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

 

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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

 

 

Transplanted!

The farmers out there might be upset with me as I mix things around! As I write about experiencing a fallow time of life, my husband and I have been house hunting and purchased a new home in a new location. We’re being transplanted!

Can you be transplanted in a fallow time? Maybe some of you farmers or gardeners can help me here. Maybe not in the farming world, but in Anne’s world you can.

I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to Mystic in Motion. First, the external motion part of actually moving. I see a lot of work and a lot of doing ahead of me. Can I do it from a place of stillness? I hope I’ll eventually get there.  Second, the internal motion. I found today my thoughts wouldn’t settle down. They were racing around. I was having conversations with all sorts of people. I was watching my inner extrovert hard at work, chatting up a storm. I was so busy! Still a Mystic, but I was in MOTION.

I did breathing exercises. I practiced yoga, read a devotional book and scripture. Yet when I sat to be still, there was simply a lot of motion. Off I went to the gym, and into the pool. The physical exercise helped focus me. I often pray or intentionally focus on a topic for each length of the pool. Ah… somewhat less conversational.

Does this moving show me my inner-extrovert who wants to talk to everyone?

Does this moving stimulate a part of me I don’t really know that well?

Can I keep inner stillness in the midst of the moving? I trust I can and these are murky waters that will settle. I love the old saying: Do you have the patience to let the mud settle so the water can run clear? So…. may I be still, very, very still and still moving.

How do you settle yourself when you’re running rapid?

But I am excited by the thought of my new home! Did I mention I can hear a river from the deck!

I’m a Transplanted Mystic in Motion.

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 on that website to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Still More Fallow Time (4)

more and more definitions spoke to me….

3. plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

Crop rotation! Yes, we don’t need to be doing the same thing year after year, season after season. We can change. May I be open to whatever changes My Farmer has in mind.

Surplus production! Yes, sometimes I think we just do and do and do. In churchland it seems more is always better, numbers are always a determining factor, but deep inside me I don’t believe that. I don’t want to be part of More, always More. I want to be part of significance, Spirit led significance in each of our lives. That might be more, it might be less. May I be open to the Whatever the Spirit wills, rather than the bigger and better our world, including the church, clamours for.

4. the tilling of land without sowing it for a season

in the midst of my ease. God’s Spirit is ‘doing’ something. I don’t know what it is, but I trust My Farmer with the care of my field. May God till the soil of my soul. May I rest and receive God’s care of my soil. Till away Dear One.

Are you experiencing the invitation to a crop rotation and the drive of surplus production? What would it be like to change what you are doing or to rest awhile?

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

 

More Fallow Time (3)

I’m continuing to be in fallow time….

Here’s another definition:

  1. to plow, harrow, and break up (land) without seeding to destroy weeds and conserve soil moisture

During this fallow time, I’ve experienced some of that deep down breaking up. Some long held experiences that have bound me have been disclosed, named, embraced and released. Some weeds have been pulled up. I hope that work will make my soul’s soil more moist, tender and even fertile.

I’ve felt My Farmer plow deeply into me. It’s hard work. The image of a field is profound – it can’t run away from the farmer. I’ve felt held, lovingly, but firmly held as the plow turned up the soil of my memories. I recalled images, emotions, lies I’d known and truths I’d heard.

I know it’s done lovingly to destroy the weeds that had crept in. One morning I woke and as I rested in bed recalled some lies that had crept into my perspective. It was time to pull them out.

I’m grateful that God’s Spirit cares enough to plough my field and doesn’t leave me sitting there with weeds exposed, but comes to walk in the field with me, weeding as we walk and talk together.

It is hard work, but oh, it’s good work.

If you feel some invitation from God, I encourage you to linger with it. Engage with the Spirit.

More thoughts on ‘fallow’ to come next week!

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

Fallow Time (2)

 

I enjoy words and often poke through a dictionary. When I was reflecting on my time of rest, I dipped into the online dictionaries and found several ‘fallow’ definitions that spoke to me.

‘Fallow’ as either adjective or verb:

  1. usually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

I know I’m cultivated(!) and trained to be helpful or useful to the world, yet right now the gifts I’ve been given to use in the world are on the back shelf. They are not to be used. I’m to be idle. I’m not to lead or teach or organize. I still pray, but even my prayers are different.

All around me I see people busy at work. I return to my church or community and encounter busy people, planting, tending and hoping for growth. I know that is a normal part life. We are meant to be working and growth is to be happening, but I know that I’m not to be a part of that work. I’m at ease in that.

A different kind of growth is happening within me. There is a life energy to being fallow that is very different. I believe it’s very needed in our world.  We seem to be absorbed in work and activity and have forgotten how to rest, how to value times of ease. We resist allowing ourselves to be idle.

What if we allowed ourselves, at least a day a week, time to lie idle?

More thoughts on ‘fallow’ to come next week!

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 Empty Creches (2)

Last week I wrote about the impact of the empty mangers on my life personally, but this time I want to turn to another impact of that emptiness.

I’m in a country that is officially Catholic, but is known to be very secular. They have every religious holiday the calendar offers, but they are vacation days, not holy-days. A few years ago, ‘Le Monde des Religions’ described the decline. It began historically with the movement towards equality. In 1905 the government declared that all religious buildings would be state owned. Now although half the population will name themselves Catholic, they say it is mainly a family tradition and half of those say they don’t believe in God. Only 10% attend church and one third of the population call themselves atheists.

When I walk the streets and see the empty mangers, I’m aware that I’m in a city, in a country, that has largely walked away from faith. There is a deep spiritual emptiness. We attend a school concert. I don’t hear any familiar Christmas Carols. Although we are spared the inundation of Christmas muzak in the stores, the music that I hear in restaurants is American music, some of it secular Christmas standards. Yes, there are church services, but most churches are filled with Christmas Concerts, not services. The city is beautiful. The windows sparkle. The gift bags dazzle. The food sumptuous. The manger is empty.empty creche

I realize that not all my struggles to keep a spiritual practice happening are related to travelling. I pick up on the spiritual energy around me. I enter one church for some time in meditation and as I sit quietly I feel the darkness around me. It was built in the 6th century. It once housed a flourishing monastery. It has experienced war and violence. All of the monastery has been destroyed, leaving only the sanctuary, not the living and serving quarters. The manger was emptied.

The empty mangers became a symbol for me, a feeling image, of the spiritual emptiness of this country and I fear, much of our world.

My hope lies partly in the fact that at least the Nativity Scene is still set out. I think today I’ll circle back and see Jesus in those mangers!

But the fullness of my hope lies in God, who is always present, who doesn’t run from darkness, or from our war and violence, who will, in the end, be the last word.

Another church I frequent is beautiful. People flow in and out of it all day, everyday. It is a place of prayer for the faithful. There I find peace. There are pockets of life everywhere. We need to seek them out and do our part to breathe new life into them and through them.

Nativity scene

Where do you find the pockets of God? How can you breathe new life?

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

 

 

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

 

 

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