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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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

 

 

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

 

A Fallow Time

 

‘Anne, you’re in a fallow time.’  In the last while, a few people have told me that. One person, who is very action oriented, and believes the main purpose of life is to be actively helping others, said that to me. I felt she truly believed it and for the first time I sensed within her an acceptance of rest – at least for me!

I know I am in a fallow time. I entered it March 5 when I began my Sabbath Leave and despite doing some work, especially during the summer, I haven’t left it. I am in fallow time, a time of rest, renewal, regeneration.

Occasionally since March I’ve hit times of chaos such as when I travel or when I returned to my community after my leave, but generally my life has been gentle and very restorative since March. I haven’t sensed the farmer who tends my field, returning to use it again.

I really enjoy these open-ended days. I wake up in the morning when I’m ready to be awake. There is space in my day. It’s not already filled with appointments or responsibilities. I’ve enjoyed reading. I’ve dipped into expansive reading around nature, human rights activism, First Nations issues and their spirituality and ecological concerns. I’ve re-read some of my favourite spiritual teachers such as Rohr, Keating and Bourgeault. I’ve read them slowly, thoughtfully, meditatively allowing them to nourish my soul. I’ve spent time in scripture reflection, poking my way through favourite stories with fresh eyes and a non-teaching focus – just to enjoy. I’ve read novels, especially mysteries, played games and lingered over food. I’m regularly on my yoga mat, at the gym to swim and take long, go-nowhere walks. I’m sorting through my home, releasing things I haven’t used in years, discovering and enjoying other items that still speak to me. And despite that list, I don’t feel any need to justify my days!

I’ve found some definitions of ‘fallow’ that really speak to me which I’ll share in the next blogs, but right now I’m simply enjoying my quiet life.  I hope you’re enjoying your life too.

How are you? A new year begins…. What sort of resolutions do you make or not make? How does activity draw you? Which is more comfortable for you, activity or rest? Do times of rest generate guilt? There are times to work and times to rest….

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 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

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