Five years later…

In October of 2003 I left making sense. I was living in Pasadena at the time, in a nice apartment with a great roommate. I had the letters M.Div after my name for almost a year, and had spent that year wandered about in burnt out exasperation with calling and community. It was on a one time date I realized I needed change. I had not found steady work let ago peaceful rest. But I kept trying, pushing to be involved elsewhere. I asked her out. She said yes. Dinner and a church service. We were quite Christian and also noncommittal. We talked. And in the middle of the conversation I realized there was something missing. I had misplaced my self. I sat and talked, listening to her discuss her own work and realized that I knew how I could live. I could get a job I didn’t like, to pay the bills that were piling up, to live among people who were playing a game for a goal they wouldn’t necessarily love.

I sat there and as we talked realized I had a choice to make. At the end I said, “We should do this again.” A lingering gasp for fitting on my part. She said, “Maybe.” Not entirely positive, to be sure. Not entirely negative. I never found out which. I never called and tried again.

I was exhausted with the artificial reality of what was called a real life. It didn’t suit me. It didn’t really suit most people but most people play along anyhow.

Finances got worse. So did my soul.

I didn’t look for a job I didn’t want to pay the bills that would keep me among people who were scattered and diffident in matters of depth and hope.

I decided I would stop making sense. Stop being who I was supposed to be. I would write. I would move from the heart of Pasadena to the mountains above San Bernardino, to live with my parents. At age 28. Ludicrous. I know.

Three weeks after I moved there was a major fire in the mountains. Massive fire. My writing and pursuit of peace got fairly interrupted for a bit.

The new year came and a new resurgence of attempts to find my way. I continued to write fiction, short stories that illustrated my own soul more than I realized at the time. And I started journaling online in March, keeping a steady watch on my being until I sorted out what was the particular hopes and dreams and faults. As I discovered more and more my writing slipped off focus, as I was turning round and round over the same ground. During this time, five years ago, I realized I was embracing a monastic kind of life, not the urban monasticism that is popular these days. The earlier kind, the kind of separating from the usual flow, getting out of the pull of time, to discover the depths in relative quiet and solitude.

For some reason I thought about this journal today. I’m married now. I’m back in Pasadena. I’m back in school, studying more theology and spirituality. I have a hope for the church and I have a hope and faith more still and more whole than at all possible before. But, I’ve not arrived. Maybe that’s why I thought of those past words, wondering if revisiting the days five years ago might be interesting. It was, some days more than others, to be sure. Then I got to thinking it might be interesting to post those words I wrote long ago, a sort of online revisiting. Occasionally adding updated commentary. Might be interesting as I delve into the spirituality of what comes now and next, seeking the meaning of this March, farther along but not quite there.

Here’s what I wrote on March 13, 2004:

Morning — A sunny almost Spring day. The jays are bouncing about. I’ve hung a shamrock windsock outside, giving a new rustle sound in the breeze, reflecting sunlight off its white strands. About seven different kinds of birds are giving calls of some sort, enjoying the day, readying themselves for spring. A chickadee is the most delightful, singing his little tune as he scoots across tree trunks, flying even to my balcony near my feet. So small and so bold.

There are days in which I am intensely introspective. This is not one of them. I feel decidedly… shallow. Self motivation for spiritual tasks retreats, spurring the gears of discipline into action, doing because it is right not because it comes naturally. I read and pray, write this, and consider depths, more out of desire to keep up than anything else. I miss a muse today, a spark from outside which could reignite. This is why community is so vital, and an aspect I miss right now.

So, I shall do my part, find productive responses, though rote they may be. Who knows, maybe a surprise will come, the Spirit will engage, my soul will expand. It is far too easy to be numb, though, which is why I must continue to act like it comes from the heart. I feel my lack, my need for growth, those aspects which seek to degrade even when I am at my heights. Looking forward, even when the view isn’t that interesting. That’s my task.

Evening — I spent the day cleaning, among other tasks. Unfortunately, my zeal overcame my attention. Some water spilled, dousing my cordless phone and my keyboard. My phone survived, my keyboard… well, everything but the space bar, the ‘n’, and the ‘b’ works. A person needs those keys. So I write, using pen and paper, considering how better this is in general, for posterity’s sake or something, knowing I will return to typing as soon as I can. Such is my generation.

Again it is still tonight. Weekend visitors flocked to their cabins, making much noise throughout the day. But now all is quiet , no motion at all, by flora or fauna.

I end the day as I began. Vaguely something. Either not introspective or else not caring. I did my tasks, spent a long time cleaning and organizing. There was no thrill, jut rote activity – though positive. I do weary of waiting, expecting long prayed prayers to resolve – only I cannot force God.

Maybe that is my frustration, the common American expectation of assertion has no effect on God, so people dodge or leave him. We do not suffer well the vagaries of others, even the Divine.

Maybe, though, this tendency is why God tells of himself through his actions. He is the God who brought his people out of Egypt. That is the main way he defined himself. This tells us he acts, and it tells us he acts in his own timing. They could not force themselves out until God acted, and he waited. Why? That is something only he knows. The reality is he did act. That’s the hope and promise. And my prayer.

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