Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: October 2004 (page 1 of 3)


The day is bright and clear, squirrels and chipmunks run around on the ground, jays and chickadees fill the trees.

And I? I made a good point of stopping yesterday, and still woke up at three in the morning with an urge to edit even more, and even more than that prayer for certain people who came to mind.

I figure it is best to do both, even if there is mystery with both. Mystery about details and purposes, mystery about why I wake up at three am so inspired, rather than waiting for dawn.

Too much mystery. Sometimes the soul cries out for palpable results and clear direction and uncomplicated realities. My soul so cries today. I am tired of mystery, and want to put my hands on something, to be able to point to something, to recognize there is more than simple faith in dealing with God. I want to understand why I am called to certain tasks. I want to see the work of my hands and the words of my prayers take shape in this present. I weary of watching, weary of waiting, weary of being left with prayer alone as my comfort, with hope alone as my guide. I finished a good milestone with the writing, but like all things it remains in the mists of unknowing, where I do that which is beyond my ken, with the desire to walk with the Spirit in a dark world.

I run the race, and today I’m tired of the running. I need a Sabbath. It is the law you know, so I’m taking the day off to reset my mind and soul.

Prayers are appreciated.

I yearn so much for the work and activity of God in my life, strive so much to do what is right and good, that sometimes I get worn out with the spiritual wrestling. There seems to be both a lot afoot, much swirling about, but nothing that requires my particular attention today. I do, and I wait, and today I rest and let the sun shine in my heart and on my skin.


I’m sitting here looking at the moon, seing its various features, its shadows and valleys, its plains and mountains, staring back at me. There is a branch, a single thin cedar branch which criss crosses the view. Other than that it is as bright and clear as can be, about forty degrees above the horizon.

Other than noting the moon I have little to say. I finished a chapter today, getting Jesus lost in the Temple and found, a chapter which ended up being about sixty five pages, and so likely is really a few chapters in one. It was a milestone of sorts, though not a completion by any means. Now the curious thing is I have no regrets or even consideration about cutting my collaboration ties. Which seems comforting. I can live with myself, even if I don’t have an immediate hope. I figure this is walking right, the only way I know, kind of like riding the cars in autopia at Disneyland, cars which kind of steer but have that track underneath to keep the car from going too far to the left or right. I know I’m on the path when I’m not hitting the rail. God lets me know when I hit the rail, and I completely lack any peace while I grate against it.

This is the firmest measure of my present existence. There is peace, there is inner approval despite outward lack. I’m pushed down a path hedged on all sides but the way forward, and know that I can only walk this path.

How do I know? How do we know anything. My soul tells me, and at the end of the day we all have to listen to the call of our own soul. It will catch up with us sooner or later, and it’s always better to go ahead with the sooner. No end of chaos and confusion for us and others awaits if we put off heeding that all powerful voice.

Then after I wrote I went kayaking in the cold weather, wearing shorts while everyone else around was bundled up in winter wear. A red tailed hawk skimmed the water not fifteen feet from me, surprising me as it went by. I haven’t been back in since Anacapa, so it felt nice to stretch those muscles again, and let the wind blow on my face in the middle of a mountain lake. It is a fine place to pray and consider my prayers, the consideration of which seems to be as important these days as the prayers themselves, as I wonder why some prayers rise out of me so easy and constant, while others seem constricted and difficult. Maybe wisdom will come, maybe it won’t, I just know to pray for what is there to pray for and do what seems right.

It was a good day by all accounts, the measure of which will really be for future considerations, but for now it felt right. That’s all I can do and offer. I think I’ll finish this and stare at the moon for a while.


It is a light rain, a light rain falling on the now thin layer of snow covering the ground, a light rain which sometime during the night will turn to snow, most likely, and make a tomorrow much like today. The fog was thick through the day, the weather not quite sure if it was here or there, rain or snow. The snow on the ground decided it would leave, only not too quickly. It was a nonchalant melt.

This made it a kind of slushy snow, with thick water and a crunchy top, and a driveway much like a waterfall. A day for staring outside, for pondering mysteries too grand for a sun filled day, and for fixing computers which don’t admit to having an operating system despite the fact there was one there when last noticed.

Yeah, that’s my day, a day not as much directed towards writing as for earning my keep. Often this is through creative contribution, today it was by use of my vestigial technology skills. Yeah, there was an operating system still there, only it needed coaxing from its hidden lair after being frightened by some unknown terror. I led it to the light only with promise of vanquishing the terror.

Using heroic words makes computer talk sound much more interesting. All day it was running a check, scanning the system, cleaning out the entrails of long deceased programs, and generally engaging in emergency medicine for a computer which the Tech support declared near to death. I think it’s okay, and now with a lesson taught of the importance of backing up vital material, the night ends with peace. Earning my keep… that and other ways, so I don’t mind the break of a day.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the major gaps in a real spirituality is patience. Patience is the key to walking with the Spirit, patience is the essence of a heart listening for God. Some of the most heinous of spiritual mistakes come from our insistence on action and intent to force our way into a world run by God. The heart that is able to step back, and embrace the fullness of waiting with hope, is a heart which will find peace.

Too much we leap out and want instant response, when the only response is the slow inexorable turning of a wheel towards a more delighted future. We sabotage this seeking to manage time better than its creator. Always a mistake, and we miss that which was waiting because we are too impatient to keep looking without doing.

We are called to wait. Wait for life, wait for death, wait for beginnings and wait for eternity, as well as everything in between. Waiting and watching is the essence of the spiritual life, for the one who waits will, in an instant, see the benefits of such patience.

Only problem is that such lessons are hard to learn… for a person has to wait, and waiting in this world is like holding one’s breath under water.

But, that’s the call, and so that we much do, and respond to the various directives of the Spirit, which I firmly believe are oftentimes silly exercises to make sure we’re really listening. Not always, but certainly sometimes.

Makes living life with the Spirit more interesting I suppose.


It’s slushy out and white. I woke up to the sound of falling snow, and an all snow covered landscape. A squirrel leaped onto my balcony as I opened my eyes, and dug in the snow for the bits of corn and seed underneath. I’m not sure why she didn’t move the couple of feet along the rail where snow hadn’t collected. I think they rather like digging through the snow for a treasure. Now a mountain chickadee alights on the rail, picks up a sunflower seed and flies away. Jays have landed, screeched, eaten and flown away all morning.

Now the early snow, which began sometime in the night, has turned to a slushy rain. The temperature must be now a little over freezing. The snwo is being washed away in the light drizzle, but not quickly.

I sit here pondering my writing, and pondering the swirling about in the spiritual realms, feeling a little slow in my own cognizance and response, and rather lacking in real wisdom and insight. I stumbled around yesterday, getting things done, going for a long walk in the misty, dramatic weather, with no developed understanding. So, today, having sought wisdom amidst the storm and trees, I sit trusting in what I am callled to do, and trusting that God is working in the rest.

I can worry, or I can not. It’s that simple, neither way will change a thing, but will only change how easily I track through this season. I act on whims which seems to be inspired by the Spirit, trying to tune my ear to hear the gentle song.

I write today listening to the quiet chirp of the chickadees, and the soft rhythm of rain hitting the snow covered hillsides. It is a soothing sound to be sure, one that inspires, inspires me to go downstairs and make a cup of earl gray tea.

So I will. Some whims are less dramatic than others, and while their pleasure is not as grand an outcome, it is significantly more immediate. Maybe I’ll have a bagel as well… with honey.


I did write today… alot. I didn’t go outside much today. Hardly at all. Only for a brief moment. The skies, all the day, anticipated rain which never came. Dark clouds were always on the Western horizon, never nearing.

Overcast days affect my soul, especially without counter balance. They are the kinds of days in which I need company, a conversation, some inspiration. Otherwise I get enough done, but have a vague melancholy throughout, which suddenly disappears with the first moment of sun.

But, I got done what I needed to, which allowed me to bask in the unspecified discontent with a measure of peace. The trick is to shape one’s life so as to most easily facilite the necessities, so that they never are pushed aside. I think that’s the main point of the whole monk business, getting rid of the extraneous bits so as to focus on the soul.

For whatever reason, which may or may not be connected to anything said in the last paragraph, time has been moving really slow. It seemed like months went by in a blink of an eye, and now, it seems it takes forever to get to eleven in the morning. Maybe this is related to a present quest of discernment, trying to distinguish natural feeling and spiritual insight which are mingling in a certain instance, both truly there, neither quite clear on the other’s reality. So I trust and doubt, feel and ignore, leap out and stay within all at once, only sure that I have to listen to my heart, and see what happens.

Yes, vague. I know. I know what I’m talking about… and this is my journal after all. I should add I have yet to see a welcome resolution to such an experience… but it only takes once.

That’s all, an entry more a marker for myself tonight. All related to faith, and practicing the gifts given so as to sharpen them for later use, and present help. We’ll see how sharp I am… the problem being much is out of my hands. I can only do what I can do, and trust God is indeed leading and guiding answering prayers through infinitely complex means.

We will see.


A cool beautiful evening, the clouds seemed smudged on the blue sky, like an eraser overused. The day was crisp and beautiful, the weekend full of fun.

I woke up last night at around 2:30, and sat for a while pondering and praying as has been my habit recently. For whatever reason I couldn’t focus, until I picked up a pencil and wrote for a long while. A random short story, vaguely reminiscent of a Twilight Zone (as 3:00 am stories are apt to be), then I fell asleep.

I consider this a good sign, a sign that writing is entering my blood even further, getting to where it relaxes and eases my mind.

For still there is much swirling about, surprises to be sure as well. And so I press onwards, trusting that to follow the lead of the Spirit within me will bring me to the place of delight and joy, wherever, however, and with whomever this may be found. I write because I have to, I correspond with those I do because the Spirit has called me to, I reach out for that which is out of sight, and grab hold of that which I cannot yet identify.

I give up security for the sake of hope. And so I do it again this week, where the fractured rhythm of past weeks can now be restored. I have only the tasks before me at hand, without the regular interuptions, and now only myself and the Spirit to please.


The day is sparkling. Cool breeze and bright blue skies. About five ravens flew over the house, and when they turned with the wind, the sun reflected like a mirror off their backs, their dark glossy feathers turning brilliant white. Chipmunks wandering about in and over the woodpile, and I wonder how long before they shall call it a year. It is marvelous and while hammering has just now started interrupting the peace, I don’t mind, as I have a drive to make down the hill to go to a party.

It’s a party for me, at a nice Brazilian restaurant where waiters walk around with skewered meat for the taking, and an open buffet provides other South American choices. It’s always Carnival at the restaurant making for a delightful place of celebration.

So, that’s my evening. I turned thirty this week, so even one trying to pursue a evangelical monastic lifestyle (which I still need to get around to explaining), deserves a bit of a feast. Last weekend I celebrated me, this weekend I let others, then back to discovering a rhyme and reason.

In nonrelated news, I was pulling out a coat to see if it would fit what I was wearing this evening. It’s a cashmere overcoat I got back when I was regularly dealing with cold weather. I wear it now only about once or twice a year. In the front pocket there was a bulge, I put my hand in the pocket and found a yellow rubber ducky. I have no idea what event at which I last wore the coat, but it must have been quite the evening.


I better write right now, rather than waiting until later, which doesn’t seem to come until the next day. Fog swirled about through the night, thick fog, hiding bright lights, obscuring trees, but now the sky is bright blue, or nearly so once the sun rises over the horizon.

It is my birthday week, and I’m taking things slower than normal, still writing, mostly pondering, trying to find renewal of rhythm which likely won’t start until next week. Ah well. All there is to do is keep at what I can.


The rain has come down almost constantly since Sunday. I woke up Saturday night and was reminded why it is always a smart idea to go ahead and pack the rain fly. A thick mist filled my tent, and made quite wet everything inside. The sunrise the next morning more than made up for the moisture of my own negligence. Not often does one see the sun rise to the west over the ocean while standing on a fifty foot cliff, with the sound of sea lions, sea birds, and crashing waves annointing the ears while the aroma of freshly christened earth fills the nostrils.

Then to home, and a time back in the forest, where the rain is not simply coming down, it is surrounding, the fog thick and active, the rain swirling about sometimes light, sometimes heavy, always present. There are reports there might be snow. Last year the snow came a week late, a week after fires ravaged the land. Now, it came early, giving us six inches and dropping the fire danger from extreme to moderate. All the neighborhood is filled with that special sort of melancholy which urges the eyes to rest, the ears to be soothed by the gentle tapping rhythm of the rain, and prompts a person to go make a thick cup of dark tea to help pass the time. The body and the mind slows, the heart becomes wistful, content and eager all at once. Time itself seems to loosen.

I let the rain fill my kayak, washing off the salt of the sea with all natural showers. I listen and stare, trying to find wisdom within the voice. I watch the bedraggled jays, their dainty crests now somewhat limp and clingy, visit for a bite to eat, and I watch the squirrels join them, looking a bit fat now, ready for winter, their tails hanging over their heads like hairy umbrellas.

I ponder the wisdom of the island and the voices of wisdom which seek for me to hear and discern.

Then I leap. Leap out once more, cutting even more ties, more chances of certain success it seems. For what? So the soul within me can find a measure of peace. I refuse the help of Egypt, and seek God’s counsel, but now feel the worry of the dependence on faith without seeing the answers of faith. I stand on the cliff, feeling the rising air blow my hair, and I leap out, arms outstretched, eager for my limbs to transform so as to ride the wind.

There are those for whom this leap out results in the transformation, and from their tales I leap out as well, trusting in that which has led me, trusting that prayers offered are prayers answered, trusting that having sought wisdom and counsel and direction my heart is telling me Truth.

Why? To follow an art. To embrace the fullness not yet seen so as to someday make it a reality. To embrace potential rather than settle for frustrating certainty.

And so I write this as a record, the worth of which will only be determined decades from now.

Having nothing, seeing nothing but for my own passion and yearnings for Christ and his Spirit, I leap out to embrace the void and take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of me. There is nothing, there is everything, this magical time between dusk and dawn, shore and sea, where the spiritual mingles with the physical not in space but in time. That is where I am seated and I listen, I watch, I contemplate with the fullness of hope alone as my sustenance.

There are markers on this road, there are steps, there are points in which divergent paths can be chosen. Today I have chosen, because my heart told me I must. And I rest in that, I rest in embracing who God has made me.

There is only that.


It is always a curious thing to wake up and realize one will soon be in a completely different world. Even odder to realize the different world is not that far away. Look up… that’s the world. Well, close to it anyhow, as that’s San Miguel Island, not Anacapa.

But, it’s my birthday in a few days, and in thinking about my life, in thinking about who I am, in thinking about how I would like to acknowledge thirty years I realized I wanted to do it in a way which truly reflected my soul. Some go to Vegas, some out to a nice meal, others host a large party… I want to go to a secluded isle, and enjoy the fullness of the bounty of God’s creation, surrounded by souls I trust, letting my spirit be eased in the peace.

That’s who I am. God has me at other tasks right now, and so I wander around modern technology, staring at glare. But, in my depths I am the person who sits on the edge of a cliff and watches the sun set over the blue of the ocean while gulls and pelicans fly by.

There are places in this world where God meets us, and there are places in this world a discerning soul goes to meet God. The Channel Islands are the latter, and so, for my thirtieth birthday I go to meet God. For that is the goal in all my life, and I celebrate the fact with delight.

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