Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 25, 2004

evening

Cool wind came this afternoon, unbeknownst to me until I was running in it, wearing shorts and a tank top. It kept me running to be sure. Still it blows, my wind sock nearly horizontal. Fog comes as well. Spring is here, but winter has not yet had its final say. I see my breath when I exhale. I love the cold, and welcome its return, knowing that this will be the last taste for many a month.

Even before I awoke this morning I felt a weight. Upon opening my eyes I felt the same weight on my soul. It was already late afternoon before I learned why. The details are not important. It was just that I felt what I did not know, and upon responding felt free.

The Spiritual path is a lonely one. There is no doubt in my mind about this. I know it from my own life, and I know it from the lives of the saints before me, extending back into the far reaches of time. All those in the Scriptures who God has called encounter points in which they feel utterly alone. They are not always by themselves, in fact rarely are they, but they are alone, for God was leading these men and women down narrow paths, distinct from others of their time. Not a single soul drawn by God throughout time since the New Testament ended has gone down a path with perfect company. All the greats felt the burden of loneliness, learning through these dark times that only God is the trusted one. In understanding that all others fail, that we walk a lonely road at key times, we can then engage community with a healthy sense, accepting people with all their faults, joining together with our own failings, thankful for each other, dependent on God. While others might be by, no one understands our trail and travail. So, we feel the weight of this, overwhelming at times.

Paul felt it to be sure, for even with all he did he could not do enough to please everyone. He did not act the way others thought he should, and so he was left alone, attacked even, except by a few. It is not all lonely, for there are points of joy and community which taste of heaven itself. Only in heaven though will we bathe in that which we seek now. And so we walk, at times alone, learning over time that there is only Christ and us. He is the only one who can reach out, and the only one who will not abandon us. For we are imperfect, and sinful, and without wisdom in too many ways. We are limited beings, with limited strength, attention, and intelligence. So we do what we can, helping and offending in turn, able to only do that which we can, no matter what others may demand of us.

I feel the weight of not being enough. Though I think, with joy, that which I can do and have done, thanking God for those who I have been able to assist, thanking him that I have some measure of ability. I can not do what I do not know, and cannot see all things. So I fail, and will, for the rest of my life, continue to fail, causing hurt and pain. For I am a sinful man. The God who saves, though, will also give me tasks which help and aide, which give courage and wisdom, which help those in the deepest of loss. Through his Spirit I will do much that is good, of that I have no doubt.

I can only be who I am, walking as the Spirit asks, responding not to the demands of others, but always being mindful of how God wants me to be. I am not enough to be all things to all people. That is only God. Those who imagine themselves such are torn always, forgetting their responsibilities to those who have their commitments. Lives are destroyed, families are lost, because we think ourselves able to be spread thin, and then help no one.

I felt a weight this morning on my soul. I feel it lighter this evening. Not without pain, nor without doubt. I pray that God makes up for where I lack. Even Christ knew the lonely road, the road that led to his death. Some could say that he was selfish in leaving, in not healing just one more person. His call was larger, though, and he knew that in walking it greater things were to result.

The call on the Christian is many and wide, often entailing complex decisions, priorities in the balance. We pray and do, trusting that God is in charge, knowing that the weight of all the world is not on our shoulders. There are others, who are also called, and who are charged to tasks we are not. Together, all together, we make up the body. God does not need me to prove his love to him, nor do I need to prove my devotion to others. I do what I do, I am who I am, and trust that God is all in all.

To ask anymore of ourselves or each other is to invite pain and confusion. I want neither. At the end of the day, at the end of this day, I feel I am right before God. Thus, having sought wisdom and counsel, responded to the weight, I end the day with peace. Christ alone is the face who will not go away, and it is to him I now look.

morning

I awoke and it was dark. I awoke again and it was very bright. Beautiful day, perfect one might say, a light breeze accenting the warm Spring sun. Ravens are flying through the trees.

There are times in which one has to tell a story over and over again to different people who are interested. Especially when a big decision is made or some kind of traumatic event occurs.

That was my night last night. Not in reality did I have these conversations, they were in my dreams. I don’t usually dream, or at least I very rarely am aware of my dreams. Visions and meaningful dreams are not among my gifts. Last night, though, it seemed I dreamed all the night, the same dream, in different contexts. I kept having to explain myself, not with bitterness or frustration, just with the kind of optimistic hope that I generally do in reality. At two thirty my dog barked, waking me up and getting me up. From that point on I was restless in mind, if not in body, and ended up feeling emotionally drained from having slept.

Needless to say, my enthusiasm of yesterday is depleted a bit, all because of an overactive mind at rest. I feel like I’ve spent hours in a crowd, and need to recharge through quiet and solitude. Only I haven’t, which leads to conflicting feelings. I’m not sure what to do with this, since the source of my irritation has only minor import it seems. Who’s to say. It just is another day in which my self motivation seems somewhat stalled, and I would like a purpose outside myself to motivate me up and out.

Nothing has changed, though, so I deal with what I have, and pray for happier dreams tonight.

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