Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: June 12, 2004


It was a beautiful day and now a beautiful night. Perfect weather, perfect wind.

I didn’t take advantage of it. Not like I should. Like I said this morning, other tasks kept my focus, tasks which are fine for now, but I can see them becoming draining over time.

The issue has to do with the fact that it is easy to get diverted. I’m here because I didn’t want the diversion, those things which keep one’s mind out of the depths for years and decades. I did not wade in the cleansing streams of truth and beauty today, and I feel the lack.

Spirituality is so similar to exercise, easy to push aside and worthwhile only if regularly pursued. This was a week of progress, but contained neither exercise nor focused spirituality.

I do feel the lack.

And I suspect tomorrow shall be the same. I’ll add pieces again, getting myself refocused even within the diversions. It is a different task when the tasks themselves are leading one deeply. A harder effort when time must be put aside for those elemental pursuits. But, I suspect it is a skill I must hone. In busyness and calm we are called to pursue Christ.

I feel the distance, but I know it is only a momentary gap.

Part of the rhythm, a rhythm felt in my heart, and seen in my writing.


Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. The sound of a chipmunk. The sound I woke up to this morning. Hearing in the background the more melodious songs of chickadees and sparrows, with the occasional jarring cry of a steller’s jay. The barest of white mists dulls the blue above, a gentle breeze blows, enough for texture, not enough for influence.

I turn some jazz on, and listen as I began my tasks.

These tasks make me pause as I think. They are in no way connected with my purpose, either eternally or even the purpose I laid out in being here. In some ways they are diversions, not leading me towards those deeper depths which I so desire.

Yet, in considering the reality that I am drawn to these present pursuits, in considering the doors opening and surprising me, in meditating on the fact that doing anything else in this moment seems actually wrong, I wonder.

There is, I believe, a discipline of training, a discipline of setting up, a discipline of arranging. Not directed towards the vital tasks, but instead creating a context, facilitating a response, organizing so that the eventual disciplines themselves can better function. It is the discipline of preparing a canvas, of cleaning a room, of managing materials, of learning the art of the tools.

That is my current status. I might feel I am misdirected, if only I didn’t realize that my present direction will underlie the fuller pursuit of my calling.

To create the masterpieces of illuminated manuscripts a monk had to do the more mundane tasks of scraping the vellum, mixing the colors, sharpening the quill. He had to learn to write, learn to draw, learn to listen and arrange. He had to learn symbology, learn design, learn patience and perseverance.

So too, in pursuing contemporary tasks a person to progress must put aside the direct pursuit and learn the accompanying skills. What I do now does not directly push me into those realms I wish to walk, but they will facilitate those pursuits in wonderful ways. I spend time creating a context, learning the art of modern day illumination, and when I get back to my regular writing, when I focus again on pressing forward I will do so with more ease, more skill, more adeptness.

The fluid spiritual walk leads us down unusual paths, all connected, all woven together, yet sometimes the pattern is so amazingly complex we cannot see relationships unless we look from high above, look with an eternal perspective.

I consider my wanderings of these past weeks and settle with the thought that all is well.

Good. Wouldn’t want to be wasting my time.

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