Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: April 10, 2004

evening

There is a slight haze in the sky, some stars shining through, many not. All is quiet, not a sound, odd for a holiday weekend. No wind, no movement. Perfectly still, the noise I make echoing through the silence.

I felt this a day of rest, and rested accordingly, going for a wonderful jog through the hills, enjoying the beauty of the day. My soul felt at ease, and I let it enjoy the feeling.

It is Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This day has more and more meaning to me as the years go by, some of which I’ve written about in other places, some of which still I reflect on.

This being a journal of my spirit and soul I think it’s good to say how much I identify with this day more than tomorrow or yesterday. I feel forgiven, I have no guilt, I do not feel the weight of my own sins. They have been released and I am a slave to nothing. And yet, I do not feel resurrected. The weight of life’s difficulties weighs on my soul, my doubts and confidence balance each other out, each gaining sway for their own time. I taste of new life, I do not dwell in new life. Much has begun, nothing is resolved. I live in utter faith that the work God has started in me will be finished, with wonderful results. There is no actual indication this is the case.

Indeed, with all of the pomp and celebration of Easter, I feel myself distant from it, not because I do not understand the significance of the day, I just wait for my own Easter, along with the ultimate Easter. Today is my day.

Because I’ve been saturated in the Christian world for so long I wonder if it is not just overexposure. I was born into the church, and have no memory of not being a Christian. Thus that transition is missing for me. So, the joy and celebration of Easter is something I taste, but have more contrived emotions in celebration than real excitement.

Of course I live the Easter life in part, the presence of the Holy Spirit in me is a result of Easter. Had Christ stayed or not risen, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent. So, that is a consideration.

But, too much of me now identifies with those dark words of Wesley and others, who miss God even as they seek him the most. It is Saturday, and all I have to do is wait, and pray, and continue to believe. Christ, we say tomorrow, has risen indeed. So too he rises in each of our lives. That is the wonder of Biblical prophecy and imagery, it means more than it means, though it does not mean less. Christ and Easter are the history, the depth of the theology of the Faith, and yet they still speak to us, meaning more than just what they meant 1,970 years ago.

The disciples sat together in someone’s house, weeping and remembering, hoping that something would happen, not yet fully without hope, still lost in the sudden change. The women were ready to go to the tomb as soon as it turned light, to do what they could, the next step they saw. That’s all I can do, the next step before me, whatever it is. For one day, I will be going about my tasks, and Easter will come, a power beyond me, changing all in an instant. He does make all things new, is making all things new.

It is Saturday, however, and all we have on this day is a promise. Such is our lives, such is my life. Praise be to the Three-in-One.

Midday

Ah, a break from the usual pattern, just to spice things up a little bit. The sun is high, the wind blows, ravens and jays are aloft, gliding along. I went for a run up and down the surrounding hills, hoping to exercise out my grogginess. I’m not sure it worked, but at least it is a well-earned grogginess.

I return to this now because of some thoughts I had of my yesterday. I went to a Stations of the Cross experience at my old church, the church I left with some good memories and bitter feelings. Curiously, the only people I encountered were of the good memories side, which is likely why the visit held a feeling of peace and meditation. The tremendous amount of effort and wonderful creativity was very evident. For the size of the church it was a wonderful time of contemplation on the last hours of Christ, engaging the senses and stirring the spirit. Each year it gets better, and this year was a true sign of that.

A couple of encounters stood out to me, not necessarily having to do with the Stations, though they happened because I was at the Stations.

The longer one was the time I spent with old friends, one of whom I have known since I graduated high school, being in a small group with her even before I left for college, and maintaining a friendship for the last twelve or so years. She is one of those people who knows my faults and strengths, who has heard my complaints and praises, my dreams and my bitterness… and still values me. She, for me, is the light of that church, the most Christian (if that’s a phrase) of everyone, showing respect and challenge, acceptance and encouragement. I would not have left if those who held the title of spiritual leaders were as mature and wise as she. However, hanging out with her is not encounter of conversation.

It was her husband, someone I’ve known half as long, though I knew him before they were an “item”. He is very different than I am. For a reason unknown to me, though, we can talk like no time has passed. What was interesting to me was his present goals in life. He is quitting a very nice paying job to pursue a creative dream, jumping out into the void, letting loose those contradictions, forsaking the path he does not want to walk. In describing his situation he used much the same concepts as I have over these last months, which basically boil down to making a choice between Christ and this world. Some people choose, some people reside always in the angst of never choosing, and thus never being comfortable in either world. He has chosen. And confirms my own understanding that when I think that what I need is just some extra cash, I am just seeing the grass as greener on the other side, when in fact it’s just green paint someone has dumped out over the dead and brown. I leaped into the void having had closed doors, and philosophical frustrations, my sacrifice being more of the potential than the actual. He is sacrificing the actual, with the same words and dreams, sharing with me a bond of leaping out into the chasm of faith, with the ultimate trust that God is indeed there. I need to have those kinds of people in my life, those who take the leap, because those who don’t have a really difficult time understanding, even if they want to understand.

The second encounter is similar in a way, very different in most other ways. It was brief, briefer than brief, as long as it takes to walk by in opposite directions and acknowledge each other with a ‘hi’ and a smile. Someone I have known, barely, for a couple of years, having had one real conversation over a cup of coffee with her about a year ago. Now, there may be the usual reasons, but I think there is something more, and as I typed the previous paragraph I realized I am likely right. We don’t know each other all that well, I have no idea what God is doing in her life, what she is up to these days. But, as I walked past I felt a resonance, and while the longer conversation took my mind away from this instance, the drive home brought it back. God has his hand on her, and he is, and I don’t even know what I mean by this, doing the same thing in her life as he is in mine. We walk the same path, even if we rarely meet, and may never meet again. I’m trying to work this out in my own mind, so this may ramble a little longer. I am drawn to her, again maybe for the typical reasons, but I think there is definitely more. I recognize her, I see in her something which God is doing, which makes my heart celebrate.

I say this now, because, I have no idea what to do with this emotion. There is a bond, a connection of spirit, which may have little or no practical response called for. A bit like when you are standing before a beautiful sunset or an amazing waterfall, and are enraptured, and the stranger next to you expresses your exact thoughts. There is a bond of beauty and truth.

Or, what came to mind while I was running, is that it is like music. You are playing a note, and someone matches that note either sharing the same pitch, or making it into a chord. That is an image which I need to play around with as being particularly apt for discernment in general.

I have no idea her thoughts, and maybe I’m just completely wrong, and maybe I’m just theologizing other emotions. Though, I know the nuances now, and I don’t think I am. It really is a recognition more than anything, that for some reason the Spirit is doing something very similar (though the details may be different) and I am drawn to her because of that shared activity.

This isn’t to say that she or I have some measure of elite spirituality. There are plenty of people who I respect greatly, who I value as a friend, as Christian. People who I know better in reality, and people who for some reason have paths which at the moment intersect my own. But, with other people I get the sense of their being on different paths, the same goal, but different paths. Not with her, and I think it strange, because there is not really a way of working this out. So, the thoughts and emotions stay, the resonance of discernment sparked by just a mere moment.

Ah, life lived in full pursuit of the depths has some interesting turns. Just once, though, it would also be nice to see some kind of resolution, but maybe that’s just being overeager and impatient.

I have some thoughts about Holy Saturday (being what I see as our location in time, if one wants to be a wee bit dispensational in a way). Christ is dead yesterday, Christ is reborn tomorrow. Thus Saturday is the time between times; it is finished, but it is not, only it also has not yet begun. More to come, I’ve written enough now.

morning

The air is clean, the water is wonderful, the trees are full and tall. There is more dirt than concrete, and needles are allowed to stay where they fall. I hear no noise of artificial environment control, no gardeners manipulating manicured lawns which no one uses. Just the sound of birds and wind serenading the rising sun. There are inconveniences in living far away from friends. There are also benefits. I much prefer to wake up to the sound of chickadee chatter than angry drivers honking. Such is the present season of my life.

Honestly, I’m a wee bit groggy now, finding myself staring off and losing my thoughts to some ethereal realm. I’m getting a cup of coffee, maybe close my eyes a little longer (it is the Sabbath… and the Passover Sabbath at that). If ever there is a day of rest liturgically, this is it. Christ is dead, in the tomb. More thoughts to come.

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