Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: April 2004 (page 2 of 6)

evening

The night has come after a full Spring day, full in the since it was fully Spring. Warmer than winter, birds and animals moving around, the smell of cedar and pine, those wonderful scents of the forest fill the air. The pine was surprising, until I realized the amount of saplings still trying to make their way in this unwelcoming world.

Cedars are bold green, oaks are letting loose their leaves, forest wildflowers in all the colors fill the open spaces with accents of red, and yellow, and purple and blue.

And yes, I did go to church this morning, the first morning in a very long while. Over six months at least, and likely much more, I cannot remember. Even longer back into history was the last time I went to a church completely blind, having heard nothing, known no one. I was pleasantly surprised. The service was not spectacular, that is not my most important concern. I’ve been to the best in the nation, and so my expectations are not for a good show, but for a welcoming spirit. It was all that, and it felt nice to sit in the pews once more. More than that I don’t know. I don’t know why this morning of all the mornings in a very long while I woke up feeling like it was necessary to go, like it was my usual habit, rather than a long ignored task.

The church was refreshing, full of nice people, friendly hands. The pastor was not an exciting preacher, but he preached the Scriptures. When he said he was teaching from 1 John, he taught from 1 John. Very refreshing. I am not committing, nor am I going to intentionally refrain. There’s another church up here I want to try, and then… we’ll see.

On my way over this morning, a thought came to mind, a thought which made things a little more clear. Not profound or new, just a thought which felt right at the moment. So much of the Christian life as it is lived is directed towards the Church. At Church we meet Christ, to save friends we are asked to bring them to Church. Our whole basis of spiritual life is filtered through this lense. This is an old concept to be sure. The bishops were, are, said to represent Christ, to constitute the Church, thus only by communion with the bishops do we find Church, and thus find Christ.

The thought which came reminded me that this is turned around. First and foremost there is only Christ. Christ is the Church, the Church is his body. Only by seeking Christ first, can we even begin to think about Church. Church is the gathering of those who happen to fall together on the same path. We seek Christ, and the Church follows along. If we seek Church first, we most likely will miss aspects of both. Not completely, to be sure, but that’s the trap. We taste the Gospel enough to be content. First Christ, then Church. That’s the order. If I seek Christ with all my being, with all my soul, forsaking all else, I will find myself surrounded by like minded people. I will be led aright and respond aright, so my instincts will direct me as the body itself acts without thinking.

That was why Antony went into the wilderness. Christ alone is our goal. The other things are meant to aid us towards him, to be tools along the journey. We are called to travel with others, to encourage others along, but we are never to lose sight of our goal. It creates confusion and misery when we do.

When we lose sight, the inconsequentials become our concerns, the periphery becomes our emphasis, to the point where we become lost and blind. God calls, but does not demand. When we commit to Churches first, we can become lost with an entire group, blind in our contented companionship. That is not our call.

So, I went to Church today, because it felt right and good, coming from within my soul as a positive venture, rather than as an obligation. We do not work for our salvation, and I am saved by Christ. He calls me to him, and calls me to his service. I do what is asked for at the moment, and consider all through the lense of Christ. That at least is my goal, for there peace in all things is found.

There are mysteries in all of this, mysteries I’m slowly learning to discern. This understanding is very welcome.

Now a small bird is twittering outside, its quiet noise raucous in the calm.

So ends the day.

morning

Again the raucous cries of a jay were the first sounds this morning. A territorial dispute, is my guess. I guess this because I have a recording of various bird calls. The steller’s jay call I have played a couple of times. It starts off with a staccato screech. Each time I play it the nearby jays look up and fly away hurriedly.

That was the sound the jay made this morning, after he landed on the balcony behind another. The other flew away.

Tiny green leaves are forming on the california black oak sapling behind my balcony. Damage done while cutting the pines was not severe enough apparently to stop the ways of nature. Cedar saplings are emerging from the ground all around, in surprising places. This is odd to me, for the neighbor has had an empty yard for a year now, trees removed have not been replaced. This yard is full of new life, Must be holy ground. The sun feels warm this morning, no breeze to bring cool air from higher up.

A few weeks ago I went back to my old church, one of the more matronly members asked me what I was up to, where I was going to church.

“I haven’t been,” I said, knowing this is not a welcomed statement.

She asked, “Have you forsaken the body?”

How do I respond to this? In popular understanding I have.

“No,” I said, “I’ve just stopped going to Sunday morning lectures.”

When a person says stuff like this, it usually is backed up by some kind of theological or emotional stance. Not me. Nor is it laziness. I take Church very seriously, maybe too seriously. The only problem for me is I believe that a person is supposed to commit to a place, and I also believe that Church is significantly more than whatever happens on a Sunday morning.

Too much of church going has the character of obligation more than edification. Very few people I know are genuinely excited to get in their cars and go to church. But, the early Christians and latter day persecuted followers were and are willing to risk death in order to meet together.

So, I don’t go, because there is nothing in an hour and a half sunday morning service which I find edifying, nor can I use my gifts in the context of an audience. I do not say this with glee, and I say this knowing the litany of arguments which can be made against me. I would say that I feel God has had me distanced from a Church, that it is he who has led me to step back, that I feel peace in not committing to a congregation, only these statements wouldn’t be accepted by someone demanding Sunday morning attendance, and are unneeded by someone who does not demand the same.

Have I forsaken the body? No. In fact, I never am outside the body. My whole life is spent in the context of those seeking to find Christ. I miss a lecture on a spiritual theme, and about five songs which identify themselves as ‘worship’. I never worship while I sing, and, to be honest, I get very little out of the morning lecture. I worship while I play music, or while I stand in the majesty of the forest or float in the beauty of the lake. Singing is worship for those who can sing, it is not for those who don’t.

Communion. I have no replacement for taking the bread and wine (juice). That’s a point which I think about. This is a significant act indeed. Though, it is a meaningless rite without the reality of which it speaks. It celebrates communion, it does not create it. I could argue back and forth, to be sure. Suffice to say this is the one area I do consider as missing.

Antony heard the message of Christ calling him, and he sold all of his many possessions, then went to live in the desert. He didn’t simply change his weekly routine, he moved away to solitude, to where God was leading him. Many, many have done the same.

So, it is not without tradition. Only we don’t know those traditions. We only know the traditions which include the focus of power for those who are called to pass on the traditions.

The age of monasticism was begun by men and women who sought Christ, and realized what they sought was not to be found in the increasingly garish churches. To find Christ they had to go away, forsake the body for the Body. Very few did this alone, finding new unity in alternate ways.

Maybe this is the answer in our era, a new form of monasticism, one which learns from the mistakes of the past, which holds onto the dictates of Scripture, without the burden of accreted traditions, traditions which in too many cases are the reassertion of power by those seeking to be the head.

The depths of the church were built by these men and women, the habits of prayer and sober living, the example of full pursuits of God. Yet, the protestant tradition threw out the baby when it got rid of the bath water. Nothing besides hard work and dutiful acceptance of pastoral authority is allowed. This was easier in a time when pastors were really the most educated people around. Now, though, they are often not even the most religiously educated people in a church.

We have kept the forms, the words, the framework of Church, but have lost the meaning, the depths, the reality of a body which comes to grow together, to be edified by the use of all the gifts. So, I consider again my status, my leap into the void, and miss the reality which Church is supposed to provide, as a place to learn and teach, give and receive. My opinion and decision was based on the fact that empty shells do not provide Christ, that those who are seeking to be the head are not worthy of my devotion.

I’m not sure my point in all of this. I am thinking about this morning, and its meaning, feeling at peace with how I’ve spent the last many months away. The Spirit moves more broadly than in the context of a church campus, and forsaking the body does not mean avoiding a Sunday morning. Indeed, there are many pastors, many elders, many attenders who forsake the body on a weekly basis, even with regular attendance.

I yearn for more to be sure, I also will not accept less any longer. If the church is no longer acting as the body, then other formats must be found. The Spirit is fluid, like wind and water, always moving towards the goal. That is who I wish to follow, and in doing so may recover ancient traditions which have been lost and forgotten or dismissed.

My goal is Christ, and I share this goal with a great many other people, most of whom are not excited to be leaving their homes this morning. I want to be excited.

I also will likely be leaving my home this morning and trying out one of the local churches.

We’ll see how it goes. It is how my heart leads this morning, and seems to be the next step. To be honest, I’m a little nervous.

It is warm out this evening, at least warmer than it has been. Spring is here, baby birds are discovering their wings, looking lost as they flutter about, parents not as willing to fee them anymore.

Only the barest of breezes blows, not enough to stir a branch. Even on weekends it is quiet here.

It was a return today, a getting back into the rhythm I had lost for a couple of weeks now. Not that there were not good reasons, all the reasons stacked up.

It felt nice. There was a freedom in my soul, a taste of peace and rest. The concerns of the present are still around, only the weight of them is not as heavy.

I wonder about my previous statements, about cutting ties. I realize now that I am not the one cutting. Rather, I am who I am, and have sought to maintain old connections, or even forge new ones. Those who respond I stay along side. Those who don’t… well, I see purpose even in that. The question for me is whether I feel right in my soul. I do. I have no regrets over these last monthes, the only regrets being I did not seek to embrace the depths without having to be pushed.

My realization is that the issue is not about the relationships, it’s about holding on to things which are elusive, always looking to that which is not before me, rather than taking hold of that which is. The words of the hermit are true, it is a peculiar place to be in life right now, so while I want understanding, to demand it is not right. I’m at peace… I just worry a bit how I have come off to people over the last months. When one is wrestling through the void, in confusion, in a fair measure of blindness, it is difficult to relate, difficult to be what others wish. I can only be who I am. It is wrong for me to say, “No more” to anyone, even if those people have effectively said that to me.

I hold onto the goal, praying for freedom and light, praying that the day will come when I can invest anew, in a way which makes sense to others. I am willing now, to be sure, only the path I am on is a distant one, and has seemingly led me away from much I value. It is leading to what is more important, however, so I will keep on the way.

This is a time of humility for me, a time when my decisions are limited. Those who have gone sailing with me know I jump at command, I am forceful in my opinions, I take control if I see things in disorder. God has me now learning how to live with him in control, where I cannot jump in the way I wish, and feel the joy building in letting him work. It is the learning which comes in staying still, in not leaving and seeing things broadly. It is the learning which forces a halt, demands attention in the stillness. I am learning its voice. In it is the voice of God.

For years I have said God does not speak to me, not in the way others seem to indicate. My prayer life suffers from this perceived one sided conversation. I know he hears, is powerful, only there is no response. Or maybe there has been, maybe I have not tuned in right, been able to hear correctly over the cacophany I have created. To be honest, I have been seeking, have been yearning. This voice, this still voice, is that hard to grasp, I suppose.

Now, I’m at the point where I recognize the whisper. I cannot hear the distinct words, but I know there is someone speaking. So, I’ve stopped, I get frustrated when others raise noise, for I have tasted what I have sought for so long, and now do not want anything to distract.

One never knows what is a distraction, and what is a part of the process. That’s the trouble. The diversions we take are sometimes the paths themselves, getting us to where we need to go. So, humility and discretion are increasingly important to hear and taste what is right and what is wrong. There is an end to this, I know it with all my depths.

So I wait, and pray, and seek, asking for freedom, abiding with patience. I miss the old life, the ‘could have beens’, the people who make me laugh and think. This is where God has me, though. In his hands is my life, a life which is closer to understanding Paul than before. I am progressing. I would sure like to know to what.

morning

I was woken up at what I thought was the middle of the night. I turned on my light, picked up my copy of Gibbon (which has become my surprising nighttime book) and thought to read until I fell asleep again. A loud screech out my window surprised me. What was a jay doing up in the middle of the night? I stared out my window, noticing for the first time the dark blue of the sky replacing the black. I continued to read for a little bit longer, noticing how quickly the sky lit up. For some reason this all intrigued me, as did the sounds of birds whose songs were loud even over the sound of my fan.

I got up, went outside and sat for a long while, listening to the varied song birds lifting their voices. It was a very peaceful time. There was nothing new about it, only my perceptions seemed heightened.

After enjoying this, letting my soul rest in the sounds and growing light, I came in and got to work, finding my focus returning.

Kayaking, bird songs, wind, and clarification of discernment all contribute to the restoration.

So, today is spent less in wandering and more in returning to some level of focus — writing, cleaning, continuing my quest into new fields of learning.

I’m feeling rather shallow right now, to be honest, thankful for a renewal of peace, still entranced by a chickadee singing in the trees. A love day all around awaits.

evening

I’m not going to write my usual bit tonight. I’m groggy, and tired, and just wrote what I feel were more important words, though in a more private context.

I felt, not surprisingly, the slow return of focus today, and renewed zeal. The Spirit works, and the kayaking aids. God is at work, of that I’m sure, only he is a complicated sort who doesn’t like to explain himself. Part of the fun I guess. So, a person just has to go along for the ride.

I won’t delve into it now, but I do want to add that I was reminded today more clearly of something which I always assume, only it drifts in and out of my awareness at different times. Theology is important, to be sure. But there is no law which is higher than Loving God and Loving our neighbor. Too much theology has interfered in these basic precepts. Always there is flexibility when it comes to dealing with others, with particular people. I knew this, so nothing changes, only it’s nice to write it out sometimes as a reminder.

I’m struck right now by feelings of elation and giddiness, relating oddly to what I wrote in the other context, oddly because it was not a joyful situation. But, the giddiness is not about the happy aspects, it’s about the Rightness of it all, the feeling that Oh yes, God is in control.

morning

Overcast skies dissipate as the sun rises. morning light shines through the mist. Heavy breeze blows white along, and green around. A jay, unmindful of its rudeness, screeches loud in a nearby tree, then flies to the balcony to do the same. “I’m Here! I’m Here! It’s Morning! I’m Here!” Or so my translation goes. This is the first morning chainsaws are not active near or in the distance. Only the quiet sounds of wind and nature on a Spring morning, whispers of a reality I yearn to grasp. I love the sound of wind, a whisper with power. A chickadee chirps merry in a tree above, a Spring sound if there ever was one.

I still seek wisdom and search for right perspective. A part of me suggests I cut the cords which remain, though thin they are, no longer connecting myself to a past which only may have been, instead seeking only future and light. There is sense to this, theological stirrings.

There is not just one path in life which can be trod. Should the Israelites have crossed the Jordan when they first arrived? Yes, I think, the forty years were perfect only because God retains his own perfection, shaping the world to fit his plan. Only it was not the ideal, it was not the plans.

We all walk right and not so right, choosing to embrace and choosing to reject that which is before us. In the rejections we, I think, retain the residue of the ‘could have been’, a deep part of our soul grieving for the loss, and still wanting to go back and embrace it. Only the path has changed, the once perfect is now a different perfect.

A person can live their whole lives embracing this former perfect, and many have. We mourn the loss of a possible future, and feel the weight of decisions wrongly made, by us or others. For certain, we are not the only influencers of our path. Those called to tasks who do not do them are not always replaced by others. So there is loss. The Israelites wish to cross the Jordan anyhow, God tells them to go wander. There is only defeat where once there was victory.

So, what to do with that which remains? Stay connected? Cut loose? I don’t know. This morning I seek forward, so the taste of the past is acrid. Maybe I need to find the new path before I consider again the old.

Evagrius said, “If your attention falters, pray. As it is written, pray in fear and trembling, earnestly and watchfully. We ought to pray like that, especially because our unseen and wicked enemies are trying to hinder us forcefully.”

That is the urging in my own heart. The urging which I felt in the middle of the night, laying awake, watching two spiders move across the ceiling far out of reach.

I consider again the call, and seek wisdom. Those who seek shall find, it is written. I pray this is true.

morning

There is new space across my balcony, no longer filled with the reaching branches of dead pines. Instead I see a line of saplings, some getting quite tall. Well, really, two or three lines of these various trees; cedars, firs, and even a couple of daring pines. The heavy wind this morning rustled along these trees, making it seem a vertical ocean of green, ripples and waves forming in the wind, reaching upwards rather than across.

The bright sun which reflected into my eyes has been hidden by clouds now, white rushing across the blue.

I’ve developed a bad habit. I am going to bed much later than I should, which means I wake up much later than I want. At this point in the day I want to have significant areas of writing done, for the morning is my time of creativity.

There are aspects of staying up I like, for there really is no quieter time than past dark in the mountains. Only I am groggy and unfocused, not at my peak. I’m going to have to change my schedule and force myself into bed at a decent hour.

I woke up with a sense of how much a wider world we live in. The feelings of last night still resonate, with my impression as I fell asleep being how much is going on, how active the world around us really is in a myriad of ways.

In my peace there was much I felt that was not peace. A war rages, and we fight what we cannot see.

At times that is comforting, at times that is frustrating.

evening

The day was very windy, the windsock flew up and off its hook, away from the house. I was able to finally get back on the water, with thirty knot gusts. It was a wet experience, to say the least, the bow ducking over and into the heavy chop, my hands losing their feeling in the cold water and wind. The waves went into my face as I paddled, and made a deepening puddle where I sat.

I needed this. Though my mind is not fully restored, this kind of sun and exercise will do wonders. Most likely I’ll wake up more eager to write than I have for a while, at least eager to write fiction. I’ve been busy with other forms, I suppose.

Spiritually, I am worn out. I earnestly want to hear from the Spirit. I eagerly want to find connection and purpose beyond this (though I’m not sure I should). Temptations of ‘elsewhere’ feel frustrating and oppressive. A person doesn’t have to know the way to get to Seattle to figure out that the 10 east is not going to get you there. That’s how I feel, really. I know the ways which aren’t right, only I’m not sure of what is the best. I have to wait. Those I trust are oddly supportive, my own soul gives me strength and inspiration in narrow directions. Outside these paths and I get confused.

We want this journey to be short, and even though we know it isn’t we still want it that way, expect it that way, pushing aside the greats of the past in their wisdom. Very little has changed between the NT times and our own, people are the same. The only difference is our perceptions as being advanced, of being worth more, of having more owed to us. This is sad because we waste away our longer years, trying always for the short term and quick results, always falling short of what we need.

This is, I think, because we have no real heroes of the faith. We have intellectuals, or we have salesmen, or we have kind hearted men and women. Not that I know of, at least. The bar has been lowered over the years. At least in this country. How I yearn to study under someone who has gone the distance. To rest in the presence of someone I trust.

The Evangelical life is frenetic, full of work and duties which drain, earning our salvation by doing the right tasks. If a person retreats from this, there is nothing remaining.

I feel that frustration, feel the need for wise direction, without having an outside voice to hear my heart. There are kind people about, just none to whom I can share and who really listens. So, I learn to stay quiet, bifurcating my soul into deep and shallow. This tension I could not maintain so constantly, and so I retreated from the world as I’m told it should be.

The only wisdom I have is that I am on the right path. Only no one, outside my immediate family, accepts this. They urge me elsewhere, and cause me confusion. I want this path to reveal itself, not turn and quit and go elsewhere, always wondering.

These voices I cannot listen to anymore, shadows of answers without the reality serve only to distract. I learn still what it means to say to live is Christ, and tonight I weary of this learning. God hid the path from me so many years ago, for had I known this journey I would not have started.

The kicker, however, is that the end is where I need to be. I’m committed, and it is either finding an end on this path or finding nothingness. Joy awaits, I know and am told. Peace and joy. For those things much can be temporarily sacrificed. That’s the story of the resurrection. First the death, then the prolonging of the death. And then, on that Sunday morning, the First Day, everything changed in an instant.

This is what we live out in our own lives, if we trust.

So, why do I like to write? Because it leads me to where I need to be as well. It cracks open those locked doors and reveals a measure of light.

evening

I love the stillness of night in the mountains. The contrast between here and the city still amazes me. When the sun goes down all noise and activity stills, people retreat into their homes. It is quiet. I’m a big fan of quiet, of peace. Only the birds make noise, echoing over the hills and valleys.

Not sleeping all night tends to deflate one’s focus. It was really a day of rest, though I got some things accomplished. Finally, I can get back onto the lake. My permit expired, and I had not renewed it. I debated whether to wait, only I realized being out there is more than just a treat. There is a boon to my soul to go and paddle around for a few hours, a few times a week. I don’t know if it is the sun or the exercise, or the freedom I feel. I write better– I write–when I have that. Running isn’t the same, I don’t know why. Maybe there is a primal draw of water and current which my very blood finds invigorating. I don’t know.

Nothing remains to be said, this was not a day for very much at all. I tend to work on weekends, so I don’t fret over a day like this… as long as it does in fact help to regain focus.

I miss my friends tonight, to be honest. I regret the distance of time and thought which seems to interfere. I’m not sure where the answers to those issues lie, for I’m not sure what else I could have done. That is the question though continually before me. What am I willing to sacrifice in order to find Christ. Jesus said, “Who are my mothers and brothers?” For even family he was willing to push aside in order to attain his calling. Fortunately, thankfully, family is not a sacrifice for me, they stand by more than anyone. But the rest.. what can I do? It is a choice. And I made it.

There is a tendency to feel blame at first, to assail people for not understanding, for not ‘being there’ through thick and thin.

A hermit said, ‘When you flee from the company of other people, or when you despise the world and wordlings, take care to do so as if it were you who was being idiotic.

This is something I am learning, and did not do. It is humility, and humbling. That is the chief of the lessons. For pride sucks out the spirituality at every turn unless we learn how to see ourselves before God. If pride is dismissed, none of the vices can mount a successful invasion. Pride is such a wonderfully tasting delicacy, one which is hard to put down.

So, I learn this, and relearn this, and learn it yet some more, until it goes beyond just a mental acceptance like so much of my theology, and becomes a true part of my character. I have many faults, but that is one which will bite me the most. It is the chief sin, the one which all the others find their strength.

No one likes humility, or to be humbled. It’s such a degrading process. I feel that now, and feel the reasons for my state, and my lack of ability to move outside of this present current. I deserve more than this, more than many of the people I know. That’s the trouble, I have to get over this expectation. At the end of that road, there is a large measure of peace. I see that now, but still would rather skip it, and embrace that which feeds my carnal self. God knows this, and so has me hedged in. I’m not sure why. No use grumbling about it. That didn’t do the Israelites any good.

So, I am learning not to have expectations, to consider my tasks as the odd choice, without pressure for those I used to know to accept my decisions, or the path I’ve been led along. I want company, to be sure, but that is an issue which God alone can engineer. I have to do my part, whatever that is, and be thankful about it. I’m learning… I’m learning…

I add this an hour later, still awake. I hate the gift of discernment. It gives me moods and feelings I cannot explain, making me doubt and wander, only later finding out why. My grandmother fell this afternoon and is in the hospital now. It is not serious, apparently, just enough to be treated as such. Other things happened which I cannot see, only feel, the spiritual world so much more vast and interconnected than our own. I feel what I cannot see. That brings no end of frustrations, though also the occasional delight, I pray for more of the latter. Stories and tales which I am a part and not a part are being written, digging into mines buried. That is creating a stir, and one which I must be watchful about. There is much more to spirituality than disciplines or insightful words about modern trends. The real part is the unseen, that which we do all the rest in order to gain some strength and perseverance in dealing with. That is the real importance of the Desert Fathers and early church writings… they were more cognizant of this than we are, and spelled out that which we dare not. This may be the gift of postmodernity… a willingness to again engage that which is beyond our simple minds, and move past the locked gates which modernity built. The intellect is a small part of the Christian life, not because it is not important or without worth, but because the wider world in which we live cannot be grasped my souls and minds as small as ours, so those deeper instincts come in to their own.

I pray for peace and healing tonight, for there are victims in this war we all wage.

morning

A light mist fills the sky, the sun struggles to emerge. Early sounds of chainsaws distract, though not too much. I sit and watch a raven, large as a hawk, spiral over the small valley in front of me. Yesterday, in my run through the hills, I followed a raven for a while. It did not seem to want to be close to me, and yet I kept after it, amusing myself. The Spring air is cold, a chill breeze blows. Most of the brown which filled the views on all sides are gone, only a few remaining dead pines. This is now a cedar and oak forest, with some firs thrown in for flavor.

Squirrels run around the stumps, curious about what happened to the trees they recently climbed.

I sit, a little distracted, debating my tasks for the day. I feel called to write (whether anyone else feels I’m called to do this remains to be seen), and yet my last two weeks have been filled with a great deal other than writing. The lack, the distance, is in my soul. I’m very thankful for this present purpose, it keeps me from being completely distant. Yet, I am not without excuse. They are many and varied, and not so bad.

Oddly, enough, the last week it has been a lot of computer diversions. Somewhere along the line I got to know computers a little bit, and am pressed to learn more. I didn’t expect this, didn’t want this. I’m content when the power is off, I love nothing more than to run through wild hills, off the trails, under and around thick brush. That is my soul. The computer stuff is something which is before me.

Some of it is my own. A great deal is me helping those who are stuck by the side of the road. I’m around, they need help, I’m able to provide it. This is a wonderful image for more substantial hurts, I’m learning it applies to any form of help. We are not called to seek just for ourselves, we are called to assist, to enable, to provide ease to those who God has also called. This may mean going to poverty stricken Africa, it may mean helping those who are around us now. Too many I know will forsake the ones they walk by in order to help those in distant nations. I suffer extended family issues for partly this reason.

The tasks are not supposed to always entertain or provide benefit, either financially or for our pride, they are to help a person who needs help. I’ve been doing that, in ways I don’t appreciate, but for people I do value and can see great things coming from their efforts, efforts aided by my own.

It’s a vague sense right now, one I can’t quite explain. Suffice it to say the selfish world in which we live has always it’s first priority to prove ourselves, to attain our desires before we help others. The Christian life is about service, placing others first. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to help the really needy, and get proper acclamation for doing so. Sometimes we are called to just help those in need. The Christian life interlocks people, or at least it should, so that our weaknesses and strengths mingle together, moving forward as a whole. The Church seems set up to demand only our strengths, and makes us feel terrible about our weaknesses. So in order to be involved we seem to have to already be fixed… though those who seem fixed are just those whose strengths match the present idea of Church, and whose weaknesses resonate as weaknesses of the church as a whole.

To be honest, I don’t feel a need to prove myself. I am capable and sharp, with a good sense of self worth (God loves me, so why should I not?). There is not a sense that I need to prove my abilities or justify myself before God and man. Yet, in not feeling these I walk in a way which desires to do what is right, and find solitude in the quest.

I could have leaped out and away, showing myself a fine fellow to a world that values the anemic qualities of men whose only talent is manipulating money. Instead I chose to stop and wait and walk besides those who needed me, and I learned I need as well. There are bonds which go beyond money, and we forget these too easy.

Yet, I feel the need to ‘make it’, to in fact justify myself, if only to prove that I’m not off base. The idea that God blesses those who walk with him is not removed from my mind, even though I’m aware that this doesn’t always work out as we think it should.

There is only that to do which is before me. When the trails twists and turns, we go with it. If we have leaped into the raging river, we are pulled along with the current, into the rapids, into the calm. We don’t tell the trail where to go, we don’t maneuver the river as we float. So, I pray for wisdom, for guidance, for, my biggest prayer right now, freedom. Having prayed, and continue to pray, I trust God is indeed answering the prayer. The tasks before me are all I can do, and the only way I can move forward. I see nothing beyond today, and pray for peace and my daily bread.

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