Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: May 28, 2004


It came earlier today. Over the past few weeks it has waited until the sun was long through its downward arc. Today, around two, the mists came pouring through the valley, over the hills, shrouding the land, hiding the sun

A coyote, large and smiling, wandering up the driveway. A large pile of branches, including some large sections of trunk from an earlier cutting last year, caught its eye and nose. It poked around as I watched, going to different sides. I suspect this may be a chipmunk home, or at least a hiding place. So, I walked out, made myself known. It left, trotted away, then turned about fifty yards away to take a good look at me. I took a good look at it.

Coyotes are afraid, they are intelligent, realizing there is no worth in danger. I prefer, myself, not to see a chipmunk or squirrel become a small dinner. They’ve become my friends of sorts these last few weeks.

The day continued and so did I. A success? In part. I advanced at least in some regard. Though I wonder if how I went about moving today means I’ll have to go back and do it over again anyhow. I’m not the sharpest in this present mood.

I stumble and fall, scraping my knees, gashing my legs in the thorns of the brush which surrounds the trail. But I continue on, acknowledging my weakness and seeking to become stronger. I think I have. There is much being weeded out of me, those subtle emotions which run deep, those entrenched attitudes which hijack becoming attuned with God. A person expects a short journey, and it never is. No hurry, I’ve all of eternity to continue onwards.


There are words to say when one sees a rainbow, wishes to make when one sees the first star in the evening sky. Before I opened my eyes, emerging from sleep, I listened to the first bird song of the morning, a chickadee chirping cheerily. All was silent, and then its voice rang out. I’m sure that is worthy of a verse or two.

Haze from the west has covered the early blue sky, wind blows it in, and makes what was becoming a warm day seem now to be a little softer, fitting into Spring a little nicer.

Squirrels have been at the seed all morning, leaping from the roof, crashing down, and enjoying a long breakfast. One sits now, its long tail curled up over its back, front paws raised to its mouth, chewing a morsel. My green and white wind sock flutters about directly above, not concerning the squirrel in the least, a change from earlier weeks. Squirrels become accustomed much quicker than jays, who still keep a wary eye on that waving fabric.

That’s it, it is certain. I’m fully depressed, feeling that weight which crushes one’s being, like walls pressing in. Gravity seems stronger, the air seems thicker, my heart is heavy, my thoughts emptied of light. All the tricks, all the responses which I use to fight the pull have gone by the wayside. Today is a day in which staying in bed, staring at a wall, or losing myself in a mindless video game has great appeal.

I’m not going to do these, other things keep my head out of the water.

What is distinct about this is not the feeling, it is my separation from it. The depths of depression have surrounded me, but they have not swallowed me. I have a rather peculiar sense of amusement at my own present, very strong, depression. All the thought typical to the state are passing through, yet I let them by with a smirk.

This isn’t me forcing myself out, or denying my inner self. It is rather a curious combination of my natural and spiritual states. A Christian Spirituality does not remove the rhythms of life, with its hights and lows. It merely gives a person the tools of response, the perspective of seeing within and without.

It does not mean a life full of bliss, only a life which listens less to the lies, and embraces the hope which may not currently be felt.

I feel it with my entire being, the responses unable to turn the tide, and I look at myself with a bit of amusement, seeing the vagaries of human life for what it is, and being content to commit to keeping on, pressing forward in the little ways I can today, whether or not the tasks contain any apparent worth in this moment.

In the past I’ve lost myself, been overcome by depression. Given the popularity of this particular trait with some of the most holy and creative folks in history, I don’t see it as much as a handicap as some do. But I do see it as a way to throw me off track, to make me lose sight and heart, and thus lose response.

So, of course it is a tool used against me. I’ve let it be most effective. Not today. I feel the fullness of the crushing weight and dismiss for what it is. The listless perspective continues, only I press on, slogging my way through the various tasks I’ve set up for myself. It is a hill to overcome, taking more effort because of the incline, but one which will strengthen me if I do not falter.

That is the day for me, a slog. Heaven awaits, and keeping my eye on that prize, I wade through this present morass with hope despite the loud hopelessness.

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