Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Category: general thoughts (page 2 of 3)


I think I’ve figured it out. Well, part of it. The first bit at least. Clearly not the whole thing. But, a start is a start. You know when a car is out of alignment. It drifts. It’s not like you are turning the wheel or intentionally swerving. The car just drifts. It’s not a like a wrong turn was made, nothing that drastic. The car won’t stay on a straight line, forcing one to continually counter steer in order to stay on line. If one lets go of the wheel, well the car can get into a different lane… which is really bad on a two lane road.

I’m out of alignment. Since my birthday. The week before I was flying, reading long passages of theological texts under candlelight during the evenings. Tonight I watched two hours of Law and Order.

Yes, I’ve been drinking water, and I went kayaking on Friday… though I’m not sure if spending most of the weekend away was good for my alignment even if it was good for my soul. Can something be good for the soul but keep one off track. Maybe… though it doesn’t make it bad. Swerving to miss the squirrel in the road and hitting the curb will knock the alignment right out but it is the better thing to do.

The question is more how to adjust myself back. I don’t know how to align my car, and don’t have the equipment to do it even if I had the skills. I think I know more about spirituality and have the right tools. Now, it’s more a matter of finding the root cause as well as putting things right.

It’s not bad, nothing is wrong, indeed much is fine and well, only I’m out of alignment and I don’t like that state. Maybe it’s me, an internal disorder. Maybe it’s outside me, a swirling of indistinct discernment. I don’t know. It is why I haven’t been writing, and it’s why I feel off even if I don’t feel bad.

There’s something missing, some piece, some bit of knowledge, some unfulfilled something which my soul is asking for only I can’t interpret it rightly. Maybe it’s out of my control. Either way there are always things I can do to focus, and those I shall pursue a bit more on the morrow. A little bit of the Jesus prayer, and other prayers, focus on writing and pushing that forward, maybe some time amidst the trees, letting the wind serenade me.

Maybe I need to see the sunrise again. Or maybe hear the gulls call from over a rocky beach.

Take some drastic step? Wait in peace and calm?

Something to pray about, all something to pray about.

lulls and peaks

Scattered writing, scattered thoughts, scattered reality, and scattered clouds. The week of blue skies ended this morning as now a thin white sheet, torn in places, passes by overhead. A jay visits, only there is no seed yet out so it looks around for a bit then flies away.

It isn’t like I have not been thinking. Indeed a lot is swirling around, a lot.

But not all I think is meant for here, nor do I wish to wallow in thoughts which don’t push me forward, and which I fight to overcome. So, I pause, letting my mind ponder in different places, for my own benefit.

There are lulls, and peaks, and valleys, and progress. All in their time, with the hope being that the latter is reigning. All are important, however, because it is not in those times we are flying that we really can see ourselves. All are vital because they reveal who we are in different lights, which then all comes together as we seek to overcome and advance.

It is only a loss if we let it be so.

I do again realize my call, and my heart’s passions, and my yearning which has kept me away from the typical walk in this world. It is always wonderful to see this from the experience of fruit and joy. But it is also valuable, maybe more so in the long run, to see from eyes of emptiness, for then we step on the other side of the fence and realize there is no greener grass to be found.

There’s a secret of contentment in there someone, so in both good and bad emotions I narrow my purview and settle into who the Spirit is making me.


A Sabbath day truly spent as such.


The air is chill, stirred by a breeze from the west. Jays fly about, silent. Only the wind through the trees, that gentle whoosh, that quiet shake, can be heard. The air is moist, and the smell of the forest drifts, bringing variously the aroma of soil eager for life, cedars and fir.

The spice smell of a candle fills my room, cinnamon wax finding cracks in the candle holder and pouring out onto the desk, aromatic lava.

I pour through volumes long resting in dusty shelves, finding not only research answers, but indeed my soul within. The reasons I spent more time and significantly more money in wandering halls of learning than practical decisions would encourage. I taste of worlds long since gone, echoes of which remain, but different in character and vastly different in appearance. Worlds both over-familiar and strikingly unknown.

This week I begin.

Begin to study the Gospels in depth. Not to impress a PhD, or add more letters after my own name, but instead to seek after the life which brings life, to fill my mind with more than the stories of my youth and through imagination journey back through time and discover what world it was which brought forth the Messiah.

The goal is to then translate this study, making it approachable and interesting.

Whether this becomes a way to pay for my own existence is still a question. That it is a joy beyond measure to my existence is without a doubt. For this kind of study I’ve sacrificed myself, choosing impractical paths, putting off vital stages of a normal life.

Now with encouragement and outside pressure of sorts I feel able to settle into this life with a renewed vigor. The palpable goal is to write, and produce a work worth reading. The immeasurable goal, which encourages my own heart, is to delve once again into the realities of a faith which too often drifts.

It is in this study that my soul resides, and so in delving the depths, I hope to find it once more.


At three thirty in the morning I woke up and felt it coming in the room, quiet, soft, welcomed. Cold air. Air chilled to about forty degrees filling my room with that marvelous chill, which makes me sleep sounder and wake more refreshed. I awake urged to write, to be productive, to again struggle with this present world.

Today is not going to be filled with that strain and pushing, that breaking out which makes me think of myself as Michelangelo’s unfinished slaves.

No, in my burgeoning new tradition I will continue my pilgrimage of conservative Americana holy sites. First there was Graceland all those many years ago, then my years at Wheaton with the related immersion in multiple shrines of evangelicalism, then Tombstone, where the west was won and Republicans battled Democrats in a manner strikingly comparable to today’s political climate .

Today it is to the holy shrine of the pontiff of Conservatism. To the Reagan Memorial Library and Museum I go, with companions stout and pure in doctrine. My sister-in-laws birthday you know, and this is where she wants to go.

Should be a grand day.

off and away

Cooler days mean more sleep filled nights, usually. Well, it was, only I woke up around four, with that groggy awareness which seems to allow for me only to pray. I do, only not as focused as I should.

I’m off today, for most of the week, to “the town too tough to die“. I’m not really sure what that means. My brother, older by a few years, has gotten to reading old west history. I don’t think this quite fits into his usual world history curriculum, must be a hobby on the side.

So, I suggested the town, and surprisingly, for he is very hobbitish, he took me up on the suggestion, and planned a whole week. I didn’t even need to leave secret messages on his door, nor bang on his window with my staff. He roused himself for an adventure, a quest, a pilgrimage of Western demi-gods.

Spirituality takes on a different bent on such a trip as this. A curious study to be sure, a change from the regularity of the cell. Indeed the earliest monastics prized the desert as a place of spirituality. Old caves, hidden huts, all the trappings of Egypt can be found in Americanized versions. That the goal was shameless profiteering and rampant immorality in these one time boom towns likely makes for a different aura. It would seem like a ghost town would have some measure of lingering ‘atmosphere’ of some sorts. We’ll see what kind. Temples to different gods, worship of fallen dreams, violence and greed mark these spots, but with also those who sought at least justice, and maybe their own kind of virtue.

Not the typical pilgrimage for a monastic sort, but this whole evangelical monasticism is still being worked out. I tried Graceland a decade back… that doesn’t seem appropriate, despite the name, so we’ll see how these spots resonate.

I’ll be writing, only without computer access. So, obligations met, only not posted for purview.

Should be a fun time, good quality bonding, what, what.


A big, very big, flying bug is buzzing at my screen door, loud and bulky, I’m almost a little worried it’s going to break in. It bounces against the screen, sounding like an enraged bumble bee only twice the size. I think I’m going to lock the doors downstairs.

For whatever reason I was inspired last week to begin running everyday. Not the path I was periodically taking through the neighborhood. Rather a much more wild path, through the forest on trails used and abused by logging crews. There are berms in the trail, making one have to run over them like it was a World War One expedition into No Man’s land. Trees were felled, and left piled, some were chopped into chips and also left piled. Up and down in the hills on soft dirt, off trail at times (my socks are a mess now). For about forty minutes I run, not much really, but given the haphazard habit jogging has always held for me, more so since I took up kayaking, it is a nice restart of sorts.

I run because it makes me sweat, and I feel better having rid my body of whatever has built up inside of it. I run because my legs have a weird tan, a kayak tan, which means very dark knees and pale shins. I run because it’s good exercise and when the scale the other day whispered 215 I realized I was beginning to venture into realms I didn’t like. I run because my mind is inspired, thoughts reveal themselves, and honestly because running has a potent practical spiritual analogy for me.

I didn’t want to go today. In fact I said, yes out loud…, no, not to myself… to my dog, “I’m going running because I don’t feel like it.” He looked up at me, and gave me a unmistakeable dog shrug before putting his head back down.

A nap felt more appealing, strongly enticing. I put on my shoes and walked outside into the heat, feeling comforted by the wonderful mountain breeze which took the edge off. Then I proceeded to run the entire path, where before I always had to walk a bit of the ways — because I set a distance longer than what I could do at first. The getting out was the bugger, once begun the rhythm and previous exercise took over.

It is to me a spiritual discipline, one which I use when prayer does not rise up, and study doesn’t focus. It becomes, with the reasons behind it, an act of worship, because I do it so that I can better see God in the rest of my life.

Ambition, if turned towards God, can take peculiar forms. I also, after a shower, did end up taking a nap. Ten minutes long and wonderfully refreshing.

evening and lapses

Ah, yes, so it continues, the bland entries, the descent into the mundane. Twice a year, or so, I get a migraine headache. No warning, only spots forming in my eyes and nauseous dizziness filling my head.

One bright spot. I feel ever closer to actually writing for real again, indeed plot formations are swirling in my head, patterns of approaching are emerging from the mists.

James, the brother of John. I think he might be an interesting person to consider in more detail.


Maybe it’s the heat. It was ninety degrees in the mountains today, and until the cool breeze picked up in the evening, it was a stifling heat.

Or rather, more likely, it is the reality of what the desert fathers talked about. Staying in one’s cell, one’s simple room, is the key, because in doing this one can find a rhythm. This is a rhythm of the soul, founded upon simplicity of schedule, of focus on the miniscule, in remembering the path to life.

Leaving changes the rhythm, opens up doors which bear many temptations, and paths which seem to have interesting sites at their end.

To return is difficult, to restart is time consuming. Because a life beckons, but it is not the life of calling. Some people fill their lives so that all they know is this transition. They never commune quietly for the length it takes to settle into a rhythm, though they always try. So, in stopping they approach, but never arrive, the beat always faultering.

I know the feeling of the rhythm, and now, when a new song is beginning to play, when an impasse still looms, it takes even longer to recover.

I make the allowance in my weakness, and misplaced hopes, when I commit to other places, fulfilling, to be sure, even deeper commands of love and friendship. But they beckon me to stay past my allotted time. So I return and do not want to, but it is where I am meant to be.

Maybe, though, it is just the heat. Winter is my season, cold is my most trusted muse. At least for writing and studying.

I did notice that something was a little kooky with my archives below. Should be fixed now. Something productive. Though… truth be told, with a few things I am waiting on the efforts of others to do their parts before I can press on again in those directions. Patience is a virtue.


Gone and distant

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