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

Birthdays

When I was a child, we barely acknowledged birthdays. I recall a party when I was four and another when I was ten, but the other years….. I know my mother bought a cake at Loblaws. I can still see the roses and taste that icing! But I don’t recall much of a fuss let alone a ‘celebration’ of me, or of anyone else on their birthday.

Fast forward twenty years till I had my own four daughters. At some moment it settled in on me that we were supposed to celebrate birthdays! It wasn’t a lightning bolt that told me how to be an attentive mom, but rather the invitations to other family’s parties. Oh… that’s what happens around birthdays! Gradually I learnt, and I have memories of some fun parties: the puppy party when we celebrated a puppy turning one and a daughter who loved him turning seven so all the guests brought a dog and we played dog games; a scavenger hunt party at Black Creek Pioneer Village that got invaded by a re-enactment of the Rebellion of 1837; the sleepover parties with movies and late-night games and discussion; chocolate log cakes and fireworks on cottage beach; costume parties and decorating Smurf cakes. I hope my girls have memories too.

This week I celebrated my birthday in our new home. The family had asked me what I wanted for I was turning 70 and that seemed to be a special year to celebrate, but I couldn’t come up with anything that was a longing within me. I finally acknowledged that I’m in a new place without friends and I’m still absorbed by the move so lets just keep it simple and us.

When the day came, I found myself very touched by the phone calls, emails, and texts. Even a card and a present survived the postal disruption to arrive at my home and somehow fresh flowers  arrived too which may not seem like much to you city dwellers, but here in the country where delivery people laugh when i tell them where I live…..was a treat.  I’m not a Facebook person, but those notes too popped into my inbox. I felt surrounded by people, known and appreciated. I wasn’t alone. Yes, I’m in a new place. I have no ‘friends’ here, but I’m still within a circle of people I care about and who care for me.

During the week, as I prepared the Village meditation group (did I tell you I’m hosting an introductory one in the Village for November?), I found Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama’s book that I really enjoyed last year. They wrote it to celebrate their 80th birthdays, ‘The Book of Joy’. I think it’s a treasure. They describe how each day is our birth-day. Each day we get to celebrate and begin anew. Ahh… each day is a day we bring new life into the world. Each day we can set our intention to be light, to express kindness, to extend compassion. Each day is our birth-day. Hmm… I think that means too that each day we get to laugh a lot, play a game or too and eat Smurf cake!

How do you celebrate birthdays? How might that be part of your everyday-birthday?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader, Canada

The Dining Room Table

 

We live in a small mountain village. When it’s dark, it’s really dark for we have no street lights. Last night, in the moonlight, a man and his two sons arrived at our mountain home. We helped them load into their van our dining room table and chairs. He told us they were new in Canada, finding their way, setting up their home with five children. I shared with him how much we had enjoyed this dining room set for many years. I gave him the blessing of it into their family life. He received the blessing and returned one to us. As they piled back into their van, I heard repeatedly, ‘God bless you. Pray for us. I’ll pray for you.’. And then they drove off into the dark night.

Our move has given us the initiative to give a lot of things away to a lot of people. On many occasions I’ve been able to offer a blessing to the people. Nothing ‘formal’, but heartfelt words of how much this loom, filing cabinet, doll house, chair, book etc. has meant to me and how I wish them enjoyment, peace and an awareness of Love as they use it. Most times the blessing has been received and that is such a gift back to me.

Letting go has been deep within me this week. Giving away the dining set was just one more physical reflection of the deep emotional, intellectual and spiritual release that this move is asking of me. The layers of letting go quite astound me.

As each layer peels off, I can feel more and more vulnerable, getting closer to my core for there is less and less I can hide within, fewer roles and tasks to hide behind. Even ‘The Moving Task’ I hold more lightly, as I continue to let go realizing I can’t control it.

We have some pine cabinets that we’ve had for forty years. I’ve been trying to sell them, but no one has purchased them in Toronto or BC. Tomorrow we’ll give them to charity. Another letting go. We bought them as newlyweds, as we made our first house into a home. It is time to let them go. It is time to let go too of who we were, so we can become who we are today, a couple married forty-five years, beginning a new life in a new location. It is time to let go of who we were, so we may become who we are today.

I know there is a blessing in all that letting go. I know that, but oh, sometimes it’s hard to let go and hard to both give and receive the blessing.

What do I cling to? Many times this week I’ve asked myself that question. What things, expectations, ideas, memories am I clinging to? What might I release so I can give and receive The Blessing?

How about you? What might you be clinging to? What might you release or give away? And how might you do that?

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader, Canada

 

Patience

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing live your way into the answer.   – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I think I’m being invited to grow in patience. On my retreat week in October, as I stood in the centre of the labyrinth, I felt the change of seasons all around me. There is a time to let go of things, a time to be dormant, and a time to welcome new life to emerge. I’m in a time of letting go: letting go of past connections, of old belongings, of old ways and habits, of old responsibilities and also of expectations that I brought with me concerning my/our new life. I’m in a time of letting go, and simply being patient, living within the ambiguity, uncertainty, unknowing of this season of life.

I was given the Rilke quote in my Weight Watchers meeting two weeks ago and found it complemented my retreat work so beautifully. I settled down even more to waiting patiently in the unknowing of my new life. I’m not ready to hear the answers yet. I’m not ready to know what my new life will be. I know God’s Spirit is alive and would give me answers if I needed them, but I don’t. I can wait before unopened doors and be content. I can be alive in the uncertainty. How wonderful! I can be fully alive in the uncertainty of a new life. I don’t need to know. What a relief that is!

Patience. Waiting. Trusting.

Do you have unanswered questions in your life? What would it look like for you to put them behind a closed door? That could look like giving them to God in prayer, or writing them on a paper and placing them in a ‘God-Box’. Then you can pull up a chair and wait before the door.

Have patience as you wait with God, in everything that is unresolved in your life. Enjoy today.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Stay on the Path!

Do you recognize the name Rivendell? If you’re a Tolkien fan you will know it as  Elrond’s home, an elven place of healing and restoration. As I was making my retreat at Rivendell Retreat Centre, I thought I might dip back into ‘Lord of the Rings’. It has been over forty-five years since I read it. I wondered if some of the journey motif might speak into my current season, for I’m on the move and a quest too!

I decided to start with the pre-quel, ‘The Hobbit’, joining Bilbo and the dwarves on their adventure. Last night I woke in the middle of the night with a full brain. (Does that ever happen to you?) I felt like I was joining the gang as they made their way through Mirkwood, a deep, dark and dangerous forest. The guiding wizard, Gandalf had warned them to ‘stay on the path’. They were NEVER to set foot off it or they’d get lost and most likely perish. STAY ON THE PATH!! As the troop make their way into Mirkwood, it gets darker and darker. They walk for many days consuming all their food and water. The nights are pitch black except for colored eyes watching them. Oh, it’s murky….and then, so very tired, distraught and hungry, they smell food. ‘STAY ON THE PATH!’ I yell at them, but they don’t heed me and go racing after the smells, never to catch them, only to get into serious trouble. Why didn’t they listen?

As I woke last night I found myself in Mirkwood. All those busy brain thoughts were tempting me to leave the path: solve that problem, replay that conversation and make it come out differently, puzzle out the unsolvable ‘whys’ of life. Essentially the voices in Mirkwood cry out to draw me off the path of peace. Don’t walk that path any longer. Where is it taking you anyway?  No…. I will stay on the path. I will.

Sometimes life is very murky, especially in the middle of the night! When life is

murky, that’s the time to stay on the path. Stay with what you know to be true. Go back to what was right and good when the sun was shining. Keep that as your compass. Let the goodness you knew in the shining sun be your guide. It’s not the same as following a rule book. It is following the deepest lived experience you have. It is being authentic. As I read in Deuteronomy this week, ‘let these truths be written and held within your heart’.

One of my deepest truths is that it is in and through my authenticity that God’s

Loving Spirit can work best within me. When I’m being as real as Anne as I can be, that is my best offering to God. It might be messy, but God doesn’t run from my mess. It might be dark, but I’ve known God’s presence in my darkest places. The Spirit of God doesn’t fear my darkness or hide from it.

When I walk through my own Mirkwood, God is always present, even in the darkness. My job…STAY ON THE PATH. Be my best self, even when I don’t want to, even when I get tempted by smells off the path. Stay on the path. Be my best self.

What has been your Mirkwood experience?

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

My Pace Bunny

 

During my retreat week, I felt it was time for an in-depth re-tuning of my Rhythm of Life, so  I made my way through Contemplative Fire’s ‘The Companion’s Journey’, a series designed to help us be in touch with our rhythm. As I read through the material, one phrase that resonated was the invitation to follow Jesus as he leads me in a contemplative pace……a contemplative pace.

 

A few days before that I’d hiked up the mountain behind our home with my daughter and her partner. They are avid hikers. I’d done this trail before and I knew how steep it was and how much exertion I’d experienced. I warned them I’d need to stop and catch my breath! My daughter responded with ‘Not a problem Mom. We walk ‘slowly-slowly’.’ She actually had a Hindi word for it that sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’. She described how they walk so slowly uphill they don’t ever need to stop to catch their breath. Others may initially run past them, but eventually they usually pass all those who exert themselves.

We started up the mountain and my daughter walked ahead of me. About a half hour into our hike I realized that I hadn’t stopped once to catch my breath. Yes, my heart was pounding, but I was okay. I could keep this pace up. I’m not a runner, but my daughter is, and I’ve cheered her along in a few of her marathons. In those races there are people who wear rabbit ears with a number on them. They are called ‘Pace Bunnies’ and are volunteers who will run at a set pace, some faster, some slower. Racers find a Pace Bunny with their expected time and let the bunny set their pace for the race. My daughter became my Pace Bunny as we climbed the mountain that day. It was wonderful. I let her lead the pace. We’d stop and look at some marvelous trees and then we’d move on. It was all natural and organic.

 

So… I hear the invitation to let Jesus be My Contemplative Pace Bunny. As I follow him, he’ll set the pace for me, sometimes with some pep, sometimes lingering even stopping to gaze, but always moving forward. I can identify him too. Not by rabbit ears with numbers, but I know his aroma, his taste. I can recognize the deep peace of Christ, the sweet ease, the inner spaciousness, and always the practical compassion. His ways are known, not hidden. If I lose sight of him and sometimes I do, I can ask those around me for help to find him again. He won’t go far. He keeps his eye on those walking with him.

My time on retreat has been a slow time, time to linger and gaze, time to re-tune myself, and say ‘yes’ to following my Contemplative Pace Bunny.

Who sets the pace for your life?

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

It Time to Start Again

I’ve arrived in my new home, but I’m not settled yet.

Gosh, but moving takes a long, long time! Intellectually I know it is highest on the stress scale, even higher than death and divorce, but I hadn’t anticipated the length of it. I thought it was a task of purging/sorting/packing and then unpacking/purging/setting up, and it is, but it is so much more. It’s a process that can’t be hurried. I can not settle in any faster than I am. I’d like to. I’d like to wave my magic wand and have my home in order and a new life established, but I simply can’t do it. All of my organizing competencies can’t make it happen quickly. I’m like a tender shoot that has been transplanted and it takes time to get over the shock, root and grow before blooming.

I’m realizing I’m not in charge. I’m so not in charge.

This morning I was aware that I’m the same person that I was before I got whipped around and dropped on the edge of the country, and although I’ve lost all my old anchors, disciplines and rhythms, I still need them. On some level I understand that they will be different here and I need the freedom to find new anchors, disciplines and rhythms, but I also know they will be similar or familiar.  I still need to eat healthily, but who will inspire me? I still need to exercise, but what form will that take? I will still pray, but what will it look like? I will still study, but what will be it’s focus? I will still live compassionately, but who will that touch?

During the last two years writing ‘Mystic in Motion’ has been another anchor for me. You, Gentle Readers, have been people who have shared my adventure. Writing helps me process what is transpiring. I always feel well as I finish a piece and connect with you. Some of you I know, and some of you I don’t know. I appreciate you all being there and sharing my journey. I remain a ‘mystic’ who is ‘in motion’. This time, much of my motion relates to the upheaval of a move across my country.

I’m back. Writing is part of my life. And you, Gentle Readers as you receive me are part of my life.

On Monday I leave for a week of solitude, silence and stillness. I hope it will be a week where I can be open to God’s Spirit to hear my next steps in this new life. I’ve arrived, and I need to settle. Please pray for me.

(This was one of our sunsets last week.)

Love and Prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada