Stillness

I’ve been drawn to the experience of stillness in the last while. A few times I’ve been aware of the invitation in prayer to be still after I leave the prayer time. I’m not to get caugstone and sand for stillness and actionht up in the busy conversations, the decisions that seem to need to be made, the city whirl. I’m to learn to be still. It’s partly emerged out of my attraction to the True Self work. I’ve experienced an inner stillness even when around me, it feels like chaos. It results in me feeling like I’m more myself, simpler, deeper, less pretentious, less a lot of things!

But it doesn’t mean I’m physically still. I’m still to be moving, but from a place of stillness. It doesn’t mean I don’t make any decisions, just that they’re to come from a still place.  A recent tag line on my email account was: Be still, be very, very still. And the I added to it: Be still and still moving.

As this was happening within me, one of our Companions inchild image for stillness and action

Contemplative Fire told me about a message he’d received during a Quaker Meeting. Ps 46 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” The speaker noted that the psalm said to be still, not to be silent. That is so much in alignment with what I’m learning. To be still doesn’t mean to be silent or not taking action. It means to be still within our soul, to be still and listening and knowing and being formed and guided by God’s Spirit.

In Contemplative Fire, part of our Rhythm is ‘Across the Threshold’. That refers to being led by the Spirit of God, perhaps into unfamiliar places. As with all our leaves, that one too is rooted in the central Wordless Space, in the deep stillness of God. We also talk about the Silence of God, about God’s first voice being silence. We become still within, listening to God’s silence and from the still, silent space we are formed and hear our life’s words and actions. How intriguing is that!  Out of stillness and silence come words and action and oh… those words and actions smell, feel so different from the ones that come out of my busyness!

What is your experience of stillness? Physical stillness? Interior stillness? Do you run from it, brush it off, find it impossible, or never consider it! How have you experienced the different sources of your words and actions?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire , Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

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Lessons from My Dog (#257)

The dogs I’ve known love to gnaw on bones. They’ll spend ages licking, chewing, crunching and simply gnawing on their bones. After they’re done, they might hide them to pull out another day. If they dig them up again, or if I give it back to them another day, they’ll start to gnaw all over. Ah yes… a good bone to gnaw on.dog chewing on bone 1

So what’s this got to do with finding a contemplative pathway?? Well, today I was sitting on the bench in the locker room at my gym, and I took a look at what was going on in my head. Have you ever done that, stopped and become aware of the patter that is happening? Today I heard myself going over a conversation that I’ve had before. Actually, I’ve had that same inner dialogue, or variations of it, again and again in my mind. Suddenly I realized I was like my dog as he chews on a bone. I was going over the same old ground again and again. Why? What was I getting out of it?

As I stepped back to ask those questions, I put my bone down. I was able to stop gnawing on it. I was quite purposeful. I know that to replay that conversation in my head will not move the situation forward. What will help is if I’m still, if I’m quiet within myself, and trust the Spirit of God to do her work, within me, within others, throughout the world. Relax and trust in the slow work of God. Replaying, gnawing on an old situation doesn’t help. Trusting does.

I’m happy to give my dog a bone to chew on. There are times when I do need to think carefully through things, but much of the inner chatter, especially when it’s playing the same old tapes again and again – I want to set that aside. I’m not a dog. I don’t need to chew the same old things over and over.

How about you Gentle Reader….are you chewing on an old bone today?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

This Precious Treasure

Last week I had one of those nights where I wake and move to intercessions. I also read a bit and found Guujaaw’s poem, ‘The Box of Treasures’. I’ll leave you to Google that delight for yourself.  It inspired me to write my own reflection on Christian life. The poem feels a bit clumsy to me, perhaps unfinished, but so am I quite often!

This Precious Treasure

And I know the Christian life isn’t just historical, architectural space, Sunday worship, sacraments, Bible study and outreach.

It is all of these things….

And the sweep of hands that embrace the cosmos and then settle into heart space.

         It is the knowing of God everywhere

and being indwelt by Risen Christ.

It’s about the stories of Jesus as he touches, sees and draws people close to him….

places of healing, times of hope, the breath of peace,

the repeating moments of forgiveness …

offered and received,

again and again and again.

Moments of knowing we’re all in this together,

all interconnected,

all affecting each other,

all known, valued and loved.

It has something to do with seeing, in the eyes of someone so different, the Spirit of the Risen Christ.

Watching the children grow,

feeling my own bones ache ….

and attending funerals.

It’s a matter of dealing with the squabbles within…..

And the greater troubles that come from the outside,

trying to shout their way in.

Its about experiencing the mess of spring, abundance of summer, letting go of autumn

 and being confronted by the great storms of winter

and still finding peace.

It’s about being home…

within myself, my family, my community

and the troublesome world around me

as I’m home in the heart of The Beloved.

And trying to look after this precious treasure.

 

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire ,Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

 

Being Myself

Last month I attended a week with First Nations on Manitoulin Island. One of the deepest teachings for me was from an Elder who began his day with us by assuring us he wasn’t out to convert us. He would share his teachings, if they were helpful please accept them, and if not, let them go. As he spoke, tears rose up within me. I was aware of the years of Apologetics training I experienced, the reminders of centuries within Christian history of the insistence on correct theology, the establishment of new denominations so the circle would be tight and ‘correct’, and something deep within me grieved. I enjoyed the Elder’s humility, his gentle confidence in who he is, what he knows and what he is learning. I found myself at ease, at peace. No more struggles. No more insistence on the right way, simply a clear declaration of The Way I know to be true.

I’m a One on the Enneagram so my nature is very geared to having ‘the right way’ to do things. I was vulnerable to having the ‘right’ teaching and then to helping others have it too. I was a lonely child, yet seeking to belong somewhere, so I was vulnerable to a circle being drawn, being within the circle and then inviting others to join me.

Yet now I’ve changed. I’m at home in my life. I’m growing to see God’s presence within all of creation, to experience the connectedness of all beings. Life is much less about being ‘right’, but more about loving, being open, trusting the Spirit of God who is always present, always active and drawing us closer and closer.

Emerging from my Sabbath Leave, I’m more deeply aligned with Jesus than ever before, but I don’t fit into my old theological boxes. The Elder’s teaching is that our faith truths are to be lived out, to be part of our being. That is in alignment with much I’ve learnt on my Christian contemplative pathway. For me it’s become that life is not about correct teaching or understanding, but living an authentic, integrated life. It’s about the life of Jesus being lived out through me, not in imitation, but in breath, in essence, in presence.

So I will share with you The Way of Jesus that I know, his stories, his impact on my life. I will share with you The Rhythm of Life I follow through Contemplative Fire. You may join me, or not, as you choose. I desire to do this with increasing humility and authenticity, allowing you to follow your pathway and trusting God to make it all right in the end.

And you, Gentle Reader… what is your pathway?

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

Lessons From My Dog #367….

Some of my best spiritual teachers have been my dogs…..How about you? What do you learn from your pets? I’ve learnt so much over the years from caring for dogs and cats. The First Nation Elder who taught me in September said that God told them that our main teachers are our animals, birds, fish and plants. I guess I’m in traditional company when I’m learning from my dog!

Last week when Finnegan and I were walking in the ravine with other neighbourhood dogs he became my teacher once again. He says ‘Hello’ to almost every dog he meets. He stops, does his smelling thing and then moves on. As he does that, I usually greet the one who is walking with the other dog. Sometimes it’s a simple ‘Hello’, sometimes it becomes a conversation.

As Hugh and I have been walking Finn for these last three months we’ve started to connect with the dog community in our neighbourhood. Anyone with a dog will stop to greet, and often people without dogs will pause too because our Finn is so great!  I realized we do this, because the dogs do it. They usually greet each other.

Imagine if we humans behaved in such a friendly fashion to other humans that we meet. Oh we don’t need to put our ‘nose into everyone’s business’…..but pick up a bit more of dog friendliness! I might greet people on my neighbourhood street, but turn the corner onto Yonge Street and I don’t greet people. Could I keep more eye contact happening? Could I keep more good-thoughts-towards-all happening?

We’re all in this together. Can we be open and interested in one another, honoring each other? We are all human beings on a journey together.

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Finding My Way (3): Community Life

The second part of our Rhythm of Life that is important to me is that it is based in community life. Contemplative Fire is a dispersed monastic community. We fall into what is known today as the neo-monastic stream of the emerging church. We could think more about that another time, but what I want to highlight for myself and for you today is the community aspect.

The teaching I’ve received is that we’re not meant to live as isolated beings. We are relational and we are to live knowing others and being known by others. That is the source of some of our chaos, challenge and spiritual growth!

In Contemplative Fire we hold our Rhythm of Life both individually and locally. I craft my own rhythm for this year, and I’m to be in intentional relationship with others allowing them to know how my spiritual walk is going.

During my Sabbath Leave I spent quite a bit of time in solitude. It was wonderful for me for I know that solitude and silence nourish my soul. I also learnt how important community is to me. I really wanted to return to my family and to my faith family. I wanted more clarity in allowing them to know me and for me to know them.

One aspect of my return that has intrigued me is that there is a handful within Contemplative Fire who are asking for just what has landed inside me. They are asking for more intentional spiritual growth – a place where they can explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I’m wondering if we might craft some of our triads, Deep Listening groups into ones that intentionally focus on spiritual growth based on our rhythm.

Do you have people who know you spiritually? Do you have people you share your ups and downs of your faith life, your struggles, your questions and your delights?

We’re all in this together.

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Finding My Way (2) Rhythm of Life

So I’m weeding my path…..this won’t be new to you, my Gentle Readers, yet I know it helps me to name it again and again. I hope you will take the time to name what nourishes and grounds you as well.

I follow a Rhythm of Life: Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep. I live instinctively in the depths of life, so I’m always turning towards the ‘light’, maybe in simplifying life, in doing less or having less or in laughing more, taking myself and what life sends me less seriously.

I live out my Rhythm of Life through intentional prayer/study/action. We have lots of words we use in Contemplative Fire to describe our Rhythm and each is meaningful to me. Here’s a graph:

Being                             Knowing                            Doing

Still Waters                Learning Journey         Across the Threshold

Prayer                           Study                                  Action

Contemplative        Creative                         Compassionate

And then we use a picture:

It’s called a trefoil and each of the words can be placed in one of the leaves. There is a continuous line that threads the leaves and my daily life together. It’s all rooted in the Wordless Space in the centre, that’s the heartbeat of God.

If you’re interested I could speak of what my prayer practice currently is, what I’m studying this fall, and how I get invited to cross thresholds by extending compassion and forgiveness in challenging places!

That’s what grounds me, nourishes me, sustains me as I move through a chaotic world. What grounds you Gentle One?

There is nothing new about Contemplative Fire’s Rhythm. It is an ancient pathway and I delight in encountering it in many traditions, all around the world. But it is ours. It is mine. I’m grateful for it. There is another component to it I’ll describe next time.

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

(Written September 25, 2017)

 

Finding My Way (1): Ancient Pathway

Imagine an ancient doorway, carved into the rock. It creaks open slowly revealing an overgrown but well trodden path. In early September I had two back to back experiences that felt like they were opening up a hidden door for me that led to an ancient pathway.

This blog has been about learning to find a contemplative path in our chaotic world. What I became aware of in September was that the path I’ve been walking on, has been around a very, very long time. First, we visited Drumheller, Alberta with Badlands and Tyrell Dinosaur Museum which was a great peek into our past. Then I spent a week on Manitoulin Island visiting some of our First Nations and learning their perspective on history, culture and spirituality. We also visited an archeological dig on the island that showed evidence of human habitation from 9000 years ago.

An elder spoke to us about their history going back thousands of years and of the transmission of their principle beliefs. One of their basic beliefs is that we are spirit beings on a temporary, physical journey. I’m a newcomer in learning about their spirituality. I listen with my ‘Jesus’ ears and from my Christian contemplative perspective, and I’m struck that we could have learnt from them when we first arrived. There are similarities.

I’ve quoted before Teillard de Chardin’s line about us being spiritual beings having a human experience. He comes from the Jesuit tradition who were some of the earliest Europeans to arrive in North America. I wonder if they received that teaching from the natives, recognizing in it the truth that is in harmony with our Christian faith. We are spiritual beings, created by God and called into an open awareness of our relationship with God, all others and creation. I’m listening. I’m realizing that our contemplative path is very well worn. It’s been trodden not only by us, but by many others all over the world for a very, very long time. That helps me walk more firmly, more boldly. The chaos shrinks. The pathway becomes clearer.

In this shifting and chaotic world we need to be grounded. What grounds you? I’m coming back to naming my pathway in the next few weeks. I think I’m clearing the pathway, weeding it a bit! Join me!

If this is helpful to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Gentle Leadership

Years ago, while on my annual silent retreat, I’d heard the invitation to grow into a gentle leadership with Contemplative Fire. I spent some time after that in discussion with colleagues about what a gentle leadership model might entail, but then I think I let it go. I stopped consciously thinking about it or trying to grow in that direction. It surfaced again for me during my Sabbath Leave.

For me, a gentle leadership is one that comes from the Spirit of God. It is when I submit myself to deep listening and deep following. I set aside strategic plans, and my long-term goals are not measurable outcomes but adherence to the vision and values that align with our Christian faith and Contemplative Fire. It is less about accomplishing things or growing a ministry and more about adherence to the One I follow. I’m aware of a different space within me internally.

A couple of nights ago, I was lying in bed, and I had one of those ‘Sonburst’ moments I’ve written about before. This one was about gentle leadership. I don’t recall that I was even thinking about it, but I could feel the presence of being a gentle leader emerge within me. I felt the groundedness, the security, the warmth, the ease. I felt an inner quality I’d never experienced before. It didn’t last for long, but it was there. I will always retain that memory, that possibility. I hope I will not only retain, but actively remember it. I would love to grow into that more deeply, to lead more gently, to lead more intimately connected to the flow of the Spirit of God.

I’d like that. Have you had any experiences like that? What would you teach me/us about gentle leadership?

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

A Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

One Day in a Garden

One day a friend, during a prayer time, received an image for me. It was a jigsaw puzzle picture of an thatched cottage with an English country garden in front of it. I was tending the garden. I spoke with people who stopped by, attracted by the quiet beauty of the garden. The conversations were rich and transformational.

Sometimes when people share their prayer moments, or insights they bounce off me, but other times they penetrate and stick. The jigsaw garden was one that felt right to me. During my Sabbath Leave I have heard the call both to a quieter season of life but also to a life that is more deeply led by the Spirit. This prayer image gave more substance to my calling. What lies before me is a life where all the pieces are in place, and together they will create a place of quietness and beauty. All the pieces of my life will come together and will provide nourishment to a few. I will be in a place of internal quietness and beauty.

I’m humbled and awed, by the calling, by the image and by the image being given to one, who I only know slightly. How deep is the Father’s love for us! How connected are the children of the Father!

If I have one truth that I return with from my Sabbath Leave it is to say so clearly to any who might listen: We are not alone. God’s Spirit is present, watching over us all the time. It doesn’t matter if our days are happy or sad. God is present. It doesn’t matter if we’re devotedly following our faith or not. God is present. All the time. And the Spirit that is present with us is good, is cheering us on, wanting the best for us.

I do know there are dark spirits around too. We are not to live blind to them, but we renounce any engagement with them and open ourselves to the goodness of God.

We are not alone. You are not alone. May you know God’s presence today. May you open yourselves to the goodness and beauty of God. Breathe the sweet fragrance of the garden.

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion