The Quiet Centre at the Heart of Me

 

Last week I was ruminating on my Pinball Brain, but this week my focus is on my Quiet Centre. I’m actually writing these two blogs on the same day, just minutes apart. You’ll get them a week apart, but they are deeply connected.

At the same time as I’m living with my Pinball Brain, I also am in touch with a quietness that pervades my inner world. I’m very still inside myself these days. One day I sat at my abandoned art table and got out one of my creative books to see if it would stimulate me. As I read, the author described pictures emerging from within her. I realized that one of the reasons my art table is abandoned, is that there are no pictures emerging within me. When I started about ten years ago to intentionally learn to draw and paint, there were pictures that were emerging within me, but now there are no pictures. It’s not time to create at my table. It’s time to be quiet.

Not only are there no pictures within me, there are no lessons to teach, illustrations to share, sermons to preach, or ideas for groups. That’s a huge change for me. Since my call to ministry in 1990 I’ve regularly had a flow from within for teaching. I’m very quiet in my central core right now. I continue to hold that sense that God has lifted my gifting from me and I’m to be still. It’s unfamiliar, uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time.

No pictures, no lessons and there’s also no leadership initiative within me. I read leadership books and can feel the old stirring, but then it subsides again. I return to the quiet place.

The quiet place at my centre reaches out and touches so many parts of my life. I have no desire to be in groups, workshops, retreats or services. I’m still resting in the depth of what I experienced during my Sabbath Leave.

At my core is quietness and yet I live with a Pinball Brain.

That’s me for now. How are you?

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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Lessons from My Dog (#257)

The dogs I’ve known love to gnaw on bones. They’ll spend ages licking, chewing, crunching and simply gnawing on their bones. After they’re done, they might hide them to pull out another day. If they dig them up again, or if I give it back to them another day, they’ll start to gnaw all over. Ah yes… a good bone to gnaw on.dog chewing on bone 1

So what’s this got to do with finding a contemplative pathway?? Well, today I was sitting on the bench in the locker room at my gym, and I took a look at what was going on in my head. Have you ever done that, stopped and become aware of the patter that is happening? Today I heard myself going over a conversation that I’ve had before. Actually, I’ve had that same inner dialogue, or variations of it, again and again in my mind. Suddenly I realized I was like my dog as he chews on a bone. I was going over the same old ground again and again. Why? What was I getting out of it?

As I stepped back to ask those questions, I put my bone down. I was able to stop gnawing on it. I was quite purposeful. I know that to replay that conversation in my head will not move the situation forward. What will help is if I’m still, if I’m quiet within myself, and trust the Spirit of God to do her work, within me, within others, throughout the world. Relax and trust in the slow work of God. Replaying, gnawing on an old situation doesn’t help. Trusting does.

I’m happy to give my dog a bone to chew on. There are times when I do need to think carefully through things, but much of the inner chatter, especially when it’s playing the same old tapes again and again – I want to set that aside. I’m not a dog. I don’t need to chew the same old things over and over.

How about you Gentle Reader….are you chewing on an old bone today?

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

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

 

Water and Rocks

rock

One day last summer, I was sitting on a cottage dock and was drawn to the movement of the water on the rocky shoreline. Water and Rocks. One is so fluid, changing, flowing, adjusting and the other so solid, present, impenetrable and they exist together.

One day this winter, I was sitting in a meeting feeling very much like water – gentle and flowing along when I was thunderstruck by rocks both within myself and in others. A word was spoken in the meeting and I felt the external rigidity in that person and the internal rigidity within myself. In the moment it felt as if my water was drained and I was a huge pile of rock and not the solid present kind I enjoyed in the summer but the controlling, tight, constraining kind of rock feeling. Do you know that one??

I’m self aware enough to recognize the rockslide taking place inside me and slowly I could emerge from it to try to make some reconciliation with the other pile of rocks in the room. Later as I still felt the heap inside me I could recognize more deeply what had happened to me and be grateful for the experience.

I’m at a place in my life where I seek to live in a relaxed, flowing stream, trusting that God is caring for me and the Spirit guiding each moment of my day. All is well. I also know that it took a thunderbolt/avalanche kind of work to get me to this place for my starting place was very controlling. I used to be much tighter, only one way to do things, my way. Perhaps polite about it but clearly liked to have things in order around me and to have things done the ‘right’ way. Because I know about control, I recognize it in others and it remains one of my reactive buttons. If I encounter someone, particularly a man who wants to control me, my stuck, rocky side can show up quickly! Usually quietly, but internally I can seethe.

The thunderbolt that dislodged me in the meeting showed me most clearly my own tendency to control, but it also reminded me of my growing strength in living not in the past but in the present moment, relaxed, trusting, in the flow. And I realized something wonderful… water is stronger than rock. That fluid moving water will change and shape the rocks around it. One steady drop of water on a rock will indent it. rocks are smoothed as they’re tumbled in water. Water is stronger than rock.

Yup. Water is stronger than rock. I will continue to grow in being at ease, in patience and gentleness, in compassion. I chose the fluid, trusting life. In the end, it shapes the world.

I still work in a world where I perceive people trying to control me, but I chose to do my own work, be released from the ancient controlling patterns I have been taught and live in the flow of God’s love coming into the world.

How about you? Are you ‘in the flow’?

If you appreciate my sharing – do pass it along to share with another.

Peace to you all

Anne

Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

 

 

Finding a Sustainable Life – Part 3: Acceptance

love-dumpsterpreview1

There, right in front of me was a paper coffee cup lying under a bush. Nearby was a napkin. I was literally moments into a Pilgrimage to Now/here, an awareness walk in nature with my Contemplative Fire community, and I’d come face to face with garbage. I immediately wanted to turn back and find a bag to collect all the garbage blown into the ravine we were walking beside. I had to clean it up NOW!

I could feel the compulsiveness of this need to remove anything I considered unsightly – can’t have any garbage, anything messy, anything that clutters life. There was a simple movement from the exterior world of litter to my interior world of perfection, work and morals. Can I acknowledge that there is litter in the ravine and leave it? Can I acknowledge there is litter within me and leave it too?

At the end of the walk a fellow Pilgrim sought me out to share with me his awareness of the parasites that exist within the beauty of creation. All around us that day was the splendor of the summer sky, a rich forest, flowing brook, fields of grass, dramatic trees and countless birds. He’d noticed that within all the beauty were chewed leaves, mould, decay and any number of parasites that made their home. He was aware that God’s love embraced all of creation, including the parasites.

His awareness paralleled mine and deepened it. God is always present and God’s love embraces all of life, including parasites and garbage. God’s love embraces all of my life, the unfinished, messy, cluttered bits. Now will I accept what I judge as unattractive, garbage bits of life and love there too?

Sustainability for me is growing in accepting what is. Not changing, not fixing, not altering, but accepting. More about this next time.
Is there anything that feels like clutter to you in your life? How do you respond to is?

Love and prayers on the journey
Anne
Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

“Your garbage, transformed, is your gift.” – Unknown

Lessons from a Hurricane (5) Uncovering Anger

Lessons from a Hurricane (5)

Uncovering Anger

empty ice creamAfter I cleaned up the mess of ice cream containers that surrounded me …… It doesn’t take and Adult Anne long to realize that ice cream simply doesn’t solve any problems or clean up any hurricane-like mess! Under the hurricane mess and under the mess of ice cream I found anger.

I was amazed by the size and depth of the anger that was within me. How could this be? I’ve been a ‘conscious’ Christian for over forty years. I’ve done years of internal work and hours upon hours of reflective healing prayer. How could there possibly be so much anger still within me? At times it felt like there was an underground river of anger that was feeding my soul. It was the ugly, painful, sleep disruptive kind of anger. Do you know that kind?anger

The anger felt like an invader. I did the work that I know to do when I encounter a persistent intrusion like that. I meditated, prayed, journalled, sought a therapist, saw my spiritual director, drew pictures, took lots of deep breaths, found a friend – all the things that I imagine many of you know to do. This anger was persistent. It would disappear some days and I’d think I’d licked it only to have it appear again and again. I was hounded by it for months.

I learnt that I’m loved by God, even with the anger. I learnt to live with anger, not ruled by it but acknowledging it’s presence, not overwhelmed by it but recognizing that because of my history,  because of my temperament, anger is a companion. And, it’s worth repeating, I’m loved by God. I’m loved in my unfinished state. This persistent anger was humbling. It drew me closer to God. My need for God’s presence, my need for tenderness and compassion, deepened. My wonder at God’s willingness to be close to me when I didn’t want to be close to myself quite took my breath away. How spectacular, how stunning is the Holy One.

The hurricane humbled me. At least it humbled me a little bit, enough to know there is more humbling ahead.

Amazing what a wind storm can reveal. Amazing what a wind storm can heal. When has revealing and healing happened in your world?

With love and prayers

Anne

Community Leader (Canada)

Lessons from a Hurricane (4)

Lessons from a Hurricane (4)

First Responses

 On my way home after the ‘hurricane’ first blew through my life, I found myself wanting a stiff drink! Now, that is not my usual way of dealing with tough times!I went home and ate ice cream instead!

ice cream and spoon

 

 

 

In a perfect world I would have recognized that reaction right away as an early warning sign that the hurricane had been substantial. I was retreating to old childhood patterns of coping in difficult circumstances. I didn’t drink whiskey as a child but I sure ate a lot of ice cream, cake, cookies and popcorn! Clearly something had been touched inside me at a very deep level.empty ice cream

Do you know your childhood responses in difficult circumstances? It is really helpful to become knowledgeable about them. Simply name them, not judging, usually with compassion for your little child who was hurting. Get to know them so you can see when you’re being reactive like a 5 or 10 year old.

Some of our common childhood responses:

  • Eating
  • Pouting
  • Going silent
  • Hiding
  • Shouting

And what they might look like as we’ve refined them in our adulthood……

  • Eating
    • We may still eat, or not eat, as well as drink to excess or any other selection of drugs/stimulants/depressants. We can be quite creative.
    • We can also overwork, over exercise, over shop, over play, over-a-whole host of things.
  • Pouting
    • An adult pout can appear as soft or very strong passive/aggressive behaviour: ‘Oh—did I forget to…..’ or a very strong controlling action to stop someone else.
  • Going silent
    • We’re capable of being silent for long periods of time. It may be verbal silence but can also be emotional silence or withdrawal.
  • Hiding
    • We may not slip off to a bedroom closet to hide but we can find our caves, our offices, our gyms, our work, our long walks, our games and TV shows to disappear into. Again we can also hide our emotions and not allow them to be available. We can become unwilling to be ‘found’ in the game of hide and seek.
  • Shouting
    • Sometimes we still shout! Sometimes in a private place that feels very good, but in company, letting our anger loose on someone isn’t helpful. We need to do repair work when that happens.

These are some of childhood reactions that I know. Do you have some to add?

May we all be more aware of them and kinder to ourselves when they are triggered. Take it as an opportunity to find someone who is safe, who can hear your wounds and help heal them.

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire