Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: June 18, 2004


Coyotes gather amidst the trees, singing their community song, yelping as a chorus, joined by some other dogs, domesticated, howling in primal comaderie. Then the eerie noise quiets, a single dog barks in nervous exultation.

It is dark, and soon time for bed, for me at least. Much life remains active in this forest.

I consider this day, and consider it went well. Very varied, full of progress, full of encouragement. Nothing of note, only a heart filled with a renewed zeal, a mind directed towards heaven in a sharper way, a soul ennobled by rising thoughts, and stories of courage.

I’ve said it before, in the spiritual life there is only obedience. Not to some list of do’s and don’ts, nor to some general guidelines of spiritual behavior. There is only the fluid response to the call of the Spirit in each day, for a particular purpose which we may never know. It is this which defines the servant, which distinguishes the Davids from the Sauls.

I look at my day and know it is not one which would make wonderful spiritual reading, and yet, it is right, as right as someone who goes to the most distant land for the sake of preaching. Right, not because it carries the honor of proving myself to God and man, but rather carries the humble honor of giving even my spiritual zeal before God, and letting him lead me, whether at home or abroad.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Today, I end the day with the tension loose, resting in the groove, walking right with the one who calls and leads. There is nothing more. That is Christ, that is life in Christ.


Before the sun broke over the horizon I sat on the balcony, staring east, listening to the wild aviary around. A cool breeze massaged the branches, the smell of forest wafted by and through. I prayed for a while, out loud, eyes open, watching the sun emerge, the sky brightening, blinding.

Then the animals came out, squirrels and chipmunks, and likely many others who I did not see. Early this morning it was wonderfully quiet, full of peace. Then people awoke, got to their tasks, and noise increased. By that time, I too had gotten to my tasks, replacing the songs of birds with the trumpet of Wynton Marsalis. Nothing replaces the view of the sun rising from the east.

Earlier this morning, before my time on the balcony even, I laid in bed, feeling a draw back to the spiritual life. I realize this is an ever present pull, a tug on my heart which remains no matter where I am. Like a rubber band, when I am closer to the source it is loose. When I drift away it tightens and pulls harder, eventually snapping me back to where I must be. This is, I figure, the reality of the hand of God on my life. I drift and I cannot drift away. Decisions I have participated in were really decisions to keep from pulling the tug even tighter. The harder I pulled, the more I strained away, the tighter I felt, the harder the snap back to the rightful place.

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone. My guess is that it is, that people aren’t aware of this tug, this pull, and so learn to accept the pressure of the pull as natural, or, eventually, to snap it completely and be let loose, drifting ever farther away. Walking rightly is like walking in a groove, a pressure to stay within remains strong.

The tug returned this morning, because I begin to drift a little, losing the vital nuances of prayer and consideration at times, so must restore those in order to return to the groove, and alleviate the pressure of the tug.

The more I walk with this sensation, the more sensitive I become to its presence, the more natural and instinctively I’ll walk according to its guidance.

I write long answers to questions about why I am doing what I am doing, why I made choices I have made, why I have put aside the generally accepted paths for something less esteemed.

These answers are merely dodging that more elusive and spiritual answer which the ‘tug’ of the Spirit fully describes. It is obedience, but not obedience to some static guideline, but obedience to the living Spirit who flows freely. That is the call for all of us, and the only necessary quality of someone seeking maturity. The more mature, the more a person walks in that groove, stays within the bounds of the Spirit, floating along to wherever and however the Spirit leads. It requires us to release our hopes and dreams, however, deciding that our goal for heaven is the only goal worth considering.

I’m not there yet, but I’m learning, and found this morning delight in the lessons.

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