Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: July 13, 2005


They are black-headed grosbeaks. It took me a bit to figure that out, even though their large and sturdy beak first suggested that I should start with a grosbeak. Fortunately the male spent a lot of time on the bird feeder yesterday and today, and the female joined him on the rail, where corn and sunflower seeds seemed to keep her content.

The chickadees didn’t mind the company, and so while the grosbeak sat on top of the feeder, a steady stream of chickadees flew in and found a space wherever a foot could grab hold, whether on the top or underneath or on the side. Chickadees are not picky about being right side up.

The young squirrel spent another long time on the deck, exploring and tasting and generally getting used to its body that can do wonderful acrobatics, though it did miss a leap on top of the birdbath, and fell forward a couple feet. When I walked outside it stood on a branch above me to check me out. I gave it a hearty welcome to the neighborhood and offered some tips about life in these parts. It scurried away just before I got to the point about being careful of the coyotes on an evening, so hopefully its mother will share that one.

The day was hot. And as mountains are supposed to be cool places to visit, there’s no air conditioning to alleviate the heat. It just gets hot, warmer inside than out because of the lack of a good breeze. And my mind stops when it gets hot. That’s not an excuse, more of a reality, and my reality of this day was that it did end up getting away from me, and I never could quite lasso it back. My sporadic attempts at restorative prayer were punctuated by long moments of distraction, leaving me wondering where exactly this day went off to, and wondering what I could have better done to engage it for what it offered.

That, however, is what a tomorrow is for. We can get up, shake off the dust, and try it again, this time a little better, hopefully, and a little sharper, God willing.

Though, I should note this is the first real Morning and Evening posting in a very, very long time. That should count for something. Shouldn’t it?


So I woke up early this morning. I don’t mean I woke up at those peculiar hours like I have sporadically for a long while, those two in the morning wake up calls which leave me wide awake during the deepest night. No, I woke up early, for what is an acceptable start for the real day. Five or so I believe.

I poked around a bit, wondering why a squirrel on the roof was so particularly interested in doing a jig, and wondering what it is about July that caused the spiders of the world to unite in an attempt at complete domination of the neighborhood. I thought I should get to praying, and after a half hour of poking about I finally did. I went outside, where dawn was likely happening if I had a view of the eastern horizon, but was still building for its jump over the hills that block such a view.

Chipmunks chirped and chased each other around trees, before standing and pondering in that curious way that our chipmunks seem to love, tails swishing and with thoughtful gazes. The acorn woodpecker crowd down the hill a bit had some kind of going on, for there was a burst of their voices in various pitches. Coyote? Maybe.

I prayed as I sat on the top of the steps.

It was a peaceful morning with a lovely soft breeze and little human noise. For whatever reason praying got me depressed. I don’t know what happened, and I hate when that happens. It can either be a good sign or a bad sign, a sign that I’m being frustrated in my attempts to pray or a sign that somewhere along the line I’ve taken a misstep and so praying highlights that discerning drive back to peace.

The problem is I don’t know. And really there is only to keep at praying, except for the fact that I was getting more depressed as I kept at it. So I came inside, which is likely not the best reaction, as perseverance is the best goal no matter the cause.

I write this now because I want to sort out what’s going on in my soul, and writing tends to do this better than just about anything else, or at least it unclogs the stopped up thought processes.

I woke up feeling grand and then I prayed. Now I feel distinctively less than grand, and know that there still is only to pray and keep at it.

Delving into the spiritual world through prayer and consideration is often fraught with more difficulties than one might expect. I suppose that’s why folks talk about prayer more than praying… sort of what I’m doing right now as a matter of fact.

Any insight, will, of course, be posted, unless, of course the topic is currently off limits. In that case I’ll note it but not expound on it, unless I feel like it at the moment.

I fear, however, that this day got away from me within a half hour of its all too early start.

I can either participate in this growing frenzy of a spiritual river gone to rapids, or I can engage myself in pursuing a radical stillness no matter the flurry and roar. How this day ends up will be determined by this choice, and it is mine to make.

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