Beauty

I wish I had words to express to you how beautiful it is here.

Today as I look out my cabin window, I can see the Douglas fir that are close to our home, but just beyond them are puffs of clouds. I know if I was driving down the road, I’d see our part of the mountain embraced by cloud.

And then… I look up again and a tiny bit of our mountain cloud has shifted. I can see the tips of the cedars that are lower down the hillside. Tips are showing, but the cedars are still muted by cloud.

How can grey cloud, grey tree trunk, dark green fir and cedar be breathtaking…. but they are, to me. Something deep within me gasps and pauses. Beauty. Natural beauty. I’m surrounded by it.

This week we made a trip to the western side of Vancouver Island. We saw enormous Douglas Fir and red cedar trees. So tall my neck strained to look at their tips. So wide I was tiny within their embrace. We watched the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash upon the rocks or smoothly glide onto the long, wide beaches, both hypnotic. Beauty. Natural Beauty. I’m surrounded by it.

I encountered another kind of beauty this week. We have several published authors in our village. Whenever I sit with one or more of them, something inside me starts to dance! As I told you a while ago, I’ve been pecking away for a couple of years at my spiritual memoirs. Recently I’ve been both drawn to work more intentionally on something and lost as to what I should work on and what approach I should take. I’ve been caught spinning around in a writer’s whirlpool. This week, at a village event, I was chatting with one of our authors and she offered to read my very unfinished draft. I was amazed at the offer. What a gift. Instinctively I feel I can trust her to give me an opinion on whether to write for my family or another audience. I felt such warmth. Since we were leaving town the next day, I sent her the draft that evening. I did it quickly while the warm feeling was still there. Before any inner critic could pull me back with doubts and hesitations. Her offer to read my unfinished work was such a gift to me. Beauty. Natural Beauty. I’m surrounded by it.

I’m grateful for the natural beauty within which I live. I’m grateful for the natural beauty of the people in my village. I’m grateful that more and more I know that I am one with the beauty around me. How I’ve changed. It wasn’t always like that.

How about you? What’s beautiful in your world?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

 

Just One Letter Different

Vector Single Doodle Sketch Illustration - The Letter LI love the games that our English languages plays, like the way ‘ear’ and ‘hear’ are embedded within ‘heart’. Hmmm so is ‘art’! Today I found a new one. ‘Compete’ and ‘Complete’ are distinguished by just one letter ‘L’.

If only we could stop competing with each other and LOVE each other more, wouldn’t the human journey be more complete?

As I reflect, I can see that I’ve been so competitive in my life. I’m not athletic so it didn’t come out in sports and trophies, but I sure did like accumulating every badge possible at camp! I’m not particularly brilliant so it didn’t come out in academic achievements, but I did manage to acquire a few degrees and physical prizes along the way which somehow still made the cut in The Great Purge when we moved west. They are sitting on my bookshelf as I write.

So yes, I can acknowledge a level of competitiveness, but there is something else, just one letter different 2something deep within. I can sense something embedded within me that competes. I want to be noticed, known and valued. I worked in places that didn’t value me as a woman or as a contemplative. From this safe distance I can feel a competitive spirit driving me to be accepted and valued as both a woman and the offering of a contemplative pathway. Oh yes, I can see that some of my offerings came from a desire to show those active oriented men a thing or too!

What if I focused on loving? What if self-compassion (noticing and valuing myself) and compassion for others was my driving force instead of competition to be noticed? What if I inserted an ‘l’ into compete? Would I feel more complete? I think I would.

just one letter different 4So practically this week how will I do that? I could be more attentive to being in the present moment, to seeing who is around me, hearing what is happening and listening to whoever I am with. I could be more aware of my choices of activities and motivations with a gentle reflection during the day and at the end of the day. I could be attentive to any negative voices that whisper (or shout!) in my mind, anything negative about myself or another, anything that breathes competition and firmly open the escape hatch to let them go. I will not feed those monsters but will set my course to walk gently and bow often, to live from a place of completion not competition.

How about you? ‘Competing’ or ‘Completing’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ of Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Lessons from Children

First it was my grand puppy and then the grandchildren. I have found animals and children to be some of my best spiritual teachers. Have you? What lessons have you learnt?

Last week as the grandchildren visited us, I was so aware of their relationship with their father. He is a quiet, thoughtful and attentive man, a primary school teacher by training and a caring father. The children are very secure with him. They can ask him anything and they listen to him, at least most of the time! They know they are loved by him and safe in the world. They are visiting us in a new home, a new location and are content, curious about what is around them, but content.

The same week they were visiting, in my meditation time I was invited to ponder both the phrase and the reality that I am a child of God. Repeatedly I held that phrase, that reality within my mind and my heart. I’m very grateful that I know I’m loved by God. I know that deep down within my soul. It was what makes everything all right for me. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move across the country and open myself to a new life. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to say, ‘I think I have a calling to priesthood’, despite the world around me not affirming women in leadership. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to work in environments that weren’t supportive to my perspective. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move towards forgiveness when I’m ignored, snubbed or ridiculed.

But it wasn’t always that way. I didn’t grow up in a home where I felt safe and content. I grew up frightened and hiding. I didn’t have a relationship with my father or mother where I could ask questions, where I could explore new ways. My childhood experience was radically different than my grandchildren’s. I’m so grateful that theirs is different!

I know that I’m not alone in my experience. Many of us grow up troubled and then we’re told ‘we’re children of God’. That’s not such a good thing when our childhood memory is troublesome. I’m grateful that I was able to make that transition from a frightened little girl to a mature and secure woman, one who knows she is a Child of God, who knows that her father is generous, compassionate and kind. Being with my grandchildren helped me deepen my child-like trust of God. They really are ‘grand’!

We are Children of God. Everyone of us. Everyone of us. And our Father is good, all the time.

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Lessons from My Dog

Lessons from My Dogmy job waiting with hope dog and ball

One more time my dog is my spiritual teacher! If you have one, or have ever had one, you probably know what I mean. Time and again their love and presence have offered me deep spiritual truths. It happened again this week.

We’ve been looking after our ‘grandpuppies’ for the last three weeks. One day Finn started his dinner dance about 4.30 in the afternoon. I’m NOT going to feed him then. lessons from my dog 3Right! I’m NOT. I’m NOT. He locks his eyes on me. I turn my head away, plowing deep into my book. Then the nails start clacking. The dinner dance had begun. He’d moved from the deep concentrated stare to the dance with prancing and jumping added to the deep stare. The final level comes when he adds in a bark or two. Just random barks that I accompany the prance and are always tied to that deep concentrated stare. When he is in full flow, he is one powerful beast!

Wouldn’t you know it, but just this week I’ve been reading in my meditation course about concentration. You know when Jesus says we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? Well my mediation teacher takes those verses and says, ‘Yes! We’re to apply all of our being, our feelings, our thoughts, our whole energy towards God. Everything. Everything. We’re to apply deep concentration in our prayers, in our meditations.’ Just like Finn throws his whole being into convincing me to give him dinner at 4.30, I’m to throw my whole being into an openness towards God within meditation and within life. Just like Finn.

Honestly, over my Christian life, I’ve spent hours in prayer, but really, how much of that lessons from my dog 2time have I done a ‘dinner dance’ with God? How much of that time has been fully concentrated on God, not taking my eyes off, prancing and jumping, evening barking till I get what I’m looking for? How much? Honestly not that much. My mind wanders. A lot. It’s not that I don’t seek God and love God, it’s just that my mind wanders and I’m still much of the time, lost in my mind.

One more time, my dog is my spiritual teacher. I have so much to learn. I am humbled by how much I still have to learn.

What lessons has your dog taught you?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

STILL Listening for the Big Yes!

Thanks so much for your responses to my questions. I enjoyed hearing some of your ‘Big Yes!’ stories. It is so good when we know something deeply and intuitively. It helps me know that I belong and that I’m on track – whatever that track is and wherever it is going.

Responding to my side of the question you welcomed both memoir and devotions (a bit tipped towards devotions) but also said keep up this blog. A few responded with the wisdom ‘You’ll know.’ I know that is true. I am still to keep listening. This season of my life is a time of deepening, a time of exploring, a sifting and sorting time. I can be so action-oriented…but this is a time of waiting, a time of Holy Waiting. I desire to wait on the Holy One to show me the pathway.

I can look back over my life and recall some major times of sorting and shifting: when I slowed down commitments to learn to pray; when I joined Community Bible Study as a Teaching Director; when I left after ten years; when I returned to school; when I sought ordination; when I encountered Contemplative Fire; when I stepped back after ten years; and when I moved to British Columbia. Each time I had a ‘Big Yes’. I knew deep within me it was time to walk that pathway. I wasn’t besieged by doubts or fears. I knew what I wanted. Sometimes there were obstacles in my way. Sometimes it was slower that I thought it would be, but I still kept knowing a ‘Big Yes’.

I believe in the guiding hand of God. I believe we’re not alone. God’s Spirit guides and sends angels to protect and affirm us. The Spirit sends people too. We are to help each other, speak into each other’s lives with affirmation and encouragement.

Anymore ‘Big Yes’ stories out there? Have you had times of knowing God’s guidance?

The world needs us strong and clear in our spiritual life. Let’s strengthen each other through sharing our stories.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

Listening for the Big YES!

We have had some friends visiting with us for the last few days. Conversations rambled all over the place, but one day as we were climbing the hill from the beach one friend turned and asked me, “What are you working on Anne? What are you writing?”. It was such a lovely question. He truly was interested in my writing. He’s a songwriter so we connect over words and how evocative they can be, as well as a shared spirituality.

I’ve discovered I really enjoy being ‘a writer’. It feels so comfortable to me, like pulling on an old pair of slippers! Yes, that’s what I’ve always been, yet never acknowledged till this past year. I do acknowledge that now and can talk with him about what I’m working on. Yet I don’t really know yet what I am working on, except my writing craft. Maybe you, Gentle Reader can help me focus.

I replied to him that I’ve started up my blog again ‘Mystic in Motion’, so I write weekly for it. I also usually do Morning Pages, rambling thoughts each day to keep me writing. I’m wondering about a book focus. I’ve started my spiritual memoirs which are not my whole story, but the times when the veil was pulled back and I encountered the presence of God in a significant, life-shaping way. I’ve also wondered about gathering my devotional writing, the reflections I wrote for years for Contemplative Fire and organize them into a devotional reader. They would be little tidbits you can taste. Or is there something else? Over the years I’ve thought of writing about gender issues in the workplace, particularly in ministry. But then I began a Master Writer’s Class and have been focused on sorting through my motivation, audience, ideal reader etc. Don’t I need to decide which project I’ll focus on? Or do I hold several at a time?

I unloaded all that on my friend as we climbed the mountain. It was good to share with a kindred soul, but I didn’t come to any conclusion. All I know, more and more clearly, is that in this next season of life I’ll spend significant time spreading words around a page. I like that thought… a lot.

Help me Gentle reader… memoir or devotions? Or something else? Help me hear the Big Yes, the kind of YES, that makes other things melt away.

When have you heard a ‘Big YES’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

 

The Whispers of Love

 

We live in a rain forest. I’m so delighted to live here. Yes, it rains, seventeen days this past month, but oh the clouds! A few weeks ago, the weather turned from summer to fall. I noticed it, not only because of the drop in temperature and the arrival of rain, but because of the clouds. I discovered last year that during the rainy season the clouds take on a life of their own. They are always moving, twisting, turning, slipping through the trees and across the Sound. Some days they embrace us and other days they are wispy, floating through the forest, rising up, slipping down, melting away only to return again. As I drive our highway, I often watch the clouds dance, for they’re always shifting their shape.

John O’Donohue writes of the importance of love in our lives, yet how easy it is for us to miss it. Last week as we sat before our dinner meal, my husband read to me a few lines from O’Donohue’s book, ‘Anan Cara’. It included a bit of Boris Pasternak: “When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.”

If I’m not slow and attentive, I can miss the beauty of the clouds that move around my forest dwelling. If I’m not slow and attentive, I can miss the whispers of love that tap at my heart. When has my heart jumped? What has drawn my attention? Who has caught my eye and truly looked at me? The Whispers of Love. They are constantly moving, changing shape. I never know when they will come. But oh, I want to be ready, ready to open the door and say ‘Welcome.’

What does Love feel like for you when she knocks on your heart?

Peace in the midst of all.

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

How to Handle Distractions: The Squeaky Shoes!

The community had gathered. We had heard a sacred reading. The bell was struck. A gentle silence descended on us. Then, on the other side of the wall, in the parking lot a frustrated mother began yelling at her child, “I didn’t drive all this way for you to refuse to go to camp!’. The yelling continued, accompanied by a child’s mournful cry.  Beneath our feet the piano began, joined by happy voices of children singing camp songs. One after another their songs rolled along. The final straw were The Squeaky Shoes, rubber soles on linoleum, that sauntered down the hall outside the chapel. Really! So what was that sacred text???

That particular morning highlighted for me the delight of meditation. We (or is it just me!) have this image of sitting in stillness, all is serene. Maybe a few birds chirp or a gentle waterfall is a soothing white noise. Within a pristine setting perhaps I will settle into a place of inner peace.

But usually as soon as I settle on my cushion, I’m aware of the flopping of my mind, or emotions that get triggered. Again and again, as Fr Keating taught, I get hooked by some ‘boat’ that has entered the river of my thoughts and I’m engaged in sorting out all the stuff on the boat. Whether my physical space is serene or not, my internal space seldom is very orderly.

That morning, with all the yelling, singing and squeaking, gave me time to reflect again on how to deal with distractions when I meditate. They will happen! It might be internal thoughts that engage me or the squeaky shoes outside the room. I know they will come, so how can I let them not trigger an annoyance or sense of failure, but become one of the delights of meditation?

I know as my practice deepens the external sounds move more easily into something ‘out there’ and cease to trigger the cords of annoyance within me. They can still cause me to feel disruption. I look for the day when I’m oblivious to them. I’m not there yet. I’m not able to walk on hot coals! But I can breathe and let them pass. The internal roommate that chatters is more of a distraction to me. But the good part is that I can recognize when I’ve climbed on board and jump overboard one more time.

The real delight of distractions in meditation for me is the growing awareness that those distractions help me bring the quiet centre of my practice into everyday life. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store or caught in traffic I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then, right there because I’ve done it in my practice when The Squeaky Shoes walked down the hall. Or when someone gets annoyed at me or I feel irritated towards someone, or jealous of who they are, I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then because that’s what I’ve done in my meditation practice when The Squeaky Shoes were the last straw for me. Again, and again, pause, breathe and return my focus to God’s Spirit within me. I am a branch of God’s vine. I carry God’s Life-giving, Ever-Loving, Healing Sap within me. I belong to God. That is who I am.

Distractions! How do you deal with them in life and /or on the cushion???

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

The Importance of Approaching Sleep Well

Day AND Night

What is your attitude to night time? Do you dismiss it? Do you think that the only things of significance take place during the day?

I have a new mediation teacher in my life right now.  I learnt today that I’d seen night as very different from day. I realize that unconsciously I thought that important things only took place during the day. The daytime hours were when it all happened! Sure as I went to sleep I’d give myself into God’s care for my slumber, but whatever… it was nighttime. I really didn’t prepare for the work or the experience of what my soul was up to during the hours of slumber.

Today I was taught to formally meditate twice a day – sure that’s normal. I was taught to begin my day with meditation, before my mind took off to plan the day or engage in the days work – sure that’s normal. But then he said to make my second meditation time just before bed, sometime between nine and midnight. He told me I was to prepare myself to sleep. As I read that I realized that my ‘day’ has two parts, one where the sun shines (or not!) and one where the moon shines (or not!). There is dawn, high noon, dusk and deep dark. Each phase of a day has it’s own energy.

I love the early morning hours, daybreak that shines pink on the mountains, that holds a stillness and anticipation in the air. Noon is bustling, activities happen, things are accomplished. Dusk is unwinding from the days work, settling down and sometimes gloriously beautiful. The deep dark of night is like a deep exhale, a time of rest. Each part of the cycle is significant, none more than the others. Each precious as part of our life.

So I’m changing my meditation routine. I don’t know how it will work or if I can do it, but I’ll try. Morning meditation continues. My afternoon meditation time will become a study/reflection period. I’ll try to meditate before bed with the intention of preparing myself for the soul work that takes place during the darkness and time of rest.

Practicalities trouble me. Where will I meditate at night? In my cabin? In a room in the house? In our bed? Hmm… I’m just not sure how all this will work.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

View from the Edge

In a conversation with a soul sister today I found myself describing how I see the church, the world and place of the church within the world. It came out so clearly. Can I capture it again?

I live on the edge of my country which gives me a sense of freedom as I look around. I perceive the institutional church disappearing into irrelevancy. People don’t attend any more. They’ve dismissed it. The church has lost her spiritual authority. It seems to me that the church has lost spiritual authority because she no longer listens intently to the Spirit of God nor lives within the flowing energy of the Spirit.

Today we don’t just live in villages, cities or even countries but are called to live within a global community, an earth community. Yes, we do have the intimate relationships of family and community, but in this new age of human history, we’re aware of the global community and how our actions affect one another as well as our planet.

Any denominational church needs to have that awareness too. The Spirit of God is moving globally. Spiritually we need to be aware of all the spiritual pathways that are within the global community. We need to not only be aware of them, but awake and responsive to them. Within the main spiritual communities there is a meeting place in the mystical world. We all arrive at some point of recognizing the presence of God around and within us. We need to be open to each other and to the wisdom inherent in different pathways.

From my perspective, for too many years the Christian church has separated herself and become closed. She has ceased to reflect the life, energy and power of Jesus. Through history and theology, we have built walls between us and other faiths. It is time to step out from behind those walls and be open. We need to stand together, within the Light of God. God is so much bigger than any one human-constructed faith that has evolved from a divine teacher. I have found my study of other traditions has made Jesus bigger and more alive for me. He is not diminished but expanded and strengthened. We need to listen to what the Spirit of God is saying today.

For our human species to move to the next level of consciousness we need a spiritual rebirth that will bring healing to those who hurt, a deep peace to the planet and healing to our earth. We need to move beyond small worlds into the global, even cosmic world. We need to move beyond a small church into the wide, expanse of spiritual life, the big ‘C’ Church of All Followers Everywhere. That’s when spiritual authority will return to the newly created Spiritual Community.

The people on this planet need a strong, healthy, united spiritual voice. Will we listen? Will we respond?

We’re all in this together. It’s time we lived into that reality.

I think that is the essence of my response to my soul sister. I share it with you as a way of mulling it over myself. How does it strike you? Helpful? Heretical!?

Love and prayers
Anne
Mystic in Motion
Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada
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