Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: August 2005


Ever feel like a subatomic particle?

It’s a curious reality to live in.


The day begins in darkness and quiet. Again I wake up long before dawn, and wander through the fields of my thoughts, trying to capture the scenery.

I get the sense there is something afoot, just outside my ken. And the thought leaves me vaguely disturbed, discontent, impatient.

I note this and know the inner agitation should be addressed no matter the cause by those tried and true methods.

Indeed, the day does not offer too much time for such even at this early hour. Off and away for the weekend, most likely, various meetings, and gatherings, and maybe even a party. Social things. And likely good for my soul… this soul which seems raw over the last couple of days, and so distractions might be quite nice. Scratching only makes it worse you know.

early morning

It’s an odd thing, being awake at 2:00 in the morning. The first question to emerge is generally, “why?”. Blame it on mundane things? Or is there a pull towards doing something divine which the distractions of a sunlit time seem to blunt?

I don’t know.

At a little after two on this full moon night, with the forest lit bright in the pale moon light, I am quite awake. Morning awake, make some coffee and get at the day awake.

Oddly enough I’m also chatty. Only there’s no one about, and certainly no one who would appreciate talking to me at this time of day.

There are moments in which it is nice to have a friend in a ludicrously different time zone. This might be one of those times.

Or maybe not. Maybe I need to be awake, and yet pause, not asleep and not active, rather something in between, where my mind can be fully aware of supernal considerations.

It might also be the poetry. I’ve gotten an urge to ponder Yeats once more. It’s been a while since I’ve caught Yeats, or for that matter had a case of any of the poets. Call it an exploration of my soul through the words of another explorer, to see if maybe they’ve seen something I’ve missed or can remind me of that which I have forgotten.

There is no better source for such things than the Philokalia, and yet the overt Spiritual conversation at times is just too blatant. Not living in the context of a monastery or hermitage I find myself frustrated by words which assume a managed life, free from the bother of lives lived nearby.

So, I’m exploring the grand words of grand souls, who may or may not have found something along their trails.

The exploration of a grand soul is a beautiful expedition, more magnificent than Yellowstone, more adventurous than a climb up K2. Not many souls display so readily their grandeur. Such things are like gold in a mountain. Find a stream, and pan, with the real treasure coming out with a pick and dynamite.

Sometimes, with some rare figure, they lay out their treasure before the world, leaving their eminence for the world to consider, and learn, and critique, and emulate.

If you can find that in them, it spurs one to find it all in oneself.

Trusting, of course, that the vein will not run out. Three in the morning is a fine time to take the pick to one’s own being, and see what is there. Especially when there is a full moon out. There’s something about that light which spurs one to determine what is within and gaze longingly for what might yet become.


It seems we had our bit of summer here last month. There was about three straight weeks of very hot weather, which turned the mind to pudding and tended to bring a lot of brown out in the trees. Then it cooled down. Every day now for the last couple of weeks there has been about a fifty percent chance of thunderstorms. Only for about a ten minute stretch last week did we get anything resembling rain, but the predicted precipitation did wonders in cooling down the land. Now it’s downright fall like. There’s a mist in the air, and a wonderful cool breeze. It’s not particularly August, although it does near inspiring.

That gnawing one hears outside the window around nine o’clock at night? More than likely to be a flying squirrel. I suspect this is a rare comment to make. Not too many people, most likely, have regular visits by their local flying squirrel. It has a small body and big features, with the noticeable flap of skin between front and rear legs. It leaps onto the roof rather than ‘flying’ off into the forest, so I miss the full experience. But, I’ve seen that. A couple of years ago I was sitting outside and heard chirping in the trees, then two of them flew out of one tree, over my head, and into another. I didn’t know what they were at the time, though I said to myself, “flying squirrel”. Yes, I actually did say this out loud.

Then there is the question of the persistent gnawing in my soul. What is it? I seek to define it, to find the meaning and core pull, hoping to press onwards until I see this gnawing manifest into some palpable reality. This morning I see with a little more clarity, though I think I’ve seen this clarity before, but forgot the clarity, or at least have lost the assurance in my soul.

This vague gnawing which drives me east and west, into the valleys and now up into the mountains, which pushes me to stay and continually leaves me ready to wander again in search of more details, isn’t that usual gnawing towards some career or life situation. It is a gnawing of the Spirit I see this morning. The work of the Spirit always is oriented in one direction, towards Christ. The work of the Spirit always pulls a person out of the standard paths and provokes towards finding a fullness of being which transcends this present life and touches eternity.

I realize this and consider this vague gnawing to have physical points, in which I do certain things in response, but the core calling is not one of specific salary inducing activities. It is a call towards God, a focused and general call, which orients itself as I find myself wading deeper. It is a call towards prayer, towards depth, towards understanding and wisdom, finding my being satisfied in the pursuit. This makes is difficult to understand, for me and for others, as the orientation is not towards some specific field. Writing and ministry and other things take up time, and may work out in some direction, but the orientation of the Spirit’s work in my soul is leading me towards Christ. This creates a fluidity of being, or should at least. The more I find it, the more I can become someone who God can pour out into different contexts, and discover the meaning within that context.

I note this because I found prayer again yesterday, after a rather long slog trying to keep at it. I found it through an act of curious grace which has nothing to do with my efforts, and is itself a gift of the Spirit in calling me towards the Spirit. I wake up with that same yearning, to the point where even writing these words seems a delay in what I’m supposed to be doing.

The call is towards Christ. The trick is to be able to rest in this, and trust in this, knowing that as I find this the Spirit will work out the contexts of more palpable discovery. But, these things cannot be the focus or the emphasis or the goal. They are the results, the aura of finding my being filled with the work of the Spirit, and the outpouring of the Spirit through me and into my circumstances. My eyes have to learn to stay on what is eternal, even as I can be distracted by what might even appear beautiful and noble. It is not that God calls me away from such, but rather for me to embrace such I have to look away towards the Spirit who calls us yet higher, always higher. So there you go, finding prayer means finding wisdom, and finding this means seeing in a situation the reality of God’s work. Which is comforting, even if nothing appears, on the surface, to change. I think Paul the Apostle mentions something like this once.

And now, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.


I love to wake up and watch the wind blowing through the trees. It is a dramatic, inspiring beginning. Well, the first time I woke up the wind wasn’t blowing, nor the second. It was the third time I woke up that it was blowing, and the sun was up, and a chipmunk was chirping nearby. I had triple-jump of waking up this morning, with a hop and a skip and a leap. Now the breeze still blows, though not nearly as strong. There is in the air that peculiar stillness which presages a coming storm. The thick clouds moving in from the east add to the feel. There is a heavy, wet quality to the air, which causes the soul to stop and stare at the horizon. Waiting. I suspect this is a primeval instinct, when the weather meant something, and the ancient soul years for caution, just in case.

I feel that stillness and a peculiar sort of peace and hope, not peculiar for itself but because of the other things swirling about right now. So, I pray and I consider, and I revel in the hope and the peace, trusting in the God who does work and who calls us to always make the choices to pursue him in each and every moment.

This, however, is not a day for quiet consideration. Company comes.

I do have this morning, however, and so I think I shall try and use it well.


The evening has come and yet I don’t feel much like writing. The day was noisy in these parts. One neighbor decided to re-roof his house, another decided to rent a small bulldozer and spend the day carving out parts of his land, continuing until the darkness itself stopped him.

There are reasons why monasteries are not located in urban areas or constantly under construction. Noise distracts. That being the case I kept a cheery attitude throughout the day, finding the distractions inspiration to do other, less contemplative, tasks.

The Spiritual life is all about choices, and it is all about movement. It is a profound stillness found in always moving heavenward, the motion creating the stillness. Or we can submit to the frenzy of this present life, and lose momentum, letting the movement around us enter our being. It’s a choice. Each day we choose to embrace that which is higher and sharper and deeper, or we don’t. God gives grace. But, our hearts are filled in the constant pursuit of the Spirit, so it is not to prove to God but to find ourselves that we keep going.

It is all about honesty, but an honesty about oneself grounded in the pursuit of the something more. We are aware of who we are supposed to be, and who we presently are, not letting the stumbling prevent us from embracing God’s call.

Today I did that. I don’t always. But, by pressing onwards the lucky shots become skillful intent. All this for the prize which calls us heavenward in Christ Jesus. Somedays this prize feels more palpable than other days. Today is one of those days.

Which is nice. Especially considering all the bothering going on around me.


It’s dark out still. The sun hasn’t even begun to hint about coming up. Helicopters flew over, a couple at least, low and loud, something which isn’t entirely uncommon.

I woke up early this morning, thinking I would be better off today doing a bit of reading, a bit of writing, and a bit of praying rather than doing computery things. Weaving baskets can become too much of the focus rather than the appropriate work for the cause of stillness.

I feel that in my soul this morning, a feeling of curious hope and light, coupled with a feeling of “no, that’s not quite the right direction… make a left here.”

Quite strong is my sense of self-awareness, trying to determine what path this is, and how I could provoke some more palpable activity. Again I pray, and again I feel that strong sense of “Wait”. For what? This I don’t know, only I do know this is the same sort of sense which has said other things, at other times, to myself and others, which has proven to be a right course. So it bothers me. Yeah, it bothers me. But, there is only to wait on God as Saul did not wait for Samuel, knowing that “too late” is only characterized by my sense of impatience rather than God’s timing.

I also woke up quite thirsty and finished off a large glass of water as almost my first task. Water, to me, is a spiritual symbol and a spiritual tool. I wonder how much “spiritual” worry in this world has to do with simple dehydration. So I always take it into account. I also take into account the dream I had as I was waking up. I know people who dream, I respect people who dream. Part of my “Joseph complex” is my interest in figuring out what dreams mean for people, and I think I might actually have some sort of insight there, but that’s besides the point

My dream likely was longer than what I remember. I dream, but I don’t have the gift of such, because my dreams tend to be either boring or nonsensical. Some people really have visions of sorts. I can say with some confidence my dreams are all about my brain doing system scans and reorganizing files. Some people touch the spiritual world while they sleep, my mind tunes itself and has very little to say for the most part.

Sometimes some message does creep by, like some emergency news breaking into daytime television. I don’t get the sense this dream is that sort, but as I do remember it, unlike most of what passes through, I might as well note it. It’s simple.

I dreamed my dog was barking. So I went downstairs to check. My dog is trustworthy on these things, and generally barks at something, so it’s worth finding out. I couldn’t see anything when I looked outside, but my dog kept barking. For whatever reason I hit the window to stir whatever it was I couldn’t see. From under the deck a coyote came trotting, carrying a chipmunk in its mouth. It wandered away, looking up at me as it went. I felt bad for the chipmunk.

That was my dream as I was waking up at just about 4 in the morning with a slight headache and quite thirsty. There you go.

I suppose I have other thoughts bouncing around this morning, relating to our perception of the Spiritual life and how we communicate such and how we dwell in such with curious trends supporting different conceptions, with a positive perspective popular in some circles and a negative perspective popular in another. Some seem they can never get past the happy, smiley phase, and others seems stuck in the swearing, God is confusing, I doubt but I stick with it for reasons beyond me phase. I find both trends to be somewhat frustrating and while I might tend towards the latter in my present existence, I don’t think this is healthy nor right.

These, however, might be thoughts better for an evening post, and leaving it unsaid gives me a wee bit of incentive to get to that evening post.

I again wonder about how the simple act of writing renews my soul, as it just did right now. All is well when I put words in some order. I need to keep this in mind, and keep at it. I think somehow the Spirit is there. It’s not the profundity of the words, which isn’t for me to judge. It’s the tapping into something, the searching and discovering, the bypassing the gates, and somehow entering into a taste of the divine. That’s why I write, because it fills the soul. For what reason beyond that is not currently within my ability to answer. Things not currently within my ability to answer makes for a long list… but that’s what keeps living this life fun. It’s a constant gamble and a constant exploration. If we so make it, and if we avoid the coyotes.


“That’s it,” I said, at least said spiritually if not verbally. The day was a beautiful one and I decided anything which needed to be done today could be done on another day. This was a day in which I needed to sit outside underneath a cedar tree and read some high quality theology, finding myself retuned by reading about the Spirit and by sitting in the midst of the creation of the Spirit, reading about the Wind while a fair breeze blew all around.

I also, on a whim, wrote a little bit of a diversion, finding my answer to the question about my personal biography becoming a rather curious response. And after I wrote it I felt renewed. I don’t know why, except I had no purpose in writing and it felt freeing to me.

So there you go. Theology and whimsy. Such things are good for the soul.


This seems like a good time to again note that this webpage is about my spiritual state. Thus the frustrations and suchlike are meant to express how my soul seems to be winding its way along.

The curious thing is this isn’t always connected to my emotional state. I note this because I think I come off sounding terribly down when if you talked to me at that moment I would be doing just fine, if not better.

There are not too many places where our spiritual state can be the primary face to this world. So I have this page.

I’m really a cheery fellow most of the time. Quite so in fact some might say. This isn’t a fake or illusion for the public. It’s just that when we look inward we see ourselves in a different light, and so I can wander through this world with sincere hope, and yet still have to wrestle with those inner frustrations that all too often stay buried.

So there you go. I hope this helped.


The problem, of course, with sporadic writing on a page which is meant to track the regular rhythms of life is that such sporadic writings don’t well represent the regular rhythms. Rather, they represent those moments which for whatever reason I choose to write something. This seems to be when I feel like finding some excuse or establishing some point or making note of an extreme.

What it doesn’t do is find that fluidity of being which must be found in the day to day experiences. After my post last night I looked at the recent posts and realized each was a bump of frustration. That characterizes my written week, or month, but not my real week or month. For the most part I don’t write here when nothing seems to be happening or when things are fairly bland, emotionally and spiritually. And so that was July.

The bland is almost worse than anything because it lulls one into a vague discontent or even a vague content neither of which sparks movement or change. People can live decades for there.

This morning I realize I feel a vague disappointment, a disappointment at feeling I was part of something then realizing I wasn’t as much as I thought. It’s hard thinking one is on a team but finding out the team isn’t quite thinking the same way.

So I press on. Finding in my frustration and disappointment the spurring to get back towards that which fills the soul for its own sake.

And I note this not without hope. There are many different strands wandering around… and maybe it is those I am supposed to follow without depending on the vague content of the moment.

There is only to follow the light and flee from the darkness and confusion, when the darkness overcomes it’s likely a sign one didn’t quite get around to following that light, because such light often comes from peculiar directions.

We can only pray and ponder, and trust God is working.

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