I have a coat, an all wool coat, patterned after the union overcoats of the US Civil War. I got it in 1993, my first year at Wheaton, and the coldest winter I had ever experienced.
It’s warm, and full, meaning I got into the habit of only wearing in when the temperature dropped below thirty two degrees.
When I moved back to California I changed this rule, only because I would never wear this coat otherwise. I like it, and I think I look good in it… though I may be flirting with a bit of vanity on that last.
Since coming to the mountains I’ve had one winter, a fairly warm winter as historical records go. Still, when the outside is dramatic, the cool breeze drops the wind chill to where the birdbath begins to freeze, I liked to stand outside and take it all in, letting my skin chill in the air, finding my prayers tend to lift up a little more actively, my mind drifts a little more fluidly, and all my being exults with the crisp surroundings.
Summer still has a couple of days left.
Tonight, though, I donned my union coat, and stood outside, praying for light and grace to fill my soul and for my life to reflect the bounty of the God who has called me as his own.
It is that cold tonight. As of six thirty it was about forty degrees. Three hours later it is colder still.
I love it. My soul needs it.
The whole day was dramatic, fog rolling in, clouds bubbling over, blue sky only twice made an appearance, the sun was out for no more than fifteen minutes. It was glorious.
It reflected my inner being, and for that it was marvelous.
Every once in a while I come across a person I recognize. I don’t mean that in the normal sense. I mean that spiritually. My discernment goes off the charts on the positive side, and my soul exults in the person’s presence, leaving me wondering what is going on.
When I can continue the conversation, or extend the relationship it is always wonderfully fruitful. When it seems more fleeting, I’m left in a state of mild to severe bewilderment. Surely such recognition means something?
To define it more is difficult. There are those, I know, who for whatever reason radiate the presence of the Spirit more than others. This doesn’t mean they are more beloved by God, or better people… it’s different. There’s a spiritual reflection I sense which seizes hold of my soul and asks it to dance. As I feel the negative tones of less than holy spirits as well just as strongly, with my being wrapped in a cloud of frustration and depression, it is truly wonderful when I can taste the joys of discernment rather than its burden. It is a rapturous feeling, a feeling which trancends simple words and launches me into platitudes of being, which then is lost when distance is asserted for whatever reason.
Over the years I’ve learned what this emotion means, and have gotten better at reacting. It can be disconcerting to both parties when I ‘know’ someone I don’t really know. But that’s what it is. One of my better pastoral gifts, I think, is my ability to pierce through outer attributes and seize hold of what makes an individual a wonderful part of the body. Unlike the Young Life folks and their philosophic adherents, the obvious matter of societal success or leadership has little bearing on someone’s potential in Christ.
Some people who seem great, are not so much. Some who seem small have within them a seed of glory which can grow beyond anyone’s understanding. I sense this at times and rejoice at the discovery. Only, what I see is not always what the person may understand about themselves. I get frustrated at that.
Or, more likely, I really know this deep powerful spiritual aspect, and find a significant bond which transcends time and space touching heaven itself in its grasp of eternity, but don’t know how they spend their day, or about their family, or favorite movies or music. My discernment gift pushes me into the deeper realms of awareness, where I know them without knowing them. Knowing the surface, however, and being allowed into the deeper parts is a vital part of a relationship. I skip that without intention, and find a weird interaction ensuing. I know, but don’t. I’m comfortable with them on a profound level, but have a hard time beginning a conversation.
When she’s cute as well, that adds a whole new layer of pondering. What am I reacting to? I know enough now to be confident I’m not just renaming more primal responses… and not everyone I find cute brings out that ethereal response. There are those who bring out this response who I’m not, for whatever reason, attracted to on other levels.. making it easier for me to grasp, but not easier to respond.
I suspect I once again encountered the fleeting form of this interaction last night. And I’m left with the emotions of an epiphany in human form, knowing that it is God’s Spirit I recognize, and would wish to develop more insight into what I ‘know’.
Fleeting glimpses as people move on, a person who was not seemingly called to be in my life, but who I see as someone who has the same call by God in her life. In my loneliness of that same call, recognizing another who shares those depths is both joyous and disheartening. I’m weary of the lonely path tonight.
But, there is only prayer. I pray, and trust that God is answering prayer, and has all these many years. All things are within his power, so what is comes from his knowing me more than I know myself.
Tonight I am left with that deepest of spiritual understandings, that most profound sense one can ever approach. There is only God and my soul. If I can learn to embrace this, I will find joy and delight reigning in my life as I bring light to others through the very peace of the Spirit within.
Tonight, not fully embracing this, I tend towards melancholy. Hope beckons. Dawn is not that far off.