Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Category: evening (page 2 of 19)

thoughts

Who knew this much snow would come down? The most snow in twenty years or more, I’ve heard it said. For certain those in northern climates would seem nothing unusual in the snowfall. But this is Southern California. It’s been since 1997 since I had this much snow around me, and never this light of snow. It is like the air itself decided to lay down it is so light.

Because of the snow this day remained simple. I didn’t work. I mostly stared outside, even went outside for a bit of a walk. And I prayed. Little prayers throughout the day for those who did not have the leisure to take the day off. I could not toil for them, so I participated through prayer, praying their time was productive and grace filled.

It is my part.

Though I think I’ll be a little more active tomorrow in my own pursuits.

evening

Truly a California mountain day. I spent a good part of the afternoon on the deck, pencil in hand, editing through some stuff I wrote. I find I am a much more thorough editor of my own work when I can hold the paper. Call it the vestiges of an earlier era or something. I sat on the deck, the sky perfectly blue, two feet away from a birdbath where chickadees would come for a sip of water. They are daring little birds. The air was warm enough for a t shirt, the breeze was light, the sun working as it should.

Now there is a growing layer of snow on the ground, a light fluffy snow that is coming down with persistent gentleness. The air is filled with snow, the roads are covered, the branches weighted down. A beautiful evening.

Really what more can be said than this?

evening

Let them eat cake. Well, let me eat cake at least. Thanks, I will. And did. For dessert. And dinner. Well, one slice of birthday cake which served as first dessert then dinner. It was the last slice of a very fine ice cream cake. I have a bit of a headache tonight. Now, that may or may not be the reason for the cake, but I feel it serves at the very least as a excuse. It sounded good. And it was good. Mmmmm, cake.

Today was a curious day, a day in which I was more of a helping hand than anything else, or at least some driving hands to help with errands with one who doesn’t drive. It was for a newsletter I also helped out with, which ran into some curiously bad printing problems the other day forcing another drive down the hill.

This curiously took up the whole day. But at the end what began in chaos ended with delight, as patience and cheerfulness turned out to have saved both money and gained quite the better result.

Patience is a good thing. Something our era does not teach. Waiting is a virtue, because the very heart of Spirituality means waiting on God to act. Read the Bible. It’s full of waiting. Those who didn’t wait get themselves and entire nations into bad shape. Those who do are often kept waiting, sometimes way past when the time for help absolutely has to come. Jesus was saved after three days already dead. That was a little late. Though it was indeed perfect timing.

I think that is the virtue which is little pursued and which can be pursued in almost infinite ways in our daily lives. Our lives are filled with waiting for big and small. Today I again learned in a small way the virtue of patience. Such lessons stir the soul to remember in times of big worries and long waits.

God does answer. And God is good.

If we keep these two realities always in front of us, what is a little wait? Even if the wait happens to keep us in Rancho Cucamonga for a long while longer than we’d like.

It’s a funny day when an overlong time in an Office Depot will help one feel much more thankful to the One who calls. Or maybe it is a day when eyes are kept open and the heart is eager in listening for that gentle whisper which is always ready to encourage… even and especially in the desert.

thoughts

I decided to read today. Not just for a bit, or for a break, but to seriously read. It didn’t go quite as I planned, but plans formed at three in the morning are often flexible. I did read, and found myself better for it. I read In the Shadow of the Temple by Oskar Skarsaune, which is a discussion of the Jewish influences on the early church, and thus is also a discussion of 1st century Judaism(s).

I write for a while and forget to swim in the world of which I write, and so lose sight of both purpose and instinct, and thus have less to say and lessening enthusiasm to say it. Of course the same is true for spirituality. I try to live apart from prayer and without immersing myself in Spiritual things I get dry, and my hope withers.

Immersing oneself means reading the right books, Bible and otherwise. It also means leaping out in other ways, finding wisdom to curious problems, confronting one’s own foibles, saying things or doing things which may seem quite silly if in fact the Spirit is not leading, trusting all the while that there is a purpose, a purpose which may or may not be the one assumed, but will certainly lead to greater light and maturity.

For that is Christ. That is the baptism of Christ, to take us from these little lumps in need of forgiveness and transform our entire being towards something wonderful, something wonderful interacting with other wonderful beings in an intricate dance which marvels the world. The baptism of Christ and the Spirit is not simply putting a band aid on past wounds or making sure we are adequate once more. It is a restoration to be that which is possible, and so it is extraordinary.

Guilt and repentance are the beginning, a beginning beyond which the Church has little to say nowadays. But there is more, there is always more, it is deeper and richer and fuller and brighter continually. But the journey is made of the continual steps to embrace all of this and to leap out and face possible disaster or simply disappointment.

A friend wrote something in response to my own leaping out of faith which is wise and appreciated, so I repeat it here:

You know? After all, we are only pilgrims on this Earth. It’s all temporary. I wish I was
in some peaceful place right now, relaxed and not worried about a thing. But I am
where I am supposed to be. Sometimes life is a hard labor, but I think when we take
the risk to pursue our gifts, even (or especially) in spite of our fears, insecurities, and
doubts, and when we truly surrender to God’s will, remembering that our awards
are eternal and these lives are not so all our desires will be met and satisfied, then
God can truly shine through us. He takes ordinary people, gives them supernatural
hope/faith that’s way beyond them, call them to do extravagant things and people
can see His glory.

Whether in difficult circumstances or in the absence of any perceivable circumstance God asks us to stay where we are supposed to be. To have faith in too much or too little is obedience, and that is our calling. For in being there we hear God, and he works as he will in the way he will to do those extraordinary things.

Then one day we will turn around and realize extraordinary things have happened around us and without any pride we will offer thanks that we too were able to run the race well. That is the hope and the glory.

It’s that being where we are supposed to be that is sometimes tricky, because often it is not necessarily where we want to be. Because she’s right, the ultimate place we want to be is in heaven.

Keeping this in mind is both the secret and the trick to it all. It is a struggle, a daily struggle. There is no doubt about that. Because we trust what we see not what we don’t see. So there is only to press on, to leap out, to take risks and let loose our life.

I try to do all of this so that ot the end of the day I can say I showed faith even when everything was dark, and in doing so touch lives beyond my natural reach, and please the God who loves me.

evening

Yesterday was blue skies and perfect weather, and I was busy inside staring at a computer and moving shapes and words together to fit nicely on various pages. “Tomorrow,” I said, “I’m going to enjoy those blue skies and perfect weather.”

This morning the clouds moved in and decided to stay a while, and while they were at it let some rain out. I did go outside in fact, and enjoyed the fog rolling in over me, the cold invigorating air, and the ravens who I could hear but not see.

I’ve mentioned at points that I seem to have a good deal of spiritual discernment. Not always a good thing really. I say this because it makes me know things I don’t know, see things I can’t see, and be sure of that which is not certain. Only, over the years I’ve gotten sharper at it, and find that secluding myself in the hills has helped even more. The quiet and peace seem to sharpen whatever it is. I’ve spent a while thinking about such a trait and realize how it comes off to me. I see in people or in places or events that which will be, or could become… seing the potential inherent without necessarily yet seeing that potential worked out. This makes relationships awkwards at times as I react to that which isn’t fully revealed, maybe not even to the person. I tend to see what people can be, or will be, or should be. Not in a judgmental way, more in a way that I’m not even aware of, in a way which seems natural until I realize other’s don’t share the same perception.

Over the years I’ve come to trust this as I’ve seen it worked out in reality with the passage of time. Impressions become real, expectations arrive, and people reveal themselves. Or they don’t. People can retain potential for decades without developing it. But, it’s that potential which makes them spiritual beings.

I share this tonight because it is nice when I see that potential in people, and see it being revealed, even if slowly. Or if I see that potential and they learn to see it as well in themselves. I think that is a calling of mine, the calling to become, and I can think of no better ministry or calling for me towards others than to help them see that which I see and help them in whatever way I can to reveal this reality in themselves. Such moments cancel out those times in which the spiritual reality is filled with chaos and depression… the bad side of discernment.

It is also nice when I can say something in this line, and not be looked at with questioning eyes or dismissed. Even nicer when something I say resonates and a bond that transcends rational thought is moved forward. It makes the occasional struggles worthwhile.

So, for that I am thankful tonight.

evening

It’s cold. The days when shorts were regular wear have long ended, an almost magical event when one lives in Southern California, where shorts should be handy all year long. The air is crisp, one might say perfect weather.

I lost the day in a welcomed way, doing more artistic, helpful work which somehow passed the time significantly faster than writing. Writing is for my soul, doing this kind of stuff is in my heart. I love losing track of time, forgetting I didn’t eat lunch and realize twelve hours of working have passed without me significantly wearying. I’m sure the says something about me.

All part of the process of becoming I realize. Finally, I am able to listen to those whispers which have accompanied me all my life, whispers which result in mid-life crises if too long ignored. Some pick up these things quickly.

I’ve always been partial to the tortoise myself.

doldrums

Ah, yes the doldrums of writing, the point at which journals get abandoned for months at a time, the inner charge to relieve one’s inner self seemingly exhausted .

So I write this with nothing in mind, no words to add, no soulful suggestions. The Sunday late afternoon feeling pushed into my writing. Block? I don’t know. Other tasks seem to come along fine. Maybe it’s a block of introspection.

I mark this lack with these simple words, marking through my few phrases this present moment.

Ah well. Time for bed.

evening

The wind has moods, primal moods, deeper than the ones we feel. They are connected with the very essence of the world, influenced and formed by forces we cannot comprehend even if we understand. Sometimes there is the serene, calm breeze that eases the soul. Tonight it’s a wild wind, a strong passionate wind that comes with urgent force and powers its way over the hills and throught the trees. Everything shakes, the trees sing in response, their branches a rhythm their leaves and needles their song. It is a strong, constant wind which fills the soul, lifts it up, stretches it much as it does a taut sail. It is a wind one does not simply feel, one bathes in it, one comes alive in it, in the sound and pushing, in the icy coolness of its touch, in the music it creates. The soul cannot help but dance, the mind cannot help but to exult in these emotions compared with ours are only echoes. It is the song of the world, it is the voice of physics and chemistry and biology and astronomy all mingling in a lyrical symphony of being.

Not a bad place to spend an evening. The heavy branch of a patriarch oak rubs against the ceiling with each gust. Things clatter and fall, and bounce and roll in the wind. It’s comforting, it’s enlivening. I welcome it.

The election is over, and now we can all move on. I’m happy to do so. It will be interesting now to see how the world turns out. I suspect it will neither be the disaster of evil predicted by the opponents nor the Kingdom of God on earth as proclaimed by the victors, but something humanly in between, though tending towards good and worthwhile. It is a matter of continued prayer now, the real role of a Christian in society.

I turn my eyes and time to more visual creative tasks this week, and welcome the turn and diversion even as I realize the purity of my soul is found in and through writing. I can pause, but it calls too loudly now to ignore for a long while. Through writing I know myself. When I leave it I lose myself, lose a connection with myself, lose those parts of myself I most enjoy.

So, some web stuff, some newsletter stuff, and I’m back in the game. For there is nothing else… and I’m fine with that. For who would choose something else when heaven itself is revealed.

evening

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.

evening

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.

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