The Colander of My Life

 

Perhaps this will feel like an upside-down image for you, but please stay with me and see if it works!

We are God’s children, lovely, delightful, complex creatures, dearly loved by The Divine One. God pours out an abundance of generous grace and love towards us each day, even each moment of each day. That is the Nature of Love – abundant and freely given.

For many years I couldn’t receive the Love that was there for me. It was as if my life was a colander, a large bowl made to receive, but filled with holes. The holes in my life were things like fear, doubt, anxiety, envy, judgement and insecurity. Or words such as ‘not good enough’, ‘you can’t’, ‘that’s not true’, ‘how could you?’. Each time Love was poured into my life, it would escape through one of the holes and I’d not experience it. Instead of a large full round colander, it was as if I held up a tiny thimble to God. I could only receive the tiniest bit of Love.

I was so thirsty for Love. I went to God again and again, asking to be filled. Slowly over the years through hours of reflective prayer and personal work, I began to experience those holes being filled. I discovered  an internal sense of peace, joy and love that wasn’t dependent on my circumstances. I began to recognize the untrustworthy voices and feelings within me that had drilled the holes into my colander.

God’s Grace is always pouring Love towards us, but will we receive it? I needed to slow down, open myself to the healing work that I needed, acknowledge it and engage in it. Then I was ready to begin to receive the constant flow of God’s Love into my life. Yes, there is God’s Grace, but I have an active part in receiving it.

Once the holes in our colander begin to be healed, we can receive and relish the delights of Love. Then our colanders, our lives can fill, fill to overflowing and God’s Healing Love can reach others through us. But we need to do our own work first. I’m persuaded that I won’t love you, anymore than I honestly love myself, and I don’t begin to deeply love myself till I acknowledge my holes and enter into the healing work. Then I will be of service to others. That’s the human journey.

I know part of this image doesn’t work for a colander without holes becomes a bowl…. but there is something in it that speaks to me, something about those holes in my life that lets goodness seep away. I hope there is something to help some of you as well.

How are you on receiving and retaining Love? What are the holes in your colander? What kind of internal work are you being invited to participate in?

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

 

A Question One Morning

 

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

In my devotional readings this morning, that was a question that jumped right off the page and into my lap!

I’m the youngest of three daughters. As a young person, even into my early twenties, I often felt that I couldn’t do anything my older sisters hadn’t already done. I went to the same primary school, high school and university. I attended the same summer camp and the went on the same family holidays. I felt defined by those objective events and blind to the uniqueness of ‘Anne’.

When I juggled that question around in my lap, I began to find many things that I had done that nobody else had done in the world. I began to savour anew my uniqueness. Some of the unique things I found were on the showy side, the upfront side, the side that can be noticed in the world. Other things were quieter, small everyday expressions of creativity. I appreciate that I was given the privilege of bringing Contemplative Fire into Canada – that’s on the upfront side of life. It touched my creative side and has been a real joy to me. I appreciate too that I was gifted with being able to birth four amazing young women. They are like no one else in the world. But creativity is in everyday things too. I moved from Stibbard Avenue in Toronto to Oceanview Road in Lions Bay. I don’t think anyone else, besides my husband has done that! Let’s get into even smaller everyday things looking for creativity. A dear one taught me how to open my closet and create an outfit to wear each day that will give me joy! No one else in the world will have that particular outfit on, on that particular day!

The devotional writer was stirring our creative energy. He was teaching us how we are within our spirit united to God’s Spirit. We are to relax and follow our intuition. It will lead us into a creative expression in the world, one that only we can make. I know deeply the presence of God within each one of us. Will we listen. Will we be awake spiritually, attentive to the movements within us? And listening, will we respond and move within the creative flow, saying ‘YES!’?

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

Celebrate the goodness that is YOU.

 

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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First Writing Day!

 

As I woke this morning, I realized it was my First (self-declared) Writing Day! What a joy. I saw a whole day stretching out before me. A day that is unscheduled, open and inviting. Time to retire to my cabin, open the windows so I can hear the creek below me and relax.

I feel at home, at ease. I am where I belong, in front of my screen, eyes lifting to Howe Sound, ears attuned to Harvey Creek and heart at rest, open, alive, listening and feeling. Ah, how good life is.

I’m so very grateful to be able to say that, to know that this moment is good. I’ve just written a Field Report from Julia Cameron’s ‘Vein of Gold’. It’s a summary report of the work I’ve done according to her tasks of creating your life story. I’ve done a Narrative Time Line, discovered my Secret Selves, written a ‘cup’ or two to release secrets into the universe, transformed negative words into positive ones, created a Freedom Fairy to slay a lurking monster in my life and taken the Vein of Gold quiz – whew! That was all quite a bit of work over the last couple of months. Today, writing my Field Report was engaging, rewarding and satisfying. I was able to scoop up the pain, press it down and let the mature wine of my life flow. Time to savour it!

I’m wondering if these Writing Days will be taken up with re-reading and re-doing some of my past community reflections and blogs. I’ve wondered about gathering them into a devotional book. Or my time might turn to working more on the spiritual memoir I’ve started. I don’t know yet the focus of these days. I plan to post a little something each week in ‘Mystic in Motion’, just because that is my home base, a sorting ground for me.

What will I find if I re-read articles? Will I find sorrow? Will I find joy? I’ve noticed over the years that people relate to sorrow more easily than to joy. I wonder if most of my articles have emerged out of struggles. Generally, people seem to find it easier to say, ‘Oh, that sounds so difficult. I’m sorry that has happened to you.’, rather than celebrating or coming alongside a very happy person. Has anyone else noticed that?

We tend to share our sorrows rather than our joys. Who do you celebrate with? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m cultivating this unseen audience in ‘Mystic in Motion’. I can be happy with you! I will celebrate with you the goodness of life. Today is my First Writing Day. Today seems to me, like a very fine day, a very fine day.

From Thich Nhat Hanh I savour: I know you are there, and I’m very happy.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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It Happened One Night

The night was magical. There was a clear sky overhead.  Slowly the sun sank, and an evening blue sky began to cover us. We were tucked beside wild and extravagant flower boxes on various levels of our host’s patio. Thirty or so of the village had gathered to re-live a ‘El Camino Experience’. One of our members, an author, was to read an award-winning article she had written about her pilgrimage. First, she gave us an overview of the history and current happenings on the pilgrimage trail, and then took us into her story as she described what became her addiction to walking.  As part of her journey she had experienced a remarkable service in a chapel where one pilgrim had played ‘Ave Maria’ on her flute. So, we had two other village members who were both flutists play for us ‘Ave Maria’ and many more tunes as well. Our evening was completed with a feast of tapas and lingering conversations. One more time I left a village gathering amazed and delighted. And this is the place I’m able to call home!

On reflection I knew that once again the creative community was rubbing away at my reluctance to express myself. Last night I spoke with at least two authors and their presence massages my soul. I love being with them. Looking back over my life I see so clearly the draw of words on me. I love the sound of them, their history, the images they create, the feelings they evoke. I found my writing voice in high school, and again in university as my courses were driven by essays. I actually enjoyed banging them out on a typewriter and learning how to footnote! Twenty-five years later when I returned to university and found I could still write, a bit of my heart jumped with joy. My years in ministry were rich with sermon writing, reflections for Contemplative Fire and then blogging.

My writing has often been a way I think through ideas or sometimes it has been a way to encircle and embrace a wonderful moment.  In one parish I was given the delight of taking one day a week as a ‘writing day’.  It was set out to be a day for sermon prep, but I delighted in the whole idea of openly acknowledging that what I love to do and need to do, is write.

I think I will do that again. I had been waiting for a book or an idea to emerge from within me, but I think I will hone my craft as I wait.  Although I usually do write each day either in my journal or in Morning Pages, I am giving myself one day a week to write. I think it will be Fridays. There I’ve done it. I’ll put it in my calendar! I will try this till the end of the year. Pray for me,,,,,

Our village is a magical place. Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, away from the hum of the city, it sings its own song.  It’s full of creative souls, caught on the edge of somewhere. I can feel the creative energy around me. And oh… have I said this already…. I really appreciate living here.

Much love to you, who ere you be, Gentle Reader

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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Open Heart, Open Mind

Have you ever experienced a shift within yourself? It might be around what I’d call your heart space, or it could be within your mind.

I think I first became aware of it within my mind. I grew up with a clear sense of right and wrong. Then as a young Christian I was in a very strong doctrinal community where absolute truths were taught so I developed a clear sense of correct beliefs. If I heard a ‘new’ idea, I quickly, both intuitively and intellectually, ran it through my grid of acceptable beliefs. If it didn’t fit, and many didn’t, out it went. I couldn’t tolerate anything internally that would unsettle me.

Over the years my heart space has become much larger and much deeper. I spent years growing a contemplative pattern into my life. As I did that, I encountered the Love (with a capital ‘l’) of God. I became aware of how present God is around me and within me. My sense of myself,  not only at peace with God, but as Jesus describes in John’s Gospel, one with God, became deeply real to me. As that happened, the roots of my heart space went deep into the Love of Christ. I became more secure within God’s Love and then more secure hearing many different ideas.

Now I’m often aware of internal movements – my heart opens, my heart closes. My mind opens, my mind closes.

I’ve watched how I’ve changed in my reaction to ideas. I can see how I can be open to new ideas or closed to them. The voice within me used to be very strong. “NO – that’s not what I think.” I would pull away, not even able to entertain that thought. It was outside my comfort zone. It’s beyond what I’d been taught as ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘honest.” But now my response is more “That’s interesting. Does it bring peace, joy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness into me, into the world?”

I began to be able to have open ears and to listen to different ideas. The filter that I ran them through changed dramatically. I was no longer needing every idea to fit into a prescribed article of faith/belief. I could reflect on them and gather the impact of the idea on me and others around me. If I walk this way, will I come closer to others? If I encompass this belief will I be more gracious to other human beings? Slowly, my mind began to become open. Now I embrace living with an open mind. As the old song says, ‘Don’t Fence Me In’!

For me, to begin to cultivate an open mind, I had to have an open heart. To develop an open heart, I had to allow my roots to go deeply, experiencially, into the Love of Christ.  I spent time in prayer, study, and spiritual conversations. It is why I love to offer people the contemplative pathway – learn to slow down, discover you’re Loved by God, and then live out of what you hear.

Open heart, open mind.

When do you experience your mind opening, closing, your heart opening, closing?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

FYI – I’ve written a few blogs for Red Hat Outfitters. If you’re curious, or seeking a special holiday, it’s a  different sort of blog describing some of my travel experiences:  redhatoutfitters.com

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Good Friday Reflections

good friday 2 date

I like honoring Good Friday. The world seems to keep spinning all around me, the garbage was still collected, and my groceries were delivered, but I like slowing down on Good Friday.

I like the tiny connection to Jesus and suffering that I experience through a service and a spiritual discipline. The service is like a funeral for a very dear friend. Most of the congregation was in black today. I chose to wear black. I realized I could have added my clergy collar for I usually do for funerals. I don’t wear it very often right now, but funerals call it out in me. Today I appreciated how Jesus’ story was simply told and then we good friday 4 crown2prayed for our hurting and suffering world. Instead of a sermon, there was a gentle reflection. No one told me what to believe about his death. The speaker simply led me closer to the experience of it. I appreciated not being ‘taught’ about one of the biggest mysteries of my faith.

And my spiritual discipline today was fasting…. If I attend the service well fed and then go out to lunch it feels so indulgent. I know the most direct route to hardship for me lies in denying myself something I really enjoy – food and eating! So, I have often kept Good Friday as a fast day. I know millions around the world join me in that tradition. Fasting quickly activates the worst in me. Irritation, impatience, cravings and greed show up immediately. I see my shadow side.

good friday 1

So Good Friday is a quiet, thoughtful day for me. It’s as if I’ve been to funeral and I don’t want to do much else, but read, pray, write, gently catch up on correspondence, and let gratitude towards all engulf me.

Its on a day like this that I feel my disconnect with the world around me. the garbage was still picked up, groceries delivered, ferry boats plying the coast, holiday makers lining up. good friday 5 funeralSo often I’ve said to grieving families when it’s a small cluster of us gathered around the graveside, ‘Take care of yourself. You’re heading out into a busy world. They’re not grieving but you are. You know a deep loss, a hole, a wound. You need to take care of yourself. You are living in a different space than they are.’ Today I feel the need of those words for myself. The world around me is whirling, but I’m not. I’m grieving. I’ve looked at death this morning. I grieve what was done to Jesus. I also grieve the lack of spiritual awareness in the world around me. No one seems to care that he died.

What meaning does Good Friday have in your life?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

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My Pace Bunny

 

During my retreat week, I felt it was time for an in-depth re-tuning of my Rhythm of Life, so  I made my way through Contemplative Fire’s ‘The Companion’s Journey’, a series designed to help us be in touch with our rhythm. As I read through the material, one phrase that resonated was the invitation to follow Jesus as he leads me in a contemplative pace……a contemplative pace.

 

A few days before that I’d hiked up the mountain behind our home with my daughter and her partner. They are avid hikers. I’d done this trail before and I knew how steep it was and how much exertion I’d experienced. I warned them I’d need to stop and catch my breath! My daughter responded with ‘Not a problem Mom. We walk ‘slowly-slowly’.’ She actually had a Hindi word for it that sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’. She described how they walk so slowly uphill they don’t ever need to stop to catch their breath. Others may initially run past them, but eventually they usually pass all those who exert themselves.

We started up the mountain and my daughter walked ahead of me. About a half hour into our hike I realized that I hadn’t stopped once to catch my breath. Yes, my heart was pounding, but I was okay. I could keep this pace up. I’m not a runner, but my daughter is, and I’ve cheered her along in a few of her marathons. In those races there are people who wear rabbit ears with a number on them. They are called ‘Pace Bunnies’ and are volunteers who will run at a set pace, some faster, some slower. Racers find a Pace Bunny with their expected time and let the bunny set their pace for the race. My daughter became my Pace Bunny as we climbed the mountain that day. It was wonderful. I let her lead the pace. We’d stop and look at some marvelous trees and then we’d move on. It was all natural and organic.

 

So… I hear the invitation to let Jesus be My Contemplative Pace Bunny. As I follow him, he’ll set the pace for me, sometimes with some pep, sometimes lingering even stopping to gaze, but always moving forward. I can identify him too. Not by rabbit ears with numbers, but I know his aroma, his taste. I can recognize the deep peace of Christ, the sweet ease, the inner spaciousness, and always the practical compassion. His ways are known, not hidden. If I lose sight of him and sometimes I do, I can ask those around me for help to find him again. He won’t go far. He keeps his eye on those walking with him.

My time on retreat has been a slow time, time to linger and gaze, time to re-tune myself, and say ‘yes’ to following my Contemplative Pace Bunny.

Who sets the pace for your life?

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

It Time to Start Again

I’ve arrived in my new home, but I’m not settled yet.

Gosh, but moving takes a long, long time! Intellectually I know it is highest on the stress scale, even higher than death and divorce, but I hadn’t anticipated the length of it. I thought it was a task of purging/sorting/packing and then unpacking/purging/setting up, and it is, but it is so much more. It’s a process that can’t be hurried. I can not settle in any faster than I am. I’d like to. I’d like to wave my magic wand and have my home in order and a new life established, but I simply can’t do it. All of my organizing competencies can’t make it happen quickly. I’m like a tender shoot that has been transplanted and it takes time to get over the shock, root and grow before blooming.

I’m realizing I’m not in charge. I’m so not in charge.

This morning I was aware that I’m the same person that I was before I got whipped around and dropped on the edge of the country, and although I’ve lost all my old anchors, disciplines and rhythms, I still need them. On some level I understand that they will be different here and I need the freedom to find new anchors, disciplines and rhythms, but I also know they will be similar or familiar.  I still need to eat healthily, but who will inspire me? I still need to exercise, but what form will that take? I will still pray, but what will it look like? I will still study, but what will be it’s focus? I will still live compassionately, but who will that touch?

During the last two years writing ‘Mystic in Motion’ has been another anchor for me. You, Gentle Readers, have been people who have shared my adventure. Writing helps me process what is transpiring. I always feel well as I finish a piece and connect with you. Some of you I know, and some of you I don’t know. I appreciate you all being there and sharing my journey. I remain a ‘mystic’ who is ‘in motion’. This time, much of my motion relates to the upheaval of a move across my country.

I’m back. Writing is part of my life. And you, Gentle Readers as you receive me are part of my life.

On Monday I leave for a week of solitude, silence and stillness. I hope it will be a week where I can be open to God’s Spirit to hear my next steps in this new life. I’ve arrived, and I need to settle. Please pray for me.

(This was one of our sunsets last week.)

Love and Prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

There’s a Sign on My Door…

There’s a sign on my door, but what is it? ‘Gone Fishing’ implies I’m off on holiday. ‘Out to Lunch’ says I’m taking a needed break for nourishment. ‘Under New Management’ says same business but new influence. ‘Sold’ says I’ve closed and ‘Retiring – Thanks for your business’ says the same. To some degree all of those are true, but not quite expressive of what’s happening to me.

As the days lengthen with summer ease, we prepare for our annual family visit and our move kicks into high gear, I realize the desire to release myself from the discipline of offering a weekly thought. I always write, for it’s second nature to me, but I need to give myself the permission to publish again when I’m ready. I want my offerings to be Spirit led, not pushed by my driven nature who produces no matter what!

Maybe the sign is ‘Relocating – New Location Four Provinces Over’. But that doesn’t quite express it either.

I find our move is taking up a lot of my energy. I’ve let my inner organizer get to work which has been helpful, but I feel the loss of the spaciousness I’ve known in the last year. When I started the blog, I was working, and it was therapeutic for me to write my angst. It helped me find a path towards more inner spaciousness and rest. Right now, I need a break from weekly writing, at least for the summer, or until the Spirit says again to me ‘Write Anne’. I want my offerings to be led by the Spirit and not by my driven, habitual nature. Perhaps they’ll become sporadic. I simply don’t know.

I’m currently reading one of David Benner’s books ‘Living Wisdom’. I’m wondering about writing a series in the fall that works through his material. Each chapter has ‘Questions to Ponder’ and an intriguing reading list. I’m considering using this material as the Study portion for my Rhythm of Life in the fall. He has published the book in a PDF and made it available without cost. If you’d like to explore it and consider joining me, here is the link:

You can download the PDF book at the following link: www.drdavidgbenner.ca/sdm_downloads/living-wisdom/

with the password: livingwisdom. If that fails try his website www.drdavidgbenner.ca

So… Good-bye for now. God is with you. Pray for me as Spirit leads you. Take care of each other. Who will you be kind to today? Who will you forgive? Who will you let love you?

I will miss you.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

I Need Help

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada