Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 4, 2004

evening thoughts

The fog rolled in as the sun was going down. Or should I say a cloud descended on the mountain, rolled through the valley. It continued on its way. Only small patches of snow remain on the ground, the day was filled with sounds of dripping, and all is wet. The night is still, remnants of snow still drip, sounding like faucets not quite turned off all around. I notice tonight, for some reason, the lack of insect sounds. Quiet really is quiet in these hills. Only the occasional sound of a high flying jet coming to or from Edwards or China Lake, or another military base echoes.

Today was a day of prayer. Not just because I spent a fair bit more time than usual praying. It was ordained as such. I could feel it when I was at other tasks. Today was intended for me to pray, and only this would give good use of the hours. So, I did, for the most part, in various ways. For others, for myself, feeling the buoyancy of the morning continue throughout, feeling that while I cannot see all is alright. There are practical issues which still seek to interfere, as well they likely should some would say. While nothing spectacular resulted today, I felt a turn to right, to good, as though this was a worthwhile marker in this season.

I found a new inspiration in writing. I replied and acted in ways which came out of prayer yesterday and today which seem to find agreement and appropriateness. It is all part of my seeking the nuances of God’s lead, not just seeking wisdom in major moments, but trying to adjust my instincts to the Divine, riding the movement of the Spirit like a raven does the wind. Subtle, precise, aerobatic, lithe. Not always terms applied to the spiritual life, though I think them appropriate and the goal of any who seek depth. Too much of religiosity has a clunky, awkward way. The one who moves with the Spirit moves as the dolphin does in water, with perfect grace. It is the naturalness of the renowned athlete, the instincts of internal muscles which must learn to react to the barest wisps of the breath of God. Stopping and going in perfect timing, speaking and being silent, all the Ecclesiastes phrases. It is perfect discernment.

I’m not there yet, to be sure, though I’ve found myself sharper than in the past. A lot of it is the willingness to trust one’s own instincts. If they are sanctified, by means of the active presence of the Spirit, then we have insight into the Divine, deep calling to deep. But we do not trust our subtle senses, overwhelming them with logic and concerns. That still small voice continues to whisper. In hearing and acting in accord we became agents of God, relieving stress, giving words of encouragement, angels to those in need. If we do not, then others lose out. Maybe not completely, though in part. We also lose out. So, refining our instincts, trusting that God is working, listening to the breezes that blow from unexpected directions, we continue to move forward. If we do not have faith, we will not even stand.

So, I pray I will continue to hear, continue to respond rightly, continue to give to others and accept from others, as the Spirit leads us all. The spiritual life is about these subtle things, so small they are able to be ignored, so great they often mean life and death, physically and spiritually. Sin hinders, worship and prayer focus. That is the reason for the discipline. We do not choose our own parts to play, but are drafted into roles and duties, some of which are rushed into battle, some of which require years of training in order to succeed. I’m not there yet, I’ve a ways to go, though it is, like I said, nice to feel the growth at times, nice feel relief, and hear words of encouragement. May God continue to speak, and may I continue to grow in hearing.

morning

Snow remains on the ground still, on the rooftops, the driveway. It is wet and sloshy now, very frozen earlier in the morn. The breeze is light, a blue sky, with the barest of mist, covers all. With the weather now more amenable, construction begins once more. This morning that is the loud, grating sound of a jackhammer pounding through the asphalt of a neighbor, readying house for gas. Curiously, it does not bother me as much as it had in the past. I am learning to see in physical irritations kinds of spiritual bothers, the noise of my own soul sounds at times as grating as that breaking apart of the street. I learn to be content with one, I learn the contentment with the other. A squirrel eats seed next to my small plastic Yoda on the balcony, easing its way towards where my snowshoes, now dry, sit.

How I start my day affects, oftentimes, how my day is spent. It is like I wake up aware of the items which must be done and faced, both on a practical and spiritual level. Even before total consciousness hits I know. The greats said that this was the time in which one’s real spirituality came out, for it was not blocked by our mental barriers and defenses. One is conscious, usually, before the ego and superego (to use faulty Freudian terms) engage one’s being. They noted that sins of thought and motive are often discovered lying here. We are less culpable for these, however, for much of the spiritual life is founded in learned and controlled discipline rather than the discovery of perfection. In both positive and negative ways it is a sign of our own progress.

So, unlike the disturbances of recent note, I woke this morning with prayer in my mind, seeking peace. I prayed for friends who are facing pressure and weight in their lives, for relief and guidance, for rest. I prayed, in a half conscious state, for a while, drifting in and out, my words in my head, not on my still groggy tongue, thinking even at the time of the theology of that. I assume God can hear our thoughts. Electrical impulses shouldn’t be more elusive than words to one such as he.

I say this because the journey is too often slogging and frustrating. I value those moments in which the positive shines out, saying to me that yes, the mountain is in fact closer these days than in years past. There are many other signs of this, to be sure. Having a positive morning was simply an awaited pleasure. I shall continue in prayer, and study, and writing, moving ever closer to that goal that Christ holds for me.

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