Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: September 20, 2004


Evening — The air is still chill, making sitting outside a delight. I spent a while looking at the stars, letting my mind and prayers wander afield, letting them come back again. It is again true, and will always assuage my summer worries. My mind is not dulled, just performs less creatively in warm weather. I could never be a desert father methinks. Now a mountain hermit, or a snow monk maybe. I revel in the rigors of cold, my mind comes alive when it is in the forties.

I wrote my thousand or so words, taking a wandering path to getting them down, finishing a good bit if I may say so. This was by noon.

Then I went running, and like Forest Gump in a way I got to where I usually turn for home and kept going. Up and down hills, through shaded glens, then around paved streets, doubling for some reason my usual path. I’m not sure why.

Prayer seemed to burst out of me all the day. I’m not very diligent about prayer, it is among the weakest of my spiritual habits, but not because I don’t believe in it. I thoroughly do. It surprises me if I pray for someone and they don’t find light or answers. Only, this isn’t visibly evident for prayers about my own life, nor do I feel that mystical connection through my sharing words. Some have ease in prayer, I have a constant struggle. But today, it seemed renewed. I don’t know why.

That’s the thing about the Christian faith. We too often think of it as the do’s or don’ts, or the accession of a set of statements . It’s not that. Not really. It, at its core, is all about hope, a holy hope that all is not as it seems, and more is always waiting for us. Not more stuff, more being. It is the living as though what we see is not all there is, and making our decisions match these assurances, living for eternal life, not temporal security.

Living like this places a person within the running river, where turbulent water flows by rough banks. Branches reach out, fall trunks hide under water, and swirling rapids pull one from the life giving air.

Then it changes. Sometimes all at once. The rapids drain into a calm pool, where radiant light illuminates a gentle shore. All of it, everything we once knew become new in that instant. In a day, in a moment, all our grief turns to joy, all our hopes begin to find fulfillment, and our sacrifices manifest in untold blessings.

This is not simply a tale of death and future life. This is a tale of eternal life which can intrude on this present reality we call our own.

That is why we walk so as to worship, and live so as to cling to the God who calls. It is the moment in which we see him, know him deeply, and can say from the depths our our whole being, “Ah yes, all is indeed well.”

Holding on through the confusion and frustrations is our present call. It’s worth it, so I hear.


The roof is white, covered in a thin layer of frost. A cold breeze chills the body, enlightens the mind. There are no clouds in the sky, the sun has crested the horizon as is making it way up past the trees and hills to the west, it is also below freezing outside. I put out the more hearty ‘critter feed’, which is all corn and sunflower seeds. I figure the area beasties have had a cold night of it, and need the sustenance. Within a minute, two jays come… they watch me when I walk outside.

The invisible vapors rising up from the heater vent make shadows on the wall in the light of the rising son.

My soul still dances within, almost in a frenzy, driving me to more than a little bit of distraction.

The trouble with this is expression. This inner drive has no outlet within my present context. I cannot go and worship with crowds of the faithful, I cannot share the intimate presence of another soul similarly enthused, I cannot go and preach to those who would hear my words.

I only have this small room, this little tiny path of expression which mocks the depths of my drive to respond.

I do have prayer.

So I stand outside, letting the words pour forth, driven to God not by despair but by an encroaching joy which has no relevant source. Lacking a source, there is no expression, no release. No one with which to share this epiphanic dance.

In the past this height has been followed by depression, as falling from the lofty places can bring. I’ve asserted my weaknesses, so as to dull my delight. Without a source or response it seems unfitting a feeling.

Today, though, I test the waters with new intentions, letting my soul rise while keeping my purpose steady onwards. I shall pray, continually throughout the day, letting my soul’s overflow rise to the heavens, letting this exultation drain free through positive endeavors, allowing my soul to grow through the hefty bounty of a heavy touch of the Spirit. This is a taste of heaven, and now I know my soul’s limit in embracing such a reality. To grow with it, rather than let it slide away through imperfect responses, is my goal.

The question remains about what it is pointing towards.

I don’t know. I’m much better, significantly better, at identifying the nuances of a evil spirit. This now is a joyful noise, and I don’t have the ear to pick out the individual strains or heavenly melodies.

May I learn.

It is also worth a note that I dreamed last night. That’s not something most people would find interesting. I do, only because I very rarely dream, and nine times out of ten the dreams I remember are mundane and boring.

Dreaming dreams with meaning is not one of my spiritual gifts it seems.

Most of the time. That discernment bugger makes its way into my slumber during rare times, and not usually during times of positive responses.

I can remember just about every nightmare I’ve had in my life, and can count these just using my fingers.

I had one last night, and I know it’s meaning, and I know that all about me are swirling battles which seek to win over my soul. The fighting is fierce today, and my very being is the prize.

No, I’m not going to share what it was or what it means… that remains within.

There are moments of calm and moments of decisive action, there are times in which we are asked to wait, and times we are asked to endure. Sometimes we are called to do something, all the time we are called to become something. Now is a time in which the battles rage fiercely for my soul, and I can only do the barest actions in support.

Daniel was told his prayers were answered, but the angel was delayed. This isn’t a tale of cute cherubs or insane individuals clamoring for answers to rational problems. We live in a world which contains a reality we are only a small part of, we cannot see more broadly, and all around us there lies a fog. Some can hear the battle raging, but only know the barest details. Today is a day in which the battle rages, and I hear the cannons, feel the errant shots pierce into my being, exulting and confused all at once, wrestling with a reality which transcends everything I know.

Such is the spiritual life. Antony knew this well, as do all those who leap into the void and let themselves drift with the current of the Spirit.

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