Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: March 2005 (page 1 of 3)


Happy Easter!!

It twas a beautiful, perfect day in the mountains.

I went to church.

I had a nice brunch with family.

I had an absolutely wonderful afternoon nap.

This week I’m going camping.

Happy Easter!!


Not so bad Friday

Good Friday… a statement of faith indeed. Though, when a person can kayak on a lake for a couple of hours in early Spring, with hardly any one else around… that’s not a bad Friday by any means.

There are times in which a spiritual community particularly seems important. Tonight I wouldn’t mind another or a few to pray with, share with, commune with. The disciples gathered together and waited together on that Friday long ago. I yearn for that tonight, but I yearn with hope. This path all has a meaning, even if that meaning has to wait until the future to make sense. But, that is the particular brilliance of Christianity, isn’t it?


A friend told me of the moon. Here I cannot see it. There is it bright and full, bringing dawn to night. Here there is only fog, fog thick and wet, which gives texture to one’s breath. The snow came down lightly all day, never sticking, only dusting the trees and the newly planted flowers which enthusiastic homeowners planted during last week’s warming.

I fell into the depths this week and it seems there are reasons upon reasons. I know to expect the spiritual life now, only it still gets me at times, taking me by surprise. The only difference is that I’m much more apt at catching the surprise, and if I do not exactly thwart the low times, I call it for what it is and seek to remedy.

This means re-attaching to my heart and soul, finding again those things which spur me to heaven itself: books of noble thought, writing, pondering the mysteries greater than what is seen, wrestling with issues that speak of the Spirit amidst troubling circumstances. It means letting loose of those things which serve only to occupy time or give me some mundane approval.

It also means realizing that when one prays to help others by taking on their burdens, not to be surprised by the sheer weight of the burden once handed over. When one’s gift is to be cognizant of the spiritual realities and the emotions of those spiritually connected, it should be expected that hard times provoke wallowing amid muck and mires.

Realizing these things helps give perspective. It is when the battle fought is entirely unseen that discouragement finds a home. So, I fight, and continue to fight it seems. Happily so, even with the burden.

With the burden, however, comes my own training, which if forgotten leaves me quite low. My training has taught me the tools, the tasks, the pursuits which can push me out of the weighted slumps, giving me a reason to help others with their burdens. I have learned to stand, and so can help others stand.

Just have to remember that at all times. I forgot my place, forgot my soul, lost sight of my center, and the weight knocked me off balance.

Today I read. I opened a book on physics for inspiration, a book on theology for stimulation, and a book on spirituality for direction. I dwelled with Scripture for restoration. I even stared a while at the fog filled view, finding peaceful sustenance. It’s not that I’ve recovered myself quite yet… but I have made the journey back upwards.

I pray. I pray, and I seek God’s light to the west and to the east, far and near I look to see where God’s hand leads. And I wait. I wait for that time in which all is clear, the doors are opened and the way forward is made ready.

Now, however, I sleep. For this is one of the more useful spiritual disciplines.


I barely looked outside today. Fog was rolling about, the weather was dark, with only glimpses of light, and there were scattered animals foraging. But I was inward.

I’ve lost my center you see. My balance has been disturbed. I know the immediate push of this, wrestling with that which is beyond my ability or power, wrestling with daring and intensity at times, finding myself emptied now.

There’s more than this. I’ve lost my center, and my focus, and my heart at some point and need to find it. Because if I have lost this, there is nothing else. There are no answers, no hopes, no dreams. There are no paths which bring delight, and all I see are the shadows about me.

Not to say anything has changed, or that there are not bright spots which one can point to. It’s that I’ve lost my balance, my center and really I have to be ruthless about finding it again, or being found by it again. Until I do I am myself a waste.

The only problem is I don’t know what this means, or what to do in this moment. I have to let go of certain tasks and certain responsibilities, holding onto only those I am sure are Spirit directed. These things encompass both good and bad aspects. But those things which encourage my emptied heart, or stimulate my loss of center… those things I have to loosen.

I am off track, and I know it with all my being, for my being does not bear well with being off track. And those for whom God has indeed called me to participate with… are not wanting a me that is off track. I have to recover this balance, and this center, above all things.

There is nothing else.


It was a dark and stormy night…

That’s all.

Oh… It is a dark and stormy night.

Much better.

And I should add that not drinking enough water for a week or so makes me feel quite uninspired and totally unmotivated.

Drinking water helps that feeling. So does staring outside and watching the little hail bounce off the rail in front of the bright browns and greens of the soaked cedar.


Haze covers the sky. Not completely, however. A couple of jays came down early this morning yelling and screaming at each other, pecking at the seed on the balcony with woodpecker force. I told them to keep it down. One flew away the other gargled at me. I woke up early this morning with thankful thoughts and good theological wrangling over seemingly impassable issues. I watched as the cedars outside began to take on that wonderful dark green glow and the ground began to show shadows and nuances of browns. The sun peeked out, bright and wonderful after a day of fog and rain. Now it hides again behind the haze.

I have a problem. Well, I have a few problems, maybe more depending on who you ask. My problem, as I’ve come to see it, is at the core of my own pastoral calling. I’m not a salesman. I hate sales. I hate calling people, convincing people, cajoling people, following people, tricking people, or doing any of the other parts of sales. Which is a likely reason I’m not working in a church right now despite my passion, gifts, degrees and talents.

But, I’m an investor. I pour myself into people. I see people who are worth investing in and I will exhaust myself at times trying to do what I can in order to see them rise above the muck and mire. I have a yearning to show heaven to people, and because I tend to see in people their potential I can speak in a way which helps them see.

This is not a hobby. This is all consuming. This is something which defines and shapes my entire being. This is a problem.

Because people worth investing in, the ones who are in my life, don’t pay well. In fact, they don’t pay at all. But, I cannot invest in a faceless corporation nor seem to break away from wanting to see those I know, who God has brought into my life, rise up in their own calling.

But, I don’t get paid for doing this, and find myself increasingly taking on more and more with that same level of pay. My heart is driven to do, my soul is weakened because despite all I do, I can go to a party and be filled with guilt that I’m not getting paid to my potential.

Nor can I let go of caring about this. So I’m stuck. I’m stuck taking on more and more without any compensation, finding my heart fighting my ambition. Ambition for what? Both heaven and earth. And these don’t mix very well.

But, I can’t release earth because that means releasing that part of me which calls me heavenward, that yearning to invest in those around me. Should I cut that off, I cut off my spiritual self. Yet, I am bogged down today in investing in others because never, ever do I find any sort of compensation or guidance in my own life. I can work fifty hours or more a week and still have to explain to the accountant and human resource manager and executive my worth. I am lazy even if I am busy because I am not investing in that or those who could best pay.

But, I seemingly cannot do otherwise. And it is all wearisome this morning… which is an odd thing to say given the fact I woke up with a great deal of hope and thanksgiving and the sun shining on the forest outside.

Lord teach me how to pray. Lord I don’t believe. Help my unbelief.


Fifty six thousand words. Why write?


Good Irish weather this morning. Cool and overcast, a slight breeze, and all the green in the forest beginning to celebrate Spring. My shamrock windsock has been dancing around all night in a continual celebration of St. Patrick’s day.

I found out that this isn’t just a day for Saint Patrick. This is a day for Patricks in general. At least in Poland. Poland, you see, has a lovely tradition called nameday. Birthdays tend to be low key affairs while namedays are the big parties. Some names, I found out, get two or even three choices on which day to celebrate. Patrick (or Patryk) gets one, this day, this saint’s day. I think it grand.

This is a weird day for me. I’m sitting here in relative peace realizing I should be praying non stop for those I know. The few people I feel God has stirred in my heart all seem to be wrestling with something beyond them. I want to stop all I’m doing and pray, and keep praying, and continue to pray. Only I’m not like most ‘prayer people’. I don’t have a ‘gift’ I just have the solid and total realization that prayer is a mighty work. So I pray, and learn to pray, and seek steadiness in prayer.

For this, beyond anything else today, is part of my calling. I would do anything I could for these people to put things right but all I can do is pray and keep praying, while occasionally saying something helpful and worthwhile if the words come.

God is good and God is working. It’s hard to listen and watch to see people in their struggles when all I can do is pray. But that’s the rub of it all. It’s not just prayer. It is potent and powerful beyond our understanding. This potent force is easy to dismiss and easy to ignore. We worry and fret and try to arrange within our own power all the while missing this spiritual contending.

But, this is nothing new. Those who are now saints were not born this way. They grew and they prayed. Patrick once wrote:

Often during each day, I prayed and the love and fear of God ever grew stronger within me…for the Lord…regarded my lowliness and had mercy on my youth and ignorance, keeping watch over me before I came to know Him or could differentiate between good and evil. God strengthened and comforted me as a father His son…and my faith increased and my spirit grew strong, so much so that in a single day I would pray a hundred times and almost as often by night, whether I found myself in the wood or on the mountain.

Prayer, more than anything else, is the lesson of Saint Patrick’s day. Curious, that.. but absolutely true.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.


It was just a sliver, but it was there. It has been a while. It did not stay long but it came. I welcomed it with a smile.

The sun has reappeared in my room. It has returned from its long journey south and has found its way back. It has not yet returned to the North but it will in a matter of a week or so.

Spring is not yet here but the signs of Spring have come. The sun has returned for the warming months. After a long and wet winter it is a welcomed morning friend. Over the days and weeks and months it will come in more and stay longer, taking a while to find comfort. Then it will begin to slip away, far away, until it is out of sight from this perspective, beginning the cycle all over again.

This morning I am feeling the exhaustion of being involved in something far beyond my capabilities, yet there because it is not me but the Spirit in me who has called me out. My mortal self can be a friend, share a moment of grief, and of hope. The Spirit part of me can say something wise, something helpful, and be a push towards right and good. But, that latter side is beyond me even if it is me, leaving me exhausted of soul.

So, I see myself this morning and take stock of that not letting my exhaustion and creeping depression lie to me overstrong. I ask when will it be my time to find real fruit. I wonder when the time will come when I am not just poured out. I wonder if there will be a person, or season, or something which pours into my soul and fills me when I am emptied. But, as I’ve learned there’s danger in this desire as much as hope, so I trust that God knows his business.

A glass of cool water in this parched land would be quite welcomed indeed. But, there is only obedience and pursuing the calling of Christ in my whole being. And no one ever said this is an easy path. It’s a glorious path, not an easy path. For all our intuition must be thrown out at times to do what is right and good and holy, and help us to see that what we are supposed to be is not in us but above us. This is humility, and real humility is the hardest lesson of all to learn.

Blessed be the poor in spirit.

The day is perfect. The birds are singing with delight. Ravens fly over with sticks and brush and other items in their beaks beginning to form their great bowl of a nest in some tall coniferous tree, most likely a cedar. Squirrels gambol about, the chipmunks sit on the woodpile swishing their tails taking in the sun. A cool breeze blows, massaging the trees and filling the mind.


May Spring be here. We are in need of Spring, we all are in need of Spring.


The fog rolled in slowly through the afternoon. It was wet, quite wet, without raining, and colder than it has been for a while.

As for me? This was a day. Vital, worthwhile (maybe), and one I don’t want to repeat. I did what was right and what I could, and I wish I didn’t have to face such things as I did today… not that I don’t wish to be involved, it is more that I wish there was nothing to be involved with.

Blegghh. Maranantha. Our Lord, Come.

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