Promise Keeper, Promise Breaker, Promise Shaper

Warning… I’m sure some of you won’t like this so much. I’m going to go a place that can be unsettling.

Have you ever had someone break a promise to you? Maybe a clear promise, maybe a promise hidden within expectations…….. Of course. I’m sure you have. It’s part of being human. We all experience the disappointment, the pain of broken promises.

Have you ever broken a promise? And how did you feel when you did that? Avoidance, or maybe shame or guilt?…….. I’m sure you have. It too is part of being human. We give our word, with our best intention, and sometimes we don’t follow through, we forget, or something distracts us, or we simply make another choice.

I know we’re supposed to be Promise Keepers. It gives all of us a sense of security, that people around us will be true to their word, will stand by us.  Yet so often I’ve been hurt by people who don’t keep their promises to me. The reality is that we are Promise Breakers.

What if we accepted that about ourselves? Didn’t run away from it. Didn’t hide it from others?

What if… what if we/I held a different perspective, one that accepts that promises will be broken? Jan Richardson’s poem on Epiphany speaks of being on a journey and part of the path being strewn with the scattered pieces of broken promises. She says we keep walking. One step at a time. Eyes on the Star overhead that will lead us home.

I realized that I’ve seen promises as rules that must be kept rather than principles that can be lived. What if my promises could be based not on rules frozen in time, but on principles that may evolve as situations change? I could say, “I can’t keep the promise I made to you, but I can do or be this ….today. OR I can no longer live within the expectation that you hold of me but I can be…”

In my closest circle, I’ve experienced many divorces. All good people who made promises to each other and then discovered they couldn’t keep those promises. I imagine each of them felt shame, guilt and pain as the relationship fell apart around and in them. They didn’t seek to be a Promise Breaker, but the promises got shattered and scattered all over the path they were walking.

What if they, all of us, could see ourselves as Promise Shapers who say something like, “I’m so sorry that I can’t keep the promise I once made. Something has changed and now, today, I can be (a different way)….. with you.” What if we gave ourselves and others the freedom to shape a new promise? I know some will say “NO!” We need the solid foundation of promises, vows that anchor us so that when difficulties come, we will withstand the turbulence. Absolutely. We do need solid anchors. And we need room to recognize, accept and forgive the Promise Breakers and let them grow into Promise Shapers, making promises not based in rigidity but soaked in loving principles.

Here’s the link to Jan Richardson’s poem if you want to walk the Epiphany Walk with her. I wonder what you will hear.

Thank you for letting me think this through with you Gentle Reader. It is what I do in these blogs.

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

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


Spiritual Cataract Surgery: Re-writing My Story


Sometimes it’s like a veil is pulled back and I see things differently. Those are wonderful Epiphany Moments. What have they been like for you? Those moments when you see yourself, or a situation, or the world differently.

I was lying in bed last week in a small cabin in the woods. I’d told a group of people some of my story, a tiny bit of my sad childhood when I felt so alone in the world. Later that night, tucked into my cabin the Spirit gently and graciously pulled back the curtain and showed me a totally different view of my childhood. I was never alone. There was never a moment I was on my own or unloved. There was never an instant in which I was neglected. I was always cherished. Always.

Last week in my blog I shared my increasing awareness that we are one with God. Growing out of that awareness, I was able to grasp on an emotional level that I have never been alone. I am God’s child, one with God. I came from God and will return when I leave this world. There is a huge difference between intellectual understanding and emotional knowing. Epiphany Moments are about emotional knowing. They are life changing.

From that moment in my cabin I have re-written my childhood story. Yes, I may tell of some of the experiential emptiness, but it is no longer the whole story. Nor do I tell the story from that emotional standpoint. I’m so deeply grateful to our wonderful, loving God who graces me with moments of clarity. I no longer see my life through shadowy eyes. Hmmmm ….  Is this a spiritual cataract moment?

And what is true for me, I know is true for you …. You are God’s beloved child too. Always loved. Always.

When have you had such a moment? A time when you had a paradigm shift? Your eyes were opened, even for a flickering moment and you KNEW something. Everything changed and came together in a whole new way.

I’d love to hear your stories.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder


Visitors from the Far East

Today I’m putting away the last of the Christmas decorations. My husband wanted one Nativity set left out, and some years I have left it out for weeks, almost until Lent arrived.  This year it stayed longer than the rest of the decorations but  I’m putting it away today. Epiphany has happened. We’ve remembered the arrival of the mysterious visitors from the Far East and now it’s time to tuck them all into their boxes.

As I put the china statues into their boxes for another year, I’m so aware of them. I’m intrigued by those visitors. I wonder who they were. I wonder where they came from. What did they come seeking? What did they see when they looked at the Christ Child? The Christian faith goes back 2000 years, but the spiritual searching and wisdom of the Far East goes back much, much further. Those visitors knew something. They came to confirm something.

I’ve been reading more Eastern spiritual sources lately. I’m finding much richness, much that explains to me the wisdom teachings of Jesus. I’m putting Nativity figures into boxes, but at the same time Eastern writers are drawing my soul out of a box! For years I’ve been attracted to John 14-17, especially the image of being a branch of God’s vine. As I read and ponder both Eastern and First Nations teachers, I’m hearing so clearly that we are one with God. As intimate as a branch is in the trunk of the tree, so intimate is our soul with God’s. We are one. We carry within our veins God’s DNA. Always have. Always will. Always. Our soul belongs to God.

Jesus is our God-voice for the West. He came calling us back to this God-awareness. All of us have wandered from knowing who we are, whose we are. Each one of us is a lamb that has strayed, a prodigal that has been lost. Each one a prodigal whose return is celebrated. You and I, we are one with God. I am one with God. Every day. Every moment of every day. When I rest in that deep truth, everything looks different.  And oh, I feel loved and know you are loved too. All of us. Loved. Always.

You’re one of visitors from the Far East …. What did you see when you looked at the Christ Child?

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


Cleaning Up for the New Year: Three Ways to Refresh Your Life


Yesterday the cleaners came through our home. It was wonderful. I put away most of the Christmas decorations and did the light dusting. They did the heavier work of washing floors, vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen. When all was done our home sparkled! It felt wonderful. A fresh beginning.

After a New Year’s Reflection, I’m ready to refresh my life with a bit of house cleaning too. I call it ‘Life-cleaning’. The mop and dusting cloths that I use are threefold. First, my grounding rhythm of life: Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep.; second, my particular rhythm of Still Waters/Learning Journey/Across the Threshold or Contemplative Practice/Creative Practice/Compassionate Practice; third, focusing on Priorities – Let First Things be First.

Once again I say a big ‘YES’ to my grounding rhythm. I don’t want to let the ‘stuff’ of life creep in. This year I enjoyed discovering Richard Wagamese. One of his devotions was about ‘letting go of unnecessary stuff’. I want to continue to grow in living lightly, easily and gently. I also will say a big ‘YES’ to dwelling deep. I want my connection to God to be the grounding piece of all my life. I want to live connected to God’s Spirit, resting and trusting in God’s Presence. I will seek God each day, throughout the day.

I have found having a particular rhythm a significant part of keeping my life in order. I am clear on what my prayer practice is currently. It is focused on deepening my mediation experience. My study rhythm for the next few months is largely around contemplative lifestyle practices. I have several authors I’m reading for the first time. I continue with a desire to grow in compassion towards myself and others. I’m particularly interested in expressing that compassion to those closest too me, ones who might trigger me!

Setting priorities has helped me sort out what is helpful and what is the unnecessary stuff that has crept into my life. I find it is so easy to have commitments creep into my days. This year I name that I have two priorities. One is to develop more loving relationships with those close to me. The second is to write a book that will help people all over the world fall in love with our amazing God.

So, largely thanks to the cleaners K&V, my house is clean. My hope is to tend it regularly. Yet I know what a challenge that is to me! And now, I’ve done my refresh for 2020. My hope is to tend my life each day too. Oh I know that can be a challenge too! But I carry HOPE.

How about you? Do you have a grounding rhythm? A particular rhythm? What are your priorities for 2020? I’d love to hear how you enter into a new year.

Above all…lets enjoy each day, being kind to one another.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


End-of-Year Reflection

I have found that the moment  we move from the end of one year into the beginning of another is a wonderful time for reflection. In the darkness of our winter days, I can be slower and attentive to what has been through the sunny, growing months. Sometimes within Contemplative Fire we would gather on December 31st and have a few hours of reflection to toast the old year and welcome the new one.

Perhaps you would like to do this on your own, or with a few chosen companions. On your own, consider taking some time, over a few days to reflect on your spiritual journey. Here is an outline of what we’ve used in the past. Use and adjust as you like:

An Opening Prayer (something to help settle, so my heart can be open to listen)

God of our past, of every present moment that has brought us to this present momentBe with us now.

God of the seasons, of the year that is completing. Be with us now.

God of time, illuminate our reflections  and enlighten for us the way that lies ahead. Be with us now

Indeed God, be with us


 Contemplative Fire follows a rhythm of ‘Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep’. Look back on the past year and identify:

  • Some point/event/ or experience during which you felt you were travelling light
  • Some point/event or experience when you felt you were dwelling deep.
  • What was it that enabled you to experience this lightness and to experience this depth?
  • Express gratitude to God for your experience.

Looking ahead – Is there a longing that you carry? Is there something that you deeply hope for in the time ahead? Perhaps write or draw a picture of your longing. Offer your longing to God. Don’t hang on to it but release it with hope into the loving arms of the One who sustains you each day, the One who gives you breath.

May your reflection time be blessed.

Love and prayer




Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ in Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


Christmas Greetings

Today we celebrate the special gift of God to us here on earth in the arrival of Jesus. Welcome Jesus!

There was a day, a time, when he entered the world. Just like you and I did. He was born of his mother Mary. He knew life in her womb, the entry into this cold world. He knew separation from her, cold and hunger just as we all have known. One difference from us is that during his time on earth, he didn’t loose his awareness, his connection to God. He remained in contact with God, allowing the full presence of God’s Spirit to flow through him so we might know what God is like and know too, what humans can be like when they live in the fullness of their divine life.

He came to make us whole. That’s what the word ‘saved’ means. It means health and wholeness. That’s what he came to bring to us. Jesus gives to us the awareness of what humans are able to be, fully alive, fully connected to God. Being in touch with him, brings healing, health and wholeness into our lives. It’s not about a correct doctrine, or a specific spiritual experience. It is about being open to the Spirit of Jesus Christ today, now and always. He can still touch us, just like he touched lepers when he was physically alive. Sometimes his healing is physical, sometimes emotional and most often spiritual. Healing is his business.

Today we celebrate that God came to earth in the life of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for that. The life of Jesus has allowed me to see God in a completely different way – not removed, distant and judgmental, but close, caring and compassionate. God lives within me, within you and all of creation. The death of Jesus remains for me a sorrow touched with mystery. His resurrection assures me that he is still alive and powerful. I have experienced his presence many times, in many places and people.

Over the years I have recognized how much the external energy and trappings of Christmas have fed my seasonal feelings. Today I don’t have the parish life that gives me services to prepare. We’ve opted in our family not to give presents to each other but to gather to feast and enjoy one another. That has eliminated much of busyness of the season! It feels rather strange… yet I experience more clearly the birth of Jesus. Today is about him. I’m so grateful for his life.

May the peace and joy of Jesus be yours.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Holy Waiting: Standing in The Light


We’ve passed December 21, the mark of the shortest day in our year. We don’t see it yet, but already we are tipping towards the light. Begin your reflection time by lighting four candles, yes four, and as you light each one, do it slowly and gently, pausing as you go: the Candle of Presence, the Candle of Your Light, the Candle of Hope. The fourth candle I name as Love. Let us sit in its presence for awhile.

Jesus’s clearest word to us, by both his life and his teaching, is that we are to love one another. We’re to love those close to us and those who are strangers, those people we naturally care about and those who are different from us, even those we brand as enemies. He challenges us to love beyond what is comfortable and warm, but to draw a wide circle, an inclusive circle, one that embraces all human beings. His circle was so wide that his dying breath was one of forgiveness to those who hurt him. As he used so many nature illustrations to teach us about God and ourselves, I’m very comfortable in extending his circle of care to all life on our planet, to our earth, galaxy and universe. We are to be Love.

I read a bit of Karen Armstrong this fall. This religious historian’s perspective is that you can discern a spiritual truth by whether it calls you to practical compassion. For all faiths, that is their bottom line. So…. as I sit with the Candle of Love, am I open to another being? Am I open to helping, to being helpful to another, to creation?…… In that I recognize my gross imperfections. There are many times when I’m not open. Perhaps I’m not comfortable with someone, their sufferings or their opinions. Or perhaps I’m not ready to change my lifestyle despite the harm it brings to the air I breathe or sea that feeds me. I begin by sitting in the presence of Love and allowing myself, warts and all to be loved.

Jesus is the Light of the World, a light no darkness can extinguish. I invite you to sit in his presence. At Christmas we remember how one day, he entered our world. Two thousand plus years later, at Christmas we are invited to know that his Spirit Light is within us, and now we are to enter the world bearing his care, his compassion and his love to a hurting world. But our mission isn’t to save the world. Our mission is to be authentic light-bearers in our own circumstances. Who around you, needs you to be slow, to be gentle, to be a light in their world?

I invite you sit quietly in the presence of Love. When you are ready, stand up and stand in the presence of Love. Just stand for a few breaths. When you are ready step out into the world, knowing you carry the Light of Christ with you. He is here!

Of course, you’ll go back to extinguish those candles!!

Celebrate! God is with us! Love wins!

Spring will return!

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion, “Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


Holy Waiting: Another Candle is Lit   


For this reflection, find a Bible and three candles. Perhaps you’d be helped by having dim light around you, always that gentle reminder that we do live in a dark world. As you settle, light the first candle, The Candle of Presence, pausing for a few breaths to be open and aware. Then light the second candle, the one that reminds you that you/we carry within us The Light, for we too are the light of the world. Pause for a few breaths taking in that awareness.

Open the Bible to Matthew 12:18-21. This is a quote from Isaiah that describes Jesus. Through him and who he is, and his words of truth spoken into our dimly lit world, we are to receive hope. We are to read him, know him, follow him and have our hope strengthened. Hope is more than a warm feeling or vague wish that something good will happen. It is a confidence in the Presence of Light in a dim world. Light the third candle, The Candle of Hope. Pause for a few breaths, laying the word ‘hope’ on your breath.

Ephesians 1:18 is Paul’s prayer that those dear believers will have their eyes opened to know the hope to which they have been called. To what extent are your eyes open? If all you see is the darkness, or the turmoil of the world, I invite you to pause and ask God to open your eyes, so you may see the world with hopeful eyes. Most likely the opening will not be instantaneous. In the days ahead continue to ask for grace that your eyes to be opened to hope. Our calling is to know God’s Presence (first candle), to know ourselves as light (second candle) and to know that Christ bears hope into the world (third candle). This week a friend told me they were having ‘a shitty day, but they knew God was in the poop’! That’s hope. The world is difficult, AND God is always present. Often what we need to do is to ask that our eyes will be opened to see God. And often we are reluctant or forgetful to do that. I couldn’t tell you how many times my first spiritual director said to me, as I despaired about something, ‘Anne, have you talked to Jesus about that?”.

As we move toward our celebration of Light coming into the world, we also move into our shortest days. Is there anything that is weighing you down, dimming your light? Try these questions: What I long for is….. What I hope for is…..

God is present with you in your longings.

The days are short. But they will lengthen.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion, “Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)


Holy Waiting: In the Presence of Light

As you prepare to read this reflection find a Bible and two candles. Open the Bible to John 1.4-5 and Matthew 5.14. Put a marker in both those readings. Dim the lights around you and sit gently in the quiet light for a few minutes, maybe thirty breaths. Then light the first candle, pausing to take time to enjoy it’s flame and be open to the Presence of Light for another thirty breaths. Let the darkness be around you and the Light be in the centre with you.

The candle, as a light and as a symbol of light, is precious to me. Years ago, I was in a movie theater in France, waiting for the show to start. My attention was drawn to the top most corner of the theater. I saw a glowing light. There was no light fixture, simply, a beautifully, glowing presence. Deep within I knew that Light was at the centre of all Life and that I was heading towards it. And then the glowing light vanished. I’ve held that image for the last forty plus years. I’ve drawn it. I’ve lived into it. Now, all these years later I know that not only is Light at the centre of all Life, but that I’m within The Light, and that all of Life is within The Light. I know too that The Light is within me.

Turn to John 1…  Jesus is the light of the world, a light that no darkness can extinguish. I treasure the awareness that God is not scared of the dark like I might be. No matter what uncomfortable darkness in which we may find ourselves, God is always present. Sometimes we can’t sense the Spirit’s presence, but always, always God IS there, a Light that no darkness can extinguish. Take time to breath in that truth.

Turn to Matthew 5…to that rough, mostly uneducated, often contentious group Jesus said, ‘YOU are the light of the world.’ He said it loud of enough so you and I could hear him. We are the light of the world. We carry within us, his light, a strong, robust light that will not be extinguished no matter what happens to us. You are the light of the world. Light the second candle. Take time to breath in that truth.

To celebrate their 80th birthdays, Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama wrote a delightful book, ‘The Book of Joy’. In the introduction they describe the wonder that each day is our birthday, for each day we begin anew. Yes, we carry our past, but each day we can choose how to carry that past, how we will live today and how we will move forward.

So, Happy Birthday to you…..As we prepare to welcome the Light of the World, may we live within his light and know that we too bear his light today, into the world.

I invite you to close this time of reflection by again sitting with the image of light before you and imagine that light within you. As Jesus said, ‘You are the light of the world.’.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Holy Waiting: Journey into Darkness

This year I’m going to offer four advent reflections that will move us from darkness into The Light. Prepare yourself to join me on this journey. Today as we begin our journey into Advent, I invite you to find a candle, a match, a timer and a Bible. Open the Bible to Isaiah, Chapter 9, Verse 2 and set it by your side.

First some reflection —- Right now, as I live in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m in the darkest season of the year. From October 21 to December 21 each day, we’re heading into deeper darkness. For years I have resisted the shortness of these days but this year, as several people mentioned this season to me, I found my attention drawn to the many shades of darkness. I’m not resisting it as I have before. I’m more open and accepting of the short days and descending darkness. I realize there are many kinds of darkness.

There’s Fearful Darkness. When I was a child, I was so sure there were ‘bogey men’ out there, or snakes creeping around! Even as an adult, standing in the deepest dark of the night can be disconcerting. What is that sound???? When I can’t see much around me, my imagination can begin to play games so I’m not always comfortable walking up our unlit street at night. And then there are the times of emotional darkness, times uncertainty, unsettledness, unknowing. Sometimes it can feel dark even when the sun shines. Those are times of emotional darkness. And yes, I can still be scared in that dark!

There’s Lonely Darkness. Sometimes darkness can highlight the sense of loneliness. If only there was someone with me, it wouldn’t seem so dark. Their human presence would bring a light to me. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt alone and lonely. Sometimes it’s a physical loneliness for there is no other human with me. Other times it’s a mental loneliness when my ideas, beliefs or experiences separate me from others and there is no warm human companion walking with me. Sometimes it’s a spiritual loneliness when God seems so distant. I would name those as ‘dark’ times, difficult times.

There’s Womb Darkness. We all began our earthly lives in the darkness of the womb. That’s warm darkness, heartbeat darkness, nourishing darkness. That’s the darkness that allows seeds to sprout. Jesus began his earthly life in the very same way as you and I did, curled up within Mary’s womb, feeling her heart beat, being nourished by the food she ate, protected and cared for by her. During her pregnancy, I wonder how many times Mary repeated to herself and to God, ‘Not my will but Yours be done.’? Each time she repeated her desire to be open to God, Little Jesus within, heard her. How nourishing that might have been for His Spirit. Darkness can be warm and nourishing. It can bring forth new life.

Now some experience. —- Set the timer for five minutes. Turn off as many lights as you can and begin to sit in darkness. Wait in darkness. Become aware of what it’s like for you to be in darkness, to not know what is around you, what is coming. Experience the uncertainty, even the discomfort, perhaps the fear of the darkness. Be patient with everything unresolved in your life, every unknown aspect, every shadow that flickers. Just be present within the darkness.  If you can, sit for the full five minutes, then light the candle and read Isaiah 9.2.

Allow that verse to be yours: You are a person who has walked in darkness, and now you can see a light.

The Advent Journey requires that we spend some time in darkness, knowing pain and difficulty. Being pregnant isn’t easy! There is no way it could have been all easy for Mary. May we pause long enough to acknowledge that we too, sometimes, wait in darkness, with unresolved ideas, relationships or decisions.

In the midst of our seasonal darkness, let us be patient. More light will come. In time. But we must wait.

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)