, it came out, and I’m not sure I was wrong. I just don’t know what kind of new stage it is. There is, however, something curious going on, a recovery of something I have not felt for literally years, an earnest rising out of my soul of prayer and passion for renewed spirituality. Of course, that’s why I came up to these parts, so it is not a surprise, I guess. It is not totally new, just some kind of new nuance with it all, like I got to the next rung. There is so much we cannot see, so much we do not know as we traipse through the already and not yet.

What I do know, however, and I don’t know why, is that all is well with me. All is in God’s hands, and he is actively drawing me towards him in an exciting way. Details are lacking, a frustration to be sure. I’m sure of the reality of this, so sure I’m willing to bet my life on it. It’ll be nice to see how it turns out.

Maybe that’s the restlessness, knowing that something is going on, feeling it with every part of my soul, and not having an inkling of what it is. So the emotions stir inside without the ability to settle or focus, swirling in some measure of confusion, unable to pin down the exact feeling. I responded to something that I don’t know today. Good or bad, I haven’t a clue. All is well, though, and all will be well.

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morning

Someone is hammering. The echo of the pounding carries in the quiet. Too early for such noise, someone with little awareness of others at their tasks. What is of real note is something else. I see, nor hear, any birds. One jay, just a moment ago, came to my balcony, then he left. No birds before or since. That is it. What has been a busy time for the past few days, has now become silent and still. There is no activity, but for the hammering, and the light breeze that blows. Hazy clouds to the east blur the morning light, though do not block it. It is cool, and it, of course, is beautiful.

I wake today with a conflicted sense. Only problem is I do not know the conflict. I feel a bit restless, and feel creeping lack of focus. There is only one way through these, of course, and that is diligence in the tasks at hand. Which I will get to, only at this moment I search deeper.

One of the greatest measures of the spiritual life is to learn to really be content only with God’s favor. We live our lives trying to please and hoping that someone in a bit of authority will look kindly on our efforts and help us with that which we want. To view only God in this light, however, is a task for the mighty and courageous, maybe even foolhardy. How would we live if God was our only source of affirmation? If only God could confer the satisfaction we desire? Much differently then we do, I imagine.

That is learning what it is to be aware only of God in our lives, to look only to him and let that gaze and purpose work out the rest of our existence. With our eyes fully on God, looking to please only him, satisfied only if He is satisfied, the rest of the ‘good works’ will occur. It’s why Mary had the good part, and Martha was corrected.

Saying this is one thing. Letting my soul rest only in God is another. For I want to impress, with differing reasons, I want others to smile upon me and say, “well done.” When this does not happen, when I am ignored or dismissed, I lose heart. That should not be. There is only God and me.

God is a difficult sort, however, in that he is loving and demanding. He is the Face, as James Loder would put it, who never goes away, and yet for many seasons it appears he does just that. So we look to others to be that face, and always, as Loder did put it, we will be disappointed by these others, because they bear a burden that only God can sustain.

Whether in career, in romance, in any aspect of our lives, we substitute God, intentionally sometimes but usually not. We are sincere in our words, just not in our hearts. That’s the trick of learning the depths of the Spiritual life, matching our heart with our words.

Of course, the other side of being dependent only on the favor of God will come if we misunderstand God and his being. Then, our ties cut off from the opinions of others, we can easily drift into some nether region of heresy and cult leadership. So, there’s a balance to be found, interacting and learning with others, while dependent only on God. Open and closed all at the same time.

May God help me to find this balance, not just in my mind, indeed with all my being.

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evening

I walk outside for my evening gaze and am surprised to see my breath. So, I breathe in deep, and exhale deeply, watching the faint fog rise. Jupiter is high to the east, Arcturus shines through the branches of the tall cedar, soon to be my only large tree remaining near. The sky is not very clear, making me guess the moon is shining, or else some hazy layer has come. Neither can I see, I can only tell that the sky is not as dark as it has been.

Every once in a while I get annoyed by reading something new. No, not the thing I mentioned last night. A friend loaned to me volume six of Merton’s journals. I’ve always appreciated Merton, citing him as one of the few latter day spiritual writers. The fact is, though, I’ve only read one book of his, New Seeds of Contemplation. It was lying in the backseat of a friend’s jeep one fine afternoon before I began seminary. So, I started reading it, and then asked to borrow it, finally buying my own copy, which is somewhere around this room, though I’m not sure where.

It made a big impact on me. I forget why. One of those books where I appreciate it because I absorbed it into myself. Willard’s earlier writings had the same effect, as did Yancey, both of which I now find not as fun reads. Merton, though, I loved, because of fond memories and vague, but important, insights at a crucial time in my own spiritual development.

So, in being stuck with my own fiction, this friend mentioned Merton had some insights. The journal was borrowed, and after a week or so, I’ve finally gotten to look at it. Which brings me around again. It bothers me.

Not for any good reason, really it’s a bad reason. I’ve never read his journals before, and so I was irritated to see that he opens most of his entries with thoughts on the nature around him. A more mature person would say, “Ah, he does it as well” and be content with the shared response. My mind, selfish and vain, says, “People will think I’m copying his style.” Who these ‘people’ are I have not a clue. Especially given the fact that very few go through the effort of reading, let alone reading Merton’s journals. Still, it sticks in my craw.

I remind myself of the standard adage that if we think we are original we just haven’t read enough. Nothing is new under the sun. Which I knew, and expect, just don’t want to be found as one who is seeking some kind of artificiality to substitute for my own drives.

In a way, it’s nice. He’s not the worst of models, and it is a point of pride to think I was following his style before I knew it was his style. And it is such a minor point of the writing anyhow. Only, it does speak to an inner fault of my own.

Originality is something I want, yearn for, need. I don’t want to pick up pieces of others, I have no desire to duplicate the work that has gone around or before. I don’t know if it’s a creative drive, or a prideful search for my own importance. I do know it has given me problems. To get started in this world one cannot insist upon originality at the beginning. People resent such presumption, especially if they make their mark in this world by parroting.

So, I notice and am bothered, and am bothered I’m bothered. A vicious circle. The only way through is to finish off Merton, and wade through my own irritation at his genius and creativity.

Why do I write about what I see outside to begin these daily thoughts? Because it makes me notice. More than that it makes me aware of my surroundings, finding (hopefully) nuances in the sameness, forcing my being to become in better tune with what is around, if even for a moment. Creation speaks of the Creator, and in noticing the shape of a flower, the song of a bird, the movement of wind through trees we taste of truths which are far beyond our contemplation, reminding us of the character of God.

When I feel the dross of the day collecting, I stop and I look and listen. When I come to this, it makes me put down those tools which had occupied my mind, and forces me to look inward and outward, encouraging my focus for good or ill. I often will think I do not need to look, always though I say it is both a discipline and delight. It is the marker of my spiritual gaze. So that is how I write.

Today was spent doing more pastoral tasks than I’ve done in a day for quite a while. Not working with people, rather doing the same kind of preparation as I had done in churches, seemingly so long ago. The results will be apparent in a week or so. It felt good, and the time went by quickly. I would gladly do this full time, if anyone would have me. Only, it comes back to that earlier point, my drive for originality, and my overarching frustration with inefficiency. I haven’t the politics in me to play the game as I should, to earn my way to welcomed contribution. I know nothing else, though, so I pray that in continuing down the path I am on, I shall eventually forge my own way in this world. Well, not I, I pray, rather the Spirit in me.

We’ll see what comes of it all.

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morning

All manner of flying things are busy this morning, whether birds, or flies, or bees. The air is filled with movement and sound. A light breeze, delightful blows, bringing cool air, the sun is hazy behind thin clouds over the horizon.

Curiously, I feel much the same way. I added what I hope to be another aspect of my devotional life yesterday, one that seeks to take seriously the call of prayer for my life. A year ago, I would have thought of all these things, and likely even began various tasks, hoping to restore that which I desired to have. Only now, though, after several months of persistent seeking after peace, do these things rise out of my soul. I add them not because I want to, but because I cannot not do them. It is a restoration of my instincts, not an exercise of my devotion. Piece by piece I put together this puzzle.

A day in the sun yesterday leaves me with a delightful weariness, my skin a little redder now, my body in need of fluids. So, I go a little slower today, getting to my tasks, climbing the daily rungs.

There is movement, there is progress, there is a point to all of this. However, it is not that which those who are carnally minded can perceive. Which is why I too have occasional trouble perceiving as well.

The day begins.

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evening

Apparently it is very hot in the valleys of southern California. In the mountains is it wonderful, cool and breezy, now dark and cool. There are some aspects I miss about Pasadena. The climate is not one of them.

For some reason the steller’s jays decided to expose their rather broad vocabulary. While sitting inside, engaged in other tasks, I kept looking up to see what new birds had come. Always it was a jay, speaking in tones and gurgles I had not heard, pleasant sounds, sounds of Spring. Tonight, though, all is quiet. And I am getting sleepy as I write.

My day was spent in fruitful pursuits. For a long time I have been stuck, not in everything, just with the particular piece of fiction I’m trying to work through. It’s a story of the spiritual life. Because of illness and other things, I have lost the rhythm and flow of the tale, the plot has dried up in my head, though I know where I want to eventually go. Rather than dwelling today any longer, I switched tacks, finding that if I cannot force out a plot I need to at least renew my rhythm. If I can get into a flow, lovely things happen. So, I turned to older pursuits, like a musician practicing scales. I imagine this will work out nicely. Like always spending a few hours of writing fiction in the morning always turns my heart to joy. When for whatever reason I don’t get to this, even when I spend an otherwise productive day, I feel my peace slipping away. So, I must keep at it, and add all the other aspects as well, of which there are many. The more enjoyable activities, besides writing, put me outside, where my soul also rises, and my very being expands. I was made, I think, for communing with nature and the Divine. Now if only I could make a fruitful living, all would be just fine.

One of my tasks, and I do see it as a task, has been to work my way through the Da Vinci Code. My first impression was that it would not make it out of a freshman composition class, the writing is very juvenile. The story is fast paced however, with some twists and turns. I’m reading it because my sister-in-law asked if I would, for she read it after a co-worker suggested it. Needless to say it’s not the most orthodox of books. That’s fine with me. A couple of degrees in higher education have made me used to most every kind of argument for and against my own beliefs. I have no fear, because I’ve waded through most of them.

But this is a little different. There are points which are arguable, and some which are just plain silly. But, underneath this all I sense there is more to Dan Brown than a search for a rousing tale. He’s couching something in his fiction, something that I can’t quite put my fingers around, but which has a distinctive smell to it, one which is very old. Well, maybe I can put a term to it… good old fashioned gnosticism. It’s a celebration of the hodge-podge, taking from many sources and putting them into a pile of intelligent sounding religiosity. It only sounds like it, because whatever topic is pursued one quickly finds how plain made up most of the facts were. That though isn’t my present concern.

It just occurred to me in reading this how much we have lost, or more precisely how much we have which we don’t know. All the battles we fight today were fought thousands of years ago by folks more erudite than we. It is a shame, maybe even something insidious, we ignore these texts. Before the Church ever had power to force its way, it had intelligence and passion and scholarship, to prove its truth. I was reminded of this, and maybe this with some other things, are doing a good service to me, renewing my zeal for these ancient truths.

Irenaeus, came to my mind, and so I picked up his volume on the various heresies. Despite the best efforts of some professors to make me find Irenaeus distasteful, I still value the words he opens his great text with, and with these I shall end the day, for they are more fitting than anything I could say:

Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words and vain genealogies, which, as the apostle says, “minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith,” and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive, I have felt constrained, my dear friend, to compose the following treatise in order to expose and counteract their machinations. These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretence of superior knowledge, from Him who founded and adorned the universe; as if they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions respecting their version of god; and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.

I could go on copying his words, they are so apt. Worthwhile pursuits to read, to be sure, and I am finding myself more eager than I have in years to do just that. It is easy to sell our souls for temporary gain. It is more wonderful though to try and hold on, giving ourselves only to those tasks which merit eternal reward. I’m learning this, and it is taking time. Maybe in sixty years I will finally understand.

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morning

For the first time since Winter took hold I look out in the growing light and see robins, with their bright orange chests, bouncing around the ground. A raven flies low through the neighborhood, landing on a dirt driveway, and pecks for some morsels. Jays screech, faint clouds block the sun’s bright glow.

I wake and pray, feeling again strongly not just the need for such, also the demand. It is the turn of the path for me, one which I must embrace, finally. Prayer is something which has marked my own relationship with God. There have been times, to be sure, I doubted its efficacy. There have been times in which the depths of my soul cried out with all my being, forcing me to field or forest to find relief through holy outburst. Most of the time, however, I walk with a belief in prayer and a continual battle to continue its practice. I pray for those who I say I will pray for, taking those words seriously, only I do not sustain my prayers, nor do I often enter into the rhythm of conversation which marks the truly advanced.

A weight descends, one which brings distraction and frustration, wondering if I speak empty words to a deaf god. Part of me knows I speak effective words, surprising if there is not an answer, the other part highlights my own present confusion. God’s heavy hand guides and protects, it also limits and suspends. So I feel the weight, and wish to not dwell in places of mystery nor enter anymore into realms which have not yet presented answers.

The modern church speaks much of prayer, and does little of it. I, a product of my generation, wish to also pursue the doing rather than the being, trusting practically more in my own abilities to act and produce than in the quiet, sustained trust in the Three-in-One. Prayer becomes a marker, a signpost that the surrounding tasks shall have an air of holiness, a task which has more of the symbolic than real conversation.

This fact is why, I think, that prayer is sought in schools, that the ten commandments are placed in courtrooms, and other religious symbols are foisted upon believers and nonbelievers. They are symbols of the divine, decorations of the religious, marking a territory for the Christian much as a dog urinates on a tree or hydrant to establish his ownership.

Those who dwell most deeply in the realms of Light, however, have no interest in the disciplines as symbols. Fasting is hidden, prayer is focused, Scripture is withheld from swine. There is no need to mark territory for the truly spiritual, for all is known to be of God and nothing must be proved. They are sought and pursued because they are efficacious in resolving confusion and forging paths.

We do not do, instead proclaiming to the world that which we want to do, that which we are called to do, feeling some measure of satisfaction in highlighting that others do these even worse than we do. Our delight becomes not in the full pursuit of God, rather it has an anemic joy in comparison, in highlighting the lack of others. So we bounce around talking of prayer, focusing on evangelism, eager to do those things which make us feel good and right, even if we do not have a great deal to show for it.

The true Christian way has an air of ruthless practicality to it, which by nature despises show and anathematizes a religious circus. We do what expands, and discard quickly what merely sustains our own vain sense. In prayer alone can we realign ourselves before God, and thus walk the direct, practical path which is our calling.

The sun, right now, has emerged above the line of trees to the east, and shines full upon my face, warming and delighting my flesh and spirit. Hidden during the winter months, it emerges now in Spring, bringing bright light to where there was only dull glow. It makes me smile. I don’t know why.

Prayer which has been lost as the hallmark of the Church has become nothing more than a shibboleth for many. Which is why suggestions that prayer be a daily gathered task is not just met with doubt, but confused looks which betray an understanding that many other things are better uses of time. Meetings, reading, coffee, administrative tasks, tasks of all kinds are excuses to keep from praying. Yet it is prayer which defined the earliest communities.

And so I learn again, having known in my heart and mind, having fought this battle for many years, that prayer is not just a part of the Christian life. There is nothing else. Outside of prayer all is waste. Only with prayer does what we do become sanctified. Patrick, the saint, is the great reminder of this. He who prayed ‘a hundred times a day, and almost as much at night’ went to Ireland and converted a nation, from paganism to Truth, not by war but by revealing the Power of the Gospel. One man, through prayer, did what hundreds cannot do simply through their own passion and desires.

There is nothing more important to the Christian life than prayer. There is no other way under heaven which marks the truly spiritual, and separates the Holy from the carnal. We have become a carnally minded Church, our eyes solely on the palpable. To be fully the Church, however, is to be a people who pray, who pray continually.

I awoke today with a charge to pray, a delight to pray, and facing myself east, on my knees, I did pray. Trusting in the one who hears, and asking for the perseverance to continue and grow. There is no other way. Prayer to the Three-in-One is the Way.

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evening

A windy day has calmed. Birds once noisy have retired for the night. I see Arcturus shining through the cedar branches to my right, Ursa Major is high to the north, peeking through a soon to be gone pine.

A day of quiet activity, and the occasional creeping discontent which whispered throughout the afternoon. I did not heed, and sought other tasks, even if that meant just staring at the darkening forest outside for a long while, letting my thoughts flow away. Computer activity drives me down, inciting frustration and thoughts of elsewhere. However, I again tasted of a love this evening as I forged my way through restlessness.

I began reading some church history, ancient writings which spoke so powerfully millennia ago and speak so powerfully even still should they be dusted off. My problem though is a surprising practical bent. I love to study, just not for its own sake. I want to communicate, to take and reveal, to illuminate or expound for some purpose. This is true in all manner of study, Scripture and History, and other areas of interest. I value the time to research and peruse, though only if I can then transmit what I learn to some pragmatic context. This is what keeps me from heartily pursuing the ivory tower, I think. I study the magic to use it, not to hold it for my own regard.

Though when I find a purpose, and get back to those spots of joy, I love every moment and find my soul enlarging, even as it does while watching the night sky over a barren isle. Like a racing engine, though, when not pushed it tends to collapse, a fact which is not one of my better qualities.

To learn to do for its own sake is a gift, maybe one which has to be innate. Or, maybe it takes faith, faith to trust in preparation for tasks unseen. Earlier quests certainly aided my beginning of seminary.

Part of this too is another fact of my present existence. Having traveled the roads of Christian learning for a while now my more personal questions have been answered. And it was these which drove me to the halls of learning. While assisting and leading others is now my training, my quest was always to find that which I sought. I sought God, and I found him, leaving much of my confusion and questions behind. Though, admittedly he is more complicated and grand than even a lifetime of learning could teach, my pressing questions of eternal being and personal standing no longer press, and thus no longer drive.

So, I have to turn and find other sources of inspiration, other reasons to get me to do that which I love to do. I must also wait, doing my tasks of now, and doing them well, while at the same time trusting that the fullness of time has not yet come. Become sharp and stay sharp, that is my present quest. A tricky one if the purpose isn’t obvious. That is my lot, however, for the hand of God is strongly upon me.

Now, though, it is very much past the time to go to sleep.

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morning

Everything outside is swaying in a gentle dance, waving with the rhythm of the wind. Branches move and give percussion to the air. All is quiet but for the sounds of wind through trees, a beautiful sun shines, Spring in its bloom.

And I? I am well, finding myself having disturbing dreams near the end of my sleep, but sloughing these off as soon as I awoke. Prayer and thoughts of spiritual tasks came as I opened my eyes, excited about this day, ready to take on that which is right and good.

Again, with all things well, I feel little push to write my heart, more eager to move on to other things, tasks which I am eager to pursue. Some I’ve done already, pushing back writing this, and even now think of those things, my creativity blooming, though not in the way which I thought or even want.

So, this I keep short, to say all is well, hoping to engage more thoughts throughout the day, and ponder mysteries anew this evening. It is Spring, it is gorgeous in these here hills, and for these reasons and more, not one to be spent gazing at the glare of a computer.

May peace stay and blossom.

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evening

The wind has died down a little bit, leaving the evening cool and nice, quiet for a Saturday. All the flurry of natural activity has ceased. A beautiful and perfect Spring night in the mountains.

I had a really nice day. Simple, yes. Quiet also. What made it so nice? Easy answer, my prayer this morning for peace was answered throughout the day, leaving me buoyant at each tasks, and delighted at every aspect. It didn’t hurt the day was spectacular, myriad of birds in a regular flurry of activity. Band tailed pigeons, chickadees, juncos, ravens, robins, steller’s jays, all sorts active in the trees and on the ground. I watched from the living room and outside. A cheerful day, and a rather productive one as well.

Which leads me to an awareness I’ve had before. It is easy to write about the pain, the words come out, we have so many ways to discuss the nuances of internal ill. Joy, though, we have little experience with and distrust it’s reality, calling things contrived or cheesy. We lump all those similar emotions of elation into one or two terms, because while we are used to pain, we have not the same understanding of what to do with happiness.

So, I write less with a good day, and hardly any with a great one. Which of course leaves my journals from the past years morbidly leaning. Heaven, I think, will be an expansion of our souls so we learn to understand and learn to embrace the fullness of joy, finding nuances and insights which we don’t allow ourselves. Some do. The most holy among us have an experience of joy that is indescribable. This goes against common perception of the holy, though it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. People fake holiness by way of solemnity and joylessness, taking the trappings without the filling.

Real holiness in joy without measure, for it is wisdom enacted and perfect life led, understanding the bounty of God in the midst of this present world.

A nice day, an answer to prayer, a release from whatever it was I woke up with this morning. A blessing. I needed a day like this, for my soul was feeling heavy, and I was tired of lifting it. The Spirit came, and while no spectacular answers presented themselves, I felt again the wonderful rhythm and delightful flow which makes all things seem better. Such a Sabbath, thanks to God.

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morning

I awoke while it was still very dark, a time in which I generally love to rise and get started, my creativity at its highest point. It was not with a sense of joy, though, that I sat and stared out at the fluttering branches and fog rolling by. Through bitterness and anger I wallowed and waded, until after the sun rose.

Now the sun is far enough north that it shines on my face, bringing a smile. Two squirrels engage in Spring’s loudest call, chasing each other up and around the large cedar. Jays screech, and fly in acrobatic delight through the branches, on the rail, all around.

It was supposed to rain today, according to the weather forecasts. The clear blue of the sky says otherwise, at least at this moment.

I awoke with discontent, directed inward and outward, frustrated to the point of distraction at missed moments and lost opportunities. Beyond this, though, was a root of bitterness at past employment, feeling anger and anger at my anger, tired of dwelling in places past, wishing them all the best in part (my good part), wishing them ill and disaster in part (my not so good part). Thoughts of Viking rage, hordes of barbarians pillaging and laying waste, had an intriguing air. I awoke mad, frustrated, that my part was being carried on by others, that my suggestions which were rejected by everyone are now held as the model for activity. There is the pride that I was right, and anger that I wish they realized this earlier. I wish I was wrong then, and could now still take part, having made the mistake of ignorance and journeyed with everyone, rather than being an explorer who is pilloried for heretical proclamations. There is bliss in ignorance, and pain in discernment. For many years I sought to be a part, losing my way by saying what they are now doing. So, I was discarded and replaced. I was not offered inclusion in the new colonies. Instead, I was put in a well and lost in a foreign land. Others lead and step in, having robbed me they use my funds.

The root of bitterness bloomed before sunrise. Grasping and twisting, a noose on my soul, iron shackles over my heart. I rejected it and embraced it. Suffering under its hold, wishing for release. What could I do? It possessed my soul, my creative flow was gone, overwhelmed by a rising flood.

I made decisions, in my head, to watch my bitterness, to reject its voice, to listen also to what else was being said. I know in situations like this to look both inward and outward, willing to accuse myself, but now also willing to admit that what I feel is not purely my own sin. It is the way of discernment. Grace is lifted, peace is lost, doors which seem welcoming hide tigers. I pursue a thought, prompted by others, and suddenly the gates of hell are unleashed, telling me that what seems safe is not. So I flee and stay away from land which hold only bitter fruit.

I stop in the midst of the storm and stand. “Dear Lord,” I pray, “My heart is fallen, I need peace. Dear Lord, I need peace and light.”

I reach for my Bible, part of the tasks on my heart, but which acedia has tried to tell me are not worthwhile. In the sway of swirling chaos I reach for those tasks, hoping to assuage the storms within by distraction, a gentle and quiet answer to the prayer. I do, and it does. Maybe I should be better at ignoring acedia, and not require God’s pressing hand. If I were at peace and always well, very little would I do which I should do. For not knowing the end, I doubt the trail, and so God chases me.

The chaos dies, though winds remain. My heart is wary, cautious at itself and at topics which ignite infernos.

There is no place for bitterness, no room for raging discontent. A mature one could sift and understand what voices were saying amidst the storm, and in confidence hunt down the source and cause. In me, though, sin still has a place, and so my insight is clouded and my understanding is marred, unsure by where I stand and where reality speaks.

I cannot engage that which holds no peace. God is sharpening my focus, intent on my accedence. The road narrows as it is traveled down, becoming overgrown on all sides, leaving less and less ability to maneuver apart from the clear path.

The difficulty now is that I do not hold on to the victory yet. Joseph forgave his brothers, telling them truthfully that what they did was used by God for right and good. He said this while standing on the steps of Egypt, second in command of all the country. I only have faith, that what God has done will become a light to me and others. So, I wallow and lose sight, and must fight to hold on to that which Christ holds out to me.

I did fight this morning, and the day founded in bitterness has become something else. In listening to the whispers of the Spirit this week I did do what is right, I did find and give joy. Gentle nudging resulting in smiles and appreciation because I dropped my over analysis and sought to swim in the current of the Spirit. Only on the path can I stay this way, which is where I must stay.

In a lesser way I return to this this morning, letting my bitterness be exhaled with deep breaths, praying for peace and answers, letting God take the burdens off my shoulders, and trusting that despite what the world may say, all is indeed well.

The sun shines bright this morning. Branches sway in a cool breeze. Birds of all kinds sing and fly, squirrels are enraptured with each other. I sit here quietly, with nothing more than hope and faith. And so I write and do that which is right before me, trusting that at the end of my story it will be told that all was in God’s hands, and it was good to wait.

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