Five Years ago today, March 16th

Words from my journal March 16, 2004.

Morning — There is a classic sailboat in need of restoration sitting in the driveway. Its blue cover gives the appearance of protection, though snow and rain have entered at will. Much remains to be done with it, to restore it to its original grace. The sails sit folded under the house. A squirrel now runs over its rails, sitting and staring while sun bathed, then scurrying down the trailer. Two jays screech, cackling in the distance. A neighbor’s dog barks, the sun shines on my fingers, now also on my hands.

I like waking up early. I don’t necessarily like being woken up early, to be honest, rather I like it when my body, before dawn, says it’s ready for another day. I get much more done this way. This morning was one of those times, up and at tasks by the middle of 4 am. For some reason I was inspired to pick up my Cassian again. I have not done well in this part of my daily discipline, finding myself reading the daily Scripture, but leaving off my other considerations. So, it has been a month since I read purely for devotion.

John Cassian is my favorite Christian writer. Although unproven, my contention is he was a key mentor to my namesake, whose day is celebrated tomorrow. I do not read with a mindless acceptance, but I do read with the acknowledgment that before me lies a man much farther along the road than I am. I read his thoughts and I am both challenged and encouraged, given insight and wisdom, and feeling like I stumbled onto truths. My own impressions are confirmed in these classic words, as are my own self-admonitions.

I like being challenged, to be honest. Not that I won’t attempt to defend or explain myself, but this is mostly to get at the heart of the topic. I like being affirmed, to be sure, but there is an honesty to challenge which expresses a deeper concern for one’s soul. We don’t care about someone if we do not tell of the holes they may fall into.

In the quest for the deeper spiritual life, however, the guides are few. Most of the signposts erected tell how to get into the kingdom, and little of what to do once there. Few are adept at the directions within the realm of the deep country, and I have known many in the profession. So, to the ancients one must go, or to those who make their life’s purpose the exploration of this beautiful land.

My reading this morning was on friendship. Among the thoughts were that true friendship cannot be maintained unless the friends have the same spiritual goals and hopes. If one veers off then the other continues onward. Interesting. They can maintain acquaintance, but not friendship which remains eternal.

Another thought which stood out makes me reflect on my recent church experiences, in which I found myself in conflict. “Nor should one think of is present state and utter the things that rage suggest to him and his aggrieved mind broods over when he is upset. Instead, he should recall the joy of past love and in his mind look forward to the restoration of a peace fashioned anew, seeing it, even at the very moment of distress, make a speedy return.”

Then, though, there are the prophets who spoke harsh words at key moments. So, in looking back at my experiences I question myself, and know that while my words were worthy and needed, I had not yet the fullness of heart and soul which allowed me to speak without letting anger and frustration in. Thus the words were lost in my emotion, maybe. Hard to say. Though, no matter if right or wrong I see again my own role, and how I am not in charge of anyone but myself. It is to my own soul I must look, even when I am right, to discover the flaws which arise with pressure. I saw those flaws even then, and admitted them, so I do not feel guilt. Only, I feel the lingering of that time still shows I have much farther to go.

A sign post. That is why I like Cassian.

Evening — I’m sleepy right now, more so than usual, cold medicine taken earlier has started to gain sway, my timing for writing this off, but for good reasons. Outside… it’s dark…. what more should I say. Of course, it’s night and is supposed to be that way. I’m also guessing it’s still with only a slight breeze blowing branches and the like. Maybe a dog is barking. I don’t know, I haven’t gone outside recently.

The coyotes, I do know, are very brazen these days, one must be watchful. Though they are smart and flee from human aggression. Not because of fear really, only they know the consequences of a small hurt in their world.

Earlier, I had in mind thoughts of discussing my faults, how aspects of my reactions today indicated, once again, I have not ‘made it’. I got frustrated, not at a person, though persons may have felt the flare. But at my own lack of God’s answers in my life, frustrated that he seems to always answer the prayers of others, but mine fall on apparently deaf ears. They are not, I know from study and faith. But waiting makes them seem that way.

Well, even with all of that, it is nice to know the signs of the Spirit moving in and through. Usually, I step away from my computer in the evening, read and ‘gasp!’ watch TV. Tonight I felt pulled back, and pulled back to have a needed conversation, needed on both ends. I don’t know why really. So I feel thankful to God, not for specific answers, but for showing me that it is not rejection which shows, that I do hear and listen, and find him. It is timing, and waiting, and trusting. Those are the lessons. But he is with me. That I know. I am at his service, ready to go and do at a moment’s notice. That is what he asks of me for right now. My part is to respond. It feels nice when these things work out and I can see God’s hand in it all.

It is not dramatic, but it is a sign of God’s movement. My instincts are not perfect, they are getting better. And now the day is done, and for the time being so am I. I hope to get some nature in my life tomorrow. After tasks and headaches my soul needs worship and refreshment. We’ll see….

Interestingly, today was another one of those days I woke up early naturally and got to work. 3:30 this morning. And I certainly valued having the time and quiet of 8 hours of writing and still most of a day left.

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