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.
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.
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