Always

She was shrouded in a cloud this morning, yet I knew she was there.

Chichiyuy, ‘The Sisters’, or as they are commonly called here, ‘The Lions’ are two distinctive mountain peaks near Vancouver which rise above my little oceanside village giving us the name ‘Lions Bay’. On my morning mountain walk, when I pause at the top of it, the west Sister is in my view. She is one of my places of prayer. Today I couldn’t see her for a cloud had settled over her. We’re in for a rainy day. But I knew she was there. Always there. Everyday.

When settlers arrived here, someone had the idea that the two dominant mountain peaks were reflective of the lions in Trafalgar Square, London. I’m not sure why. The name has been commonly accepted and now is sprinkled all over the area, so we have the BC Lions, Lions Gate Bridge, Lions Gate Hospital, numerous Lion Pubs and of course Lions Bay. A hundred years ago Pauline Johnson told us what the First Nations called those peaks and gave us a version of their story. It seems those peaks weren’t placed there to be triumphant and roaring but to remind us to live peacefully and in one accord with each other. I’ve heard several versions of the story and they all end with the two sisters who brought waring tribes together in peace being immortalized in these peaks. We’re to look at them and remember their story, their bravery, integrity and strength. Two strong women brought the warring tribes together. Peace. Live in one accord. Always. Everyday.

In the scripture I’m pondering this week Jesus speaks to us about not being fixated on our differences, to see God within people and live together peacefully, in one accord. As I write, in Canada, we’re on the eve of a national election. We’ve watched divisions flare up and negativity seep out. I long for the days when parties can work together for the common good. Sometimes it’s as if a cloud settles over us and we forget that we one people, one human race, here to live simply, humbly on a beautiful earth together, learning who we are as God’s children. Instead ,we become strident, insisting on our way as the right way and speaking negatively of those who have experienced life differently from us and see things another way.  

When confusion or uncertainty comes, and it will, remember that The Sisters are there, everyday, always. They are a constant reminder to us to live in peace with one another. May our lives move the world forward toward peace.

With hope, love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Growth – Forgiveness: Navigating Spiritual Swamps

Sadness slowly welled up in my heart. Not far away, the community had built a dam to contain fresh water for the cannery. What happened instead was that further up the hill the spring welled up and created a swamp killing the natural cedar growth. They made the best of a bad situation. Realizing that the ancient trees were dead, they allowed a marsh to develop and created an ecological centre with boardwalks traversing the marsh. The ancient trees stand as a reminder of what was and what could have been.

My heart’s sadness didn’t come from the marsh but from the cultural centre that has been built on the island. It is placed near the site of the residential school that held children from 1894-1974. A healing ceremony was held when the building was torn down in 2015. The cultural centre, which is the building to the left of the school, displays potlach masks and stories of the First Nations who have lived on these lands since time immemorial. It also has an historical outline of life from unknown days through first contact and into Indian Act years to present time.

Since the exposure in May of 215 unmarked graves of children in Kamloops I’ve attempted to learn more of our Canadian history. The visit to U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay was one of those opportunities. I spoke with a guardian who asked how my day was going. With honesty I replied about how I felt going through their display, acknowledging my Canadian upbringing, my lack of knowledge of their story, and my slowness in being open to learning about the sorrow. Our conversation wandered around many trails of his family experiences and mine. As I wondered about next steps, he gently and quietly said a step is into forgiveness, and the first step is to forgive yourself. He who has been hurt, speaks to me, the settler, the one on the side of those who inflicted hurt on others, to forgive myself.

The other time I heard of forgiveness spoken so deeply, intimately and quietly was from a First Nations Elder I met on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. He told stories of forgiveness, of First Nations people living forgiveness to those who had hurt them. They way he spoke was humble and authentic. He was walking the path of forgiveness. Jesus’ last recorded words as he was dying were ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.’ Forgiveness is at the heart of his message to us. When I hear forgiveness from First Nations, I know they are speaking God’s truth to me, and it is for them a living truth, nothing academic or theological but experiential. They are forgiving.

If we don’t walk the path of forgiveness, towards our self and all others, it’s like building a dam inside us, a dam that will cause water to plug up and kill ancient truths within us, creating a swamp. Forgiveness of our self and others is an essential ongoing step on the path of spiritual growth. Without it, something inside us dies. Life gets messy. If you want to grow spiritually, search your heart. Are you caring any grudge toward anyone? Are you blaming anyone for your life circumstances? Are you caring shame, any tiny sense of ‘not-good-enough’? Turn to forgiveness, hear Jesus’s words of forgiveness, and begin letting go of that knot inside you. Ask for help from Jesus, God, Divine Mother, Healing Spirit, help to undo that knot inside you.

Spiritual growth often starts with a sad heart but doesn’t end there.

Do you have any knots that need untying? Who doesn’t.

Here is a link to St Michael’s story and overview of residential schools. https://roadstories.ca/st-michaels-residential-school

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Undoing Knots

My mother was a warm-hearted extrovert. From a child’s perspective, her sweet spot seemed to be on the golf course, curling rink, or drink in hand with her friends. When she died, her friends told me how much fun she had been. She knew how to throw her head back with laughter, taught me to shuffle cards like a poker pro and make fabulous homemade candy as her mom had taught her. One evening she gave me her gift of public speaking. I have no idea how she did it, but from that evening conversation I moved from giving boring classroom speeches to someone who is quite persuasive when upfront. It’s helped a lot in my adult life. My mother died over twenty years ago yet life circumstances have caused her to be on my mind a lot.

This week I remembered how she used to help me with my knitting. I don’t have memories of her in a rocking chair knitting away, yet she taught me how to knit. As a young girl I did lots of projects. Do you recall those heavy Irish knit cable sweaters or the Icelandic ones with a yoke of colour? I did all those. Later I knit sweaters for my girls with dogs and panda bears on them. What I’ve been remembering this week is how, when I made a mess, my social, busy mom would take my knitting and slowly unravel it, pick up stiches, mend it and give it back to me. It was a labour of love. She never complained. She undid my knots. Isn’t it odd how love shows up in unexpected ways?

The poem I shared with you last time I wrote, ‘Please Come Home’ continues to move inside me. The Spirit has become the Divine Mother calling me home, calling me to bring my knots, dropped stiches, unfinished bits of life and come on home. I will sit with you, tend you and love you as you are. I need you home with me. Please come home.

In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced several internal knots, those broken, unfinished bits of me, places where my ego is pushing around, bits of anger, seeking significance, being small minded. It’s a gift to see those ego bruises and an even bigger gift to take them to Jesus and ask him and Divine Mother to undo the knots. It’s a gift to see my hurtful behaviour for their effect is there even if I don’t see it. People around me experience me pushing into them even if I don’t. If I feel myself acting like that then I have an opportunity to ask Jesus to undo the knots.

Reflecting on my mother’s love, shown in helping me knit, grows within me confidence that my Divine Mother and my Dear Friend Jesus, will undo my ego knots.

I want those knots undone. I want to be more like Jesus.

Who do you want to emulate?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Learning from Horses

((I know I’ve been slower posting recently. I’ve been on a local road trip for awhile but I’ve also been sorting through life a bit this summer. All is well but sometimes Spirit takes us into new areas and I haven’t been ready to write about them. Next couple of weeks seem to be simple reflections.))

Yesterday morning I walked across the goose-spattered yard, past the goats and chickens, and the barn full of hay, to visit the horses. Usually, the herd roams free around the property of the wilderness lodge where we’re staying for a few days. At 7.00am Mani feeds the herd hay in the back coral so they make their way home. My family was quiet, still tucked in their beds, so I slipped away to visit the horses. They were so peaceful, scattered around the coral in small groups, munching on fresh hay. Contentment hung in the air. Life couldn’t be better, fresh air, fresh hay, friends around. Most of the horses are rescues, not elegant, but good horses, grateful for a loving and safe home. The day before we’d been on a trail ride and so I felt familiar with Rosie, Paddy, Ranger, and Maris.

A different horse came into the coral. I didn’t know him, so I’ll call him Spotty. His front was brown, backside was white covered in brown spots. He entered with an attitude and pushed into the first group of munching horses, instantly sending his ears back in warning. The two other horses quickly stepped aside from him. He could have whatever hay he wanted. They munched for a few minutes but then Spotty flicked his ears back again and pushed around some more. The little group broke up and reassembled at a distance. Spotty kept eating. I remembered the day before seeing a horse, flick his ears back, turn and nip another’s butt. I think that was Spotty too.

Have you ever experienced someone coming into a room and bossing people around like Spotty? I know I have! But the wrinkle for me is that I’ve been seeing a bit of Spotty in myself lately. I’ve become aware of rough edges, times when I push into a room or a discussion, times when I flick my ears back. I haven’t noticed such behaviour in myself for a very long time. I wonder if it’s been there and I’ve been blind, or if this is different behaviour happening or if I’m simply seeing what I’m like through new eyes. Any way it comes about….it’s not pretty. I want to be like Jesus, not Spotty!

And I want eyes to see what I am like, not what I imagine myself to be like, but how I actually move through the world. I want to live like that contented herd, connected, satisfied, happy, appreciative. They’re not elegant horses, groomed for competition or show, but they are good, horses making the best of their horse life at a wilderness lodge in The Cariboo of BC. I want to make the best of the life I’ve been given too.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

What is Spiritual Growth? Part 2 Movement

There is a subtle yet profound movement from an orientation in our head to a heart based, intuitive orientation that takes place as we grow spiritually. It’s not a matter of your personality type. That may influence the steps or speed, but not the reorientation. We move from being a self-absorbed human who is entangled in the world, it’s affairs and how they touch us, into a spiritual being that is grounded in Love, sees the integration of life on Earth and listens for the movement of intuition for guidance.

Spiritual growth often doesn’t take place in academic classrooms. It’s not about the books read or essays written, but rather about learning that is absorbed into your being so you are changed. That learning might come from a book, even from a classroom setting or through a sermon, but often it doesn’t. Spiritual growth commonly happens through tears, disappointments and sorrow. A basic teaching is that we wake up spiritually through great pain or great love. There are a few other alarm clocks, but those two are the main ones. I’ve had both. The Great Love has been a spiritual outpouring where I was embraced by Love. That’s a common human experience if you read spiritual biographies. The Great Pain was within our family. It was a pain that shook me up, so I knew I needed to become more real, more my True Self. I didn’t have that language at the time, but I had the kick that made me know I had work to do. Don’t think it’s a one-time alarm clock. Pain and Love keep knocking, especially if you hit the snooze button.

This week I’ve been enjoying a poem ‘Please Come Home’, by Jane Hooper. I hear the call to authenticity, to coming home to who I am, to being myself, not hiding, but lovingly sharing who I am with those around me. I’ve added Jane’s poem below my blog for your enjoyment.

Spiritual growth is about coming home to ourselves, engaging in the movement from an external orientation to an internal spiritual one. It’s not navel gazing. When you touch into LOVE she always sends you back out to give yourself to others, but you’ll do it differently, wisely, with less effort and more effectiveness, at least the effectiveness which Spirit is seeking and that could be surprising!

Growing spiritually is core to who we are as human beings. It is why we are here. We are meant to shed our attachment to the world and open into Spirit so we KNOW ourselves as a branch of God’s vine, that intimate, intwined connection with our Creator. That’s how the world is changed. Each of our individual changes has ripple effects that move throughout the world and history. Each one of us needs to come home to who we truly are.

So how are you doing? How’s your day so far? Please come home.


Love and prayers
Anne
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder
Companion on The Rivendell Way
Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

***

“Please Come Home” by Jane Hooper


Please come home. Please come home.
Find the place where your feet know where to walk
And follow your own trail home.

Please come home. Please come home into your own body,
Your own vessel, your own earth.
Please come home into each and every cell,
And fully into the space that surrounds you.

Please come home. Please come home to trusting yourself,
And your instincts and your ways and your knowings,
And even the particular quirks of your personality.

Please come home. Please come home and once you are firmly there,
Please stay home awhile and come to a deep rest within.
Please treasure your home. Please love and embrace your home.
Please get a deep, deep sense of what it’s like to be truly home.

Please come home. Please come home.
And when you’re really, really ready,
And there’s a detectable urge on the outbreath, then please come out.

Please come home and please come forward.
Please express who you are to us, and please trust us
To see you and hear you and touch you
And recognize you as best we can.

Please come home. Please come home and let us know
All the nooks and crannies that are calling to be seen.
Please come home, and let us know the More
That is there that wants to come out.

Please come home. Please come home
For you belong here now. You belong among us.
Please inhabit your place fully so we can learn from you,
From your voice and your ways and your presence.

Please come home. Please come home.
And when you feel yourself home, please welcome us too,
For we too forget that we belong and are welcome,
And that we are called to express fully who we are.

Please come home. Please come home.
You and you and you and me.

Please come home. Please come home.
Thank you, Earth, for welcoming us.
And thank you touch of eyes and ears and skin,
Touch of love for welcoming us.

May we wake up and remember who we truly are.
Please come home. Please come home. Please come home.

What is Spiritual Growth?

I was drawn to this question from one of our readers. There are many ways to approach it and I’d be interested in your responses.

I immediately went back to 1972, recalling a moment when a scripture verse suddenly intrigued me. Paul is praying for the people in Ephesus who have discovered faith in Jesus as The Christ: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3.16) What I heard that day was that I had an ‘inner being’ that could be strengthened with God’s Spirit. Wow. I was more than just this body, this life.

So over the years I set myself to learn more about this inner being. I’ve learnt I have a body that I need to care for, yet not be identified with, rather feed, exercise and appreciate. I have a mind that I need to develop and turn towards what is true, right, just and pure. I have emotions that can both enrich and entangle my life, so I need to learn wisdom towards them. I also have something else, an inner being, a soul, that place that carries or is the spark of God, the light of God, the resting place of God within me. It’s my True Self, my home. If I grow spiritually it relates to strengthening the spiritual muscle of my inner being so that it is my anchor, my rudder and my sail as I catch the spiritual winds of God.

A significant component of spiritual growth for me has been shifting from an entangled identification with body, mind and emotions to an identification with spirit so that growingly my primary awareness is as a child of God. It feels like I wake up to who I really am. I’m less identified with how my body looks or the aches I have, less identified with proving my point, or being ‘right’, less identified with swells of emotions both hurts and joys that move through me. Spiritual growth is less about learning dogma, apologetics or theology. It is more about becoming authentic and staying present to how I actually have experienced God, living with the joy, light, clarity and love that I’ve known. It’s bringing those experiences of God into my everyday life. If I’m more compassionate to myself and others this year than last year, I’m growing spiritually. If I’m more forgiving, kinder, I’m growing spiritually. If I’m more aware of my immortal, eternal soul and less attached to the coming and goings of Anne’s life, I’m growing spiritually.

One of the major supports in my spiritual growth is to have a community and rhythm of life. Contemplative Fire’s rhythm of ‘Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep’ and ‘Being – Knowing – Doing’ has been a grounding presence in my life for the last decade. I have a regular prayer rhythm of meditation, a regular study rhythm as I intentionally fill my mind with a contemplative and mystical approach to life and a regular compassionate practice towards myself and others. Looking back over the last fifty years since I first heard Paul’s prayer, I can see a gradual strengthening of my spiritual muscle yet know I still have a lot of room for growth. I feel like I’m just beginning. I’m awake, but still lying in bed.

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Waiting

I’ve missed writing for the past few weeks. I’d think about it, but I just couldn’t do it. Usually, I write from what speaks to me during the week. It is one more way I have of reflecting on life. But ‘life’ has been turbulent the last month partly with an expected, but unexpected wedding that was quickly planned and executed (quite brilliantly by the couple), but also with four relational bumps that caused me to slow down and do some serious reflection. My days have been filled with much wedding delight, but my heart has been more tender as I find my way through the bumps. Maybe that’s okay.

I believe that I am here on earth to learn and grow spiritually. That’s the core of life, so I see all the circumstances of life as providing lessons for my soul growth. I know if I change, the world changes and that’s my major contribution to making this a kinder world. But the lessons – some are easier than others! This last month had some harder lessons for me, ones that took me to a deeper place in that hidden part of me I don’t really know; ones, that like some math courses I did in high school, required me to call in a tutor to help. I think I wrote a bit about it before I stopped. I was invited to look again at both my wounded child and my adaptive child. I thought I’d done all that work, but then something happens, and I realize there is still more healing needed for that little one, and that older child also needs to be released from duty.

Something is shifting. And I’m held in a waiting place. I’m not in charge of the shift. I bought my ticket for the rollercoaster ride. I’ve said ‘Yes’ again and again to learning life’s lessons. I’ve got my seat for the ride, but now I wait. When will the train take off? How will we twist and turn? When will we land? Where will we land? Who will I be then? I don’t know the answers. I’m waiting and trusting.

Sue Monk Kidd’s book ‘When the Heart Waits’ has been a supportive read this month. She recounts her story of a mid-life change. I could have read it when she wrote it in 1990 as I was in a change then. I could have read it when the next change came about 2000. Now here I am again twenty years later, waiting my way through another change. Waiting. Waiting. Listening. Trusting.

I’ll write when I can. Always happy to have a note from you Gentle Reader. I haven’t heard much from you either this month so perhaps you’re in the waiting room with me!

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

The 215

I’m sad this week, appalled too, and wondering how to respond.

The news of the unmarked graves of 215 children at a residential school in Kamloops cuts deeply into my privileged white heart. I grew up in Canada and wasn’t taught about First Nations culture or government policy to both assimilate and annihilate through residential schools. But I can’t blame just the educational system. I began to hear the dark story in 1990’s as the Anglican Church made an apology and began raising funds for compensation and healing initiatives, and yet I didn’t inform myself. It was only from 2010 onwards, through Contemplative Fire encouragement and some Companions on the Way I met within our community that I began to learn. I’ve been a slow learner and in that I recognize my own culpability in this dark piece of Canadian history.

This week I’m also pondering Mark 3.20-35 for a reflection in a local church on Sunday. I wrote the sermon several weeks ago and find it so appropriate for today. It’s the story where Jesus’ family and the teachers of the law don’t like him, put all sorts of expectations on him, want him to have particular beliefs. They try to jam him into a box and he simply won’t fit.

When I look back, I see those who colonized Canada doing the same thing; not seeing the indigenous people for who they are, not learning their ways, their faith but only seeing them through their British and French white eyes, with their own expectations and beliefs. And then those of us who followed the first arrivals, perpetuated that seeing or that not-seeing. Sure we can say that’s human nature, that’s the way of empires around the world, but that doesn’t work for me. That doesn’t touch those 215 unnamed children who ended up in an unmarked grave. What were their lives like? What were their final minutes?  And we know there are more, scattered across our country, more graves, more unmarked graves with children in them.

I’m grieved that so many of the residential schools were run by churches, staffed by people who claim to be Christian, to follow Jesus. My heart is sad.

How can this be? What are my next steps? What are yours?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation  

Walls

Walls – they come in all sorts of shapes, lengths and materials, serving so many different purposes: containing flowers, guarding countries, separating neighbours, organizing farms, guiding cars, blocking noise…… Just now on TV is a show about Irish stone walls. Everywhere today I’m finding walls!

Tonight, on the drive home while listening to a podcast on the fall of ancient empires, I heard this gem that I want to share with you. Right near the end of their empire the Sumerians built a wall to protect one of their cities. There was an ocean on one side, rivers on two sides and so they thought a wall could be the final protection. Sure, lots of ancient cities or empires have been protected by walls. Like most of those walls, the Sumerian one failed too. The author said so simply…..”Walls only work as long as there is a garrison sustaining them.” That was it. I heard the truth, but not in the historical context.

Walls aren’t only outside are they? We have walls inside that divide our life into different roles and help both organize and protect us. Often, they are useful for they allow us to function in the rough and tumble of life, but they have limits. They also keep us from feeling deeply or seeing clearly or making wise choices.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a wall inside me. Truthfully, lately I’ve been feeling that wall. When I was away on retreat I began to chat with Jesus and dear Mother Mary, the Undoer of Knots, about the wall. I gave consent for them to dismantle it. In effect I told the garrison that has guarded my wall to stand down, dismissed them, sent them back home. I trust Jesus and Mary to dismantle the wall in their own slow and loving way.

I’ve known about my interior wall for many years. One of my earliest oil paintings was of a stone wall in the French countryside. When it was completed, and I sat back to consider it I realized I needed to paint another picture with the wall coming down. I am attracted to walls in nature, yet I couldn’t allow my art to express only the starkness and containment of a wall. I needed to paint, to express the wall coming down. I’ve kept those pictures and often reflected on them, feeling the openness and female power of the second image.

When I heard those words on the drive home tonight, I knew again the presence of Spirit at work in my life. I wanted to acknowledge the garrison that protected me most of my life, and once again send them home, and give consent to Jesus to do the dismantling work. It’s time for that wall crumble. I feel secure enough to stand in the world without that wall.

Walls. They have a place. But there is also a time to let them come down. God doesn’t violate us, but waits for our ask, our whole-hearted ask, longs for it. Are you in touch with any of your walls? What might be the invitation for you?

Behind the interior wall is the goodness that is in my heart and yours. Our wonderful internal, eternal beauty and light glows. Time for walls to come down. What would it be like to give consent to Jesus, to trust him to send the garrison home and begin the slow and loving crumble of the wall?

It’s a journey, not easy, never dull, always heading home.

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Full yet Quiet

My week has been woven with wonderful conversations of depth and meaning as people search to find their path or keep walking faithfully.

Those conversations are some of my favourite bits of life.

It’s been a full week yet a quiet one. Usually I write about something I’ve been mulling over all week yet this week I’ve simply moved along from one conversation to the next feeling engaged and content.

One moment caught my attention this morning. Maybe you recognize it. I woke and as I lay in bed I felt some sadness. I noted it. A half hour later when I was at my desk with my current study book open before me I was happy. I noted it. Then I noted how emotions move through like weather systems. That image had been in one of my conversations this week and here I was seeing it so clearly. Emotions and thoughts move through us. They aren’t us but move through us.

My current weather system is a warm summer evening – happy, content, full and quiet. What’s your weather today?

Love and prayers

Anne