Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: June 15, 2004


Thick clouds came in this afternoon. Not quickly. They slowly covered the sky, hiding the sun over the course of hours. It became dark, stormy, only without the rain.

To the west there was still blue sky, the sun setting illuminated the clouds higher on the horizon, making for a red and orange glow spreading over the hills. Beautiful. Not a bit of wind stirred the branches.

There is an aspect to the spiritual life which seems obvious, but which does not always seem defined or acted out. It is the servant quality. This is the essence of the Spiritual gifts, and the essence of Christ’s ministry.

Putting out plates, cleaning the table, doing errands… these are the typical qualities associated with being a servant. “He has a servant’s heart” often is directed at someone who does the little things which would otherwise seem beneath their status. However, there is more to this, much more.

It is not just doing the busy work of life for someone else, or doing things which are not resulting in honor. There is the higher quality of doing everything so that others become more, become better, advance and mature. The spiritual servant is one who lives so that others may find their hope, new life, new realities. Each person has a different way of promoting the other, such are the various gifts. But the goal is in fact to promote each other, to work so that those around us achieve more than they could have alone.

That is the quality of a great leader. Too often in ministry and other contexts the people who are very adept and convincing other people to work for them, or to have a large group invest so that the pastor or leader thrives is highlighted as great. Jesus showed that to be great one first of all raises up others, makes others become what they don’t even realize is within their potential.

This is the spiritual act of worship, serving others, serving others not just in the mundane, but in whatever way makes those others become fuller, stronger, sharper.

If we can find joy in enhancing others, we have found something wonderful, we have understood Christ.


Looking out the window right now I see the forest alive. There are three chipmunks gamboling on the hillside fifteen feet away, on the ground, in the branches of the many saplings. A chickadee wanders up the side of the cedar, a squirrel eats seed on the balcony rail, sitting on its hindlegs, tail curled over its back, little hands holding seed to chew on. A jay visits now and then, a raven calls.

I’ve learned that redwood saplings still in their pots waiting to be planted like to be watered everyday.

There is again a bit of expectation in the air, but not for me. I feel it, and don’t feel it is demanding anything. It is around, like fog or cloud. I’m just asked to go about doing my appointed tasks, neither stumbling nor exulting, being sure only to walk steadily.

Feet to the path, eyes on the goal. That’s the day.

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