The Colander of My Life

 

Perhaps this will feel like an upside-down image for you, but please stay with me and see if it works!

We are God’s children, lovely, delightful, complex creatures, dearly loved by The Divine One. God pours out an abundance of generous grace and love towards us each day, even each moment of each day. That is the Nature of Love – abundant and freely given.

For many years I couldn’t receive the Love that was there for me. It was as if my life was a colander, a large bowl made to receive, but filled with holes. The holes in my life were things like fear, doubt, anxiety, envy, judgement and insecurity. Or words such as ‘not good enough’, ‘you can’t’, ‘that’s not true’, ‘how could you?’. Each time Love was poured into my life, it would escape through one of the holes and I’d not experience it. Instead of a large full round colander, it was as if I held up a tiny thimble to God. I could only receive the tiniest bit of Love.

I was so thirsty for Love. I went to God again and again, asking to be filled. Slowly over the years through hours of reflective prayer and personal work, I began to experience those holes being filled. I discovered  an internal sense of peace, joy and love that wasn’t dependent on my circumstances. I began to recognize the untrustworthy voices and feelings within me that had drilled the holes into my colander.

God’s Grace is always pouring Love towards us, but will we receive it? I needed to slow down, open myself to the healing work that I needed, acknowledge it and engage in it. Then I was ready to begin to receive the constant flow of God’s Love into my life. Yes, there is God’s Grace, but I have an active part in receiving it.

Once the holes in our colander begin to be healed, we can receive and relish the delights of Love. Then our colanders, our lives can fill, fill to overflowing and God’s Healing Love can reach others through us. But we need to do our own work first. I’m persuaded that I won’t love you, anymore than I honestly love myself, and I don’t begin to deeply love myself till I acknowledge my holes and enter into the healing work. Then I will be of service to others. That’s the human journey.

I know part of this image doesn’t work for a colander without holes becomes a bowl…. but there is something in it that speaks to me, something about those holes in my life that lets goodness seep away. I hope there is something to help some of you as well.

How are you on receiving and retaining Love? What are the holes in your colander? What kind of internal work are you being invited to participate in?

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

 

A Question One Morning

 

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

In my devotional readings this morning, that was a question that jumped right off the page and into my lap!

I’m the youngest of three daughters. As a young person, even into my early twenties, I often felt that I couldn’t do anything my older sisters hadn’t already done. I went to the same primary school, high school and university. I attended the same summer camp and the went on the same family holidays. I felt defined by those objective events and blind to the uniqueness of ‘Anne’.

When I juggled that question around in my lap, I began to find many things that I had done that nobody else had done in the world. I began to savour anew my uniqueness. Some of the unique things I found were on the showy side, the upfront side, the side that can be noticed in the world. Other things were quieter, small everyday expressions of creativity. I appreciate that I was given the privilege of bringing Contemplative Fire into Canada – that’s on the upfront side of life. It touched my creative side and has been a real joy to me. I appreciate too that I was gifted with being able to birth four amazing young women. They are like no one else in the world. But creativity is in everyday things too. I moved from Stibbard Avenue in Toronto to Oceanview Road in Lions Bay. I don’t think anyone else, besides my husband has done that! Let’s get into even smaller everyday things looking for creativity. A dear one taught me how to open my closet and create an outfit to wear each day that will give me joy! No one else in the world will have that particular outfit on, on that particular day!

The devotional writer was stirring our creative energy. He was teaching us how we are within our spirit united to God’s Spirit. We are to relax and follow our intuition. It will lead us into a creative expression in the world, one that only we can make. I know deeply the presence of God within each one of us. Will we listen. Will we be awake spiritually, attentive to the movements within us? And listening, will we respond and move within the creative flow, saying ‘YES!’?

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

Celebrate the goodness that is YOU.

 

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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First Writing Day!

 

As I woke this morning, I realized it was my First (self-declared) Writing Day! What a joy. I saw a whole day stretching out before me. A day that is unscheduled, open and inviting. Time to retire to my cabin, open the windows so I can hear the creek below me and relax.

I feel at home, at ease. I am where I belong, in front of my screen, eyes lifting to Howe Sound, ears attuned to Harvey Creek and heart at rest, open, alive, listening and feeling. Ah, how good life is.

I’m so very grateful to be able to say that, to know that this moment is good. I’ve just written a Field Report from Julia Cameron’s ‘Vein of Gold’. It’s a summary report of the work I’ve done according to her tasks of creating your life story. I’ve done a Narrative Time Line, discovered my Secret Selves, written a ‘cup’ or two to release secrets into the universe, transformed negative words into positive ones, created a Freedom Fairy to slay a lurking monster in my life and taken the Vein of Gold quiz – whew! That was all quite a bit of work over the last couple of months. Today, writing my Field Report was engaging, rewarding and satisfying. I was able to scoop up the pain, press it down and let the mature wine of my life flow. Time to savour it!

I’m wondering if these Writing Days will be taken up with re-reading and re-doing some of my past community reflections and blogs. I’ve wondered about gathering them into a devotional book. Or my time might turn to working more on the spiritual memoir I’ve started. I don’t know yet the focus of these days. I plan to post a little something each week in ‘Mystic in Motion’, just because that is my home base, a sorting ground for me.

What will I find if I re-read articles? Will I find sorrow? Will I find joy? I’ve noticed over the years that people relate to sorrow more easily than to joy. I wonder if most of my articles have emerged out of struggles. Generally, people seem to find it easier to say, ‘Oh, that sounds so difficult. I’m sorry that has happened to you.’, rather than celebrating or coming alongside a very happy person. Has anyone else noticed that?

We tend to share our sorrows rather than our joys. Who do you celebrate with? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m cultivating this unseen audience in ‘Mystic in Motion’. I can be happy with you! I will celebrate with you the goodness of life. Today is my First Writing Day. Today seems to me, like a very fine day, a very fine day.

From Thich Nhat Hanh I savour: I know you are there, and I’m very happy.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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It Happened One Night

The night was magical. There was a clear sky overhead.  Slowly the sun sank, and an evening blue sky began to cover us. We were tucked beside wild and extravagant flower boxes on various levels of our host’s patio. Thirty or so of the village had gathered to re-live a ‘El Camino Experience’. One of our members, an author, was to read an award-winning article she had written about her pilgrimage. First, she gave us an overview of the history and current happenings on the pilgrimage trail, and then took us into her story as she described what became her addiction to walking.  As part of her journey she had experienced a remarkable service in a chapel where one pilgrim had played ‘Ave Maria’ on her flute. So, we had two other village members who were both flutists play for us ‘Ave Maria’ and many more tunes as well. Our evening was completed with a feast of tapas and lingering conversations. One more time I left a village gathering amazed and delighted. And this is the place I’m able to call home!

On reflection I knew that once again the creative community was rubbing away at my reluctance to express myself. Last night I spoke with at least two authors and their presence massages my soul. I love being with them. Looking back over my life I see so clearly the draw of words on me. I love the sound of them, their history, the images they create, the feelings they evoke. I found my writing voice in high school, and again in university as my courses were driven by essays. I actually enjoyed banging them out on a typewriter and learning how to footnote! Twenty-five years later when I returned to university and found I could still write, a bit of my heart jumped with joy. My years in ministry were rich with sermon writing, reflections for Contemplative Fire and then blogging.

My writing has often been a way I think through ideas or sometimes it has been a way to encircle and embrace a wonderful moment.  In one parish I was given the delight of taking one day a week as a ‘writing day’.  It was set out to be a day for sermon prep, but I delighted in the whole idea of openly acknowledging that what I love to do and need to do, is write.

I think I will do that again. I had been waiting for a book or an idea to emerge from within me, but I think I will hone my craft as I wait.  Although I usually do write each day either in my journal or in Morning Pages, I am giving myself one day a week to write. I think it will be Fridays. There I’ve done it. I’ll put it in my calendar! I will try this till the end of the year. Pray for me,,,,,

Our village is a magical place. Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, away from the hum of the city, it sings its own song.  It’s full of creative souls, caught on the edge of somewhere. I can feel the creative energy around me. And oh… have I said this already…. I really appreciate living here.

Much love to you, who ere you be, Gentle Reader

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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Open Heart, Open Mind

Have you ever experienced a shift within yourself? It might be around what I’d call your heart space, or it could be within your mind.

I think I first became aware of it within my mind. I grew up with a clear sense of right and wrong. Then as a young Christian I was in a very strong doctrinal community where absolute truths were taught so I developed a clear sense of correct beliefs. If I heard a ‘new’ idea, I quickly, both intuitively and intellectually, ran it through my grid of acceptable beliefs. If it didn’t fit, and many didn’t, out it went. I couldn’t tolerate anything internally that would unsettle me.

Over the years my heart space has become much larger and much deeper. I spent years growing a contemplative pattern into my life. As I did that, I encountered the Love (with a capital ‘l’) of God. I became aware of how present God is around me and within me. My sense of myself,  not only at peace with God, but as Jesus describes in John’s Gospel, one with God, became deeply real to me. As that happened, the roots of my heart space went deep into the Love of Christ. I became more secure within God’s Love and then more secure hearing many different ideas.

Now I’m often aware of internal movements – my heart opens, my heart closes. My mind opens, my mind closes.

I’ve watched how I’ve changed in my reaction to ideas. I can see how I can be open to new ideas or closed to them. The voice within me used to be very strong. “NO – that’s not what I think.” I would pull away, not even able to entertain that thought. It was outside my comfort zone. It’s beyond what I’d been taught as ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘honest.” But now my response is more “That’s interesting. Does it bring peace, joy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness into me, into the world?”

I began to be able to have open ears and to listen to different ideas. The filter that I ran them through changed dramatically. I was no longer needing every idea to fit into a prescribed article of faith/belief. I could reflect on them and gather the impact of the idea on me and others around me. If I walk this way, will I come closer to others? If I encompass this belief will I be more gracious to other human beings? Slowly, my mind began to become open. Now I embrace living with an open mind. As the old song says, ‘Don’t Fence Me In’!

For me, to begin to cultivate an open mind, I had to have an open heart. To develop an open heart, I had to allow my roots to go deeply, experiencially, into the Love of Christ.  I spent time in prayer, study, and spiritual conversations. It is why I love to offer people the contemplative pathway – learn to slow down, discover you’re Loved by God, and then live out of what you hear.

Open heart, open mind.

When do you experience your mind opening, closing, your heart opening, closing?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

FYI – I’ve written a few blogs for Red Hat Outfitters. If you’re curious, or seeking a special holiday, it’s a  different sort of blog describing some of my travel experiences:  redhatoutfitters.com

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Easter Reflections: God is Enough, More Than Enough

 

(( I love that Easter, within the church year, lingers for fifty days. I penned these words just after our Easter celebration 2019))

Last week I experienced The Abundance of God. Today I linger in my pjs till noon, a bit exhausted by the abundance! I found one of those waves of the Spirit and rode it all week so today, I’m tossed on the shore to delight in the experience. God is enough, more than enough.

The week was full of activities, with people, with conversations, with experiences and ideas being exchanged, with errands and appointments that make up life, with meals out with family and new friends, with an abundance of worship services and punctuated with a day of fasting and prayer.

In the midst of the flow of Holy Week I heard the voice of The Loving Spirit drawing me closer. As I sat in a contemplative prayer service around the last supper with Jesus and his friends, he called me to trust him. The words were both surprising for they weren’t in the text, but also so familiar and real. Again and again I’ve heard the invitation to trust God’s Spirit, to lean into the presence within me. Surrender. Let the Spirit carry me forward. I am to be open.

On Friday as I held a crucifix in my hands and then later sat in front of a cross, I began to wonder what in me needs to die so I can trust more deeply, so I can live surrendered into loving arms. I realize I’ve prayed that same prayer, perhaps different words, but the same prayer, for over forty-five years. I’ve carried an inner sense that there something in me that blocks the free flow of God into the world through me and I long for that block to be released, for the dam to be broken, so more and more of God’s healing presence might flow through me.

Easter Sunday gifted me with the words of Jesus to Mary in the garden, ‘Don’t hold on to me.’ Ah yes, trust, let go, surrender. Are there old beliefs, labels, perspectives that no longer serve me? I’m in a new life here, finding new ways forward. It’s time to trust even more deeply, trust the goodness, the abundance of God.

God is enough, more than enough.

Today our home is drenched in a cloud. I can see the first few meters of trees, but that is all. The sun will re-appear. I know I can trust that. Resurrection is a part of life. Everyday. Everywhere. The sun is always shining somewhere. There is always new life happening. I trust. It is into that goodness I surrender, letting go of old ways, prescribed ways of being, old doubts and fears.

God is enough, more than enough.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

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Good Friday Reflections

good friday 2 date

I like honoring Good Friday. The world seems to keep spinning all around me, the garbage was still collected, and my groceries were delivered, but I like slowing down on Good Friday.

I like the tiny connection to Jesus and suffering that I experience through a service and a spiritual discipline. The service is like a funeral for a very dear friend. Most of the congregation was in black today. I chose to wear black. I realized I could have added my clergy collar for I usually do for funerals. I don’t wear it very often right now, but funerals call it out in me. Today I appreciated how Jesus’ story was simply told and then we good friday 4 crown2prayed for our hurting and suffering world. Instead of a sermon, there was a gentle reflection. No one told me what to believe about his death. The speaker simply led me closer to the experience of it. I appreciated not being ‘taught’ about one of the biggest mysteries of my faith.

And my spiritual discipline today was fasting…. If I attend the service well fed and then go out to lunch it feels so indulgent. I know the most direct route to hardship for me lies in denying myself something I really enjoy – food and eating! So, I have often kept Good Friday as a fast day. I know millions around the world join me in that tradition. Fasting quickly activates the worst in me. Irritation, impatience, cravings and greed show up immediately. I see my shadow side.

good friday 1

So Good Friday is a quiet, thoughtful day for me. It’s as if I’ve been to funeral and I don’t want to do much else, but read, pray, write, gently catch up on correspondence, and let gratitude towards all engulf me.

Its on a day like this that I feel my disconnect with the world around me. the garbage was still picked up, groceries delivered, ferry boats plying the coast, holiday makers lining up. good friday 5 funeralSo often I’ve said to grieving families when it’s a small cluster of us gathered around the graveside, ‘Take care of yourself. You’re heading out into a busy world. They’re not grieving but you are. You know a deep loss, a hole, a wound. You need to take care of yourself. You are living in a different space than they are.’ Today I feel the need of those words for myself. The world around me is whirling, but I’m not. I’m grieving. I’ve looked at death this morning. I grieve what was done to Jesus. I also grieve the lack of spiritual awareness in the world around me. No one seems to care that he died.

What meaning does Good Friday have in your life?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

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Cocoon

(((I wrote this blog late January, but never posted it)))

I last wrote to you in mid December. Since then I’ve felt silent, very quiet. Although invitations come to be engaged in many activities, and although our social circles in our new BC Village Life are expanding, I’ve found myself stilled deep within. I feel as though I’m wrapped in a cocoon. I’ve entered it as a caterpillar and I’ve no idea what my new form will be when I emerge.

I also don’t know when I will emerge. Will it be this winter, the coming summer, next year, five years, ten years? I simply don’t know. I do know… I’m not in charge. I can’t make the internal change happen. I’m the recipient of the transforming work. Gee I hope I like myself when I flap my wings on the other side! ……I know I will.

I’ve come to value and enjoy myself so much over these last ten or twenty years. I’m so grateful to the contemplative tradition, the Contemplative Fire community, and the individuals who have nurtured my soul over these years. I’ve experienced so much inner healing. In the last thirty years I’ve moved from holding a deep pain within me, to feeling the brightness and warmth of internal sunshine.

Much of my healing journey has related to my contemplative practices. I learnt how to pray with scriptural meditations, then spent hours journaling in the scriptures learning to open my soul to God to hear what the Spirit wanted me to know. I had days and weeks on retreat  where I was cared for by my spiritual directors. My first one back in the 1990’s was very special for me. He was so open, honest and challenging with me. He saw the depths of my hurt and didn’t draw back but stayed present with me and called me out to play with him. In contemplative community life I learned so many ways to pray, each one slightly different, each allowing me to face my shadows and not fear them any longer, each one speaking more of loving acceptance to me. Then within the security of the contemplative world I could engage with emotional therapy and integrate the two worlds of therapy and prayer. I’m so grateful to the many, many people who have walked with me over the last thirty years of my healing journey.

Now I’m in a new place, and I’m sensing a cocoon all around me. I’m to be still and quiet during this season. I’m grateful for the healing I’ve experienced. I can trust now that being still and being transformed into a new life will be okay. I don’t know what my new life will be like, but I do know the one who has wrapped me in this cocoon and is with me within it. I trust. I TRUST. I TRUST LOVE.

love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion (or not!)

Time to Begin Again!

 

I love the way things just happen! As I was reading my morning thoughtful book today something shifted inside me. I found myself ready once again to write some blogs. I’ve been reluctant to write since Christmas. I wrote one in January called ‘Cocoon’ describing how I have been feeling these last few months. I’ll post it soon. But today, something changed.

Is it because I live in a village where I meet authors? Last night we had a Volunteers Appreciation Event. It’s another story about how I ended up there, for we’ve only been in this village for six months, but there I was at a table with two published authors. One of them I know quite well and the other, I’ve read one of her books, but never chatted with her before. Two days earlier I was in one of my village book clubs, chatting with another village author.

In this small village there are so many accomplished people. In six months I’ve met dancers, artists and authors, structural engineers, accountants, lawyers and trauma doctors, designers of water parks, sea captains and airline pilots, nurses, social workers and paramedics, home schoolers, mountaineers, pastry chefs and end-of-life doulas. The list goes on and on and on. Most of all, I’ve met kind, generous and good people. Each one welcoming of newcomers into their village.

So last night, at the Volunteer Appreciation Event, as we sat in a rain forest drizzle at the local beach, sipping wine and eating pizza, something got stirred up in me. I recalled thirty-five years ago when I began writing a Harlequin Romance – yes I did! But… I didn’t finish it.  I’ve started writing my spiritual memoir … but not finished that either. I tired one time to pull my devotional writings together into a book….but  – you guess it, that’s not finished either.

I’m feeling like it’s time to begin again, but probably not the Harlequin Romance!

I’m not ready to commit to a weekly blog like I did before. I am ready to begin writing and I’ll post as I go along. You might never know when you’ll hear from me. I do enjoy hearing from you Gentle Reader, but truthfully, I write for myself. I think things through as I write. I record them. If they are helpful to you – that’s a joy.

Do you have things that you’ve begun and not finished? How do you know when you’re ready to begin again?

Today I have joy in my heart. Not an adrenaline pounding excitement, but a simple warm, deep glow. Writing is a part of who I am. I’m delighted to be able to tap/write again.

I wonder what will emerge. I wonder where it will lead me/us.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Patient Trust

 

 

I first found the reading “Patient Trust’ from Teilhard de Chardin at the end of a book on contemplative leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. (Its at the end of this note if you’re not familiar with it) Instantly I knew I needed to live into the truth that he wrote about. After a time, I put it aside, but it re-appeared about a year and half later when I was on a Centring Prayer retreat. I was in the midst of a major life discernment and again felt convicted that his words were for me. After that I shared it with the Contemplative Fire leadership team and our Board Chair kept bringing it to every meeting we had. For the last sixteen months we’ve read it again and again. On Friday I joined the Contemplative Fire leadership via Skype and we read it again at both of our meetings.

This time I felt us moving through the period of instability and some sense of a future emerging for the community. I also found through those group conversations that personally I was emerging from the darkness and instability. I am beginning to find my feet, to touch ground here. The team helped me see the invitations that I’m receiving as beginning to touch solid land again. I sit back amazed at how many invitations I’ve had in these three, full but short, months. I can see so many doors opening before me. Light coming through those doors. There is a new life for us here.

It doesn’t matter that our pictures aren’t hung, or that there are still piles of things on the floor, or that I keep moving things around or that the workmen just knocked down the stairs leading to the house and found rotten wood! The instability all around me is just the way it is but it doesn’t claim me as it had in the past. My feet are beginning to touch solid ground again. I’m grateful that I know Deep Joy and that I smile in the midst of our mess. It’s such a lovely feeling when I’m swimming in deep water and then feel the bottom with my toes. I trust in the slow work of God, gently drawing me to feel the solid bottom again.

I’m writing Advent Reflections for Contemplative Fire. If you don’t receive them, go to www.contemplativefire.ca or our Facebook page to find them. I think I will focus the next few weeks on Advent and re-appear after Christmas.

Please receive ‘Patient Trust’ as my Christmas gift to you! Enjoy. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s trust in the slow work of God in our lives, and the lives of those we care about.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something

unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability —

and that it may take a very long time…..

 

And so I think it is with you:

your ideas mature gradually – let them grow.

Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances

acting on your own good will)

will make of you tomorrow.

 

Only God could say what this new spirit,

gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,

and accepting the anxiety of feeling yourself

in suspense and incomplete.

 

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader, Canada