Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: May 3, 2004

In the pale light of the moon, the branches of the large oak look like a vast spider web, interweaving, reflecting white, reaching from other trees, onto the roof, all around. The leaves are dark, only the branches reflect.

Coyotes chased a small dog down the street earlier. As it is a dog which is frequently loose I imagine it knows its way around, though who is to say, apparently the pack was surrounding it, emerging from different sides. I only heard about it, not a noise was made. It was another warm day, though I hear it is cooling down now. I’m not a fan of warm weather, which is odd considering I spent most of my life in an L.A. valley, where 100 degree weather was expected from spring until fall. I suppose I was not made for the area, loving either mountain or beach.

Today did not go as desired, my progress at first diverted by useful errands, then distracted by less useful interests. All I can say is that what I desired is still true, I’ll have to get back at it tomorrow.

Some other interesting thoughts passed through my head tonight… though I’ll wait until tomorrow to wrestle with those. Tonight I feel a bit distant from myself, a bit removed from my own soul. I know why in part, I am not sure why in other ways.

All part of the fun, I suppose. Why, I wonder, does this feel less like a retreat and more like Joseph in prison or David in the caves? I’ve wondered that a while, it just occured to me again today, and that’s the thought I’ll end with.


The pine trees in front of the house were removed as well. About five of them, tall, and creating a wall. That wall was removed a few weeks back. Last night around 1:30 my dog barked, continued to bark. I walked out my door to see the issue, to congratulate him on a job well done. I had to shut my eyes. It was blinding, too bright for a sleep addled mind. The moon. Full, and fully lighting up the living room, casting shadows all about. Shadows and textures were apparent to the naked eye. I laid on the couch, and slept for a couple hours in the light of the full moon.

It reminded me of the trips some friends and I took over the years, just about becoming a tradition, if three trips can be called a tradition. Mt. Baldy was near my home then, about a fifteen minute drive to a water fall at the bottom of the hill. Then, a trail led to the 10,000 foot summit. A delightful and strenuous hike, more delightful in the light of the full moon. We began the hike late in the evening, and arrived around one in the morning or so, all the while illuminated bright by the nocturnal sun.

We likely would keep doing, and may yet still in fact. Who’s to say?

My night was filled with weird dreams, and not just those moon caused. Warm nights do that I suppose. None are really remembered, though I get a weird sense that I dreamed vignettes about roads which were gone down, finding in my dreams in situations which would, would have resulted. Odd. Dreams are my deja vu. I rarely get the sense I have been somewhere before (unless, of course, I have been there before), but I regularly am filled with a strong memory I’ve dreamed about a situation I find myself in. It’s not very dramatic, for my mundane dreams result in finding these experiences at mundane moments. I have no confirmation of the fact, only a weird opinion that my dreams are not visions or messages as much as signposts. I have those feelings and it is like I am driving past the sign that says Los Angeles 235 miles. A boring sign, in an uninteresting place.

Really, I’m not even sure why I interpret them this way. It just seems right.

My spiritual sloppiness always results in prayer being shoved aside. I lose the priority, forget the habit, and don’t naturally take it up. Attempts to regulate and order my prayer life slip, so that I have to push reset in all things to get myself back on track. So, this is what today is, a sitting at work, a recovery of the spiritual schedule. Ear plugs in, to block out random noise, classical music on to inspire higher thoughts, and a interest to regain focus. I started last week, only there were still loose ends which caught my eye. Now… I can throw myself in, having done that which I needed to do.

That’s how I feel about church, oddly. At three in the morning, when I got off the couch and went back to bed, I felt regret at my going yesterday. I felt a weariness of re-engaging, re-explaining, playing the church game once more. I weary of being an outsider because I am not married… a not unusual situation for a twenty nine year old outside of the church, a virtual damnable situation for one inside the church who has a pastoral degree.

Where is Paul when I need him? This is another topic, one relating more to my conversation on evangelical monkdom. It relates to my issues now. My conclusion, feeling frustration at making even the beginnings of a commitment and possibly losing sight of my main goal, was that I did what was before me. It felt right, and I did my part. If they choose to respond, I will see what happens.

There is a sense that a person should use their gifts, not because of personal pleasure, but because of responsibility. That is why I have always sought to teach. What I learned is not for myself alone, and with training comes the need to participate. So, maybe I feel the obligation growing again, and need to see this not as a place for me to derive some sort of delight, more as a place where God can use me.

All this aside, it settled my heart to think that I did what felt strong to me, and am not now called to do more. I feel the worry and concern growing as I anticipate the paths. I’m not called to do this, I am only called to do that which is ahead of me, to listen to the immediate orders. I am not the general running the show, I am a sergeant in the field who does not see the wider picture.

A brief unsettled heart last night was resolved with two thoughts. Think not about the future, and let go of the past church experiences. This of course leaves me in the present. Which has been the demand on my soul all along, merely a different way of getting to it. Instead of telling me to focus on the present, God asks I leave off the future, and no longer engage the past. Same lesson, different approach. We’ll see if this way gets into my thick skull.

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