Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: June 5, 2004


A cool breeze came in this afternoon, making for a perfect evening. The house I stay in is not overlarge, having a fair amount of space around and a large deck looking out over the valley. The bugs are not plentiful yet, and it makes a wonderful place to eat, an outside dining room of more perfection than anything which could be built inside. Ravens fly over, squirrels move about, jays screech, a small group of band-tailed pigeons make their way around. The sky is a darkening blue, white clouds reflecting the setting sun in the west. Perfection.

I didn’t read a thing today. I didn’t write a single word other than what is on this page. I didn’t get to my usual tasks. Instead, I kept busy. I cleaned, I repaired, I fixed, I adjusted, I did errands away, and errands near. I cooked, and washed, and arranged. The mood I was in did not facilitate focus so I answered by doing that which the monks say to do. Work. I kept moving, albeit in a different path, my goal remaining the same even with the different approaches. It was a very successful day in that regard.

This afternoon I came to another conclusion. The monastastic lifestyle of previous eras seems to have a very sedate feel. I decided that there is a place for funk within an evangelical monasticism. Makes the heart enlivened, the feet move, the dishes somehow get a little bit cleaner. I’ve read my Bible, several times, if not much more. Funk definitely has a place.

I’m not sure about the lyrics of Parliament. The beat, however, and the rhythm. Jesus knew a party, David never passed on dancing. Odd thing, it was good for my soul as well today. All part of the interesting journey. Take what comes, do what works. The spiritual life is all about efficiency, a ruthless efficiency one might even say.

President Reagon died today. He was in charge from the time I was six to the time I was fourteen. Some crucial years there. I feel like I should feel more. Maybe I’ll have some thoughts tomorrow, maybe it’s worth stirring up some thoughts. There is a lot there, methinks.


Another warm day begins, the sun bright, the wind still. A chipmunk nearby chirped loudly for a long while, I couldn’t see it for the sun was strong in my eyes. I know the sound now for what it is, a minor mystery solved. Greens are bright and bold against the blue, the once familiar orange of dead pines no longer in view. Animals seem still now, not running about as usual, only the occasional bird flies by.

For whatever reason I’m a wee bit agitated this morning. Some kind of inner lack of focus, filled with energy, but not energy directing me towards ennobling pursuits. Not particularly sin driven either, more of a distractedness, a wandering of mind and soul away from my goal. Indeed, I’m unsure of what would satiate this mood. I suspect nothing, and the only response can be calming practices and dutifully pursuit of the tasks of this day, despite myself.

It is, wise people have said and I’ve learned for myself, always the best thing to make crucial decisions when one is at the height of the pursuit, focused and driven, seeing fully the end for which we chase. Making decisions, especially drastic ones, make sure that in our low moments, those times of distraction and disturbance we are essentially already committed. Some I think make decisions in their low moments, always allowing their weakest parts to define their being, and forcing their heights to be stifled through the fear and worry.

Today is not the sort of day in which I should commit to new paths, or seek out changes in the present one. It is a day to carry onwards. Having thrown myself into the river during moments of utter peace and assurance I now float along with the current.

I would make other choices today. And I’m fairly sure I would be wrong.

Grace comes when we need it, it doesn’t always stay if all we are to do is be steady in the ascent. We want answers to questions already answered. God let’s us stew, considering all the lessons, and coming to conclusions on our own about those answers. It’s infuriating, but it’s also great teaching once through. He’s in the business of maturing us and drawing us towards him, not coddling our puerility.

So, the days continues… interesting to see how it develops.

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