Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 12, 2004


It was dusk, the sun below the horizon, though still light out. One coyote stood fifty yards from the front door, in the middle of the street, right on the line which marks the stop. He stared north, into some trees or in the yard of another house. Not a movement did he make, for at least a minute or two. I thought some driver not paying attention would come by. None did. He stood. Another moved in from behind him, attentive as he was, following some plan it seemed. Both were intent. The second walked across the street into the driveway of a house, lost from my eyes, either going up the hill, or down into a creek ravine, the exact places I walk my own dog daily. The first stared for a while longer, a sentry at his post, then turned and walked the opposite direction. I did not know their purpose, but from fifty yards I could see they were not casually about. I could only hope that visiting pets were safely inside their homes, their careless owners watchful at that moment. The coyotes knew something, only they knew what.

Tonight a light breeze blows cooling off a warmer day. Human sounds were scattered throughout the evening — sounds of construction, of talking, of mechanical noises by visitors who do not know mountain life, and break the etiquette. A new spider web stretches from a beam of the roof to a beam on my balcony. The crawling things are emerging for Spring.

My anticipated tasks went as I hoped this day, a peace I have not felt in a while returned. Not the calming peace which urges stillness. No, a peace which provokes to action. I wrote as I have not written in a while, I enjoyed the sun’s shine in various ways, all while still getting to those less enlarging activities, a day balanced once more.

Tonight I hold on to all this, feeling draws of decline, but rejoicing in how my heart felt while in the midst of fruitful endeavor. All is well, and days like this confirm this fact. Only, I know, it sometimes takes a while for the physical signs to reveal themselves. First the peace comes, and the continued leading of the Spirit in and through me. Like Israel in the wilderness, God provides and provokes at every step, my only concern being that which is right before me.

I pray tomorrow will go much the same. There is a lessening of my extremes, a sign my soul grows, learning to be content, and fight to stay so.


The half moon in the sky to the south greeted me when I first opened my door. It was still quite bright in the dawning light. Still, warm air inspired me to wake at what was once my usual time, and now has become early again. I delight in the predawn, the cool and calm of a world not yet alive, punctuated only by the occasional call of a bird early or late. The ancients (even to those we would call ancient) built vast tombs and other works which would highlight the stars, emphasize the moon, point to a particular dawn. Some of these were masterly built so the sun would shine through the middle only on a specific morning, usually a solstice. Light would travel a hundred yards down a narrow corridor, illuminating the sacred space within for the rite and ceremony.

Nothing of that sort for me today, though something is of a reminding kind. The sun rises this morning as I type, and for the first time since winter’s sway the sun shines on my desk, lighting my fingers, just the tips. Moving north from our purview, it rises now no longer blocked by hill or house, beaming first softly, then stronger, a narrow band of light. I lean over and stare at its blinding glare, not for too long of course. This brings cheer to my heart, a cheer which had been discouraged by the grinding of the trash truck picking up construction leavings a half hour ago.

For now, though, the sun takes hold, shadows of cedar branches pasted on my cinnamon walls. Squirrels explore the hills and ground all around. The sun will not long shine through this northeasterly window. It will rise and go behind roof and tree, visiting again tomorrow, staying longer each day until winter returns.

Within I feel a draw to participate in this world, to interact with bird and stone, to delight in the movement of my being through the greater treasures. My sallow yesterday, spent staring at sapping glare provokes me this morning, my feet tapping in anticipation of a run or a paddle, maybe both. My soul cries out for activity, to put aside the tools of study and response. Within this, though, honestly, is that yearning for another to share such flights into the wilderness. This is not strong, nor overbearing, just a slight echo of a dirge in an otherwise welcome tune.

I know, as strong as anything, that such welcomed respite and doors of many kinds opening will only come through my continuing to run this race as it has been placed before me. There is no stopping in this void, for here shadows reign, desiring to overwhelm and condemn at the first moment’s pause. Only forward, only to the end, to see what awaits. Heaven is there. Whether I shall taste of it soon or late, in this life or only in the next, is for the Spirit to lead. I have my part, my daily bread, my tasks to do, that is all I know, and all I need, for now. I do not feel peace this morning. Instead I feel a strong drive to seek it out, to pursue through all avenues of prayer and discipline, to take hold of it once more, to wade in its wonderful glow. That is my task for today.

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