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

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)

In Unprecedented Times

 

There are always lessons to be learnt in life. I had begun to reflect on lessons from our shared virus experience, but I decided this morning to save those for another time. I found a poem that I would rather share with you. It’s by John O’Donoghue from ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

              This is the time to be slow,

              Lie low to the wall

              Until the bitter weather passes.

              Try, as best you can, not to let

              The wire brush of doubt

              Scrape from your heart

              All sense of yourself

              And your hesitant light.

              If you remain generous,

              Time will come good;

              And you will find your feet

              Again on fresh pastures of promise,

              Where the air will be kind

              And blushed with beginning.

Let us continue to cultivate faith, compassion and generosity within ourselves and towards each other as we move through these unprecedented times.

We’re all in this together. We are not alone. His eye is on the sparrow. How will we respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is helpful to you, please share with others to broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

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)

 

“There’s No One There!” Life Beyond the Clouds

Clouds move up and down our mountain. Sometimes I can see the trees and the water, and other times I only can see the cloud that embraces our home. Yesterday a new person arrived at our home during one of those moments when we were immersed within the cloud. She responded with “I bet the view is wonderful here!” Despite the cloud, she could imagine what we most often see. How wonderful it is to be able to see beyond the cloud.

Sometimes in our life we move through cloudy spells too. The other day I led a group through a guided meditation that involved entering a wilderness. Each person held a small stone with an angel impressed on it. As part of the meditation I invited them to look around and with their imagination see who was accompanying them. Since we had read scriptures to set the scene, I asked if it was an angel, or Jesus? Afterward one member came to me to let me know that there was no one with her in the wilderness. She felt all alone, covered in a dense cloud.

What do we do when we feel all alone spiritually? I’ve certainly known those times when I felt disconnected from God, times when doubts assailed me, fears stabbed me or worries poisoned me. Times when I felt overwhelmed by life. Exhausted. Times when I couldn’t see beyond the cloud.

That sense of being alone is so penetrating. On my mountainside I’m at the mercy of the winds and pressure zones to move the clouds, but in my own life, I have been taught and experienced ways to help me see beyond the clouds. First, I acknowledge the cloud, not running from it but rather opening to the fear, worry, doubt, exhaustion, loneliness or whatever is assailing me. I say “Hello” to it. Second, after saying “I see you”, I remind myself that there is more to life. There are trees and water beyond the cloud. In humility I ask ‘The-God-I-Can’t See’ for help. I recall some time of connection, of goodness in my life. I recall a spiritual memory when I did know God’s presence with me. Often, I write both down, acknowledging the cloud and then going more deeply into a memory of a positive time. Third, I think of someone else. Is there someone I could help today? If I’m alone, I might find someone to hold in the loving presence of God. Even if I can’t see God, I know that God’s reality and healing presence is NOT dependent on my cognitive or emotional awareness. The trees are always there! Fourth, I find some mature friend and speak to them about my cloud. I ask them just to listen deeply to me. These four steps can be repeated – as often as needed.

Hello Cloud – Help Me – Help Another –Hello Friend.

Hello-Help-Help-Hello.

I found it quite precious yesterday when our visitor could instinctively see beyond the clouds. I seek to live from such a place of trust. I seek to live not running from the clouds, but knowing they will pass, and the reality beyond will not. I will trust the Bigger Reality beyond these passing worries and difficulties. I will trust the Unseen Reality for it is more real than the current cloud that is blowing through my life. Trees and Water win over Clouds.

How about you? Do you feel alone? Is there a cloud moving through your world? How will you live your best life?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please share with a friend. Together we’ll broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Life is too Short!

The price of gas in the Vancouver area, during the year we’ve been here has varied between $1.35 to $1.60 per litre. It changes all the time. During the day I’ve seen it go up and down. One of our local supermarkets sometimes gives out $.05 off a litre. Well…. I fully admit that I like a bargain and gas, even after a year here still seems really expensive to me. It’s close to $80 to fill our car.

Last week I got one of those coupons and our car was nearly empty so I offered, when I was going to be in town, to get it filled with this precious bit of liquid gold. My husband had warned me that the local station that filled the coupon the last time didn’t seem to actually fill it. He hadn’t fussed with them but just accepted the bill. So warned, I headed into the gas station. I knew to use the coupon I had to chat with the attendant first. When I showed him my coupon he said, “Of course, just fill up your card here first and then pump the gas.” For some reason my intuitive brain couldn’t absorb his explanation. I had to give him my credit card, let him charge me $100.00 and then go outside and fill up my car. Oh, my brain got into a knot over that.

I did as he told me. I gave him $100 on my credit card and then filled up my car to cost of nearly $80.00. When the receipt came out it said that each litre had cost $1.44. Somehow that seemed just too expensive to me. I went back in and asked him about it. I pointed to the high cost of gas on my bill and asked about it being $.05 less. He gently looked at me and then pointed me to the sign over the driveway. The gas cost $1.49/litre. I had received the discount I was so intent on. I had saved the $2.00. He looked at me, gently smiled and said, “Life is too short.” Oh, that landed right in my heart. There was no condemnation. There was nothing but a lift out of the swamp of bargain pursuit, into the land of ease, presence and priority.

Life is short. How shall I spend it? Pursuing .05 savings or investing with others? Ah… how easy it can be for me to be derailed. How grateful I am for the gas attendant that pointed me back to the pathway of life-giving LIFE. A little while later when someone was angry with me I knew life was too short to stay in anger and could move easily into wishing them well.

How about you? Life IS short. What are you pursuing? How are you living?

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

 

Love and prayers

Anne

 

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

A Stew Pot of Wondering: Turning something messy into nourishing food

Warm comfort food. That’s what a stew is for me. Slow, simmering, flavours deepening with the hours steeping. Yum. Awhile ago I got served a stew that had dark chocolate in it! Now that was yummy – rich dark brown, not tasting of chocolate but undercut with it. But I digress…

I was invited today to enter more deeply into a place of wonder. Take a question I’m pondering or an issue I’m mulling over and open the door to wondering about it. To wonder is to take the question and then turn it around, look at it from all sorts of sides, from underneath, overhead and inside it. See the question from other people’s perspective. What would….(and you insert a friend, a spouse, a colleague, a neutral person, a hostile person)….think about it. What would God’s Eternal View be of it? Wonder opens the door to the unexpected, to those amazing ‘Ah ah moments’, the spontaneous knowing and maybe a few surprises.

What’s all this got to do with stews? Well I realized that sometimes when I intentionally think on an issue, and I could name a few that have followed me in my life, I don’t open the door to wonder but I sit in it like a stew pot. The issue or question simmers away within me, getting deeper and sometimes darker, but not more flavorful! I find myself ruminating on it again and again even sometimes getting caught in a vortex of fear, worry and shame. I think on it. I analyze it. I stew on it.

To take the same issue and wonder about it would be radically different.  Wonder brings hope and possibility. With wonder I invite God to speak from an Eternal Perspective. With wonder I open the door, open many doors for a new direction, new insight, new solution, new acceptance.

The Door of Wonder.

 

Today will be a day I open ‘The Door of Wonder’.

How about you? ‘Stew Pot’ or’Door of Wonder’?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please share with a friend. Together we’ll broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)