Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: April 1, 2004

evening

Gentle rain drops on the ground, dripping off branches and limbs, a quiet percussion with the light breeze. Earlier it snowed, somewhat heavy for a while, with thunder accompaniment. I watched the storm come in this afternoon. One moment it was sunny, then like an invading horde, clouds rolled through, reminding me of the army of the dead in the Return of the King. It poured over the land, the tide of weather coming in. Then it rained, then it snowed, now a restful drizzle. The jays were bothered, I watched one caught on a branch during a moment of hail. It could not fly anyway without being pummeled, so it rested against the trunk, shaking its head, looking thoroughly irritated. Once the hail turned back to rain, then snow, the jay screeched loud three times and flew away, trying to keep the appointments it had maybe missed.

I spent the day with Christ. At least my tasks kept me there, if not as personally connected as I would like. Still the restlessness was high from morning until now, the feeling of anticipation for an unknown keeping me alert. I realized this evening I’ve lost some weight again, pants once tight are now very loose. I don’t notice these things, just go through rhythms of eating less and doing more. I wonder if the restlessness is less a spiritual intuition and more a result of the low grade fasting I’ve been doing. Not real fasting, that I stopped doing a while back when I realized I always expected something to result from it, more so than prayer. If I don’t eat I want a reward, a prize. So I stopped, picking it up occasionally now and then, but mostly waiting until I and God come to some terms with each other. My present fasting is more extending my cravings, waiting to eat and eating less than what would fill. That seems to be a good task, especially in the American context.

Food, though, is not my issue, it never has been, so maybe I’m taking advantage of a strength, and helping it shape my weaknesses. That’s my hope, I suppose. Though really not, since my pattern has little to do with intentional discipline. I do wonder though, if my body is getting my attention by keeping me restless. Considering this, I still think it’s some kind of spiritual resonance, only I’m not sure what kind.

I spent the day considering the passion of Christ, and working through his story. Whenever I do this I find my interest and delight growing… which is part of why I have this present website. It’s a devotional tool to give me cause to do that which I love, but seem to leave off doing if there is no practical response. I’ve not the hermit in me, I guess, able to be content in quiet solitude my whole life. I want the interaction, want the participation. Only, God’s hand is heavy now, and seems to have me where I should be.

In the spiritual life one has to come to terms with the Spirit and with Christ, learning to look only to them for both sustenance and confirmation. The process of learning this is a difficult one, especially for those of us who must learn lessons anew seemingly everyday.

I stumble and fall, trip and collapse, running headlong into thorny brush, before I’m put back on the path. The reality is, though, at a certain point there is no other option. Once committed to the rapids the only way out is to follow them to the calm. Trying to go backwards are even sideways is dangerous, is foolhardy. Once a person leaps in, they’ve committed themselves to the end. Which is why, I guess, it seems many Christians just want to get their feet wet. The water is dangerous, and yet, beauty awaits.

Today I feel the weight of knowing that I am fully committed now, only able to see this through, come what may, hoping and praying that at some point I did not misunderstand. Now, there is no other path. I might as well learn to get used to it, and enjoy the sights as they go by.

Now, though, I think I’ll enjoy the sights of my own dreams.

morning

A delightful breeze blows, waving the wind sock, rustling the branches, feeling like cool breath on my skin. Two ravens converse nearby, though I do not see them. The jays are back this morning, screeching to each other, busy flying about. So too are the chickadees, I hear their singing in a budding black oak. There was a junco on my balcony yesterday, a new visitor for Spring. I suspect I shall have more than my accustomed visitors. Squirrels run along the ground, lit up bright by the rising sun, illuminating each strand of standing hair on their tails.

I remain a little restless this morning. That is not a measure good or ill of my spiritual self. The measure comes in how I respond, what direction I let this restlessness take me. Some throw it out by way of anger and frustration, often excusing themselves for such by blaming others, especially the dumb drivers around them. Other vices seek to crowd their way in, hoping to sap our energy, and take for themselves the resources it offers. The sins queue up, ready to beseech our souls for attention. They lie and cheat, but are convincing at times. A little, as I think about it, like spam. So, each day we have to ponder and erase, becoming better at seeing what is good and what is rot. The Spirit aids us in this task, though for all our lives there will be this battle, even if it will in fact lighten with combined effort.

So, I have my list of tasks, my hoped for responses, as well as my welcomed spiritual schedule. I remember reading how the monasteries sought to standardize spirituality, thus creating a regular rhythm, thus driving out the chance for sin, and also in the process stifling individuality for the sake of community. The fullness of the Spirit, however, always works for both unity and diversity. Our individuality is not rightly stifled by any religious act, nor should any religious act encourage separation. We become more of who we are through the enlivening work of God among us, and rather than losing ourselves within the commands of others, we let lose our being into the waters of the Spirit, and become more of an individual, becoming fully persons in community with others.

Always, though, there is the importance of a rhythm, of a melody, which marks our adherence. The discordant noise of wrongful walking resonates throughout the world, though our ears have become deadened to the dissonance. So, in keeping a rhythm while pursuing that which is uniquely me this morning I hope to attune my ear, and join in with the complex symphony the Spirit conducts. It is a fine road, looking to be neither sharp nor flat, hot nor cold, overzealous or underwatchful. That is why we pray. To the day I now go.

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