Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: July 2004 (page 2 of 4)


Trucks backing up bother me (why do I need to know that a truck a mile away has shifted into reverse?), windchimes bother me (what is the attraction to unharmonious clanging covering up the beautiful sound of the wind itself?), chainsaws bother me, blowers bother me (useful tools but not for contemplation). Chipmunks should seem to bother me, they have a particularly harsh staccato squeak. Only it’s comforting, the same way a bird squawking is comforting, the same way crickets soothe, or wild dogs howling impresses. Natural sounds, for whatever reason, bring comfort when the unnatural bring bother. A tapping into some primal awareness? Discerning instincts identifying the subtle signals of Life announcing itself?

I don’t know. I only know that being woken up by the loud chipmunk near my window was welcoming, the chainsaws starting across the street a few minutes later was not.

Different tasks, I think, will engage my day today. I’ve had a mural I’ve been wanting to finish for a long while asking for attention. Writing is going on in my head still, the mulling, the pondering which seeks out paths even while I’m not conscious of the thoughts. Having settled on a direction, it’s best to let the mulling continue, bolstered by more study.

Who’s in a hurry? The skin is still being shed, the new shiny one underneath only just beginning to reveal itself.

the day

A warm day, inside at least. A cool breeze welcomed me when I walked outside, which prompted me to sit outside for a long while, letting the air fill my soul, ease my mind.

I feel like I am in a time of transition, from what to what I don’t know, only it has the spiritual quality of shedding a skin, or like Eustace’s shedding of the dragon in Prince Caspian.

At one point today I turned off the computer for some reason, and never turned it back on, enjoying, again, some space.

There are activities looming, which will take up an immense amount of time. Now, however, is the time for mulling. Once I leap in…


The Summer schedule continues.

A fluttering breeze makes the wind sock dance, the branches shake, the clouds pour over the mountainside in small groups. Throughout the morning, a chipmunk, sometimes two, scurries through the branches out my window.

It is a day which seeps into one’s soul and does happy things, calming things. I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with the clean, letting my muscles become like the branches. Nothing profound occupies my time, so far, and that is fine. The sabbath announces itself today, and I heed the call.


The dog barks. I open my eyes, groggy and disoriented, look at the clock. Five AM. Not an ungodly hour to arise. So, I did, and here I am. No more later, a new start.

Puffy clouds are lit up by the sun still beneath the horizon, shades of gray, becoming blue, fill the sky. No activity by bird or beast, a still, calm morning.

Now a raven calls, three times, then another three. I stare north. A single dead pine in the distance is lit up by the sun, a single small cloud above it is bright reflecting white.

My heart is still this morning, still considering the day ahead, without conclusions or plans. When there is a clear trail it is the easiest thing to keep taking steps. When no trail seems to exist, one regularly ponders the path to take, gingerly stepping at times, staring at various options, wondering which will be easiest on feet, and less abusive to legs.

That’s where I stand, looking out, figuring the path, not seeing a clear trail.

It is the fact, however, that I love hiking offtrail, winding my way around, over, and under. Explains a lot I suppose.

the day

I’ll write later, I say. This morning I said. Other tasks got chased after, some got lost in the shuffle, and to be honest the easiest thing in the world would be to not write at all anymore. I am in those slumps which journals, and diaries, and now blogs seem to find, where what has needed to be said, has been said, so either I press on through the dry spells or leave off completely.

It’s a discipline, pure and simple, writing and thinking. Forcing oneself to sit and scrape the thoughts is not ever going to be an easy task.

But, the fact of the matter, it seems the right thing to do, so that when days like this, like many over these last few week, come and I don’t write, I don’t share about the bats which were flying near the window chasing after bugs, or the chipmunk leaping high onto the bird bath “just like the big animals do”, or the color of incense-cedar feeling the drought, brown interspersed with green, or any of the other sights, then I am failing myself. No one else, there is no one else.

Once again… tomorrow.


It took the entire day. By nightfall the clouds had covered everything, no stars can be seen, only a slight breeze can be felt. There were gusts earlier, only for sporadic moments.

To the south there is one pine left, a bare pole to a hundred feet. The ravens are nearing the end of their rental agreement. I have not seen as much stirring recently, making me wonder if at least one of the babies has flown away. I shall miss that sight.

The wonderful thing about the Christian life is that there is always tomorrow, always that next day. It is the fullest of hopes, because no matter the circumstances, of our doing or of external forces arrayed against us, always to the end we look to tomorrow with hope. Even death itself has lost its sting, unable to vanquish this mighty hope within. If we really believe.

That’s the Christian life full of hope in the midst of uncertainty, along with the other essential paradoxs of this lived life.

I’m comforted by this as I struggle to restore my rhythm, again finding points of great inspiration, and moments of prosaic wallowing.

The enforced rhythm of a regular community would be welcomed. Only I know that to forge this path on my own will build spiritual strength like nothing else. So, either I lift up or I am crushed. Time will tell I suppose.

My heavy eyes are reminding me it is time for bed, and I remind them that my level of activity today barely merits a nap.

The impasse remains in part, my own lack of motivation on this day the major barrier.

Except for a brief moment this morning, when the heavens opened up and my mind was filled. My mind is a racing engine, needing fine tuning, racing away when right, stuttering and faltering when off. It turns over, but is not quite ready. Closer though.

At the end of the day, I know that this is my state. It was a great day in part, a wasted day in others, but I am closer. Now, there is only to make my pace more steady, and my heart more firm on the prize. That will be a day.


I’ll write later I always say. Then I never do, or at least not much, at least not until much later when this morning title is leeched of most of its meaning.

Not today. Why? Because I woke up wanting to write, wanting to get my fingers moving across the keyboard, swirling thoughts coalescing, attempting to find some path. I stand around and look, at the trailhead, bags are packed, mostly, the backpack is secure. There only remains to take the steps outward.

As for this day, of the external world, it is, I believe, called monsoonal moisture. A tropical storm swirls counterclockwise over Mexico, a warm storm. We don’t get that, at least not the brunt of a nameworthy storm. No, we lie along the edges of the spin, about the same location on a storm as this planet is in the galaxy, off on one of the more obscure arms. Blas prefers his southern neighbors, and gives to us only scattered clouds and the possibility of thunderstorms later.

Red tint in the eastern sky, the ancient augury, made more accurate by satellites and newsmen. Still, nature confirms. Something is comforting in this.

The fluid life is one which requires time. Letting loose the soul to be stirred with the rising wind insists that the wind is not rushed, nor artificially created. During a lull, one waits, watching, feeling for the stirs which mean renewed movement.


Most of society now care little about the wind, at least cares for it little beyond its effect on well coifed hair. We’ve managed ourselves past the need for natural dependence.

So we think.

The wind still blows and we are called to drift with it, catching its power as our own, lifting us up and beyond our natural bent.

Most folks now prefer to row.

They advance for a time, while those with sails sit. Until the wind picks up. Then the sails fill, those who trusted fly past, those unprepared are buffeted by the change, bothered by the motion, unable to harness the power, and indeed stifled in the movement.

A wind from the east seems to be stirring.

evening and lapses

Ah, yes, so it continues, the bland entries, the descent into the mundane. Twice a year, or so, I get a migraine headache. No warning, only spots forming in my eyes and nauseous dizziness filling my head.

One bright spot. I feel ever closer to actually writing for real again, indeed plot formations are swirling in my head, patterns of approaching are emerging from the mists.

James, the brother of John. I think he might be an interesting person to consider in more detail.


Maybe it’s the heat. It was ninety degrees in the mountains today, and until the cool breeze picked up in the evening, it was a stifling heat.

Or rather, more likely, it is the reality of what the desert fathers talked about. Staying in one’s cell, one’s simple room, is the key, because in doing this one can find a rhythm. This is a rhythm of the soul, founded upon simplicity of schedule, of focus on the miniscule, in remembering the path to life.

Leaving changes the rhythm, opens up doors which bear many temptations, and paths which seem to have interesting sites at their end.

To return is difficult, to restart is time consuming. Because a life beckons, but it is not the life of calling. Some people fill their lives so that all they know is this transition. They never commune quietly for the length it takes to settle into a rhythm, though they always try. So, in stopping they approach, but never arrive, the beat always faultering.

I know the feeling of the rhythm, and now, when a new song is beginning to play, when an impasse still looms, it takes even longer to recover.

I make the allowance in my weakness, and misplaced hopes, when I commit to other places, fulfilling, to be sure, even deeper commands of love and friendship. But they beckon me to stay past my allotted time. So I return and do not want to, but it is where I am meant to be.

Maybe, though, it is just the heat. Winter is my season, cold is my most trusted muse. At least for writing and studying.

I did notice that something was a little kooky with my archives below. Should be fixed now. Something productive. Though… truth be told, with a few things I am waiting on the efforts of others to do their parts before I can press on again in those directions. Patience is a virtue.


I got home in time to write this evening. Only, it felt so nice not to turn on the computer, to let my thoughts wander away, to enjoy the bliss of unreflection, if even for a moment, and, again, it felt nice not to turn on the computer.

There are activities which people do because of context, and those that people do because of ingrained interest.

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer these days, alternating my view of the screen with my view of birds and trees and chipmunks gamboling through saplings, looking left at the one, right at the other.

When the power goes out, however, a smile comes to my face. I’m disappointed when it comes back on. Such is life that electricity is a vital part of fruitful work and the convenience of computers means time, and paper, saved.

There is the part of me which likes to check email, which likes to see what is happening in the world through the lens of online media.

The part of me that I like, however, is fine when all of that shuts down, when my eyes can drift to an old fashioned book, hear the sounds of nature. I live in a technological world, and I take advantage of the fact to be sure, only the world of a hundred years ago does beckon.

A friend once told me she was easy going because of her adaptibility. My inability to find contentment in just any sort of employment was in her mind. I have my own form of adaptability I find, one which is less suited for living a life as this present world demands, but significantly more suited for living during times of crises. That is a pregnant thought and worth more exploration.

Maybe, it is the fact I saw King Arthur today and the call of the ancient blood stirs within.

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