Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: May 18, 2004

evening

A gentle wind, a cool wind, light mist blowing with it, peace abounding this evening. All is quiet, calm. I feel like bathing in this breeze, letting it flow in and through me, washing me clean after a busy day, letting its voice soothe my soul, ease my heart, lift the stress and frustrations. It seeks to do so, if only I sit a while, and learn not to be bothered by various lights and noise which distract. To focus even with the various annoyances on the nuances of nature is a high art. One which I am learning, though not quite yet.

I consider this evening the idea of the Way. That name which the earliest churches called the movement which claims the progression of the ancient faith of Israel. The earliest Christians were followers of the Way according to Acts. I consider this because I finished watching the Last Samurai just now, an evening diversion. I note the distinctions between it and Troy, it and other movies with a fair bit of violence at the heart. Troy was a movie of violence, without meaning, without purpose, without soul. The movie I watched tonight, like the great samurai movies of old, was a movie with art, for it told of a people seeking something higher, seeking something more.

This path is the way. For them it was the way of the samurai, bushido, or for others it is called something different. Star Wars futurized it with the Force. I consider what this is, what this way is directed towards, what it is calling that which is highest within us to some purpose beyond our mere existence. It is a transcendent path, one which seeks perfection of being. In this way it is not transcendent at all, for it drives one to seek that which humanity is at its essence. We are corrupted by sin and evil, but we were created in the very image of God. That image remains, and reminds us, driving us to either distraction or to restoration.

Distractions are the vices, those things which degrade and distance, even if they are not in themselves evil. This is why merchants are never the heroes of the great tales. Those who seek what is beyond the present are the heroes, seeking out and reaching for a higher path, the path humans were meant to tread. Most seek to master what is presently available, appeasing the higher yearnings through amusements and baubles, comparing always with each other to see who has the most, who is worth the most, who has the most checks in the little boxes.

The Way is not a checklist, or a comparison, or an accepting of the present state. It rejects what the present says about one’s nature, and strives always to find that which is right and good, lifting up out of the muck and mire.

Different eras and different cultures have different expressions of this way. Its incomprehensibility has made for unique expressions, all found in pure and impure forms, corrupted and heroic images. The Christian claims the Way is found in Christ, the perfect human, the image restored to perfection. He was God, and with him humanity was again perfectly expressed as the image of God. His path, his example and power, are the way, the way which we embrace through the wisdom and authority of Christ’s own spirit, that which animated him animates us.

So, this is the Way. It is an art, a symphony, a dance rising to perfection, destined towards a goal, promising that we are not what we should be and there is always more. The Way is our hope and our promise.

Now if I can only really embrace this as true, take this hope as my own, let my faith overcome the doubt I will begin to understand a part of what I’m presently seeking.

A lovely goal, a noble path for life, come what may.

morning

I woke up to the bright sun shining full into my room, no sign of clouds or haze which must have blown away in the night. Still the wind blows, the trees dance with the irregular rhythm. Chipmunks run over the woodpile, squirrels wander over the ground. The power goes out and it makes me smile.

The power going out is a regular event up here, where power lines run through wilderness and don’t have backups. Most folks have generators, those who don’t should. I was just settling into writing, when all went dark. Well not all. The day was still bright, the spring anointing still strong. So I went outside, then back in, deciding to clean, to fix, to arrange, and then back outside to read.

I don’t read as much as I used to. Maybe this is because I’ve not found a fiction writer which grabs my fancy, in which I can wonderfully lose myself. So, I’ve taken to reading more nonfiction–Gibbon, Pannenberg, others–finding myself reading only at night. Of course I do read, I keep track, more than I should, of current events, taking breaks from my own writing to read the news and opinions of the goings on of the wider world.

While this may be good, I don’t see it as a plus to my present life. I don’t mind the power going out, losing electricity, being lost in this significantly smaller world if even for a little while. It is relaxing, easing to the soul, for suddenly work which looms cannot be done, and I am forced to stop and do that which brings peace.

It’s back on now, facilitating this writing, facilitating other projects which spur me onwards.

In the emptiness of a more primitive world, however, I find myself delighting. Modern conveniences are nice, to be sure, but I’m not sure I would not be a better person without all that supposedly brings ease to this existence. Lost in the chaos of convenience I become less attuned to the whispers. And yet, and yet, it is our task not to be spiritual in another age, but to find what it means in this one. At least if we wish to be attuned to the present work of the Spirit. I do, and so continue on with the normal habits. It’s just I really do find peace in that kind of loss.

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