Lesson one: Don’t open the door when there is a coyote underneath the deck.

Lesson two: Thank God that when the dog runs out of the door and starts barking madly, the coyote decides to run away rather than towards the little dog.

Given that the first lesson is difficult to precisely apply, the second comes in handy.

I also learned again this evening that a raven cawing at the top of a nearby cedar during sunset is an eery sound. When the nearby pack of coyotes gather for a round of yelping and barking while the raven is cawing this is a very, very eery sound on a late winter evening.

The Spiritual Life is one of learning these sorts of things. Sometimes there are lessons clear and straightforward, sometimes there are lessons which creep up on you after the fact and you hit your head realizing it was a lesson.

Sometimes stopping and listening becomes the best lesson of all. Occasionally saying something is a lesson, and not always a positive lesson.

Over the monthes I’ve learned that I do in fact have a pastor’s heart, only it is rather differently expressed than many in the business. I am an investor. I like to invest in people, doing what I can to see them see more, know more, and be more. This is a problem of sorts because I am really only interested in investing in those I know, whose soul I can determine. It is a problem because investing in people is not always a profitable venture… nothing like investing in a company or investing in a business.

The other issue is the old “do to others bit”. One should do to others what one would have done… only what I would appreciate from people isn’t always what they appreciate. So, I learn… learn that telling people they are gifted is a wonderful thing, to be spread about as it is seen. Mentioning something more negative needs a lot of caution, in a community of prayer, and with a much deeper awareness of the state of one’s own soul.

That being the case, the lessons are not learned without being willing to make a mistake. I’ve seen the damage of misspoken words, but also the wonderful fruits of a spontaneous reaching out.

Above all, I appreciate honesty. I love to know where I stand, and appreciate those people who I can always gauge.

The biggest lesson in this all is the height of discretion, knowing when to speak and when to remain silent, always fluid in determining one’s own soul as the soul of another is exposed.

The art of the perfect word seems to be one of the most impacting gifts which Jesus expressed. He knew. And certainly he knew more than he said he knew, only occasionally saying what he did know. Always it was the right word, for good or ill.

That’s a lesson and a gift to be treasured, and so I am excited when I get it right and bothered when I get it wrong, trusting that the Spirit is working in me to help me become ever sharper in all of this.