My Job

So many people ask me — ‘What will you do out west Anne? Will you work as a priest? Are you transferring your license to work in a parish? Will you continue to write? What is your dream for your life?’.  

This week embedded in one of Barbara Brown Taylor’s sermons I found a descriptive phrase for my life – my current one, and the one to come.

‘Our job is to wait without losing hope.’

We’re nearly at the equinox when the days are long, and then we begin the cycle into the long dark days of winter. So many of us find the world in dark place right now. World leaders trouble us, slavery continues, refugees suffer and daily we see violence in the news. Even without nature and the world’s happenings, we all know situational darkness that envelopes our lives when the phone rings, or doesn’t ring, when someone no longer comes home, when the pay cheques stop, when the dreams fall apart…..Or the silence when the God we knew seems to disappear and we can’t find the sparkle of faith we once knew.

Taylor was writing about the darkness, so I’m comfortable tweaking my job description:

My job is to wait in the dark without losing hope.

I don’t know what my days will look like when I wake up one morning in my same bed, but in BC. But I do know the flow of my days here and I imagine they will continue no matter what lies ahead for me.

My rhythm involves taking time in the morning for devotional reading and meditation. I read from a variety of sources – scripture, poetry, theology, prayer, spiritual masters. I have many teachers who I allow into my world for soul formation. I contemplate and meditate which allow me to rest in the presence of God. Even in the silence of God, I know myself as a branch entwined with the Divine Vine. Then my day unfolds as prayer. What mischief will we get up to today? To whom am I to smile? To whom will forgiveness be given? To whom will I be vulnerable?  My prayers are no longer tucked into a few devotional hours in the morning, but flow through me throughout the day. And they flow, whether the light is sparkling in me like it did during my Sabbath Leave and the year that followed, or whether the darkness surrounds me as it can in this time of the relentless work of a move and significant uncertainty. No matter what…

My job is to wait without losing hope.

Each moment of each day is prayer, unceasing prayer, all grounded in the God I know and yet don’t know, the One I open to and rest in each morning in my study time and meditation, and the one I play with as I sort through each drawer in our home.

My job is to wait without losing hope.

How about you Gentle Reader … Where are you called to wait and hope? What’s your job description?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

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I Need Help

 

Most people had left our party, but a small group was lingering, and I invited them to linger longer for an ‘after party’. I often find that time most special and again it was. Our conversation deepened, and we entered into child raising concerns. Hugh and I were clearly the older couple around the table. At one point a friend turned to me and said, ‘Anne, if you could do anything differently, what would it be?’ What a great question! Ah… to turn back the clock and raise our girls again with the wisdom of my sixties…. What would I do differently? I know right away what I’d do. I’d ask for help.

 

Forty years ago, when we were raising our daughters I didn’t know either, that there was help available or how to ask for it. I needed help for my own emotional well-being and also to sort out some of our child raising concerns. One of our daughters, even as an infant and toddler, exhibited extreme behaviour that I found very difficult to understand.

I’m so grateful that society has matured to make available and even mainstream many supports for our mental health and for parents, that weren’t commonplace in our day.

I also know the change that has taken place within me over these forty years. I don’t wear nearly as many coping masks as I wore in those days. I’m able to be more honest with myself and more transparent with others. I know and accept more honestly, my imperfections and limitations. I can say, ‘I don’t know. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I need help. Will you help me? I love you.’. I can live more simply from the ground of knowing that your life, is Your Life and not my business and yet still care for you. I’m comfortable in my own skin.

When I hurt physically, I can go to my chiropractor or doctor. When I’m stuck emotionally and can’t find my way through a tough feeling, I can ask a therapist to help me. I treasure having a soul friend and a spiritual director in my life to share my spiritual journey. I don’t expect my husband or friend to be my doctor, therapist or soul friend. I get to enjoy them, as husband and friend.

Gentle Reader, how about you? How do you ask for help? Or…. What would you do differently?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

From the Quiet Within

Usually something surfaces for me to write about, but this week, I’m quiet inside. Usually there is a word, phrase, image or thought that has held my attention. I want to either share it or chew it over with you. But tonight, I’m quiet inside. I ask…. ‘Precious One, is there anything I might share this week?’. And I’m quiet inside.

I’m grateful for the quietness tonight, for my prayer times have been anything but quiet for the last few weeks. The work of move has invaded my interior stillness. My mind is active.

This past week we visited the house that will become our new home in August. I’m awed at the privilege of living in such beauty. During our visit, I met Madame Mountain. She lives at the end of our driveway. I’ll see her every time I leave my home. Each time I go to the grocery store or take out the garbage, I simply need to look up and see a mountain towering overhead. I’m sure someone has ‘named’ her, but I have no idea what it is. How strange to think we can ‘name’ a mountain or a lake, river, or ocean…! I wonder if she’ll tell me her name if I sit very still with her and get to know her? Ahhh – all that lies ahead!

Perhaps it’s the activity of the move that steals away my writing thoughts. Hmmm perhaps it’s the awe I’m standing in. It’s hard to grasp that I’m being given something I’ve longed for. Can this really be true? Can I be so loved?

It’s time for me to be still, to settle into the Quietness within and be grateful for all.

Would you join me in a few minutes of quiet?Take a deep breath…. Sit within the Divine Quietness. Let Jesus love you, in just the way you need.

 

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

In the Candy Store

 

This week I’ve felt like a child in a candy store. From the groanings of my 50’s I moved into the celebration of my 60’s. From labour pains to holding my baby! The memoir course has been a grand accompaniment to our re-location. For the last eight weeks I’ve moved through my life one decade at a time. Each week I’d prepare 500 words about some incident or theme from that decade and each week I’d listen to the other participant’s stories of their experiences. We moved through our lives together, week by week. It was so interesting to hear similar themes emerge even though our locations, actual experiences and responsibilities were different. I became more aware of a common human thread to being human.

I’ve also been reading Jean Vanier’s “Tears of Silence” and this week savoured his poem about maturity.

 

 

maturity of the heart:

accepting

myself

with my limits

in my poverty

i do not fear

the

other

 

no fear that

i will be beaten up

devoured

lose my being

 

no fear

of showing who I am

 

I am very happy aging, growing comfortable with who I am. My 60’s have been by far the most satisfying decade of my life. A whole decade with Contemplative Fire where I have found a spiritual home and companionship. Our vision statement is “Creating a Community of Christ at the Edge”. This week I realized our re-location is taking us to the edge of our country, to the North Shore of British Columbia…. Hmmm I wonder what our Loving Spirit has in her mind.

And you, Gentle Reader, and your life journey…. Are you groaning or celebrating? How do you respond to the poem? Whatever your age, how do you respond to the aging process that is our lot as humans?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

Take a Deep Breath and Push!

 

I’ve given birth to four babies. I know the feeling of the labour pains prior to birth. It’s commonly said mom’s forget those pains, and on one level I do….but I still retain residual memories! Women are wonderful, amazing beings to go through childbirth again and again and again.

But back to labour pains….one of the scriptures last Sunday was the description of how the Spirit groans within us. Creation is groaning, waiting for this world to be put right. We are groaning, waiting for things to be put right. Sometimes in our groans we can articulate the yearning, but often we can’t. There is simply something within us that groans. We know the world around us, the world within us isn’t right yet and we yearn, deeply longing for something else. The longing comes because we carry within us a God-given hope. The Spirit of God within us prays for us, with words we can’t understand. The Spirit either takes our groanings, or actually is our groaning, our longing for a shift.

Last week I found myself groaning. Some combination of the work of moving (memories get stirred up and then a pinch of concern gets added!) and a memoir course I’m taking (that week it was my 50’s – help, they were tumultuous!), stirred up deep longings within me. By the time Saturday came, I was tired.

When I read the Romans passage on Sunday, I could see my groanings with a different perspective. The ache, the longing, the waiting, the work of the week are the labour pains of the new life that is coming.

To be pregnant is fun but also at times painful and hard work. It is so rewarding when you hold your new infant … there are no words for that indescribable moment. I’ve been ‘pregnant’ in ministry too. I remember knowing deep within that Contemplative Fire was coming. Those months were precious. They were fun but also hard work and at times painful. And then… the fruit was precious. Our first retreat was memorable and there has been so much goodness in the years that followed.

I think I’m ‘pregnant’ again! I can feel the new life growing within me. I can smell the forest, feel the spaciousness of our new surroundings and hear the laughter of family around me. But, right now it is work and sometimes painful.

Childbirth hurts. Sometimes it felt like I was going to crack open. Bringing something new into the world hurts. Going through any kind of change in our life can often hurt. Shedding the skin of old ways. Fumbling, falling, learning new ways. It’s not easy. What if we are able to see the pain of change, as the groaning of new birth, as the longing of the Spirit within us for a new way forward, an expansion of God’s ways into the world? Each worry, fear, concern can be an ache of labour towards a new way to live.

There is always a new way coming. It doesn’t have to be a major move. Life is always unfolding. God’s Spirit is always at work drawing us closer and closer to a new world, a world where Love wins.

I choose love. In the midst of all the groanings of life, I choose to follow love’s pathway. I choose to walk hand in hand with goodness. When your groanings come…what will you choose?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Making It My Own

 

Have you ever taken something familiar or even very traditional, and made it your own?

One of the spiritual practices that Smith gives in ‘Good and Beautiful God’, is to recite Psalm 23 every night at bedtime for a week. It was probably at least four years ago that I first led a group through this exercise. I found it quite comforting, a bit of tucking myself in to sleep. I didn’t stop at the end of the week. In fact, the habit has continued for many years now, only I found the psalm began to take on its own life. As the spiritual truths of the psalm became more real to me, the words began to change. I began to make it my own. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful freedom as I’ve played with the phrasing. Crazy… but maybe a bit like a jazz singer massaging a standard hit! I’ve had many versions over the years.

In the middle of last night, I found myself once again with Psalm 23 and had the idea that it was time to share it with you.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.

You take me to the ocean and forests.

You restore my soul.

I walk hand in hand with you, and your goodness flows into the world.

 

Even when I walk through The Valley of The Shadows, I’m not afraid

for you are with me, to guide and comfort me.

When people betray me, desert me,

you are there.

You notice me, nourish and nurture me.

I feel so full of your loving presence. Anointed.

You flow through me.

 

For sure, I will live within your goodness and mercy

every day of my life.

I will rest within your Presence all my days.

******

I began by using the traditional words, again and again. Slowly as the months went by and the truth of the scripture began to sink into my heart, shaping it, the words began to change. Perhaps my current rendition will inspire you to stay with this psalm, and eventually to play with it and make it your own.

Be blessed.

Enjoy.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

The Guest House

 

I continue to be a Mystic in Motion! I’ve got my head in boxes and drawers and cupboards sorting what to take, give away and discard. We are on the move.

The quote from last week – Deep down we all know that all life is on loan to us.  – continued to follow me in the days ahead.

I went to the AGO and found a painting that spoke to me of the hope, the light that lies deep within me. I believe that within my depths there is hope, laughter and a way of travelling lightly. I’m so sure that Jesus had an infectious laugh! The painting is by Joan Mitchell an abstract expressionist. I responded to the lightness being at the bottom. No matter what, there is hope, there is light under it all. I can see and feel that lightness within me. I look forward to more and more of it breaking through my depths.

Yesterday, in my memoir writing group we were given one of Rumi’s poem’s ‘The Guest House’. I will share it with you at the end of the blog. Again it spoke of holding life lightly, welcoming all that comes our way as guests, being at the door to welcome whatever comes with warmth and laughter. I believe that our life on earth is about learning how to live well, to live with compassion and kindness. That involves learning how to suffer well. Our lives are woven with times of pain, all sorts of different kinds of pain and we are, I am, to learn how to navigate the rough waters of life with integrity, with care and compassion, with even a welcome smile. That gives me enough to work on for the rest of my life!

So learning about  ‘Travelling Lightly – Dwelling Deeply’ continues. Who has come as a guest to my house today? Who has knocked on your door?

The Guest House by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

Life’s Lending Library

One night many years ago, I had a dream where I held a small bird in my hand. I knew I was to hold it very gently, not grasping, but simply letting it rest on my hand. If I grasped it, I knew I would harm it, even kill it.

I’ve been drawn into Joyce Rupp’s book ‘Praying our Good-byes’ this week. She begins with: ‘Deep down we know that all life is on loan to us.’

Somewhere hidden within me, I know I’m not in charge, that I’m gifted with life, entrusted with it. Somewhere deep within me I know that. But selling our home, moving far away, into a smaller home and with a different lifestyle challenges me to let go of most of the things that surround me, most of the people that make up the fabric of my daily life, and most of the involvements that give my life meaning. On loan? That means these things, these relationships, these activities aren’t MINE. That means I need to be holding them lightly, not grasping, but holding gently like that little bird from my dream.

Contemplative Fire follows a Rhythm of Life entitled: Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep. I’ve usually responded that I’ve little problem with the depth part, it’s travelling light that stretches me! My journey has been to lighten up, learn to play, to laugh, to let go, to simply live more lightly and with greater ease.

This week I’m considering that lightness comes from depth. I’ve seen them as  separate, both to be nurtured, but separate parts of me. Rupp’s teaching has opened a new door. I see that embedded in my depth, is lightness. It is from a place of depth, deep within, that release comes. Deep down in my True Self, in My Core, in the Centre of All, there is the way of being that holds life lightly, knowing that it is on loan. Life is not mine to grasp, possess, control or orchestrate, but it is mine to enjoy and live, openly, deeply and lightly. As long as I’m in angst about what to keep and what to let go, as long as I’m not releasing current relationships to become something new, as long as I’m getting my purpose from an activity or role, I’m not living my full life. I’m not living from my depths. I’m not Travelling Light- Dwelling Deep. Within me is freedom. Within me lightness. Life doesn’t belong to me. It’s loaned to me. So how shall I live?

I’ve loved our home in Toronto, but it is a home that was given to us for a season. It’s time to give it to someone else. I’ve been richly blessed in the life that has grown around me in Toronto, but this life was given to me for a season. It’s time to release it, to allow the groups and people to continue without me. It’s time for me to discover what being a stranger is all about. It’s time for me to build a new home. I will live into the truth that deep down, all life is on loan to us.

Right outside our bedroom window a robin has been building a nest on the drainpipe. It looks like an exposed an awkward place, but I suppose he’s done it before. Deep down, he knows how to build a home for his family. Deep down he knows that it will be just for this season. Deep down, he knows. Deep down I trust that we’ll be able to build a new home too.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

ild a new home too.

What do you know deep down? Do you know that all of life is on loan to you? That you have it just for a season.

 

Public and Personal

 

Today I feel caught between public and personal happenings. I live in Toronto where ten people were killed and fifteen injured yesterday in what appears to be a random crazy attack. Will we ever know what motivated Alek to take so many lives of people who were strangers to him? The inner pain of the man, the anguish, delusion, distortion, separation….

Each one of us, as human beings, experience inner pain. An existential loneliness is a well-documented shared human inheritance. Most of us find ways of living with it. We learn to make friends, hold jobs, whether satisfying or not, that connect us to the bigger whole. We shop, eat, exercise, drink, work, play video games, decorate our homes, travel, study, help others… the list goes on and on of ways that we find to either cover up that existential loneliness, or ease its pain. And within our coping ways, we can even find joy, laughter and purpose.

Somewhere I read….and I’m sorry I can’t source this non-original thought… that this planet and our human lives on it, are a school of suffering. To be a human being is a challenging lifetime for we are here to learn how to suffer with graciousness and compassion. We are to allow our souls to be shaped by suffering. That doesn’t mean we’re doormats, but, the opposite, for we are to be actively and wisely open to suffering while we keep grounded in the deep, deep love of God. We are to touch God’s compassion through our suffering.

On a personal level, we’re selling our home and perhaps hearing offers today. As part of my work around that life transition, I’ve been re-reading Joyce Rupp’s book ‘Praying Our Good-byes’. This morning she took me to Jesus’ life, into his family life, his ministry years, his friendships, his suffering, and the long list of his good-byes before his death. I enjoyed reading of his connection with people and valued being shown, long before his death, his pain and suffering as he experienced human life.

As a human being, he suffered. I suffer. There are things I don’t understand.  Looking at Jesus’ death, I see God entangled in our suffering. So then,  how will I respond?

I spoke with one care-giver who was involved in the aftermath of the attack yesterday. His response was one we often hear. He spoke of the resilience of human beings, the goodness that pours out of people as they try to help victims, the shared sorrow of those nearby. In a moment when we see the worst, the greatest pain of being human, we also see the best, the greatest beauty of being human.

May our personal lives be grounded in the deep, deep love that God has for each one of us. May we respond to suffering, both personal and public, carefully, gently with wisdom, with openness, with compassion. One step at a time. Life is a marathon and we’re not done yet.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Broken and Open

He was there every day. How many days had they passed him by? But this day was different. Was he different? Were they different?

‘He’ was a man who had been lame from birth, living his adult life as a beggar asking for help of people as they entered the main worship place in the city. Surely those people would be kind to him. ‘They’ were two of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, that impetuous one and John, the one who sat close to Jesus. That day, they ‘saw’ the lame man reaching out to them and from their open, broken hearts the healing power of God moved through them to heal the lame man.

That was the Gospel in church this week. I listened as the homilist created the context for the story, drawing us into the lives of Peter, John and the Lame Man. She asked us to consider the changes in Peter from a simple fisherman to preacher/healer and how that had happened as he received the Holy Spirit and partnered with God.

She continued to develop that point, but I didn’t want to join her there. I wanted to look more deeply at Peter. I wanted to be on the beach with him when he encountered Jesus after …. after… after….he had been exposed as the superficial one, the one who betrays not for money, but for personal safety, for other’s good opinions…after the humiliating crush of his denial.

There are several resurrection stories that mention Peter. In none of them do we hear a word or reprimand or condemnation from Jesus to Peter. In the beach scene, they walk together, a bit apart from the others. Jesus reaches to him in love, restoring him, entrusting him with ministry.

I yearned this morning… Please take us to the beach, walk us through his denial, his grief, his confrontation and reconciliation with Jesus. Walk us into his humility. I wanted to touch his humility, to sit with him in it and experience it myself.

I believe that’s where our power connection lies. Peter and John could be vehicles of

Christ’s healing power because they had been healed themselves. They knew their own lameness and had reached out their own hands receiving healing. They had been humbled, stripped of their own layers of competency till they were open channels for the flow of Divine Love.

This morning I could feel my own layers of competency, of training, of knowledge, of understanding, of pride, and yearn that the dam be broken, that I not be bound by them. Let me crumble before Jesus as Peter did. Let me know my own weakness so that all that is left is a humble heap, a lame woman, with a hand reaching out.

Humility.

Openness to God’s Spirit.

I catch glimpses of how much quiet, internal resistance there is within me to humility. Glimpses of how I can flee from weakness and whip up a shield of competency.

May my heart be open, may my heart be broken so the divine healing power can flow through me to those in need.

Imagine with me … what if more and more of us were open, were broken, were channels of the healing power of Divine Love.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada