Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 10, 2004

evening

The green branches of the cedar sway in the light breeze, as though caught in a meditation. The ground is covered in brown pine needles, falling from the once full pines, soon to be gone. Newly stacked logs catch my eye, adding more brown, adding more order to outside piles. My sliding door is open full, the warmth of coming spring welcomed in. Not a sound emanates from the forest besides the gentle hush of wind in tree.

Today I felt the peace I lacked all day yesterday. And with this came an urge for outside chores, finishing tasks which had been waiting, cleaning and stacking, working in the sun, feeling my muscles exult with every lift and strain. I thoroughly enjoy dramatic weather, and delight in arctic temps, but something about today called out, wishing me to celebrate and ready for springs arrival. It was not done with frantic regret, but with joyful peace. I read as well, and found easing of yesterday’s troubles, as this new address indicates. Confusion reigned throughout yesterday, today the peace was just as palpable and much more welcomed.

Nothing else lay in my mind’s consideration. I pray that I would continue to grow, continue to feel the delight and light of God’s peace, and I pray for those about, friends and family, that they may know their heart’s delight.

Not all days can be like today, for while I felt peace I did not burrow into my regular tasks. That is for tomorrow, another day, another step forward.

morning

A chainsaw begins its whining buzz earlier than politeness would dictate. Its sound drowns out all others, its mechanical buzz an affront to nature’s sway. Needed, of course, one might say, its destructive swath a healing balm to a forest afflicted. Not, however, congenial to a morning cup of tea, or quiet prayer. I take a deep breath, then another, and a third. The breeze outside picks up. Spider webs strung from branch to branch dance in reflecting light, appearing in a ray, then gone, invisible to the eye. I rub some Neosporin on two hand cuts, unsightly more than painful, watching two jays come taste of the morning buffet before flying away.

I take another deep breath, seeking this morning the tools of restoration from my fractured self. Yesterday, I found myself caught, walking along, when a firefight erupted around me. And I was hit and wounded, not mindful of either my heart or training, not trusting in the tools. I begin this day with a different tone, reading Scripture, praying for wisdom, breathing deep of the forest air. I turn on some chant, knowing that the subtle religiosity of these singing monks does in fact have a calming effect. I fill my water bottle, and finish it, fill it again. A single branch catches my eye, I ponder its intricacy. I breathe deep, relaxing my shoulders, my back, my neck. The meditative sight of cedars blowing in the light wind brings ease and peace. I face the day, straining for what is ahead.

I thought this morning about this present task, what was on my mind and heart, where I stood before God and man. Thinking of previous entries I realized how contrived I might be, how it might seem I am dodging personal insight for platitudes and theology. My goal is to write from the heart, to let my soul come out, the wrestling and delights of my continued walk be marked down for future consideration by myself, and because of this format, by others.

Nothing I write is intentionally contrived I figure now. If anyone who knows me wonders why I make the decisions I do, suddenly take on a pensive look, stop when others go, these notes express the inner struggle. It is not just my emotions I consider, though I think these a part of the united whole. Having studied theology for a fair many years I consider the underlying issues, attacking and treating the themes of my life, listening to the song and applying theory.

In Palm Springs many years ago I had a terrible time. I was with good friends, had a fine schedule, and yet could not swim happily in that setting. I knew, even at the time, why. This weekend was a break, but not too much of one, for I was reading and writing a paper on John Cassian, the great one. I felt strong the cognitive dissonance of differing paths in that place, and knew mine was a path away from most of those wallowing in the excess.

Now, several years since, I still wrestle, but have sought to go beyond admitting dissonance to explaining why, putting words to vague impressions, dissecting thoughts which once were ethereal. My spiritual sense gives me impressions, my training gives me analysis and words, both sides of which I still seek growth and understanding.

So, if the details of my life slip by the wayside, it is because the details rarely change, but the battle has new nuances each day. These are my concerns, the ways of spiritual battle, the art of war in the heavenly realms. I say this to myself, knowing my tendency to drift, and cautioning myself to stay grounded in the now, but a little more accepting of my mental wanderings away. This all is life and death to me, so the platitudes or lessons are not contrived, but attempts to get my hands around aspects which are far too large for a single human soul. It is the attempt which causes growth, enlarging our own souls through time and discipline.

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