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.

 

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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

 

The Higher Rock

In this ‘Land of I-Don’t-Know’ that I named last week, some of the stepping stones that steady me were a sense of God’s reality, having family and friends within reach and knowing the inherent stability of my life.

 

 

After writing last week about those wonderful solid stepping stones, I found myself taking steps onto slippery stones this week. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the middle of the afternoon I’d encounter anxiety, worry and fear. The whispers….’What have you done?!’  ‘You know the market is soft right now. Too bad you didn’t sell last year or wait till it rises again.’ And then….’Why did you buy that small, odd house? Surely if God were in this EVERYTHING would be smooth and effortless. The seller wouldn’t be difficult. The price would be cheap. The decisions on letting go of our belongings would be simple…..’.

Oh, those slippery stones of anxiety, worry and fear, those whispers!

Last week two other people didn’t whisper but spoke clearly into my life. One told me about trains and the other about rocks.

If I board a train hoping to go to Vancouver and discover it is going to Halifax, I’ll get off! When a ‘train of thought’ goes through my mind, I have a choice whether to stay on that train or get off it. One of the fruits of a meditation practice is a growing awareness of the train of thoughts that flow through my mind, and the flow of emotions that steam through me. I don’t have to stay on a particular train. I KNOW my destination. I can get off a train. There is no seat belt forcing me to stay.

Another person shared one of their favourite Bible verses, Ps 61.2 ‘Lord lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.’. When the waters get rough, when the rocks get slippery, Loving God lead me to The Higher Rock, the rock of You, of your truth, your presence within me and within the world. There IS a Higher Rock. It isn’t slippery. It is solid.

There are slippery rocks in ‘The Land of I-Don’t-Know’. Each day, each moment I need to consider where my feet are. Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes I slip. Sometimes I’m all wet. Lord, Help me. I want off this train. Lead me to The Higher Rock.

Back to Henri’s prayer:

Dear God

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

and bring me home.

Thank you God for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.

There is a Higher Rock, a Higher Ground.

What are your slippery stones?

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

 

 

 

 

Living in the Land of ‘I Don’t Know’

From a Lenten reflection it’s grown into a state of awareness. I recognize that I’m living in a land where I don’t know what’s going to happen.

When we move, who will be our neighbours? Will we make a friend or two or three? Who will they be? What will their stories have been? Who will know my story? Where will I get my hair cut? Who will be our doctor, dentist, chiropractor, let alone run our favourite local coffee shop? What activities will we be engaged in? How are we going to decide what comes with us and what stays behind? Who is going to buy our home? I simply don’t know.

I picture myself standing in the shallows of a river. I’m in ‘The Land of I Don’t Know’. I like acknowledging that I’m living there right now. Sure, in reality we ALL live there everyday, but usually we have enough scheduled in our life that the uncertainty is muffled. It doesn’t shout at us the way it is shouting at me these days! My calendar is pretty empty!

As I stand in the shallows of unknowing, I see flat stones that I can step on to make my way through the river. Even, in the midst of uncertainty, there are some things I do know.

Stepping Stone 1: I know God’s presence and live with an awareness of how much I’m loved. Without doing anything, with an empty calendar, I’m still beloved.

Stepping Stone 2: I know that you’re loved too. God’s love is a vast, warm embrace that holds us all together.

Stepping Stone 3: I know I have with me a dear husband who keeps me company in the journey. I have family around me and that there are friends I could call if I need to.

Stepping Stone 4: I know I’m a very privileged person. Of the seven billion or so of us on earth today, I have more materially, emotionally and spiritually than most. There is money in the bank, food in my fridge, a warm bed at night and I’ve just walked on three precious stepping stones.

If we’re honest, don’t we all live in ‘The Land of I Don’t Know’ every day? Oh, we plan and prioritize. We have calendars and make appointments. We’re very busy and purposeful people driving around the city, making sure things get done. But haven’t you had days when ‘life’ happens at you? We really don’t know what’s going to happen next. What are your stepping stones? What keeps you grounded?

And then I smile and enjoy Hafiz:

It used to be

That when I would wake in the morning

I could with confidence say,

‘What am ‘I’ going to

Do?’

That was before the seed

Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed

In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and

Tickling each other

While fixing the evenings food.

Now when I awake

All the internal instruments play the same music:

‘God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do

For the world

Today?

         (The Gift – Poems by Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky.)

I can’t run away from uncertainty and not knowing, so I’ll jump in with two feet splash around and have some fun. What love-mischief can we do today?!

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

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Know

Am I allowed to enjoy Lent???? Yes, I can! I’ve had a very invigorating time in the wilderness of Lent this year. As I’ve shared before, as part of my discipline for this journey, and as part of preparing for a move,  I decided to intentionally purge our home.  I dove intentionally into cupboards and drawers I haven’t opened in years. Boxes came out, photos got sorted, little parcels went in the mail to family members…. It’s been great!

Somewhere along this sorting and cleaning the word ‘freedom’ began to emerge. No doubt it was related to the freedom that comes from a good household purge, but accompanying ‘freedom’ was the image of a beaver dam. I kept seeing, kept feeling, all those logs twisted together and the mud that held them in place. I began to feel a beaver dam inside me and started to wonder if there was a block inside me, a restraining wall, holding back the expression of my full self. I began to ask “What are my logs? ‘What might be holding me back from greater freedom, greater joy, greater tenderness, greater kindness, greater laughter?’.

Today I experienced an art exhibit like none I’ve ever seen before. It was like walking into a wonderland. The artist is explosively creative. I was ready not to like the show, but was completely drawn in.  At one point she writes that she had never lived in a mould but has always lived in freedom.

Ah… I’ve lived in a mould or two…. I’ve still got a box of cookie cutters from my grandmother in one of my cupboards. Cookie cutters are great for Christmas cookies, but I’ve got years of living within my family’s mould! But I’ve also had years of living beyond their mould, slowly and steadily finding my own pathway. I’ve grown into more and more internal freedom, yet I do hear a Lenten invitation to experience even more freedom.

So tonight, as I’m church for a quiet Holy Week service and the scripture is read from a reflective perspective asking us to listen for a word, I hear from Mark 11, so clearly, ‘We don’t know’. I know that is my phrase to take, to savour, to mull over, to ponder, to meditate on. It quickly becomes ‘I don’t know’. I realize that one of the logs of my beaver dam is ‘I know’ and freedom comes when I can say, ‘I don’t know’ and be comfortable with that.

Freedom words:  I don’t know…….I need help…….I’m sorry…….I’m wrong…….I made a mistake……..

What are your freedom words?

I find a huge amount of freedom in not needing to know everything, in being able to continue to grow and learn. As I ponder these words, I feel the dam dislodging. Can the spring rush be far behind?

I don’t know …..

Yet there are something I do know. I do know that there is a heart at the core of our universe that beats Love. I know I’m loved and I know that you’re loved too.

I’ll leave you with the prayer I found this week. It’s from Henri Nouwen.

Dear God

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

and bring me home.

Thank you God for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.

 

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Praying Again

 

I find myself drawn again to prayer. I thought I might write a series of blogs on many different types of prayer: the prayer of fear, or of desperation, or of surrender, or of hope. But instead, I simply want to pray.

Often at the beginning of the day I peek at the news of the world. What’s going on beyond my safe prayer room? Today it wasn’t the horrors of the world that caught my attention but the rapid technological changes that are coming. I felt rise within me a desire to pray, not just in this moment, but as the ongoing course of my life. As I enter my elder years, is this my season to deepen my prayerful presence? I long to sit on a rock, be still, listen and hold the world in God’s loving embrace.

I leave the service prep and offerings, the educational programs and groups, the practical pastoral activities to others, and find myself turning to being still, to listening, to holding our dear pounding, aching world, in God’s embrace.

I came across a story this week, a story of prayer. Once when Mother Theresa was asked how she prayed, she said she sat still and listened. When asked what she heard she replied nothing. God was still and listening.

Sometimes the veil has been lifted for me and I’ve heard something, but most often, I too sit and all is quiet from the Precious One. I love the image of simply sitting together. I believe in that simple sitting, there is power, there is a conduit of goodness into the world.

Did you know that Contemplative Fire offers “Hidden Houses of Prayer”? It is a place for those of us who feel a call to solitary prayer to gather. Would you like to join me?  https://hiddenhousesofprayer.wordpress.com

What moves you to prayer? What are those moments like for you?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Fox

fox

I live in the middle of Toronto. It’s a lovely neighbourhood but it’s definitely ‘in the city’. Last Sunday morning as I was heading out to walk to church, there was a large fox strolling down my street. I’ve seen fox in the ravines nearby, but never walking down my street like he owned the world!fox in teh city

This past week I’d begun to meditate on the scripture where Jesus says that bird’s have nests and foxes have holes, but he has no place to call home. Hmmm…. Why have I been sent this fox?

This past week my Lenten discipline of purging our home has gone even deeper. I’ve pulled out boxes upon boxes of ‘family treasures’ – the letters, artwork and photos going back several generations. As we continue to consider a move, we’re letting go of things we’ve held on to for years, memorabilia from our parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins as well as our own children.

clutterAs I do the sorting, I’m very aware of the home I have all around me. When we moved in eighteen years ago, many of the cupboards were empty. None of them are empty now. How did all these things creep in? Did they come while I slept?

Maybe they did come while I slept, while I lived on auto-pilot, not aware of what was coming into my home. It feels like some things have crept into my life. Like that fox on the street, I’m looking at them and saying, ‘Just what are you doing here?”. I’m more sure now of who I am and that helps me be more sure of what to keep and what to release. What belongs and what is out of place. What I’ve had long enough and what still brings joy.decluttering

I have loved this home, yet something in me is releasing it too. I have no secure home to move into, so this week I’m holding the thought of being homeless with Jesus. I like knowing. I like knowing where I’ll sleep. I like having a fridge and food close by. Yet I hear in this reflection an invitation to consider homelessness, an experience of spiritual poverty.  To live with less. Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep.

Somewhere that fox I saw last Sunday has a home. Somewhere there is a new home for my husband and me, but in the meantime, I’m to experience releasing, letting go, having less, living with uncertainty and instability. …. Pray for me, for us that we can trust in the slow work of God.

How can I fuss, when my problem is too much, and others have so little and no home at all?

What has been your experience of accumulation and releasing, of being secure or being homeless?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

First Anniversary

 

A year ago this week that I began my Sabbath Leave. As I cleared my desk and said good-bye to people, I had no idea what lay in store for me. The four months I took off from work proved to be a time of transformation in my life.

No responsibility, no organizing, no leadership, no public speaking, no group facilitation. Open-ended days, to linger, to play, to pray, to reflect and read, to walk the beaches…. Even though I thoroughly enjoy all those ministry/leadership things, I quickly grew to value the new experience of laying them aside and opening more deeply to being, not doing, but being.

During those four months I re-connected with Jesus in a friendly way, but at the same time connected more deeply than ever before with the Cosmic Christ, the one who always has been, who is the glue that holds all this together. The awareness that I was a spiritual being having a human experience took deep root within me and continues to this day. I feel connected to The Always.

 

 

Each day as I move through the relatively mundane events of my now, quite simple life, I know they are significant because each event is part of the Great Unfolding. One of the ways I can express what I’ve experienced is by moving to the use of capitals. I’m sure my grammar teachers are shuddering in their resting places!

I’ve shifted inside into a world that is grounded in all there ever has been, all that there will be, forever and ever. I sleep, rise, eat, dress. I do all the things humans do, and yet I find embedded within them a significance they never had before. The significance comes out of the awareness that I’m not alone. God’s Spirit is always within me, with me, around me.

I thought my Sabbath Leave decision was about leaving some ministry responsibilities that were exhausting me. I told people my purpose was to find a sustainable life. A year later I say I’ve discovered a rich and highly sustainable life. I’m so grateful for the two communities who released me from responsibilities, my parish and my community of Contemplative Fire. And so grateful to God. One more time, God always shows up. When you put the busyness of life aside and seek more God, the Spirit will always show up. Always.

What would it be like for you to set aside your busyness for awhile and seek the Holy One, the Loving One, the Great Compassion, The Great Always?

Maybe someday I’ll be called back into the working flow, but that’s not today. When, or if, I do return, it’s up to me to live differently, to live leaning into the Jesus I’ve met this past year. Right now, I still have my training wheels on. I’m learning to live simply, day by day.

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

From One to Many

Last week ended up being a week of contrasts. As I described it to my daughter, I realized one of the reasons it felt so full was that I went from solitude to an abundance of people.

I took some time on retreat last week.  I went to a cottage in a retreat centre for some solitude. Three days to pray, reflect, and walk the lake shore, to put away the computer and phone and open my heart. I brought along some friends, Henri (Nouwen), Jean(Vanier) and Jesus (scripture). What beautiful souls to accompany me. Jean’s writing on community life touched me deeply and I could feel layers of my false self peeling away. How good to go on retreat and leave some stuff behind!

From the solitude I returned to full community life with a number of group meetings, individual conversations and one special service. One day was a twelve-hour working day. I haven’t done one of those in over a year, and I know why! There was much joy in the conversations and groups. I wouldn’t have missed one of them!

It had been a long time since I reconnected with my home community of Contemplative Fire. It was good to be with other Companions, offer an introduction to Contemplative Fire in a different part of the city and finish the weekend with our monthly worship. Returning to community life was rich and full.

Amid all the abundance, my husband and I continue our discernment around a move and of course family life happens. A second daughter turned 40. It’s just not possible.

When I write a blog I often write from what has been working most deeply in my life in the last week, but this past week was simply full to overflowing. Where do I turn? What am I to process more deeply? What might I highlight for myself through sharing?

It feels like there is a huge buffet table spread before me. I can go back again and again and taste the goodness that is there. When I was sharing my week with my daughter I suddenly felt the POP of the week. I’d moved from one to many and the crush was like fireworks going off inside. When I push back from the table and consider my meal, there are some things I know.

God is so present, so longing to let us know that we’re held, loved and valued. I hear God’s voice calling to me from so many different places, through so many people. “Come, welcome, be at rest with Me. I am here with you. You are never alone. You have nothing to prove. I have my eye on you.”

How is your week? How do you know God’s watchful, loving presence in your life?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion