Decision-Making

I’ve currently got a major decision perking through my life and it led me to reflect on decision making and the implications of our decisions.

I have some basic guidelines I’ve been taught that make sense to me on how to make decisions – discernment principles we call them. It all depends on the size of decision of course, but some basic ones for me, for personal decisions are:

  • Don’t make major changes when in a place of doubt or desolation. Wait for consolation.
  • If I’m living lightly and in an open, loving place with God, a good choice or action will feel like a drop of water on a soft sponge.
  • Be honest and open with my needs and the needs of others around me who are affected by my decision.
  • Share my decision making with a wise Christian who knows me and listen to their perspective.
  • Wait for peace, deep internal peace and the clarity it brings.

These guidelines generally lead me to live thoughtfully, with purpose and clarity. Sometimes my pace is fast, sometimes it is slow, but it tends to be steady. People often describe me as peaceful, yet intense, anchored yet very productive. Such is Anne!

But… another whole intriguing side of decision making to me is the huge ‘what ifs’ that occur or don’t occur. What if I hadn’t said that thing, or written that email or taken that job, or married that person, or lived in that house/apartment….. and on and on and on.

Forty years ago, Hugh and I made a decision in our lives around where to live and raise our family. We decided to not move to Victoria but stay in Toronto. What if we had lived in Victoria? Who would we have met/not met? …… My daughter and her husband made a decision a year ago to raise their family in Paris. What if they’d decided to come to Toronto? How would my life, their neighbourhood, our city, our world be different?

Thomas Merton wrote that each moment in each event of each person’s life plants a seed within their soul. That was one of the life changing bits I received from him. Each decision we make has ripple effects within our own lives, but also the lives around us and the ripples extend out into the universe.

Decision-making ripples.  What choices are you making today? May you unhook your Pinball Brain. May they come from a place of quiet and peace within you. (see Nov 29 and Dec 6)

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

 

 

Advertisements

Being Myself

Last month I attended a week with First Nations on Manitoulin Island. One of the deepest teachings for me was from an Elder who began his day with us by assuring us he wasn’t out to convert us. He would share his teachings, if they were helpful please accept them, and if not, let them go. As he spoke, tears rose up within me. I was aware of the years of Apologetics training I experienced, the reminders of centuries within Christian history of the insistence on correct theology, the establishment of new denominations so the circle would be tight and ‘correct’, and something deep within me grieved. I enjoyed the Elder’s humility, his gentle confidence in who he is, what he knows and what he is learning. I found myself at ease, at peace. No more struggles. No more insistence on the right way, simply a clear declaration of The Way I know to be true.

I’m a One on the Enneagram so my nature is very geared to having ‘the right way’ to do things. I was vulnerable to having the ‘right’ teaching and then to helping others have it too. I was a lonely child, yet seeking to belong somewhere, so I was vulnerable to a circle being drawn, being within the circle and then inviting others to join me.

Yet now I’ve changed. I’m at home in my life. I’m growing to see God’s presence within all of creation, to experience the connectedness of all beings. Life is much less about being ‘right’, but more about loving, being open, trusting the Spirit of God who is always present, always active and drawing us closer and closer.

Emerging from my Sabbath Leave, I’m more deeply aligned with Jesus than ever before, but I don’t fit into my old theological boxes. The Elder’s teaching is that our faith truths are to be lived out, to be part of our being. That is in alignment with much I’ve learnt on my Christian contemplative pathway. For me it’s become that life is not about correct teaching or understanding, but living an authentic, integrated life. It’s about the life of Jesus being lived out through me, not in imitation, but in breath, in essence, in presence.

So I will share with you The Way of Jesus that I know, his stories, his impact on my life. I will share with you The Rhythm of Life I follow through Contemplative Fire. You may join me, or not, as you choose. I desire to do this with increasing humility and authenticity, allowing you to follow your pathway and trusting God to make it all right in the end.

And you, Gentle Reader… what is your pathway?

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

Leaving Home — or NOT!

Today is the beginning of my new season of life! I took Finn on a wonderful off leash dog walk through the woods, baked a peach and blueberry crisp, read and pondered the essence of Holy from a gift book and then settled into my prayers. What an awesome beginning!

Although still officially on the payroll till Friday, I completed my last Sunday in the parish yesterday and nothing is required of me this week. Oh, maybe a little bit of my office still to be sorted and few people to say hello/good-bye to, but my time in the parish is complete. Even though I’ll collect my small pension, I’m not using the ‘R’ word for I remain as Community Leader Canada with Contemplative Fire which for me is very intentional ministry. But I do feel a huge spaciousness in my life.

With my parish, it is ‘au revoir’ rather than a final good-bye. On one level, they have felt like home to me for the last six years and I don’t quickly rush away from home. I have dearly enjoyed the people I have ministered with and to within that community. Contemplative Fire has been welcomed there and even though I’m not on staff, they continue to give it a home. Contemplative Fire will have some office space and I will continue to come and go, so it is not a final ‘goodbye’ but an ‘au revoir’. I’m grateful for that. When you find a ‘home’ somewhere it is very special and to be valued.

My leaving has given me the incentive to be thankful for my years in the parish, to intentionally recall the memories of meetings, small groups, parties, shared life stories, struggles, challenges, growth, and the love that has been shared among us. I’ve considered on a deep level what it means to find a home, and how many different places and people can be home to me.

What people and places have you called home over your life? Perhaps this week is a time for you too, to recall them and allow gratitude to grow towards them.

On another level, Contemplative Fire is my spiritual home. Within that community I find some kindred spirits who are called to walk through life with a similar rhythm and call to mine. I’ll write more about my thoughts on the future of our community in the newsletter and next few weeks. If you’re particularly interested in Contemplative Fire or interested in being part of this ‘community of Christ on the edge’ wherever in the world you call home, do be in touch through our website www.contemplativefire.ca. Perhaps you’re being called to make a home with us!

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Thought for Me…..

I was preparing yesterday for a meeting with a team from Contemplative Fire who has over the years helped me discern our way forward.  As I was gathering my thoughts together I was outlining some of nudges I’d received during retreat times regarding Contemplative Fire both over the years and during my Sabbath Leave. Then something I hadn’t considered before emerged – What is Contemplative Fire’s True Self?

As part of my spiritual journey along the contemplative pathway, I’ve done lots of work around my own false self.  Again during my Sabbath Leave, I was taken to places that removed some more ingrained layers.  I appreciate Keating’s descriptive phrase ‘those childhood patterns of happiness’, those ways that we learnt to survive in life that no longer are needed. The contemplative work peels away layers of the false self so I might live more fully from my True Self. For me it has often been hard work, but healing work. I’m grateful for it. And I trust those who keep me company in this life appreciate it too!

So…do communities have false and true selves? Do families? Do marriages? I haven’t read anything about that specifically, maybe some of you have and could let me know. With church communities and families we will speak of generational sin and the accumulation of spiritual energy that can be very negative, but we seldom talk of the original vision of a community. Once, in Contemplative Fire, we asked the question, “Why has God birthed Contemplative Fire at this time and place?” Some wonderful discussions and images emerged.

As I return to my role as Community Leader with Contemplative Fire Canada, we are engaging in the process of discerning our way forward. I wonder if we might consider again, why Contemplative Fire was birthed. Do we have a True Self in our community calling? Perhaps then we can live more closely to our True Self, the fullness of who we are as a community.

Please pray for Contemplative Fire as we discern our way forward. Are you part of another faith community? Does it have a sense of why it was created, and is it living within the founding vision? Or your family? Your marriage?

Love and prayers

Anne

Community Leader Canada

Are You Back in the Saddle?

A friend asked me the other day if I ‘was back in the saddle’. It took me no time at
all to respond, “NO!” I realized that I’ve returned to work, but not gotten ‘back in
the saddle’. It was a helpful eye opener to see the extent to which I’ve changed
over the last four months.

I’m finding a new way to be in the work world, a way that doesn’t drain me. I’m
taking our Rhythm of Life more seriously. ‘Travelling Lightly and Dwelling
Deeply’ is the way for me to survive. I’ve always been attracted to those words
and valued them, but in the last few weeks they’ve become clearer and stronger to
me, a drag anchor in the fast current of ministry life. If something comes into my
world that doesn’t feel ‘light’ to me, I’m wary of it, observing it. What time and
attention do I need to give to it? I don’t need to jump on every request that comes.
Or if I am to join it, how will I do it lightly? And when I find myself moving quickly I
can observe that too and return to a slower, deeper pace, listening more and doing
less.

The change feels very good to me. It is both work and not work. It is both choice
and ease. I think my old way of life made me saddle sore. Jesus was so clear to me
in some of my prayer times. It is time for quiet and rest Anne, not for chasing wild
horses so I’m not jumping back into the saddle. Maybe I’m looking for a new
saddle, maybe a new outfit to ride in, maybe a seat on the fence of the corral, or
maybe as my friend suggested… maybe you’re going to ride bareback! Yes!! For
now, I’m content with a seat on the fence, but if a horse might come who would
like to ride bareback along the beach with me…. I could be interested!

Are you saddle sore?

What does ‘Travelling Lightly – Dwelling Deeply’ mean to you?

Love and prayers
Anne
Community Leader Contemplative Fire

Barging and Emerging

The other day, one dear to me said they’d recognized the difference in their life between ‘barging’ and ‘emerging’. For years they’d barged into situations, took control, got things done, but now they were learning to watch and see what emerges and join in the emerging work. She kindly said that I knew all this and no need to preach to me about it!….. oh how I need to hear the old, old story again and again!

I need repeatedly to hear of Jesus, who he was, who he is and how I’m completely known and securely loved. And then…living within that awareness, I can relax, trust and catch the emerging wave.

I’ve done a lot of barging in my life. I’ve taken charge, gotten things done. I don’t think it’s all bad, for there has been good in much that I’ve done. God is SO gracious. I’m often amazed goodness can come out of us crashing around, but it does. Over my twenty-five years in ministry I’ve seen it again and again. I may disagree with people and how they oversee ministries, I may be hurt by them, and I still see that God is blessing them. For years it was a mystery to me. Now I know a bigger God! However, I still chose how to live the life I’ve been given, and I don’t want to live barging around as much anymore. Less barging, more emerging. I want to be still enough to see what is happening beneath the surface, to catch a glimpse of the next rising wave. I want to continue longer in the beautiful inner stillness I’ve known so I can catch a peek at what God is doing.

I can’t be reminded enough – less barging, more emerging.

I’m returning to my communities after a four-month absence, returning to the fast ministry flow. I’m tempted to barge back in – well not really tempted, but I can feel some undercurrents that want to draw me back in. I’m glad to have had that clear reminder this week – Anne, how about living with less barging, more emerging?

Love and prayers for our journey

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

 

 

The Whiff of the Rose Vine

When I’d step out the door sometimes I’d catch the whiff of roses. The old manor house where Contemplative Fire hosted their annual retreat this year was Parcevall Hall in Yorkshire. There was a beautiful rose vine that grew beside the doorway and over our bedroom windows. It became a friend during the week I stayed there.

The devotional focus for the week was seasonal changes. We walked through the letting go of autumn, the dormancy of winter, the mess and buds of spring and the abundance of summer, only of course to begin again with letting go as summer’s abundance fades and frozen time of winter approaches. The relentlessness of seasons.

The rose vine was a picture of all the seasons for me and the whole picture was beautiful. There are beautiful roses in bloom, and small buds emerging too, but there is also a scattering of rose petals on the ground as a blooms finish and of course dead heads that have yet to be cleared away – buds, blossoms, fallen petals and deadheads, spring, summer, fall and winter, an ongoing cycle in front of me, relentless and all beautiful. In it’s completeness it is beautiful. Yes, there is a part of me that only wants full blooms…. But truly the whole vine is beautiful.

The whiff of the rose vine – may I embrace all the seasons of my life. Am I resisting one of them? Don’t want to experience the autumn of letting go of something? Fearful of buds – what will they look like? How messy will it be? Uncertain, tentative to bask in the beauty of abundance? What sustains me in the times of deadheads, times of deep waiting? The relentless turn of seasons. Winter won’t last forever, spring will come, but also summer won’t last forever either, autumn will come as well. What do I need to be content with the seasonal cycles? Another twist to being a Mystic in Motion.

Love and prayers on our journey

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

 

 

Resistance to Acceptance

My transition time begins in a busy city. We’ve rented an apartment for the week only to discover there is a bar with band on the bottom floor. A world away from my yurt retreat….. Our beautiful planet is filled with such diversity – from vast open wilderness to crowded cities, from forest stillness to honking cars. And – God is present in it all. There is no place where God’s Spirit doesn’t hum. On one level I ‘know’ that and yet…..

It’s so easy for me to be open to God’s Spirit when I stand on the edge of the ocean, or walk the forest trails, or sit on a rocky cliff. Nature just makes it easy to find the Spirit. Grad school for me is to find the same openness within me when the band is playing in the bar and the cars are honking and I’m surrounded by people who really don’t seem to care about the deep questions of life. ‘Where are You in the midst of all this motion?’ Or is the question, ‘Where am I, in the midst of all this motion?’

Do you know that experience of feeling so connected and then get jerked around by something or someone jostling you, so you lose your sense of being centered? I’m sure you do – that’s called being human. I find it’s what I do with that experience is what will strengthen me spiritually. I can continue to be spun around or I can seek to regain my connection awareness, returning to that place of trusting God within me, remaining in Love.

The first week of transition time is giving me an opportunity to practice! I keep my Rhythm of Life in place – being/knowing/doing. My meditation practice moves to the holiday version and is supplemented by an intentional return to the key experiences of my retreat time, and to the handful of key words that anchor me. I continue to read authors who are like friends to remind me and call me home. Both Butcher’s translation of ‘The Cloud of Unknowning’ and Robert Sardello’s ‘Silence’ have been my soul friends this week, helping to keep an expansiveness within me. My ‘doing’ or compassionate practice is hugely helpful – all those in the band below me, all those drivers honking and those people strolling the streets and shouting at 2.00am are objects of compassion! We’re all in this together.  Each is known and loved by God. What can we do to make our world be in harmony?

Hmm – maybe it is good to come out of the retreat world and be in the noisy, jostling world. I can resist the world or accept it and be a compassionate part of it. Resistance or Acceptance. Thanks for listening. You’ve helped move me along on the pathway of being open and still in a world that I find noisy.

How about you – resisting or accepting your current experience?

On the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

 

An Audience of One

As I sit off stage in the Producer’s Office I become aware of what it is like to be ‘on stage’. I recall the other actors around me, what it feels like to be in the play, the pace of the play and the response of the audience.

During my last Sunday in the parish we were in the wilderness with Jesus and thinking about temptations. Since we’d been working our way through the Sermon on the Mount I used those very human frailties as our temptations – anger, worry and vainglory.

Today in the Producer’s Office, I’m most aware of vainglory, of the need to be noticed by others that Jesus warns us about in Matthew 6. I can recall what it feels like to be up-staged by someone, to have someone cut in and take my lines, or toss a cue to someone who misses it, or to be moved by the applause of the crowd. Here in the Producer’s Office I’m reminded that I live for an Audience of One. The applause is not external, but internal, a quiet knowing of God’s pleasure.

Right now, I’m very glad not to be in the rough and tumble of the performance. It is good to step off stage and catch my breath. Actually, I’m not just off stage catching my breath for that would be a regular Sabbath day. I’m in the Producer’s Office quite removed from the main thrust of the drama. Here I’m able to recall what it’s like to be in the drama.

Who are you playing to? Are you responding to the applause of the crowd? Angry at someone up staging you? Or are your eyes on the Audience of One?

Oh we are human! Oh I am human! Temptations abound……

I’m grateful for the time off stage.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Being Called Off Stage

How many times have I read the Christmas stories in scripture??? How many times have you read or heard them? Beginning my Sabbath Leave I read them again and they ‘popped’ for me! It was absolutely wonderful and set the stage for my Sabbath time.

I felt I wanted to get to know Jesus in a different way during this break so my Spiritual Director suggested the Spiritual Exercises and to begin with the Hidden Years of Jesus, that’s his childhood that we don’t know much about. Although she’d suggested starting in Nazareth, I was drawn to read the whole story in Luke 2. As I did, I found myself drawn behind the scenes. I experienced the mystery of God choosing to enter our world at that time, the prophets being spoken to by the Divine One, the angels being sent into homes with messages, stars being placed and dreams being touched. Our world became a stage and God plus the divine team, were the stage managers, directors, producer. I saw it all happening.

And then I heard my name, felt the touch on my shoulder and a call to come off stage. I was invited into the Producer’s Office. I’m being removed from the divine drama of the world. I’m off stage. I’m to rest in the Producer’s Office while the production continues. I don’t have a role right now. I don’t know when I’ll be sent back on stage, but right now I’m to rest with the Producer.

Please don’t think it is a puppet show with God pulling our strings. It didn’t feel like that at all. It was a freely moving drama with God’s attentive presence. Sometimes all of us need to step off stage, out of the drama of life, maybe for an hour, a week’s holiday or maybe for longer. Have you ever felt that call? Did you say accept or resist it? Right now, I’m enjoying my time off stage. I love the unscheduled days, the extra prayer and reflection times, time to swim or walk and the times to chat with people. Somehow in the midst of this, I trust I’ll get to know Jesus in a different way.

So far – Week 2 feels good!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion.