Settling in Unsettling Times

Three times this week the subject of moving entered my conversations. It takes so many shapes. I think COVID has tossed us all into a moving zone without any of us asking for it.

When we moved to BC two years ago it was a clear decision to uproot ourselves from familiar people, places and rhythms of life. Whoosh. Well not quite whoosh. We were intentional in talking about what we were letting go and what we would need in our new location to help us feel at home. We worked hard to move well; sorting belongings, talking about our needs, saying goodbyes and making connections when we arrived. It was almost a year from decision to sleeping in our new home. Not quite whoosh!

From the time I arrived I felt at home, yet I knew I wasn’t settled. We had family to welcome us, met new people and found groups we were interested in joining. We found a grocery story, a coffee shop, dry cleaners, a church and a WW group for me. Everyday felt like a holiday with a sense of freedom and freshness in the air. This fall it all changed. I felt a shift deep in my psyche. I was no longer on holiday. I missed the holiday feel, but I realized I had arrived home. No longer a tourist, now a settler. I like being settled. From decision to settling – three years – hardly a whoosh.

COVID has whipped us all around, untethering our souls from many of our anchors, our special people, places and rhythm. I think there is a similarity to what happens to us when we move.  We need to be kind to ourselves and those around us. It’s very disruptive to move, disruptive on a deep soul level. I was extremely happy in our move and yet I could feel that deep inside me I hadn’t arrived. It’s as though a part of my soul was driving across the country when the rest of me had flown. It takes time to move, time to settle. COVID is time to be gracious to ourselves and those around us. We’ve been forced to move without time to plan and we haven’t chosen our new home. It’s been allotted to us. Many of us haven’t arrived in the new location. We aren’t settled yet.

I know what helped me during my move was my awareness of God’s presence within and with me. I’m not alone. Maybe because of the move, the untethering from the familiar, I’ve gone deeper in my spiritual exploration and experience. So much around me is different, but God is constant, unchanging but constantly changing, constantly inviting me into more. In my uncertainty I’ve turned toward the Spirit. In unhooking from the familiar I’ve sought attachment more deeply to Spirit and to my closest companion.

Where do you turn when you feel uncertain, unsure, unsettled? Maybe in these unsettling times there is an invitation to you to go deeper, to explore God in new ways. And do remember, it takes time to feel at home in a new way of living, a new place.  

Love and prayers from a mystic in motion who’s enjoying being settled

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Polepole

My heart is pounding. My breath is short. I stumble over one more rock on the trail. Behind me I heard, ‘Polepole. Walk polepole’.

It was my first fall living in the mountains and I was climbing with a seasoned hiker. ‘Anne, only walk as fast as you can walk without loosing your breath. Walk slowly. Walk polepole’. He described this wonderful Swahili expression that teaches one to walk slowly, gently and calmly. He wanted me to learn that I was to climb the mountain at my speed. I was to walk uphill slowly and steadily. It’s not a race. There’s no competition, only self-care, acceptance, wisdom and completion.

In my early days in the village, sometimes it seemed like too much work to climb the mountain behind my home. It’s like having a Stairmaster from a gym in my backyard, only I don’t get to chose how steep it is! What he was teaching me was that I can’t adjust the steepness but I’m completely in charge of my speed.

Since those early days I’ve changed my walking pace. My heart still pounds, but I seldom lose my breath. I walk polepole (sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’). And I enjoy my walks. I have time to breath, to enjoy the trees, the creek, the birds and anything else that my senses linger on.

I know that pace of life has helped me find my way. As a Mystic in Motion, I’m susceptible to the chaos and fast pace of our world. I need help to walk slowly and calmly, not taking on more than I can manage without loosing my breath, my grounding. I think too this relates to the bigger world. We’ve just entered another season of restrictions due to COVID19. I think it’s time to remember ‘polepole’. That means it’s time to move slowly, gently and calmly through the days. Not get out of breath through an overload of news, worries or anxieties. Time to hold life lightly, move through it gently, savoring what we see, accepting that we can’t change the size of the mountain, but we can change how we walk it. Polepole. We can walk polepole.

Are you fighting the ‘size’ of anything in your life? Is there anyway you might adjust your pace to ‘polepole’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Spiritual Moorage

Years ago over lunch, a friend asked me to describe a core quality to my life. I told her that I dropped a drag anchor each day. I didn’t think about it. I’d never used that image before. It just came out of me. As soon as I said it, I recognized the truth in the description even though nautically it was incorrect! Large boats and ships have many kinds of anchors for different reasons. Technically a drag anchor is what happens when an anchor doesn’t hold properly. It will slow the boat down, but not keep it in one place. I responded from the desire to live more slowly, to have something in my life that would slow me down  and help keep me stable in uncertain times.

Currently someone close to me wants to live on a boat. She describes building a moorage, a solid base in a harbour where she can tie her boat. It will be strong, made of concrete, and set to the bottom of the ocean. She’ll be secure whatever currents, winds or storms come. This week my spiritual director asked me to describe what I was experiencing in life and without thinking I responded that I had within me a spiritual moorage. I could feel it inside me.

Today I don’t just drop a drag anchor to slow me down, today I know my interior world secured to a spiritual moorage that is in the ocean that belongs to God, Creator of All.

I feel secure, despite the challenges and hurts that blow through my life. I feel secure, attached, embedded within God. My eyes are opening. My faith is growing deeper. I’m grateful to Contemplative Fire’s rhythm of life for it’s been the drag anchor that has brought me here. Prayer/study/action have become a normal flow in my days; a regular meditation practice, regular, intensive and specific study of the contemplative life, and an intentional compassionate practice towards myself and all others have become the path that I walk. That path is taking me deeper into the spiritual reality that surrounds us.

Are you curious spiritually or a seeker of God? Do you sample many different ideas or are you focused on going deeper spiritually? If you want to go deeper, do you have a rhythm that guides your life, a teacher who you trust? If you do – wonderful, hang in there and go deep, do the cleansing work of deep spiritual diving. If not, I encourage you to begin to ask God for one. Those are precious requests for our Loving Spirit. As they say….when the student is ready, the teacher appears.   

from a Anchored Mystic in Motion

Love and Prayers

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

In Chaotic Times

I’m writing this during the US elections, those never-ending elections. Ah our simple Canadian ballots! I know the elections are south of the border, but their turmoil surges into my life. It hits some deep waters in my family with significant pain in lives close to me as well as an upsurge in my own commitments. The sun is showing up today, the garden awaits but I know I’m not going to get there. One day this week I went to bed with sorrow in my heart and woke to it still being there. Sometimes life feels complicated and chaotic. This week has been one of those for me.

When complications come, I enjoy turning to John O’Donohue. I’ll share a bit of him with you this week. I was flipping through his book ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’ looking for a blessing for someone special and came across his page of questions. I love questions! I slow down, open up and turn another direction when I encounter questions. So my gift to you this week, to your world whether calm or chaotic – some questions. Hope you enjoy them.

What dreams did I create last night?

Where did my eyes linger today?

Where was I blind?

Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?

What did I learn today?

What did I read?

What new thoughts visited me?

What differences did I notice in those closest to me?

Whom did I neglect?

Where did I neglect myself?

What did I begin today that might endure?

How were my conversations?

What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?

Did I remember the dead today?

Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?

Where did I allow myself to receive love?

With whom today did I feel most myself?

What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?

Who saw me today?

What visitations had I from the past and from the future?

What did I avoid today?

From the evidence – why was I given this day?

John O’Donohue, ‘At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions’ from “To Bless the Space Between Us”

How do you receive these questions?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire, Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Going Deeper into God

As a young girl I didn’t know why I was alive. I sought meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. Then I sought Truth with a capital ‘T’. Jesus became alive to me and I immersed myself in a relationship with him – totally smitten. I got to know him better and better through the ups and downs of life. Now in this less active season of life my yearnings for spiritual depth have opened. I want more of God. I want to go deeper into the reality that holds the universe together. Hanging on to Jesus’ hand I ask him to take me with him a bit deeper into the heart of God.

I see more clearly that life is about our experience of God. We get distracted by achievement, accumulation, accomplishment. We get distracted by desires to be seen, known, to belong, desires for fame, wealth, power, affection, security and control. We get distracted by fears, worries, wounds and grudges. In my meditation practice I learn to recognize distractions and return to God. That is one of the strengths of a mediation practice, constantly seeing distractions and consciously choosing to release them and return to rest within God.

Distractions are all around externally and internally, but they’re not the main event. God is the main event. Going deeper into the Spiritual Heart of the universe is the main event. That is why we’re here on earth. First is our relationship with God, our experience of Love, Joy, Peace, Forgiveness. Out of that experience we can hear our mission, see our path and find the courage to walk it.  Out of that experience we can change the world.

But changing the world is not why I’m here. I’m here to open myself to God. It seems to me that people would rather hear about changing the injustices in the world. You can get grant money for that. But I’m saying that the most important part of life is not fighting injustice but opening your heart to more of God. Where or how God sends me is the Spirit’s business. I’m an employee of the Spirit. I’m not CEO or even upper management in the world. Seek the kingdom of God first. And then the world will be changed.

Seek the kingdom of God first. That’s it. I’ve heard it a zillion times. I’m beginning to actually ‘hear’ what Jesus, and all the other spiritual leaders, have been saying. God first. Go deeper into God.

This Mystic in Motion wants to deep dive.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living  

A Life Slips Away

Last night, 5.45pm, I was alone driving the Sea to Sky Highway, going to my Tuesday yoga class. With COVID protocols in place we no longer carpool. It was a beautiful evening; the sun was still above the mountains, and the sky clear. I rounded a bend and saw the brake lights come on in the car ahead of me. There was a cluster of people on the left-hand side of the road. Across the barrier in the northbound land was a white car, upside down and torn apart, belongings scattered across the road. People were on their phones calling for help. One person knelt looking into the interior. This was a wreck, the car a write-off and mostly likely a Life slipping away. I decided not to stop. I know my presence can be helpful to people, but in this instance I felt my primary offering was prayer, so I entered more deeply into a place of prayer in my heart.

I continued to drive, but with a heavy heart. I took my exit and on the road below met an ambulance heading towards them. I entered yoga. One other class member had driven by the scene. She too said her response was to begin to pray. During our class we heard a helicopter with air rescue arrive on the scene.

An hour and half later I left my class, still carrying a prayerful heavy heart. The entrance ramp to the highway was strangely empty. In a couple of kilometers I saw the brake lights ahead of me. I too slowed down and soon turned off my engine. I had joined the pack of those in the enlarged circle of pain.

I don’t know the details of the accident. The news only covers the superficial info that traffic in both directions was blocked on the Sea to Sky Highway last night. We sat there, one, two three hours. Sometimes we’d slowly move forward a few yards, but mostly we sat as darkness surrounded us, and stars emerged. Twice emergency vehicles appeared and we maneuvered our cars to the edge of the highway to let them through. Then we turned off our engines again and sat so quietly in the encompassing darkness. No one tried to barge through the passageway we’d created. Once, I got out of my car to stretch and see what was ahead. All I could see was a line of mostly dark cars, waiting. Inside cars lights glowed as people focused on their phones. One child was protesting. A few dogs were out for a walk. Mainly we all sat quietly, silently in our cars. Drawn together by a bad turn, a roll-over no one had anticipated.

I felt a Life slip away. I wondered about that life, or lives. Who was it? Where were they going? What did they hope for? I wondered about the close circle around them and how radically their lives would be changed. I wondered about the hundreds of us stopped in the normal flow of life. Where were we going? Where were we not going to be going? How will these hours change our lives? Did anyone care what was happening to us? What if I’d been in my usual carpool car? I was content to be alone.

I couldn’t see the angels that all praying people in that traffic jam had stirred into action, but I could feel their presence. I felt both locked in and secure. Four hours passed. Four hours of waiting, of praying, of being still, of repeating my current mantra, of listening to some gentle music. I didn’t bring my glasses to yoga so that helped me be still rather than catch up on news, emails or games. At 10.15 an emergency vehicle drove down the other side of highway informing us that the highway would open in forty-five minutes. In the last half hour, I dialed in a movie.

They were true to the timing and shortly after 11.00pm we slowly began to move forward. It was still another thirty minutes to get home. Usually it’s ten minutes door-to-door. Last night it was four hours. But I got home; to a warm home, a husband who stayed up to welcome me, and food in my fridge. My life continues. But I witnessed another Life slip away and felt the impact we have on each other. I’ve watched people die, sat with them as they took their last breath. Sacred moments. In a perverse way I’m grateful for last night. In the darkness, in the creeping cold of the evening, God is present to me. Life comes and life goes. We know not how long we have. How shall we live today?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member

Lingering Feel of the Wild

I climb the watershed road above our home most mornings now. I began in early February when it was still the rainy season. I decided to try it for a month – some exercise, some stretching as I start my day. I hold distant memories of when I used to get up by 6.00am, toss gym clothes on and head to the gym with a book or friend to let exercise start my day. The mountain behind me is my gym now so back in February I decided to give it a try.

By the end of first month I was hooked. I felt my body respond well to the morning climb. I began huffing and needed to catch my breath by the time I reached the flat space at the barricade at the top of the road where our friends live. Then I had to pause again at the level near the first reservoir, and then at the sharp turn before the climb to second reservoir. Heart pounding, breath short I would pause there too for the final climb. But after a month, my pauses were fewer. Now nine months later, my heart still beats heavily but I don’t need to pause anymore. I’ve gotten stronger physically, but I’ve also learnt my pace for climbing a steep slope. This isn’t a competition. It’s part of my morning meditation.

Somewhere within those first few weeks my morning walk became a delight. No one tells me to do it. I don’t even make myself do it. I want to climb the mountain road. Those trees and rocks call to me. I want to be with them. I want to feel the mountains, so solid, all around me. I want to hear the creek whether it’s a torrent or a trickle. I want to listen to the birds. It was so glorious when they arrived to sing every morning. It’s quiet now. And I so want to be with my rocks and trees. And the smells. And the air around them. And the mists that cover the mountains and dance through the trees.

Something happens up there each morning. I’ve found my comfortable spot to pause and pray, settling more deeply into Life, into Love. Last night as prepared for sleep I read a bit of Richard Wagamese who wrote about his dog walks and feeling the ‘lingering feel of the wild’. I wouldn’t presume to have his connection to nature, yet there is something that calls me into the mountain rainforest. I feel the call of the wild, the call of the free, the call of The Creator.

Coming out of our Thanksgiving Weekend, I’m so grateful to live so close to the wild, and to be able to know my Creator more deeply. As Hafiz says, ‘I have learned so much’ and there is so much more to learn. I’ll keep lingering, listening and learning.

What’s your connection to nature? Where? How do you feel?

Love and prayers from a wandering mystic

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem  

I Have a Friend

Around the same time I encountered ‘loneliness’, I also was thinking about ‘friendship’. Remember the old hymn, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’? We’ve talked about having Jesus as a friend, but what if he really was a friend to you? Think about friends and friendship. Maybe allow a good friend to come to your mind and your heart. How do you feel when you’re with them? What do you talk about? What part of your life do you share? What do ask them?

Back in the early days of Christianity there were people who knew Jesus as a friend. They ate with him, talked, laughed, worked, and walked with him. They listened to him, and worried about him. They knew him and trusted him. He was a friend.

After reading ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ a year ago, I began listening to Yoganada’s followers talk about him. He died in 1952 so there are still disciples that knew him or have been trained by those closest to him. They call him ‘Master’ because he is one who has mastered his senses, wasn’t controlled by them but was open to God’s Spirit and they call him ‘Friend’ for they knew him as a friend and feel his presence still with them. They trust him as you would trust your best friend. They know he will help them and that he has their good in his heart. They will say things like, ‘I know Master will help me. I just need to ask him.’ Listening to their devoted trust in their teacher has given new life to me to trust my friend Jesus. I know he is still alive and is attentive to me for I am one of his followers. The old words are taking on a new life, new experience for me.

During my friendship wanderings I once again re-wrote a favourite psalm.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

You’ve led me to solid mountains, flowing creeks, still trees and singing birds.

You have restored my soul.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

You’ve shown me some of the many paths that teach me how to live so your goodness can flow through me.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

Even if I walk through the valley of anger or sadness, or fear, or illness or even death, I know you are with me to guide me and comfort me.  

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

When people around me are hurtful, betray me, misunderstand me, ignore me, I know you are always there. You notice me, nurture and nourish me. I know you place your hand on me for I feel full and overflowing.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

I am sure that your goodness and mercy follow me every day of my life. No matter where I go, you’ll always be with me. Every where. All the time.  

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

****

How about you? Who is your Spiritual Friend? What does that friendship feel like?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member, Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living.

Loneliness

If you’re hungry, you find something to eat. If you’re thirsty you reach for a drink. If you’re lonely perhaps like many of us you berate yourself, call yourself a loser and feel bad. Sound familiar?

What if loneliness was seen just as another basic human response to an essential human need? We need food so we get hungry. We need water so we get thirsty. We need human connection, so we get lonely.

What if being lonely wasn’t a shameful or bad feeling, but a healthy human indicator that needs a response. It is your psyche saying, time to talk to someone, go outside and smile at someone, look up family or friend, time to pick up a phone. That’s all it’s saying. Let go of the other rubbish.

Last week we watched Renee Fleming interview Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of America on her show ‘Music and the Mind’ regarding his book ‘Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World’. I really enjoyed his presentation. One thing he did was remove the stigma from loneliness and turn it into a healthy human attribute.

What a switch.

I found his whole presentation around how to survive, even thrive as a human so helpful. When we were children no one in my world talked like he did, offering guidance on how to navigate the rapids of human life. How to be genuinely kind and thankful when the world is cruel. How to connect intentionally and authentically with image and prestige are being promoted by others. Perhaps some of you got that as a child. I didn’t. I’ve learnt a lot as I matured, but still have so much to learn. The world is turbulent right now. We need to find compassionate ways to be together, to heal past wounds and create new ways going forward. We are meant to work together. As spiritual beings we are meant to draw on the Spirit source within us, everyday, not on special days or occasions but everyday, all day.  

Got a couple of good books on the go, but then I’m ordering ‘Together’!

I’ve got something else on loneliness and friendship for you next week, but in the meantime…. Wishing you all a warm and connecting week where you draw from the Source within.  

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member, Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living.

Choices

I make choices. We all make them everyday.  This week I felt the cloak of judgement settle on me. Someone named an aroma of pride in me and I felt the judgement settle around me. Yes, I could smell the pride too, so I own the pride, but wrestle with the sense of judgement. I wonder if it comes from choices I make.

I was at the Blood Donor Clinic answering their long questionnaire. There is a little delight that creeps through me as I continue to check the ‘no’ boxes on the medical form. I’m 71 and I don’t take any meds. I have no underlying conditions. And yes, I can feel a bit of pride in being able to check those boxes, so when someone hinted that my pride was connected to self-righteousness I had to pause and consider.

What’s this pride about my health? What’s responsible for my health? Am I in control of it? Hardly, for partly I have my Dad’s genes and he had nothing to do with doctors till his very last years, dying at home from a heart attack at 89.  Partly I have my mom’s genes that weren’t so healthy but something inside me decided years ago that I didn’t want to follow her route, so I make food and exercise choices. Partly I suppose it’s the gift of this body for this life and in that I’m grateful. I appreciate a body that works well even as it ages. Partly I’m healthy because of genes I inherited but also because of choices I’ve made.

I think here the feeling of judgement creeps in. Some of my health comes from the emotional work I’ve done. I don’t carry a lot of emotional baggage anymore. I’m very content with my imperfections including my need to be perfect! That work reduces my stress level enormously which I’m sure leads to good body health. When something gets triggered in me, which it does, like this need to process pride, I try to clean my emotional house. I don’t like internal clutter, junk of the past that I trip over. My current lifestyle is also my choice and contributes to my health. It’s gentle, I’m open to doing more, but careful what I let in. I don’t want to overextend as I’ve done in the past. Been there done that, don’t need to do it again, but am willing to serve however I’m called. Right now, it’s that small circle I’ve written about. And I’m certainly healthy through my spiritual practices, ways of being that nourish my inner sense of Self, of connection with God’s Love, Joy, Peace and Wisdom.

I do choose to engage in spiritual practices just like I choose what to eat, but I don’t make those choices out of duty, or to look good or to belong to a group. I make those choices out of a wonderful, warm embrace of God. I feel close to something that I name as God. I know there is so much more I might experience, but I value what I have known and want more and more and more.

Possibly the core of my health is that yearning for more of God in my life, more Love, more Joy, more Peace, more Wisdom, more Gentleness, more Kindness, more Forgiveness…. I hope you know what I mean. I simply want More of MORE God. And I’ve discovered that not everyone does. For years I thought everyone needs to discover what I’ve peeked at, but I’ve come to realize that not everyone wants to peek down the pathways that I want to run down. Is that why I feel the label of judgement? I’m sort of okay now with people who don’t want to join me on spiritual cleansing paths, but maybe not completely and maybe they feel an inner judgement from me. It’s hard for me to understand why people are so caught up in the things of this life when there is so much MORE and that MORE makes this life much more wonderful. But then, I’ve only my life to live, not theirs. I need to let them live their life, walk their path and me grow in loving them just as they are. There’s room for me to grow there.

I know I feel warmth and affection toward the one that rightly named my health pride. I’m glad they did. Yet I’m also happy to make the choices that I do make about how to live my life. I wish they knew that my choices come from Love, from being loved and I kinda think they don’t know that LOVE yet as a daily life-giving fountain. That’s my basic life choice; I choose Love, more Love.

Rambling Thoughts from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem Institute