Hidden Beauty

 

I think I told you that we’re working on a trail from our home to the creek below us. I’ve found that my job, has been to tidy the forest around the trail. Doesn’t that sound odd?  Why would you tidy a forest? For years, the forest and those in the home have tossed branches down the hillside. I did it myself last year when a windstorm blew branches all around the decks. I just tossed them over edge into the forest below us. That’s just fine, till someone gets the idea to make a trail down the hillside to the creek! Suddenly all those branches become visible and many need to be moved to clear space for the trail.

As I began to clear the branches, I realized that not only the narrow trail needed to be cleared, but I wanted the space around the trail to be open too. That’s when I began to tidy the forest. Others are working away sawing trees, digging out rocks, grading a path and building steps. I’m climbing over rocks tossing branches over the cliff-side. I started at the top area just below the house and have been making my way towards the creek.

The first few areas near the house were amazing. Simply removing the loose branches revealed a delightful forest garden right by our home. As I made my way down the hillside I found more treasures; a huge stump with ivy tumbling over it, a massive rock partly covered in moss, two more huge rocks with tree stumps tucked between them and a moss covered hillside that was flecked with starburst flowers. As the mess of odd branches was removed the beauty of the forest began to shine through. Next trail making day I’ll get out my clippers and tidy up the ferns. Underneath all that clutter there was and is a beautiful forest garden.

Isn’t that an image of life? What’s underneath the clutter of our activities, underneath the knot of old tapes in our minds, underneath the weight of ambitions and pressures? I know there is a beautiful forest garden within each of us. Too often our beauty is covered by a lot of clutter that we’ve accumulated or let others dump on us. But we are beautiful. Each person around you is beautiful. Can you see your own beauty? Can you see the beauty in the one beside you? What is the clutter that can be removed so you can behold the beauty within yourself and the one nearest you? God is always present, ready to help de-clutter.

May you use these days well.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

Listening Distance – Again

 

A reader sent me a link to a compelling video that speaks again to living within listening distance of God.  If you just want the clip – skip to the end! or linger with me for a bit of set up….

This week a friend was describing how, one day, she heard ‘the tapping on her heart’.  She wasn’t alone but with two other people who heard the same ‘heart tapping’. BUT they made a decision together not based on their common shared experience but on an external policy structure they’d been given by their organization. Later, as events unfolded, they regretted they hadn’t listened to their ‘heart tapping’.

I felt sad as she told her story, yet it was so familiar too. Having a sense of something yet not living into it…..isn’t that familiar to so many of us?

I remembered a community I was part of years ago that taught me so much about listening together to the Spirit of God. It was wonderful to sit with a team, listening for ‘heart tapping’, that inner sense that we all shared and then making our decisions, within a community structure but with the freedom to follow our ‘heart tapping’. We had wonderful years together, sometimes stumbling over each other, but generally growing together because we respected each other and respected the ‘heart tapping’ that we were learning to listen to.

In my early Christian years, one verse that jumped out for me was John 3.8 ‘The wind blows where it pleases. You hear the sound of it but don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with anyone born of the Spirit.’ I sat at a beach this week and watched kites fly in the wind, lifting, dipping and soaring again, responding to each breath of the wind. Oh I long to live so sensitive to the Spirit. To be lifted, dipped, flipped around all trusting the Spirit as I listen to the ‘heart tapping’.

Here’s the link I tempted you with. It’s the true story of a pastor who learns to slow down and listen to God.

https://www.livegodspeed.org/watchgodspeed

How might we live Godspeed? How might we live listening to the ‘tapping of on our heart’? How might we live blown by breath of God?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Listening Distance 2

 

In response to my blog last week, one of our readers sent me this quote:

“In his book The Heart of the Hunter, Laurens van der Post tells his story of living in the Kalahari Desert with the bushmen of South Africa. It became obvious to van der Post that these primitive peoples knew intimately the presence of wisdom in every blade of grass and in every heartbeat. The bushmen had a mysterious kind of inner knowing. They knew when the enemy was approaching and danger was near, they knew when to move their camps, and when and where the rains would come. They knew where to go for the hunting that would sustain their lives. When questioned about this mysterious inner knowledge, they spoke of what they called the ‘tapping of the heart.’

From an early age they had been commanded to heed this tapping. When they felt it coming, they were to become very quiet inside and to listen vigilantly to the tapping. It was like a sixth sense, an unexplainable knowing. Reflecting on the uncomplicated lives of these ancient peoples I have come to believe that this mysterious knowing in them was nothing less than the wisdom of God.”

Oh…to mature within a community, a family group, that commands one to listen to such inner wisdom! How different from much of my training!

In the next few weeks most of us will begin to emerge from different levels of social isolation. One of my desires is to listen to the ‘tapping of my heart’ as I emerge. What is life-giving? How is Spirit directing me? Will I have the courage to listen? Will I have the courage to act on what I hear?

It’s so easy for me to call the bushmen ‘primitive’, but my sophistication can be an obstacle to spiritual intimacy. May it not be so. May I, may all of us, wait on God. Sit quietly. Even within our activities to be quiet and to keep listening to the tapping, to the whisper, to the words of loving guidance.  To wait and to trust.

Be safe, be well, and emerge wisely

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Listening Distance

 

We’re all living with social distance and physical distance these days. Have you ever heard of ‘listening distance’? What will allow me to listen to someone, to something, to listen well and absorb what I hear.

This week a friend reminded me of a poem by R. S. Thomas that describes our listening distance in relation to God. The distance isn’t a physical one, but rather a soul quality. How still can I be? How much can I retire from my cocktail party mind, into the quiet room within me where I can hear God breathe?

But the silence in the mind

is when we live best, within

listening distance of the silence we call God…

It is a presence, then,

whose margins are our margins; that calls us out over our

own fathoms.

I know social distancing practices of two meters of separation and hand washing, but what are my listening distance practices?

For me, some of the best ways into interior silence are through slowing down activities and meditation. I know I’m able to be still within while I’m busy working or engaging with people. That’s an essential bit of life to learn. Yet I know too when I slow my exterior activity, such as in this stay-at-home time, my mind begins to relax, and I can more easily access a listening distance. The best for me is when I do retreat, pull back from all commitments and responsibilities and relationships and be still in solitude. Those are wonderful listening times for me. I feel so embraced by Love. I know I want to live in that warm embrace of interior stillness within the fullness of normal daily life. I always want to be in listening distance with God.

My daily meditation practice has taught me to observe my mind, watch it running around, asking questions, looking for answers, passing judgments. It’s relentlessly busy. I know there is so much more to me than my mind. My real self, True Self, is in the quietness within me, the part that lives in listening distance with God, the part that can hear Divine whispers. It is gentle, compassionate and seeks peace. It is also strong and resourceful for there, I’m in touch with the fullness of Christ within.

I can always add in some time in nature for that helps too! But even there, I must be attentive to my surroundings, not engaged in a podcast or organizing the world or people around me.

What does it mean for you to live within listening distance of God? What disrupts you from hearing God’s whispers? What helps you?

May we all be gentle with ourselves and those around us this week.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

I took a look in my fridge…..

 

Wow! Today I looked in my fridge and realized that it has a lot of food in it. More than normal. Then I realized that I’ve been baking and looking for sweets.

Comfort eating was something I learnt as a child. As an adult I thought I’d learned to separate myself from it – at least most of the time! I keep a watchful eye on consumption and my size for I’ve seen it expand many times. Expand and contract was my pattern for years, but in the last few years I’ve settled into a comfortable size and keep a watchful eye on that Craving Monster that lives inside me. WW has been a very helpful support in changing my relationship to food.

But Wow! My fridge is full, and I’ve been baking and craving sweets. Without any intention something deep inside me said, “I’m a little scared. I think I need a cookie.” I didn’t hear the voice, but today when I opened my fridge, I realized that I have been responding to a deep current within me that seeks food for comfort.

When I was a little girl, I had regular nightmares. I’d wake scared and then go find my mother. She kept a box of cookies in a cupboard near my room. We’d sit down together, I’d tell her my nightmare and she’d give me a cookie….or two. Later we had a habit that she would simply leave me a cookie by my bed so when I woke scared during the night I could immediately reach for a cookie.  As the years moved on I satisfied lots of fears and insecurities with cookies, chocolate bars, ice cream, bread … and did I mention cheese?

It was years ago I saw those patterns. I’ve done lots of work in those areas. I realized this week how very subtle is my internal world. Yes, I know the patterns. I know the disciplines. I know how to make good choices. Most of the time I do. My senses don’t usually dominate my life choices.  In the midst of the virus seclusion I haven’t felt on a conscious level any fear. Yet without my awareness a scared part of me has been grocery shopping and baking. Some unconscious current has been moving. How subtle. How hidden. Yet not  – my fridge is FULL!

What an intriguing journey to be a human being. There is always something new to learn. I’m humbled with the awareness of power of unconscious currents in my life.

 

How’s your fridge? How are you coping with your seclusion? Any surprises?

A fellow pilgrim on this human journey….

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Dare I Say It?

Dare I say it? I’m enjoying staying at home. I know it is a time of suffering and sadness. On many levels people are in pain, physically, emotionally, economically. So much has been turned upside down.  I do know that. And I know I’m not a single working mom who is having to look after her children and pay the bills. For many it’s a hugely painful time. Yet…

I’m also relieved to have the world slow down. I love stepping out on my porch at 7.00pm when our village starts it’s ‘Noisy Thank You’. One neighbour who can’t play the trumpet leads the way with a blast on his horn. Then all around the village you can hear the clamor. We’ve all been tucked away in our homes and come together for those few minutes of shared noise. Yes, we’re all still here and we all still care.

It seems to me that normally the world is too busy. I’ve known times in my life when my overwork took me to a place of overwhelm and exhaustion. I had to pull away from life and recoup. Are we experiencing a global nervous breakdown from our obsessive overworking/over achieving/over accumulating life style?

I like staying home. I’ve enjoyed finding my new rhythm. It’s still based in prayer/study/action. It just looks a little different. I’m not sure I want to give it up and return to all the driving and groups I normally attend. I like a quiet life.

I found this quote from Rumi: Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.

A time of enforced quiet gives me time to ponder. What do I really want in my life? What do I, at this particular season, really need? And to listen deeply. It may feel strange.

Our shared experience of social distancing is really an Easter experience. We’re all being given the opportunity to die and then to rise again. We’re letting go of our jobs, securities, even our dreams. We’ve let go of old ways of behaving, old routines. Now we have a chance to begin something new, to allow new life to mature within us. What will we look like when we emerge from the experience of our current separation? What is silently drawing us from deep within our hearts?

I hope you’re able to find some goodness in these days, some kindness, some gratitude and carry some hope for what will emerge.  If you are one of the ones who is suffering during this time, I hope you can find someone to support you as you accept what is happening and make the changes that are right for you.

May you know the new life of Easter.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Don’t Bother to Open This – Just be Still

 

Are you inundated with email messages right now? From poems, prayers and meditative pieces, to concerts, exercise options and both hilarious and heart-warming videos, there is an unending stream of options flooding into our lives right now. Alone? I’m sure there are many who do feel alone but others say they’re feeling almost overwhelmed by zoom meetings, social media conversations, internet options and news updates.

I don’t want to write anything this week.

The days that we are currently in are holy days. Nothing like this has ever happened to the world before. We are being set apart. What will we learn?

What gives your life purpose?

What do you need to feel well, whole and happy?

Our Loving Creator is speaking. Let’s use this time to listen – to her, to one another, to our self. And remember, God’s voice is always a Voice of Love. Don’t listen to anyone else.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Early Lessons from the Virus Time

 

Does it feel to you like we’ve been invaded by an alien being from outer space? Our world has been shaken upside down in the last few weeks as the coronavirus, it’s containment and fear has spread around the globe. I know there are always lessons to be learnt from life, so I’ve begun to consider the lessons from this invasion. It’s still early days so I’m sure lessons will evolve, but here are a few I’m considering.

Humility – I hope we, all the people on our planet, will be open to learning this lesson. We are not in control. We watch it strike the rich and the poor. We are a vulnerable species. Let’s live more simply, humbly.

Resilient and Resourceful – We are resourceful. We can be flexible and respond to a challenge. We can discover what is needed and will find a medical aid to help us. It is one of our wonders that we can be both humble and resilient. We can hold both at the same time. We need not be black and white thinkers, who strut in our problem-solving ability but can be embracive, healthy people who know our place within the cosmos.

Togetherness – This is a piece I really hope we learn. Yes, we can use borders for containment, but we can also work together as a global family. We can pull our best scientific minds together for a medical solution. We can let the medical community and the organizers of the world tell us how to contain the spread by managing our movement and lifestyle. We can learn that all of us have responsibility for all us. We’re in this thing called ‘life’, together.

Vulnerability – The clear recognition that so many of us live without financial margins. For those of us who live with margin, can we imagine what these days feel like when your job disappears, and you still need to feed your children?  Is it time we re-organize our financial structures and move to a guaranteed income?

Earth has a voice – As we hear of polluted skies and water beginning to clear, it’s as if the earth herself has gifted us with time so we might learn how our consumer-oriented, selfish ways have damaged earth. Will we listen to our planet? How will we live going forward?

A slower and simpler life is possible – We are being forced into a slower pace of life. So many of us resist slowness. I hope we will learn to accept it and use it well; more time for reflection, for self-awareness, more time for a small circle of people close to us, more time to be attentive to where we can wisely be helpful. When the restrictions lift, will we have wisdom about what we let back into our lives?

I’m struck about who we hear from each day. Daily we hear from political, scientific and medical leaders. More recently, there is a presence for mental health practitioners. Yet there is no strong and clear spiritual voice. Because of the mailing lists I’m on I have lots of meditative tools and perspectives offered to me but for the general public, when do they get a spiritual perspective on this crisis? How our world has changed and silenced the voice of the Spirit. When will we acknowledge that each person has not only a body and a mind, but also a spirit.  When will we listen to our spiritual teachers and their perspective on how to respond?

So those are a few of the things I’m wondering about. How about you? What are the lessons you’re wondering about?

Stay home, be kind to yourself and others, be well

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

 

 

 

HELP! Finding Life within the Coronavirus Slow Down

 

Have you been required, or asked to self-isolate? Have your activities or work been curtailed? In some way all of us have been affected by the virus and its containment. We are all being required to live at least temporarily, a slower life.

For years I have helped people slow down, listen to the loving voice of God and then live out of what they hear. I have found that some people instinctively respond to the slowing down, but many, even most people, find it incredibly difficult. I am concerned for the mental health of our communities as the time of self-isolation deepens. I’m encouraged to see that mental health professionals are beginning to speak out about it. We are social creatures and need each other. It wonderful to see the concerts, exercise classes, talks etc. being offered on the internet.

I offer you today some aids to help you get through a slower and possibly anxious, period in your life. Give your slower days an intention and purpose. Some love a free-flowing day – let that happen. Others prefer to work within a schedule, so create one! I work with a combination. I have a schedule of activities I will probably do, but I allow them to flow. Perhaps you can schedule a time for meditation, a time for written reflection and a time for walking, even a walking meditation outdoors. I think it is a wonderful time to pray the Loving-Kindness meditation.  Here are four links to prayer practices:

Centering Prayer: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-1

Holy Reading – Lectio Divina : https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/lectio-divina

Loving Kindness Meditation: https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-on-lovingkindness/

Walking Meditation: https://www.tarabrach.com/walking-meditation-instructions-pdf-from-tara-2/

Please look after yourself during this time of necessary slowness. May it become a rich time of learning for all of us as a human community.  I treasure the quote from Gibran’s The Prophet, “Pillars of the temple stand together and apart”. 

How are you adjusting? What are you learning?

Love and Prayers continue…

Anne

If this is helpful, please pass it along to friends so we can broaden the contemplative pathway. 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Self-isolation or Solitude?

Sometimes it’s simply time to get away. About a month ago as I was struggling with writing a book about my spiritual memoirs, I knew I had to get away. I knew it was time to be quiet and listen deeply to God’s Spirit within me. I had to do some deep listening before I could do any writing. The Rubik’s cube within my soul twisted into shape that day. It felt SO right. I booked a week away at Rivendell’s Hermitage. Maybe I’d have a few days of listening and then write, or maybe I’d simply have a few days of listening, of being open to God and in God’s Presence. Either way, I knew I needed solitude.

I leave in five days. I am so happy to be going. As I leave, the world around me is twisting in a strange tornado tumult of COVID19. Each day new directions come out. New information. New travel restrictions. New gathering restrictions. I’m content to pack my bags and disappear into solitude. They now call is self-isolation. I call it solitude and I welcome it. I’ll use this time to go more slowly and hopefully listen deeply and experience God’s presence in a soul-formative way.

A part of me is concerned about so many people entering self-isolation without knowing how to do it. We’re created to be social creatures and to separate ourselves can cause inner turmoil. I wonder how we will respond to so much solitude, especially untended solitude. Not only am I an introvert, I have spent, over the years, many weeks in solitude and know how to care for myself as I open to God’s Spirit. Sometimes it’s very challenging to be alone, while other times it is full and nourishing.

Will you be called into self-isolation in the next few months? Will you see it as ‘isolation’ or as ‘solitude’? I think those are two very different approaches. If you are required to separate yourself from loved ones for two weeks or more, I hope you can find within it time for reading, reflection, prayer and meditation. Perhaps, rather than fighting the separation, it could be an opportunity to deepen your life, so when you emerge, there will be more of you that will emerge.

Isolation or solitude? Two very different words for very different experiences.

Choices. So many choices in life. What path will you walk?

Love and prayers

Anne

If you find this helpful, please share with a friend so we can broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)