Five Years ago, and a couple of weeks

As I press on with my major paper writing–this morning working on liberation theology and emerging church theology as being holistic, contextual, and vernacular–I again go back to my writings of five years ago as a way of keeping this blog moving along as well as providing a bit of a background to my own development. Again, this morning, I’m going to post a bit to catch up in this series, and will post the ‘exactly five years ago’ contribution later this afternoon.

March 2, 2004

Morning — The world is bathed in white, a veil descending from the sky, bending limb, shrouding all. Saplings bow beneath the weight. All night it snowed, and it continues at this hour, a gentle whisper. A nearby raven caws every few moments. The only other sound a distant chirp from a bird whose voice I do not recognize. A steller’s jay digs for seed on the balcony, joined by a second then a third, cackling and jumping about into the branches and back, causing small avalanches. The icicles formed on the roof melt, dripping down into the drifts, indenting the snow beneath. Heavy limbs sway in the stormy breeze, a meditative scene.

Yet the soul within feels frenetic. Awoken early by unknown cause it was not content to ponder the beauty outside. It charged for more, for activity, for doting, like a four year old on a Saturday morn. The spiritual life is not one of perfect calm and tranquility. It is not the finished product, unable to be assaulted from within and without. Rather, the spiritual life is characterized by response. How does one manage the frenetic soul? The Greats speak of virtues and vice, as opposites of course, but not necessarily of different kinds. They fill the same space, these holy ones say. To rid a vice one must be filled with a virtue, the empty space will not remain, making a spiritual hope one which insists on more than abstinence. It is not enough to avoid anger to overcome this deadly sin, one must fill life with Thanksgiving, giving anger no root for growth.

The rampages of one’s internal drives goad each to their own favorite vice, an attempt to squelch the noise, to calm the storms, serving only to increase the disturbance, moving the epicenter to a place we feel more comfortable, our place of rest and death. We sin and do right in turn, weaker and stronger in response to the same bites. The spiritual life, however, always turns to good, to virtue, quenching the fire through discipline and peace, letting the noise subside rather than covering it with more clamor. It is reaching out for peace, breathing deep, letting the nature about speak subtle words of reassurance. Simple prayer, “Lord, have mercy on my soul.” A deep breath, a moment’s stare at the Great Artist’s varied work. Another prayer, “Hasten, O God, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me.” Seizing hold of the peace, resisting temptation to avoid the agitation, choosing instead to wade through it as through a swamp, taking hold again of that for which Christ took hold of me.

And then to my allotted tasks, avoiding idleness, retuning my soul to match the heavenly tone through meditation and work. Only with this is progress made.

Evening — The snow continues to fall, a gentle tapping sound mixed with the soft rustle of breeze. All is white, and calm. The squirrels and jays who were frantic at getting seed earlier in the day are tucked away somewhere asleep. It is very quiet, full of peace, conducive for wordless prayer.

The peace sought after was partly achieved, though it took some turns. I am struggling finding my way in my writing, so I went outside, walking in the white, staring at the horizon and pondering single flakes. It is a very soft snow, deep for this area. With my dog I laughed, he trying to move in snow up to his chin, quickly realizing the easier way was in my footsteps, where I went he went, it is usually the other way around. I picked up pencil and pen again, beginning a mural I have intended to start for a while, using Celtic designs, such as those found in Illuminated texts. I fought my thoughts, and focused on the tasks, getting done needed errands. And I waited, offering up to God myself today, trusting he will speak, trusting he is leading. I end the day feeling I fought the good fight, though not a dramatic one at the present. It is the way God leads in some, a path of perfection, or at least the quest for such. Why? I don’t know, if I had the choice I would willingly be engaged in more practical, identifiable pursuits. God’s hand has been heavy on my life, and he is leading me to a place I would not naturally go. The end is unknown, dark and shadowy. I pray and wait.

I opened my Bible today, not at the right place at first. These were the words I read, “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going.” He is pulling me through the void, having given me tastes of the Divine presence in the past in such powerful ways I can turn no where else. All there is for me is to continue forward, embracing the emptiness knowing that it will soon be filling. Everything else falls away, accidents of no consequence in comparison to the intent of the Spirit in my soul. I have fumbled much in the past, and now the time has become ripe in which issues must be settled for new doors to open. I look with eager eyes, and continue to do those tasks which are before me each day. I can do nothing else.

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