One foot is in the sea, one foot is on the sand

The dog is getting groomed. It’s been a while and this dog is a mountain mop, collecting specimens of all sorts as if he were Darwin on the Galapagos. My truck was broke and so we missed his last appointment. Now it’s fixed and he’s getting washed and trimmed (which is better for him than the other way around). While he’s inside I sit in a manicured grove surrounded by small cabins each with a particular business, one of which is the groomer. I’m sitting here shaded by a broad-leafed dogwood on a seashore of sorts.

On foot is in the water. This side revels in nature’s bounty. A robin sings merry in the branches of a sycamore. Jays screech nearby. Two ravens pass over head, back and forth. A gentle cool breeze comes from the south. Fifteen feet away there is a small waterfall and a pond which bring the sound of living water. Above me a chickadee sings a sweet song on a telephone line while its baby nearby flaps its wings in nervous agitation about the precariousness of existence.

There must be a birthday party planned for later. Tables have been placed in a small circle, decorated with yellow and white tablecloths. Long, thin strips of yellow cloth are tied to branches, each strip dancing with the wind. Large silk butterflies are on trunks, on rails, on branches, each with pastel fringes of green or yellow or purple. I feel I’ve taken my dog to be groomed in a fairy kingdom.

I’ll be certain not to step in any stone circles.

There is no one else outside here except for a little girl who wanders through the shrubs, taking notice of all the curiosities, occasionally even the peculiar fellow sitting on a bench scribbling words into a notebook. I wave at her. She waves back. Her mom, I’ve discovered from hearing snippets of curt conversation, is working in another building while she wanders about the grove, not quite excited, not nearly bored.

One can almost, just almost but not quite, hear a quiet symphony in the background, nature itself playing the song of an idyll life.

About thirty yards to the north the highway passes by. Parked alongside, out of sight but not out of hearing, is a large truck. Its engine rumbles. The machinery it carries clanks and clatters, pouring the sound of mechanized busyness through the grove.

A Harley roars past. A helicopter flies over. Man, with his penchant for discordant noise, asserts himself. My other foot is on this sand.

One foot is in the sea, one foot is on the sand. My soul is possessed by two worlds at once.

This is the present struggle. I seek the peace of the first while trying to distance from the clutter of the second. It is like I am looking at a picture of a vase. No, the faces of two women. No, it’s a vase. No, it’s two women. Back and forth. My soul doesn’t settle in one world.

Two directions call my soul, noise and calm, frenetic industry and peaceful absorption. This is why monasteries are to be found in hidden valleys or on isolated hills.

But, I wonder about this. Yes, the noise is a distraction, a bother, a menace to peaceful meditation. Only am I not more pushed to find real peace in the midst of the distractions? It does no seem to be the measure of a potent soul to only feel peace in moments of orchestrated calm.

It seems I might become more real if I do not depend on the context for my peace but instead become a peacemaker myself.

Do I bring peace or do I merely mandate it? Do I model peace or do I only suggest it? Can I squeeze real peace out of this divided world or am I a slave to whatever context befalls me?

I’ve spent years railing against the supposed chaos, forgetting that it is only the chaos within which truly afflicts. I rage against what is outside because it is easier than facing what is inside. I allow myself to be bothered by the cacophony on the shore because I have not yet leaped fully into the ocean surf.

It is easier to let myself be justifiably bothered and wallow in the nuisance than to discover real and full peace from within.

It is not, I think, wiser to do so.

This was written June 20, 2006

A few years ago, Barclay Press invited me to do a two week daily journal for their website. They’ve since changed their online presence so those writings are gone. I was sorting out different files on my computer this evening and happened to run across them. So, I thought, I might as well repost them here. Both to have a record of them, and maybe more so, because these were written in 2006 and 2007. A fair bit of changes have happened in my life since then, so these are records of a time in my life when all I had was faith. I was writing a lot during these journaling times, and it’s curious what came out when I sat down to write. So, mostly for me, but also for anyone whose interested, I’m going to post one of these a day for the next 20 days or so.

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