Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: May 12, 2004

evening

It’s not every day one is assaulted by bass. At least I think that’s what they were, I don’t know my freshwater fish really well. They were very large, inhabiting the shallows of the lake, moving slow in small groups, until they saw me floating near. Then a wave of the tail in the bottom, swirling up dirt, hiding their escape. Some, about three, made their way right into my kayak, knocking it about. They were all over two feet, some were about three, and very chunky. By the large tower I again saw the swallows in their mud nests high above. They do not like visitors. Bumped by bass, swarmed by swallows. Good times.

I found out my flying squirrel is actually a subspecies, called the San Bernardino Flying Squirrel. Apparently seeing one is quite a rare event. I’ll add that to my list of rare events which have occured thus far.

Little is on my mind right now, the late hour and its usual effects. I feel like something was stirring inside, only I don’t remember. I spent longer hours exercising and in the sun today, so I think I’m a little tired, and definitely a little burnt.

I’m considering churches still, an interesting quest. Ah… those were the thoughts. Two churches, very distinct, I know very little about either, my intuition points me opposite of my logic.

More on this later. Tonight I’m tired, and if I go to bed early, I get up early, and have a significantly better day.

God is in control, I know, that is my thought for the moment. I don’t know what he is up to, but I know he is in control. A lovely feeling to fall asleep with.

morning

The morning is again chill, though I am not again mentally so. The cloud which descended over my mind yesterday has lifted, and I woke early focused and ready to start. I love the songs of birds which start before dawn, they are like beacons of what is to come, voiced expectations, delight in what has not yet arrived. A squirrel visited my balcony again, becoming quite skilled with the new paths. I even think it was a different squirrel, it looked a fair bit larger. No birds are flying around, the avian activity limited to the chorus. Still the breeze blows, a delight. Oak leaves have become full, almost overnight, from the slow red and yellow buds they have burst out to be broad and full, the tiny saplings have leaves the same size as the most stately patriarch, little twigs in the ground announcing to the world that they too are mighty oaks.

They were the Psalms for yesterday (according to my Chronological Bible), but they resonate still today. Psalms thirty nine and forty. I realize I am caught in these two, vacillating between their sentiments, yesterday one, today another. Both express similar themes, but with a distinction of heart and hope. Both these mark my present life, my present being, they are the melody to this song I sing.

I have been struck recently by time. Not in my own walk down its path, more with the perception of time and its use in our era, or abuse one could say. We have an infinite amount of time saving devices, technology which provides shortcuts. What do we do with this time we save? Very few use it to their advantage, most use it for their own exhaustion.

Our perception of this universal reality is unique in history. Time was always an assumed quantity. Traveling meant time, eating meant time, working meant time. People were forced to wait by the length time demanded. Now, time only whispers, faintly. A person can cross the world in a day. Those moments which were forced upon humanity, which forced us to learn patience, to learn management of empty space are gone. Those who tend towards solitude may seek this out, but rarely to the same extent. What did a person do on a four month voyage from shore to shore? They waited. We who have access to unlimited information, all the world at our fingertips, have no time to dwell on it. We do not absorb, we are sponges at the bottom of a rapid moving river.

The Civil War took twenty years to recover from in many ways. We want our present war over and finished in a year. We want to build, to expand, to proclaim our religious sensibilities with vanity projects, rather than patiently waiting in prayer, for the life of Christ to fill us with the only power which makes a difference.

We seek wisdom, we go elsewhere. We want to grow in the faith, we take the bull by the horns and impress each other through our manipulated sacrifices. Dancing around each other we lose the rhythm, caught in a frenzy of our own making. Because we cannot wait, cannot pause even for a moment, letting loose our control over this present life.

It is always in the pauses, the waiting, the actionless moments which the Spirit works. It is not those times in which we assert our own spirit, showing zeal which is not effective, it is those times in which we voluntarily or involuntarily do nothing, except be filled with the one who brings power. When we are too busy, too overworked, too focused on tasks of our own choosing, never pausing, we do not hear the voice from the shore.

So busy are we throwing our nets off to the left, we miss the advice to try the right. So the fish remain uncaught, and yet we still congratulate ourselves on the effort.

The Spiritual person is not the same as the success in this world. The Spiritual person does not assert their being on others, they do not demand, do not sell. They drift with the wind of the Divine, moving slower, to be sure, but with a power of the whole universe as propulsion.

To recover this sense, to recover what it means to wait, to ponder, to have patience and do nothing is the challenge on us now, for in a new era we have new difficulties. It is not the usual issues raised in response to postmodernity. Ours is not a lack of worship creavity, ours is a lack of listening ability. Waiting patiently, meekly, hopefully for the dawn. That is the task of the Spiritual person.

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