The book is called, "Teaching the Dead Bird to Sing" by W. Paul Jones, and it's challenging me to figure out a way to the path.
The path. Sounds supra-spiritual. Sounds new age-ish.
Yet, the path to be on questions me constantly. So be how it sounds.
The book reminds me of my purist-spiritual Buddhist, Christianity early yearnings.
I wanted to live above the rest. Above my own desires. Above world definitions of success and performance. Show me the high path, and I will take it. Pursuing and focusing on the inner, I once felt like my feet were lifting under me as I walked. I floated; my desire for heightened spiritual experience, sharp. I've had a few strange mystical experiences, I must say. The music at night once I submitted to the unfolding of the Judeo-Christian plan for my life. The crafting of the dried floral bride wreaths. The ecstatic awareness. The desert of Hagar. The submission of intellect in order to heighten understanding of the irrational. The death of the idealistic in order to bear the reality. God's taken me places.
Yet, here I am, later, struggling, feeling myself settling for lesser awareness, or should I say lesser experience.
Lesser experience due to the increased consumption of distraction. Distraction which demands its usefulness in its own right. I must clean and be a good wife. I must serve and be a good steward of gifts and commission. I must go to lunch with others and be a good friend. I must be a good mother so I must do this.
All those are good, mandated, yet, I feel like I'm slipping. Can I undergo a future 'desert'? Am I ready for hardship? Should I train myself? Equip, prepare, restrain? Should I pray more (yes)? Should I resist more (yes)? Should I not grow lax in the disciplines (yes)? I'm growing lax and distracted, I know.
Jones' book is making me think. He's making me think that I'm convoluted like him. I'm full of analysis of how I should be. Full of confusion on how to arrive there. Full of oppositional factors.
One example is of the desire to be simple and the desire to be beautiful. I want to be content with little, yet I desire more in order to look good. Or, the desire to be responsible to health concerns (cholesterol, weight) and the gratification of chocolate, bread, and anything else I see that I want. I rarely hold back any more. I'm blessed with predisposition to thinness, yet still the nutrition is bad, and I am feeling more uncomfortable with the slack in physical activity.
Oppositional factors. When I teach at my small groups, I feel like I've found harmony. I project it. And, it's true, spiritual focus has led me to a sharper vision of what and who provides life more abundantly. I know this through release, through feelings, through intellect, through resources, through faith.
Yet, at times, my focus becomes fuzzy when I'm not on call. Call me out into greater stamina and desire. I do not give up longings any more for what can be fulfilled.
Therefore, my book knocks on my door.
Tonight, I'll go to bed, as usual, with great longing for a fresh focus, and, more importantly, a renewed discipline that keeps me actively looking for outer surprises of the inner life. I sleep on it. I wake up and return to old patterns of undue servitude.
What can I do to break this cycle?
Tomorrow morning, I will try to wake up early to pray.