Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: April 2004 (page 1 of 6)


A squirrel was on my balcony around seven. I really don’t know how it got there, I imagine it leaped from a nearby beam. The first squirrel to come since the pines came down. In fact, the whole area seemed filled with wildlife. A coyote wandered up the driveway, staring at me as it walked past. I stared back, and asked what it was up to. Ravens, two of them were circling all around, flying fairly close, landing in nearby trees, pecking at the tops of pines, rummaging around in the branches of budding oaks. Birds continued to sing, all types. Now it is night, and the area seems more filled with visitors than normal, enough to make me wonder whether this is a holiday. I don’t think it is.

I am tired now, more tired than I have been at this hour in a while, my mind and body a little weary from exertion, which is a welcomed kind of weary.

Funny thing this writing is, for always, my whole life, I’ve never been able to succesfully write after three in the afternoon. The evening is when I am more social, the morning is when my mind is on fire. I would never even try to write. Yet, here I do. Now, I ‘m not sure if maybe I shouldn’t in fact be writing at this hour, if my mental meanderings make sense. It is a good habit, and maybe this hour is not a time for focus, but it is a time for openness, as if my fingers go to work without conferring with my mind, letting out thoughts and feelings.

Nothing remains in either place tonight, only the continued quest to do what I can, and do that which is before me. This was a weird week, a week in which I shifted somehow, had to wander through some decisions I didn’t know I was making, having to come to terms with that which became overburdensome. It was a week in which a marker made me pause and consider all that is going on, and where it is going. Somehow, even without specifics, I feel like conclusions were reached, insight gained. Only it was not a marker of my maturity. I stumbled along all the way, and feel more of where I should be, than contentment of where I am.

So, I keep on, waiting for my heart to be ‘strangely warmed’, for the door to open, to what I don’t know, only I know it remains to be opened. For years I’ve been hearing ‘wait’, and I don’t know why. But, I do wait.

Some people I know have gotten a bit into the gambling scene. Nothing extreme, no worries on my part, but enough to make points of conversation that I don’t identify with. Gambling has no attraction. The times I’ve been to Vegas I’ve never been tempted to bet on anything, even a slot machine, not because of moral issues, because of interest issues. I’m completely uninterested in it. Now here is why I bring this up. Gambling with cards or in other ways doesn’t have interested because I’m in the middle of the highest stakes a person can gamble with, I’m laying my whole life down there on the table, and trusting the spin to come up my way. More than this, I’m taking what I say I believe, and committting to it, having now left little room to back out. I’m betting on myself, and what God is doing in me, and the stakes are my whole existence. What does the thrill of getting a high hand compare with that?

That’s why I think I’ve no interest in the usual kind of gambling. It bores me, for the stakes with that is just money. Bet a life, bet a life on Life, now that’s a gamble. Faith becomes real, doubt increasingly falls to the wayside, for doubt impedes the progress, takes the heart, makes a person retreat, fills with fear. Not by blindly casting it aside, but by learning to put it in its place, learning to understand faith as it has been taught, faith in the one who has acted. Doubt can exist, to be sure, but it’s also an excuse to do that which we are afraid of doing, to leave safety nets, and so we explain the call on us away by using fancy phrases and well tuned considerations.

No, we, in our depths know it’s all true. That’s what I think. Only we don’t know what it all means, how it is working out, because that requires actions on our part to respond to what we know is true.

If we don’t let ourselves respond, and yet still know what is true, this creates a dissonance which we call doubt. The image of leaping off a cliff over a chasm to another cliff comes to mind. Either one commits or one doesn’t. One gambles on making it, or one turns away. Halfhearted leaping is the most disastrous.

So, I’ve leaped out, come what may. The thing is I’m still in midair right now, I haven’t crossed to the other side. And it is a long jump. We’ll see what happens with it all. It’s too late now to turn back. I hear it is quite lovely on the other side, I look forward to exploring the beauty I find.


Hmm… almost missed this. I got caught up doing other tasks, and just now remembered I didn’t write the morning. I woke up early, ready to go. It was cool and beautiful out, inside in was cold enough to see my breath. The day is certainly Spring. The cool breeze puts in motion all the budding trees and flowering plants. Periwinkle winds its way around tree stumps, and over bare hillsides, its purple flowers everywhere, popping out from hidden places. The light mist of the early morning has burned off, the glistening of the condensation has disappeared. A chickadee chirps in apparent delight.

This is the last day of April. I’m not sure why this has meaning to me, but it does. The coming of May seems like a major change, maybe it goes back to my college days where it meant a finishing for the year.

I’m finding myself easily distracted these days, yet also forcing my way through, trying to be fluid in my pursuits, taking up that which fills and encourages. I’m not getting one thing done in an orderly fashion, instead working on a lot of things. Not having a deadline or someone looking over one’s shoulder has both benefits and cautions. I encounter both on a daily basis.

It is also the case I am drifting ever steadily away from my past. My intentions in coming up here were to stay and refocus for a while, settle some issues, forge new paths. Then the fire came that first month, and I found myself bonding with family, who refused to evacuate, and finding myself distant from others, who thought we all should. The stress of facing flames and praying during such a dramatic time shifted something in me. It was enlivening in a way, reminding me there is more to life than getting a paycheck, more to friendship and devotion than sharing an occasional meal.

Even still I thought to keep connections, to look for ways to come back down the hill, to maintain the friendships, to stay on similar paths. Now, I’m finding this isn’t quite the way of things. Why? That’s what I’m asking myself. What’s the point of that really? I do not have much to offer these days, but that which I do have I did offer, and found myself not as much rejected as just ignored. Which is fine, really. For it tells me that the pursuit of those paths would not have ended well anyhow. It would have been chasing shadows. And God knew.

The temptation is to reject, but I don’t. I would strike up the old friendships in a moment if that was offered. But they are not, and for me to find them, I would have to become someone I am not, to choose a path for uncertain gains, while rejecting the present path towards peace. Deep friendships would not force this choice on me, and some in fact have not, for which I am thankful.

But, with the choice before me, I choose to pursue peace, and now have to find what this means as the transition continues. There is no temptation for me to return. What would I go back to? Why should I fight to find that which is apparently without depth?

This sounds a depressing thought. But it isn’t. For it opens up the possibility of new worlds. I tried the old roads, and now can try paths I haven’t gone down.

The thought of maintaining the old connections kept a leash on my thoughts, for I was always considering how to do what is right and also find a way back. Not as much anymore. Unless a miracle happens, I can’t imagine returning to the old neighborhood, dealing with the old issues, trying to build and be frustrated. This is a freeing thought.

All this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m staying in my present location. I’ve always felt this to be a transitory place, and for good reasons. It is where this is transitioning towards which has been changed in my mind.

I would not have planned this. In fact, had I power in the past I would have stayed in Pasadena, enjoying a nice apartment, and the good friends there. I tried, seeking positions, applying at places I was perfect for, and finding hardly even a response, let alone a sense of hope in the quest. At the end of the year, however, it was beyond my ability to continue without assistance, and the only assistance brought me to where I am now.

So, I trust that God is at work, taking me out of where I wanted to be, taking me away from pursuits I was excited about, to come here, where I never would have come, and now, it seems, beginning to find a future where I never expected even a moment.

Not that I really am sold, even still. I would be sorely tempted to return if I had even one good reason, one way which would make that a realistic possibility. To fight, one has to have something to fight for. That’s why I left, and that’s why it seems increasingly I have no reasons to return.

I note all of this because it is a transition for me, from one life to another. From one which began in 1997 after I graduated Wheaton, and went until 2003 when Fuller finally had finished with me.

It is with wistful thoughts I consider this. I leaped into the river, however, continued my path in the void, and the current has led me here. So I ponder the transition with joy and with a bit of sadness, missing what is behind, not knowing what is ahead, wishing there could be a bridge between the two. Again, though, had there been a bridge I would not have crossed, if the ships were not burning I would get in and sail back.

All is in God’s hands. In that I trust.


I was cold most of the day. Given the heat in the rest of the area, down in the lowlands, I am very happy with the fact. The strong breeze has died down now, the branches are still, the only noise is a dog barking in the distance. I didn’t get outside very much today, only for a few moments, and I regret the fact. Spring is such a lovely time of year, not just for the eyes, for all the senses. The smells are extraordinary, all the scents of the forest raising up. I do see the forest from my window, and sometimes that is all I need, to turn and watch the green, the jays flying acrobatically through small openings between branches, squirrels finding their hidden stashes beneath cedar trees, and then spending a long moment eating. It gets into my soul, and my soul needs it.

This day was just a day. Neither a high or low. I should have spent more time outside I think, that would have been better for me. Though not bad, to be sure. Now, I end the day with little on my mind, other than a tendency to find myself staring. I’m not sleepy really, but my mind seems off, my heart content in silence, my soul not offering any suggestions.

This is not a forum for me to write just to write, it is an exploration of what is pressing. So, when nothing presses, I’m not sure what to say. Ah, well, this says as much about my state as any longer writing does about other aspects. An emptiness, though not a bad one is what I have ending the day. I think I’ll get out on the lake again tomorrow.

I’m also finally making some real progress with my next set of stations… when that is done, in a week or so (maybe earlier), I can finally get back to my fiction. That will be good for my soul.

Interestingly, I’m also seriously considering visiting another church this sunday. I’m not sure if it’s a spiritual quest, or just a fancy to find a place to play my saxophone again. The wind makes for good accompaniment, to be sure, but I think some human camaderie would be a plus. We’ll see. And maybe, just maybe, there’s some kind of spiritual draw as well. Gifts, the Body, and all that.


Around four in the morning I woke up, and I was cold. My summer blanket was not enough in the winter chill which descended on the mountain. I pulled up my warmer comforter, and fell back asleep, waking again at dawn. The chill air gave me a reason to lay a while and stare outside. Jays flew around, some mountain quail wandered along the hillside, occasionally pecking at the ground. Trees were filled with a flock of band tailed pigeons, not a bird which usually gathers in flocks. And squirrels were about, going from here to there and back again.

There is joy in writing for me. This morning I returned to it, and feel relief. It is not an easy task, getting to it and through it requires more than one ever expects. It fills, and it drains, but it is the kind of draining that exercise brings, wholesome and refreshing. I lose sight of the writing, I drift to other task, though important, and I lose that which grounds my soul, I lose the peace, the light becomes dull.

When I write I smile, I feel that this moment is just fine, my heart feels free and willing to take on the world, confident in who God has made me, eager to press on and see what comes.

I don’t write this to convince myself, or to defend my choices, I am only relating my feeling of the moment. What will come of anything I write, I have no idea. All I know is that doing it fills me like little else does, a feeling of “everything is alright”.

Writing, especially creative writing, is the way I focus on the present. It is the task which both grounds and enlightens my soul. Is it my calling? In this era this question is answered by the determination of money. Am I getting paid for it? No. That is not the question for me, however, but for others. It will not be my calling as others see it until a paycheck comes my way for the work I do.

That’s not what concerns my soul. I only seek to do what Christ has called me to do, and I know that had other paths opened up, I would not endure the frustrations and joys writing entails. It would have always been a secondary task for me, a means to an end, rather than something more purposeful.

For no at least. What tomorrow holds, I don’t know. It is important to be faithful in the moment, and do that which is before me. For in doing that I find peace, peace which is found nowhere else.


It is noisy outside. Loud with the wind, blowing strong as it has all the day. Gusts and calm intersperse, a warm day turned cool by the moving air. I love the wind, it makes me wonder. In the middle of tasks, I turn and watch, thinking about the Spirit, watching entranced by the rattling branches. Birds stayed low today, singing songs without flying very much. Coyotes scream with the wind, a science fiction sound, yelping mixing together with an almost electronic edge, sounding almost like voices, announcements over a bad microphone. A branch of an oak scrapes against my roof, squeaking on the shingles.

This was not my most succesful of days, tasks of cleaning and arranging never fill my soul with joy or delight. Tasks I have been wanting done are now done, so it was not a day wasted, though it was a day away from that which fills.

I was thinking today about the Christian life, the calls which we are to heed, the commandments we are to follow. There is nothing higher than to help a neighbor, very little has more import. I consider this because of my own goals and tasks, the inward looking life, which seems to stumble far too often. The outward life, working for and towards others is that which is the highest call. So, how do I justify being here and not there, wherever there might be.

I don’t.

To be honest, I looked, I tried to go outward, to seek to find a place where I could participate in works of goodness. I wasn’t invited to join. I kept looking, offering, suggesting. Then more nothing, until I came here, the only door open, coming here about two months after I really needed to come here.

The inward life is not something to yearn for, I think. We are called to look outward, to help, to assist. Yet, the highest call of all is obedience. For if we are not obedient we help no one. Why did Joseph stay in prison? Why was David in those caves? What kept Patrick praying during the years of slavery, and then the confusion of returning home?

This is not a life which one plans, or should. The inward life, that which the monks call the highest calling, is somewhere a person ends up, finding after a struggle that God wants us for his own, to stop and listen and learn, retreating from the fray for reasons only he knows, and he keeps a firm hand grasping hold to keep one from drifting.

I yearn today to be a part, to have a part, to participate. Not for money, that is not my heart, for the feeling that I am walking rightly, justifying myself to myself, and only then to others. There is a sense of doing which gives far mor measure to the soul than waiting. And yet… we often are called to sit, to wait, to endure not because we wish to, but because that is the way God has for us.

Stopping us, holding us back, keeping us from realizing our potential, so that he can be realized through us. So much of the Christian life as seen now is people using Christian terms for human power, focusing the same skills in a religious direction, pleasing the parishioners rather than the stockholders.

Yet the book of Acts tells us of power beyond power, and tells us the path of holiness. Stop and wait until the Spirit calls, Jesus said.

I wish I was even waiting well. Trapped between what I want and where I am, I find no peace, no glory in either task. I stumble along, bruising and cutting myself, rather than finding my feet walking a steady path.

This is not a path I would recommend, or even honor to very much degree. It results in maturity, maybe, a better finish than beginning, assuring that once started it will go to the end. Yet, I yearn to flash in the moment, to find brightness in the now, to take up that which I tasted and become. The thought stirs and depresses. For it is not within my grasp anymore, and I am glad, for I am where I need to be. Issues unresolved continue to weigh, I find my worth tested in the absence of outside stimulation, forcing myself to stop and stare down inside, and like most every person feeling uncomfortable by what I find.

Part of me thinks I am a sham, a failure couching myself in theological terms, listening to those who think so loud I can hear, “if only he just tried harder.” I write these words, knowing myself, feeling a fake for writing words about God and Light. What do I know?

But with all of this… these doubts which creep in, these pains which ingite within, I consider what it is to climb a mountain, to take steps on a steep path. Going slow is not a sign of weakness, it may be a sign of the terrain.

I don’t know. I do know that this is not a commendable path, certainly not better than the person who works with orphans or is a doctor to the very sick. This is where God has me. For twenty years I’ve prayed that God would lead me, that he would open my eyes and steer my path, and I know that others have been praying the same, some much longer than I have. And this is where I am. Doing what? Writing, living an inward focused life, without merit or purpose to some. Has God ignored my prayers, or is this his answer? Have I misstepped all along, or have I stayed more or less on the right path? That I don’t know. That is why humility is the lesson learned above all others. I can’t even have pride in spiritual service now. There is nothing but looking inward, and helping those who are around now. It is not me, I learn to say, but God in me who guides and leads. Should this turn towards a fruitful life where I gather with others seeking and growing I will know that it is God in me and not me who develops the fruit. And if I do not find any hope resolved, if my debts overwhelm, my education and training go without expression, then I still must say it is God in me who has me wait, to learn the depths which busyness cannot understand, which even good works hinder by changing focus.

No, this isn’t the highest call, the inward life of which the monks rejoice. It is the call on me, now, and I must learn to remain obedient, to rest in the absence, to trust and remain ready to come to real life in an instant. If I learn the secret in the here and now, with nothing to show, with nothing to point towards, it will remain with me the rest of my days. It is around, that which Paul spoke of, which the saints have known, exists still in our era. And so I seek it out, seek it out by staying, by trying to find light, by focusing on the minute and precious details. I wish I was more suited to the task. I guess, though, that is why God has me doing this.


Morning haze and cool breeze say this will be a cooler day. The trees move like the water, green ripples all around. A couple of birds sing, a chipmunk wanders up the hill, on top of the woodpile, and away. Flying bugs are back, having come a month ago, and then disappeared when the weather turned cold. Oaks are a light yellow, with just a touch of greeen, slowly filling their branches with leaves, changing the entire look of the forest. With the pines gone, the dominant color of green replaces the orange, making the forest seem alive again, thriving.

My mind is struggling to find a point of focus. Phone calls and dogs barking in the night kept a sleep from being sound. Even now, with the sun shining in my face, I’m a little groggy. I’m continuing to remind myself, as I did this morning, to flee from thoughts of future possibilities, to dwell in the now, to do that which I can, to be settled with who God has made me to be in this moment.

I caught my mind drifting, and was happy to remember what I wrote yesterday. It filled me with calm. At a certain point, I think, we take what we read from others, the words we’ve heard preached, the wisdom of the present and the ages, and have to learn to apply it to our own selves. A person can go an entire life and never do this, always requiring the next ‘great’ speaker, or inspirational book to provide the moment of insight and direction. These are naught but the calls of the Spirit outside of us, words of truth broadly applied to help people start and move. However, it is the Spirit in us who must be the most powerful voice, the words which the Spirit says to us as individuals has to become our source of inspiration, a communion with the Divine which words on paper cannot match.

Even Scripture are broad strokes of truth, not meant to guide our particulars, or to give specific answers to our daily needs. It is the canon which sets the bounds, but is not a detailed list for our life. Learning to listen, and speak to ourselves is a worthwhile task, I think. Taking the knowledge and applying it, hearing what the Spirit says to us through it and through all the manifold ways of teaching. For a long time I’ve felt weary of hearing preaching, of reading yet another inspirational book on spirituality. Besides Scripture, and Cassian, I grow weary of words. I think this is because I’ve heard enough words. Either now I apply it, or I don’t. That is the way of the Christian path, and maybe why weariness in walking it sets in, shown either by exhaustion or an unquenchable drive for new stimulation. We come to the point where we must act, or not, and until we learn to take the words and give them meaning for our own daily lives, we simply cannot ingest more, or even understand more.

But the application requires a great deal from us, significantly more than just listening does, it requires change and sacrifice, our whole lives.

That is the message of the monks, when they say to stay and learn in one’s cell, not going out and beyond. Until we learn what we already know, there is no point to further teaching. This learning is a lengthy process, especially at the advanced levels of truth, where meat is the primary food.

Taking this in, really understanding it all with our being, results in tranquility and calm, contentment in all circumstances. This is not a call to action when Paul mentions it, it is a result of his really understanding, of waiting and listening, of enduring and learning. We are not called to force ourselves to be content, we are called to learn the secret of contentment, and thus be what we want to be.


A cool breeze throughout the day kept it from becoming too hot. Though, to be honest, I miss the fifty degree days. Tonight the stars shine bright, I love that I see more of them now, I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. The pines are gone, I thought I would miss them. I don’t really, except for the fact that nary a squirrel has been by since they were cut. Too difficult to get on the balcony.

The cloud of swallows flying above and around me earlier today while on the lake still brings a smile. I was reminded of Hitchcock, of course, only they had not the slightest bit of malevolence. Their little faces peeking out of the mud nests, so well crafted beneath the tower. Then flying out, around and back, a flurry of noise and activity all around. It was a great sight, and peculiar since I was steering for better views in a kayak, in the middle of a lake.

They are the same type of birds who come to San Juan Capistrano every year. Their home here seems to be quite secure, if at times a little noisy from the motor boats pulling skiers every so often.

I realized this today, I’m not sure why. There are different types of people in this world. That’s not the realization. I realized as two motor boats were speeding across the lake, filling the area with their loud noise, going fast, a thrill to be sure. They were missing a great deal of what I was experiencing. For them it was a search for speed, to dominate the lake, to impose themselves upon it and move, loud and quickly. That is one type of person.

I’ve always been attracted to other ways of interaction. Rather than dominate and impose I want to experience the thrill of participation, whether it be through the wind carrying sail, or through the quiet movement of pushing myself through the water, able to feel and experience the nuances of weather and water, hearing only the sounds which nature herself makes.

If given the choice more people would choose to go skiing or open the throttle all the way. Not me, no appeal. Today on the lake I had no interest whatsoever in being on those boats. I can go faster in a car, I suppose. I can’t always glide along the water, feeling the chop underneath, hearing the water splash, running my hands through it as I move along. The only time I felt an interest in something else was when I went by a sailboat, whose owner had left the jib up and flapping in the wind. It was the height of sloppy seamanship, but I loved the sight, and would have loved to raise that main and take the boat out for a bit.

It’s not quite as good exercise, however, so I’ll stick with the kayak.

This says a lot about me, I suppose. I’m not one to feel joy in mechanical noise, or to celebrate conquering nature. I want to learn, to feel the fluidity of it all, to glide in this world as one with the world around.

That is the way of the Spirit as well, which is maybe why I despise attempts to manipulate or overmanage. The Spirit is like water and wind, to learn the ways of the Spirit we cannot barrel our way through, trying for speed, making noise which hides the powerful whisper.

To act in a way we listen is a slower way, arriving takes longer. There is not the quick rush, the thrill of the moment. It is difficult, and at times frustrating. That’s why it’s so important to look around, to take in that which goes by slowly, to recognize the nuances of life as it does come, to celebrate the beauty that others miss, to enlarge our soul by way of limited perspective.

It’s about learning to see, and like stars in the night, one cannot see right away all that is there. Nor does it help to go many places, wander around for stimulation, for the mind becomes dulled, too much to take in.

So, as the monks of old, the greats who sought Christ in the wilderness because they could not find him in the usual places, I am learning the lessons. Patience, faith, steadfastness, work, hope, and staying put. I haven’t learned these yet, I still rebel, I still seek that which is beyond me, to find an advantage, to prove myself to others. This is a long road, and I am young.

I look around today and I take joy in what I saw, feeling a need to do still more practical work, understanding that I am doing what I can. Having prayed I trust God has heard my prayer. What I am learning too, is the lesson of living in faith even without seeing, maybe without ever seeing.

Habakkuk said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalts, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

That is the lesson I am learning. To look and be joyful. I’ve said all my life I believe in God and Christ, in love and eternity. Now, it is my chance to show that I really do believe it all. That is the gift of lack and frustration. Faith becomes real. A fractured time can become a treasured time, all in an instant. This all I am learning, not yet grasping, though finally beginning to approach. I hope.


The day is already a little warm, there is no breeze. Very dry as well, I wake up in the night with my mouth parched. The oak leaves are emerging noticeably more. The animals seem to be retreating from the day, very few were out during my morning walk. Only the sound of a raven in the distance, and the requisite jays.

I go through this day in sections, beginning very early, at 2:30, finding myself wide awake and ready for the day. So I get up and work until 6:00, then fall back asleep for a couple of hours.

In the dark of the very early morning I felt a need to pray and a draw to consider. Something has not felt right in these writings, something which I knew and didn’t know, a lesson to be learned from missteps.

It is the fact that I am not living in the present. I speak of doing the tasks before me, only my eyes are looking far past. Such is much of this writing, an encouragement to myself as much a consideration of the world.

I look back into the past, wondering if I went wrong, I look ahead to the future, wondering if I am doing what is right, checking myself in the present to attempt a better strategy. Given my status and goals, that of course is not the best rule, and upsets that which I hope to become.

So, I tend to wallow, focus on the unspiritual spirituality, having faith in part, betraying it in others, grumbling through the use of theological analysis.

Last night I said I have no rest. It is because I will not allow it, I will not rest in faith. The tasks going beyond just standing. In awaiting the tide or silence I worry, lose my peace I am not supposed to lose. Mainly because I do not trust myself, nor the Spirit in me. I go along, almost unwillingly, begrudging the movement away and towards. But at my heart I do not believe, I do not trust. I trust enough to follow the way before me, to distrust the paths which others say lead to life, to seek the trails which lead higher and farther, only I do not trust enough to be content along the way, to view the sights and sounds of the path I am on.

That is a measure of my own soul, my youthfulness revealed. The more deeply I see, the more distant everything becomes, the more I see as obstacles and faults standing in the way. Mountains are deceptive as one approaches, they emerge from the horizon grand and inviting, yet for many, many miles they stay the same, with a feeling coming that one will never come near. Then one day, they are before you and you begin to climb.

I see the mountain, I have not yet begun to climb it. It is the transformation from one life to the next, in an eternal and practical way, in a way which I am learning, only am too slow in doing. I am called to a life I am unsuited for, I think. My natural state is shallow, energetic, wanting to lead and accomplish, wanting to establish and build, to fight. Yet, the wall descends, the Hand has steered, with my heart telling me with undoubted words it is not wrong for my way to have been blocked, and so to fight is to fight him who steers.

Thus, I follow, not letting loose those things which bind, missing friends, missing the ‘could have beens’ or ‘only ifs’, willing to cast all of this I say away for the taste of acceptance and success, for the sake of work paid for, and esteem gained.

It shows the paucity of this age that I can feel mature in a Christian setting, feel myself farther along than many. In some ways I am to be sure, only I’m not far at all. Have I even really begun to understand what this life means?

I don’t think I have. The road lies long before me, and I travel it in solitude.


Unseasonably warm. That is what the news people said. Times like these are when I value my mountain life more, for last year I had to endure summer temperatures without the cool breeze, or without even an air conditioner. It was bad for my mind. Now, here, unseasonable does not mean unbearable. Much better for my mind.

When the pines were being cut down, the cutters did an admirable job keeping the collateral damage to a minimum. Small saplings underneath huge dead pines survived, the yard is filled with Spring growth. There was one accident. A large section of trunk was supposed to go one way, towards the street. It veered. The several hundred pound section sheared the side of a twenty foot fir, and split a seven foot tall black oak right down the middle. Once they were done cleaning I tried to do what I could, feeling sorrow for the trees. Life is always important, I think. There is more than a little bit of Ent in me.

I got some stuff which covers the wounds, and some special arbor wrap to put around broken branches. The fir was not badly damaged, just a few branches taken off. I covered the open wounds, and know it will be fine. The oak I had my doubts about. I did major surgery, wrapping the trunk after pulling it back together. Only a foot of it was not split. I wrapped some branches as well, restoring them as well I could. My hope was I got to it quick enough, and it would be able to manage.

Today, it was full of new red leaves, bud exploding with new growth. It isn’t the most vibrant of the oaks about, but the fact that it still lives is a miracle. It is a delight, and I pray it will be so for a very long while.

This was not my most succesful day. I try to have a list of what I want to get done, and have both a goal and a minimum. Today, I got done the minimum. I’m not sure why. Distractions, minor irritations, other tasks of import which took time away from my usual.

I feel like I am wrestling with new things, with new approaches, that a curtain has closed, and others are opening. And to be honest I’m not sure how I feel. This is not where I wanted to be at this point in my life, though maybe it is where I need to be.

Part of the trouble is there is no rest really. Unlike a regular monastic life I do not have either a vow nor a long term commitment, each day is one in which I feel I must prove myself, to try and forge a way. So, I have no ability to settle back and just be, no calm in which I relax. Well, not really. There are aspects which I do embrace, but it is not deep within my soul, the meditations are just enough to keep me from losing my way entirely.

There would be peace to know I have years to spend, but I do not know. I do not know the path, so I try and manage for all sorts of possibilities, keeping all options open, and thus not purely focused on any. Yet, I feel a certain sense of purpose. Something is driving me different, something has changed. I cannot yet grasp what it is, and feel uneasy and hopeful all at the same time.


Some nights I enjoy sleeping. Last night was one of those, where it was delightful to pull the covers over myself, and fade away. It was restful, delightful, and waking up to a sunny Spring morning is delectable. Slight haze covers the rising sun, birds sing and fly around, new sounds (babies?) emerge from the branches, as do small red leaves from the more lively oaks. A chipmunk waves its tail as it basks in the morning light atop the woodpile, resting for a moment before moving on. This is going to be a warmer day, a taste of summer for a moment.

I realized yesterday that churches remind me a great deal of dating. Having committed I stay committed, only with difficulty breaking away. Bad experiences turn me off to the whole quest for a long while, though once I again explore, I enjoy it. To stay where it is not comfortable is often said to be a matter of commitment. That can be true, not always. Sometimes we should not stay in abusive or degrading situations, nor even stay where the fit is not right. Because a church exists does not demand our commitment. The commitment goes both ways, and we must learn to find that which fits our giving and our receiving. God never calls us to endure hardship without cause, the spiritual life is not one which assumes our unhappiness. Yes there are moments of sacrifice, moments of humility. No one has, however, ever benefited from following the lead of a fool or the lost. This is the importance of discernment, there are no set rules, only the rule of obedience to Christ and the Spirit, whose leadership is fluid.

Today I ponder my life, and the wrestlings of another with similar questions about Church, though in a significantly different place.

I wonder what I could have done in the past, how I could have fought to overcome the difficulties which seemed to bind me. Or, I consider whether the difficulties were not to be overcome because they were the hand of God steering me in a certain direction. Sometimes fighting against the issues which assail is fighting against the God who brings the issues. Until we hit the heart of the problems, return to the proper path, our fight is not a noble one. Hard to tell, for discernment in the situation is the only guide.

So, I continue to ponder, continue to debate myself, thinking I am on the right path, though feeling confused why the path is unfamiliar and not freeing. Yet, I continue on, not trusting myself, only the compass I have been given.

And learn to keep at the tasks at hand, while enjoying the beauty all around.

Older posts

© 2023 Learning to Dance

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑