Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 6, 2004

evening

At some point during the night the moon moved closer to the earth. I’m not sure how this affects anything, all I know is that low in the sky I could just about see the small American flag which had been planted on it waving in the solar wind. I drove home with it’s bright face before me, the window down, the cool almost spring air rushing through, reinvigorating. It was a cold breeze, one filled with the smells of a recently watered land. Pine, and cedar, and oak, and desert smells of all kinds. An all natural car deodorizer. All was bathed in a light blue light, the trees and water reflecting the light of the reflecting moon.

Today I helped out a friend who was in need of relief. Not that there was a significant problem, only too many small problems had added up and she was feeling the stress of life lived. In praying for her I was prompted to lend a hand. She welcomed the assistance, saying later that she knew I didn’t have to go out of my way to help, so she appreciated it.

I don’t know about that, not the appreciation part. I prayed for her, and felt a burden of response. I guess I didn’t have to help, but it was more than just not being nice, it became a divine directive, I think.

There is an aspect of the Spiritual life, of community, which I do not have concrete proof about, but which is forming stronger in my head. Christ said our burdens would be light. Yet, very few Christians I know, people I know, carry light burdens. Accumulated stress is our generation’s hallmark.

Community terminology has taken on spiritual connotations. It really is a practical issue, almost above all. We carry each other’s burdens, helping out and being helped out, mutually living this life in a way which society frowns upon. If someone needs a meal, it is provided. A laugh, it is provided. A job, it is provided. All those things in life which we need are met, and we live to help others meet their needs, all of us using our gifts together. The spiritual aspects of this arise from the practical. I can pray and fast and study on my own. I can stare at nature and delve deeply into the ways of the spirit without others. It is the spirituality of the practical which cannot be found, and this is a spirituality which is essential to human life. The Greek division of body and soul has leaked into our conception of physical and spiritual. We see life and religious life as distinct, both those outside and inside the communities of faith.

Jesus didn’t see this, the prophets didn’t see this. Physical was bound up in spiritual, one might say, in a circumincessive manner. We worship, the Prophet says, by feeding widows and orphans. We serve Christ, he says, by bringing him food and water, and visiting him.

It is these things, these oftentimes subtle things, which create a thorough spirituality. There is nothing out of the bounds of a Christian act of worship, the sincere love of God and neighbor. Being mindful of these little things, these seemingly practical tasks, and letting even these be our response to God, is how we sharpen our discernment in hearing God.

The burden was too heavy for her, but not because God had given her too much. God meant for others to assist, to carry the cross as Simon once did. Our burdens our light not because God does not give much, but because he intends others to help. A cautious word when we feel our own burdens too heavy or see another crushed with weight. Of course I had to help, it was not only a gesture of friendship it was my acceptable act of worship on what many consider a holy day of celebrating God’s miraculous relief.

I pray your Purim was wonderful.

morning

Three thirty AM I was awoken by a wild cacophony. Coyotes. A pack of them howling and wailing not far away. It is an eerie sound, making one feel safe inside the home. The sun rose, and soon so did I. The only sound now the new song birds which have come to the area, two kinds. I need to learn their voices. Only the barest of breeze blows. The sun is very bright, only in the shadows do patches of snow remain.

I await with eagerness the work of God in my life. There is no doubt about this. My worry is that I wait with too much eagerness, grasping hold too strongly the smallest branches of change. I have not yet arrived at that place where peace is constant, where I can trust fully in and through all. In lack, I’ve learned to be more steady, though disappointment can rule when hopes are dashed.

This morning I still await, trusting, cautioning myself, even as I feel movement forward. There is no real specific cause, nothing of particular note, though roads blocked may now be opening. We’ll see. Within the hope is an understandable restraint. God is pushing, leading, driving me to a specific spot. In the past I’ve seen him act in what seemed a teasing manner, holding out the carrot, then pulling it away. To take hold of that which he has taken hold of us we must be pulled beyond our natural reach, motivated to get up off our spiritually lazy butts, and leap out into the void. Always, though, is the hope that this time the rope will not move, we will not fall, forward yes but in pain.

The weather speaks of delight and I feel it in my heart, the songs of the birds resonate within. My trepidation is real, and so I do not fully release myself into this bountiful spirit. I still lack faith and trust. Today, though, I take this lesson, keep my wits about me, and will seek to not stray into sin, watching ahead and the path before me. That is the Way.

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