Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: March 31, 2004

evening

I finally saw the birds today. And plenty of them. It did help I went elsewhere. Curiously, I also saw a coyote late this afternoon. Curiously I say, because it was around when other dogs were out. And it was chasing something, likely a squirrel, in a full run up the driveway. The coyotes had been gone for a couple of weeks, then earlier today as I was preparing to leave I heard them gathering off in a secluded area. Danger was again coming. I don’t want coyotes to feel comfortable around this house, so I went outside. He was by my truck staring down at me. I ran off the deck, up the stairs, right at him, picking up a small branch along the way. I’m not sure why I did this, it really was small, I guess it felt right to have something in my hand. I chased it away from my truck, and down the little access road, only then noticing I wasn’t wearing any shoes. Thoughts of yelling at it passed through my mind. I didn’t follow through, keeping up a quiet chase down the road, past a house, through trees, across a road, down a hill, into the forest. I felt like Natty Bumpo from Last of the Mohicans. Of course, had the coyote turned (and it was a large one) I’m not sure what I would have done. My forest craft ends at actual confrontation. It ran on away, much more fleet of foot than I. The thrill of the chase was in fact exhilarating. There are parts of my being I rarely get to exercise.

Now it is quiet, the wind has died down. Something scurried across my roof a moment ago, and I have no idea what it is. There are night creatures about, but none that I know of which would scurry across my roof.

The day was a restless one in general for me. I don’t know why. I awoke early and while I didn’t get to the tasks I wanted to, I think I made very good use of my time with other tasks. It’s slow going for me at times, but worthwhile. My discontent reared its head, though I tried to do what is right. My increasing patterns of Spirituality, I found today, were very helpful, keeping me focused, if not content.

I mentioned to a friend this evening I felt I had entered into a new stage. To be honest I’m not sure what I meant by that. I even wonder if I just made that up so I didn’t have to say “nothing” when she asked, “What’s new?”. But, it came out, and I’m not sure I was wrong. I just don’t know what kind of new stage it is. There is, however, something curious going on, a recovery of something I have not felt for literally years, an earnest rising out of my soul of prayer and passion for renewed spirituality. Of course, that’s why I came up to these parts, so it is not a surprise, I guess. It is not totally new, just some kind of new nuance with it all, like I got to the next rung. There is so much we cannot see, so much we do not know as we traipse through the already and not yet.

What I do know, however, and I don’t know why, is that all is well with me. All is in God’s hands, and he is actively drawing me towards him in an exciting way. Details are lacking, a frustration to be sure. I’m sure of the reality of this, so sure I’m willing to bet my life on it. It’ll be nice to see how it turns out.

Maybe that’s the restlessness, knowing that something is going on, feeling it with every part of my soul, and not having an inkling of what it is. So the emotions stir inside without the ability to settle or focus, swirling in some measure of confusion, unable to pin down the exact feeling. I responded to something that I don’t know today. Good or bad, I haven’t a clue. All is well, though, and all will be well.

morning

Someone is hammering. The echo of the pounding carries in the quiet. Too early for such noise, someone with little awareness of others at their tasks. What is of real note is something else. I see, nor hear, any birds. One jay, just a moment ago, came to my balcony, then he left. No birds before or since. That is it. What has been a busy time for the past few days, has now become silent and still. There is no activity, but for the hammering, and the light breeze that blows. Hazy clouds to the east blur the morning light, though do not block it. It is cool, and it, of course, is beautiful.

I wake today with a conflicted sense. Only problem is I do not know the conflict. I feel a bit restless, and feel creeping lack of focus. There is only one way through these, of course, and that is diligence in the tasks at hand. Which I will get to, only at this moment I search deeper.

One of the greatest measures of the spiritual life is to learn to really be content only with God’s favor. We live our lives trying to please and hoping that someone in a bit of authority will look kindly on our efforts and help us with that which we want. To view only God in this light, however, is a task for the mighty and courageous, maybe even foolhardy. How would we live if God was our only source of affirmation? If only God could confer the satisfaction we desire? Much differently then we do, I imagine.

That is learning what it is to be aware only of God in our lives, to look only to him and let that gaze and purpose work out the rest of our existence. With our eyes fully on God, looking to please only him, satisfied only if He is satisfied, the rest of the ‘good works’ will occur. It’s why Mary had the good part, and Martha was corrected.

Saying this is one thing. Letting my soul rest only in God is another. For I want to impress, with differing reasons, I want others to smile upon me and say, “well done.” When this does not happen, when I am ignored or dismissed, I lose heart. That should not be. There is only God and me.

God is a difficult sort, however, in that he is loving and demanding. He is the Face, as James Loder would put it, who never goes away, and yet for many seasons it appears he does just that. So we look to others to be that face, and always, as Loder did put it, we will be disappointed by these others, because they bear a burden that only God can sustain.

Whether in career, in romance, in any aspect of our lives, we substitute God, intentionally sometimes but usually not. We are sincere in our words, just not in our hearts. That’s the trick of learning the depths of the Spiritual life, matching our heart with our words.

Of course, the other side of being dependent only on the favor of God will come if we misunderstand God and his being. Then, our ties cut off from the opinions of others, we can easily drift into some nether region of heresy and cult leadership. So, there’s a balance to be found, interacting and learning with others, while dependent only on God. Open and closed all at the same time.

May God help me to find this balance, not just in my mind, indeed with all my being.

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