Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 27, 2004

evening

The wind has died down a little bit, leaving the evening cool and nice, quiet for a Saturday. All the flurry of natural activity has ceased. A beautiful and perfect Spring night in the mountains.

I had a really nice day. Simple, yes. Quiet also. What made it so nice? Easy answer, my prayer this morning for peace was answered throughout the day, leaving me buoyant at each tasks, and delighted at every aspect. It didn’t hurt the day was spectacular, myriad of birds in a regular flurry of activity. Band tailed pigeons, chickadees, juncos, ravens, robins, steller’s jays, all sorts active in the trees and on the ground. I watched from the living room and outside. A cheerful day, and a rather productive one as well.

Which leads me to an awareness I’ve had before. It is easy to write about the pain, the words come out, we have so many ways to discuss the nuances of internal ill. Joy, though, we have little experience with and distrust it’s reality, calling things contrived or cheesy. We lump all those similar emotions of elation into one or two terms, because while we are used to pain, we have not the same understanding of what to do with happiness.

So, I write less with a good day, and hardly any with a great one. Which of course leaves my journals from the past years morbidly leaning. Heaven, I think, will be an expansion of our souls so we learn to understand and learn to embrace the fullness of joy, finding nuances and insights which we don’t allow ourselves. Some do. The most holy among us have an experience of joy that is indescribable. This goes against common perception of the holy, though it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. People fake holiness by way of solemnity and joylessness, taking the trappings without the filling.

Real holiness in joy without measure, for it is wisdom enacted and perfect life led, understanding the bounty of God in the midst of this present world.

A nice day, an answer to prayer, a release from whatever it was I woke up with this morning. A blessing. I needed a day like this, for my soul was feeling heavy, and I was tired of lifting it. The Spirit came, and while no spectacular answers presented themselves, I felt again the wonderful rhythm and delightful flow which makes all things seem better. Such a Sabbath, thanks to God.

morning

I awoke while it was still very dark, a time in which I generally love to rise and get started, my creativity at its highest point. It was not with a sense of joy, though, that I sat and stared out at the fluttering branches and fog rolling by. Through bitterness and anger I wallowed and waded, until after the sun rose.

Now the sun is far enough north that it shines on my face, bringing a smile. Two squirrels engage in Spring’s loudest call, chasing each other up and around the large cedar. Jays screech, and fly in acrobatic delight through the branches, on the rail, all around.

It was supposed to rain today, according to the weather forecasts. The clear blue of the sky says otherwise, at least at this moment.

I awoke with discontent, directed inward and outward, frustrated to the point of distraction at missed moments and lost opportunities. Beyond this, though, was a root of bitterness at past employment, feeling anger and anger at my anger, tired of dwelling in places past, wishing them all the best in part (my good part), wishing them ill and disaster in part (my not so good part). Thoughts of Viking rage, hordes of barbarians pillaging and laying waste, had an intriguing air. I awoke mad, frustrated, that my part was being carried on by others, that my suggestions which were rejected by everyone are now held as the model for activity. There is the pride that I was right, and anger that I wish they realized this earlier. I wish I was wrong then, and could now still take part, having made the mistake of ignorance and journeyed with everyone, rather than being an explorer who is pilloried for heretical proclamations. There is bliss in ignorance, and pain in discernment. For many years I sought to be a part, losing my way by saying what they are now doing. So, I was discarded and replaced. I was not offered inclusion in the new colonies. Instead, I was put in a well and lost in a foreign land. Others lead and step in, having robbed me they use my funds.

The root of bitterness bloomed before sunrise. Grasping and twisting, a noose on my soul, iron shackles over my heart. I rejected it and embraced it. Suffering under its hold, wishing for release. What could I do? It possessed my soul, my creative flow was gone, overwhelmed by a rising flood.

I made decisions, in my head, to watch my bitterness, to reject its voice, to listen also to what else was being said. I know in situations like this to look both inward and outward, willing to accuse myself, but now also willing to admit that what I feel is not purely my own sin. It is the way of discernment. Grace is lifted, peace is lost, doors which seem welcoming hide tigers. I pursue a thought, prompted by others, and suddenly the gates of hell are unleashed, telling me that what seems safe is not. So I flee and stay away from land which hold only bitter fruit.

I stop in the midst of the storm and stand. “Dear Lord,” I pray, “My heart is fallen, I need peace. Dear Lord, I need peace and light.”

I reach for my Bible, part of the tasks on my heart, but which acedia has tried to tell me are not worthwhile. In the sway of swirling chaos I reach for those tasks, hoping to assuage the storms within by distraction, a gentle and quiet answer to the prayer. I do, and it does. Maybe I should be better at ignoring acedia, and not require God’s pressing hand. If I were at peace and always well, very little would I do which I should do. For not knowing the end, I doubt the trail, and so God chases me.

The chaos dies, though winds remain. My heart is wary, cautious at itself and at topics which ignite infernos.

There is no place for bitterness, no room for raging discontent. A mature one could sift and understand what voices were saying amidst the storm, and in confidence hunt down the source and cause. In me, though, sin still has a place, and so my insight is clouded and my understanding is marred, unsure by where I stand and where reality speaks.

I cannot engage that which holds no peace. God is sharpening my focus, intent on my accedence. The road narrows as it is traveled down, becoming overgrown on all sides, leaving less and less ability to maneuver apart from the clear path.

The difficulty now is that I do not hold on to the victory yet. Joseph forgave his brothers, telling them truthfully that what they did was used by God for right and good. He said this while standing on the steps of Egypt, second in command of all the country. I only have faith, that what God has done will become a light to me and others. So, I wallow and lose sight, and must fight to hold on to that which Christ holds out to me.

I did fight this morning, and the day founded in bitterness has become something else. In listening to the whispers of the Spirit this week I did do what is right, I did find and give joy. Gentle nudging resulting in smiles and appreciation because I dropped my over analysis and sought to swim in the current of the Spirit. Only on the path can I stay this way, which is where I must stay.

In a lesser way I return to this this morning, letting my bitterness be exhaled with deep breaths, praying for peace and answers, letting God take the burdens off my shoulders, and trusting that despite what the world may say, all is indeed well.

The sun shines bright this morning. Branches sway in a cool breeze. Birds of all kinds sing and fly, squirrels are enraptured with each other. I sit here quietly, with nothing more than hope and faith. And so I write and do that which is right before me, trusting that at the end of my story it will be told that all was in God’s hands, and it was good to wait.

oops

I knew this moment would come. From the day I began, it was looming on the horizon. Now it came, and may in fact come again. Alas…

I went to bed last evening without even a thought of adding my evening comments. I even had some thoughts in the afternoon that wanted to explore. If there had been a fine excuse I would not mind. There was not. Hmmm…. Good thing I wrote a lot in the morning.

Well, back at it. No harm, no foul. Discipline has never been innate. Only thing I can do is restore the rhythm and keep my thoughts more aligned with what I ought to be doing.

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