Walls

Walls – they come in all sorts of shapes, lengths and materials, serving so many different purposes: containing flowers, guarding countries, separating neighbours, organizing farms, guiding cars, blocking noise…… Just now on TV is a show about Irish stone walls. Everywhere today I’m finding walls!

Tonight, on the drive home while listening to a podcast on the fall of ancient empires, I heard this gem that I want to share with you. Right near the end of their empire the Sumerians built a wall to protect one of their cities. There was an ocean on one side, rivers on two sides and so they thought a wall could be the final protection. Sure, lots of ancient cities or empires have been protected by walls. Like most of those walls, the Sumerian one failed too. The author said so simply…..”Walls only work as long as there is a garrison sustaining them.” That was it. I heard the truth, but not in the historical context.

Walls aren’t only outside are they? We have walls inside that divide our life into different roles and help both organize and protect us. Often, they are useful for they allow us to function in the rough and tumble of life, but they have limits. They also keep us from feeling deeply or seeing clearly or making wise choices.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a wall inside me. Truthfully, lately I’ve been feeling that wall. When I was away on retreat I began to chat with Jesus and dear Mother Mary, the Undoer of Knots, about the wall. I gave consent for them to dismantle it. In effect I told the garrison that has guarded my wall to stand down, dismissed them, sent them back home. I trust Jesus and Mary to dismantle the wall in their own slow and loving way.

I’ve known about my interior wall for many years. One of my earliest oil paintings was of a stone wall in the French countryside. When it was completed, and I sat back to consider it I realized I needed to paint another picture with the wall coming down. I am attracted to walls in nature, yet I couldn’t allow my art to express only the starkness and containment of a wall. I needed to paint, to express the wall coming down. I’ve kept those pictures and often reflected on them, feeling the openness and female power of the second image.

When I heard those words on the drive home tonight, I knew again the presence of Spirit at work in my life. I wanted to acknowledge the garrison that protected me most of my life, and once again send them home, and give consent to Jesus to do the dismantling work. It’s time for that wall crumble. I feel secure enough to stand in the world without that wall.

Walls. They have a place. But there is also a time to let them come down. God doesn’t violate us, but waits for our ask, our whole-hearted ask, longs for it. Are you in touch with any of your walls? What might be the invitation for you?

Behind the interior wall is the goodness that is in my heart and yours. Our wonderful internal, eternal beauty and light glows. Time for walls to come down. What would it be like to give consent to Jesus, to trust him to send the garrison home and begin the slow and loving crumble of the wall?

It’s a journey, not easy, never dull, always heading home.

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Creek Time

The creek is pouring down the mountainside today. We always hear the creek. Even in the summer when it becomes a small stream, we can hear it from our home. The odd day in the summer I hear the highway traffic from far below us, but usually I just hear the creek flowing. We’ve had a couple of days of rain and now the creek is FLOWING! From somewhere up high on the mountain the waters come together and find the dip in the land near our home to make the journey to the ocean. It’s relentless. Always flowing. I can’t see the source, but I know the flow.

Deep inside each of us is a mountain spring with flowing waters, waters that want to move through us and out to the ocean around us. Sometimes that Source of Love within us flows freely, sometimes it’s dry as a summer creek bed. Sometimes, to let the water flow freely, boulders or old trees have to be pushed out of the way or come bounding down the creek causing their own bit of havoc. Same for us, sometimes we have old ways, thoughts, memories, tapes that need to be washed away so the Water from the Spring of Love can flow through us.

I have a song that I sing sometimes before I meditate, or as I walk the mountain road listening to the creek beneath me. It goes something like this…..

My heart is open to you.

My heart is open to you.

My heart is open to you,

Open to You, open to You

Remove the boulders, remove the barriers, remove the debris,

So your Love flows through me,

So your Joy flows through me,

So your Peace flows through me,

So your Wisdom flows through me.

So YOU flow through me

Have some fun with it. Make up your own tune, play with the words to make them your own. Let’s sing new life into us, into those around us, into the world.

My heart is open to you….

Love and prayers from a singing Mystic in Motion  

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way


			

Choices

I make choices. We all make them everyday.  This week I felt the cloak of judgement settle on me. Someone named an aroma of pride in me and I felt the judgement settle around me. Yes, I could smell the pride too, so I own the pride, but wrestle with the sense of judgement. I wonder if it comes from choices I make.

I was at the Blood Donor Clinic answering their long questionnaire. There is a little delight that creeps through me as I continue to check the ‘no’ boxes on the medical form. I’m 71 and I don’t take any meds. I have no underlying conditions. And yes, I can feel a bit of pride in being able to check those boxes, so when someone hinted that my pride was connected to self-righteousness I had to pause and consider.

What’s this pride about my health? What’s responsible for my health? Am I in control of it? Hardly, for partly I have my Dad’s genes and he had nothing to do with doctors till his very last years, dying at home from a heart attack at 89.  Partly I have my mom’s genes that weren’t so healthy but something inside me decided years ago that I didn’t want to follow her route, so I make food and exercise choices. Partly I suppose it’s the gift of this body for this life and in that I’m grateful. I appreciate a body that works well even as it ages. Partly I’m healthy because of genes I inherited but also because of choices I’ve made.

I think here the feeling of judgement creeps in. Some of my health comes from the emotional work I’ve done. I don’t carry a lot of emotional baggage anymore. I’m very content with my imperfections including my need to be perfect! That work reduces my stress level enormously which I’m sure leads to good body health. When something gets triggered in me, which it does, like this need to process pride, I try to clean my emotional house. I don’t like internal clutter, junk of the past that I trip over. My current lifestyle is also my choice and contributes to my health. It’s gentle, I’m open to doing more, but careful what I let in. I don’t want to overextend as I’ve done in the past. Been there done that, don’t need to do it again, but am willing to serve however I’m called. Right now, it’s that small circle I’ve written about. And I’m certainly healthy through my spiritual practices, ways of being that nourish my inner sense of Self, of connection with God’s Love, Joy, Peace and Wisdom.

I do choose to engage in spiritual practices just like I choose what to eat, but I don’t make those choices out of duty, or to look good or to belong to a group. I make those choices out of a wonderful, warm embrace of God. I feel close to something that I name as God. I know there is so much more I might experience, but I value what I have known and want more and more and more.

Possibly the core of my health is that yearning for more of God in my life, more Love, more Joy, more Peace, more Wisdom, more Gentleness, more Kindness, more Forgiveness…. I hope you know what I mean. I simply want More of MORE God. And I’ve discovered that not everyone does. For years I thought everyone needs to discover what I’ve peeked at, but I’ve come to realize that not everyone wants to peek down the pathways that I want to run down. Is that why I feel the label of judgement? I’m sort of okay now with people who don’t want to join me on spiritual cleansing paths, but maybe not completely and maybe they feel an inner judgement from me. It’s hard for me to understand why people are so caught up in the things of this life when there is so much MORE and that MORE makes this life much more wonderful. But then, I’ve only my life to live, not theirs. I need to let them live their life, walk their path and me grow in loving them just as they are. There’s room for me to grow there.

I know I feel warmth and affection toward the one that rightly named my health pride. I’m glad they did. Yet I’m also happy to make the choices that I do make about how to live my life. I wish they knew that my choices come from Love, from being loved and I kinda think they don’t know that LOVE yet as a daily life-giving fountain. That’s my basic life choice; I choose Love, more Love.

Rambling Thoughts from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem Institute

 

 

There’s More to That Story!

 

Sometimes a trip into town can be most surprising. Today was one of those days.

As I headed into town to do a few errands I listened to a podcast from Michael Meade with ‘Living Myth’. I didn’t know anything about him. It simply was the first one that showed on my app and the title was intriguing. Off down the highway I went and soon found myself enjoying his social commentary from a contemplative perspective. He was telling a story about three fish and nestled within that story was another one about a wise bird. Although his main social commentary was coming from these animal stories, he also was describing the role of story, folk stories and myths in human culture. He said the stories exist not for us to believe them, but to learn from them.  They are a means for one generation to teach another. Ah….will I allow myself to move from belief into learning, into transformation, into new ways, into something new being birthed????

During my first few decades within the church being a Christian involved knowing what to believe. I was taught ‘correct’ doctrine through sermons, small groups and independent study of authors who taught ‘correct’ theology. I did hours of Bible study that was shaped by commentaries with a particular perspective. I was taught apologetics, so I’d have a ‘correct’ answer to any question. It was all about belief.

What if we read the Jesus stories not to believe them but to learn from them? I was taught that it was important to believe that each detail of the Gospel stories was true. The belief in historical reality was what was important, not that I ponder and be shaped by the truth within the stories.  Later I learned to pray with the gospel stories using my imagination. Jesus became so real to me. I watched him laugh, sweat and fall asleep. I sat with him as a child and walked with him as a man. He wasn’t a storybook character, nor theological construction, nor a remote divinity. He was a real man, who knew me and cared for me. He wanted to hear my questions, my worries and my discoveries. His love for me began to change me as I allowed him to give me his wisdom.

I’m grateful for my years of scripture study. And I’m grateful too that now I can still learn from those stories, as well as the stories within different traditions. I’m grateful that I’m not constrained by specific beliefs, but allowed to constantly grow and change, held and shaped by a compassionate, loving God who I know through Jesus.

It was a great trip into town. I came home with new plants for the garden, food for tomorrow’s picnic, reaffirmed in my perspective on being a spiritual human and having found a thoughtful person who is doing his bit to bring some help into our groaning, smokey world. Of course all done keeping social distance and mask on!

Where are you at today? Learning or believing?

Love and questions from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member

Attuned to Jesus

 

The other day I heard a bell ringing repeatedly. I mentioned it to another person near me and they didn’t hear it at all. It was ringing on a frequency that wasn’t in their range. Any of us who care for dogs will experience that too. Last night on our evening walk, our dogs were so excited, and yet I couldn’t see anything! Often dogs can hear things that we can’t. The sounds are still there, but I don’t have the frequency required to hear them.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus and how I’ve known him over the years. I feel close to him and consider him my friend, my very best spiritual teacher, the one who has made me whole, who connects me to God. I shy away from church language of ‘Savour’ or ‘Son of God’ for I find many of those words to be encased in theology and lacking the intimacy of the one who appeared in bedroom when I was eight or who spoke to me in an art gallery in Venice, or who washed me Joy one night when I was so very dirty. In this season of my life, I prefer to set aside theology and live within my known experience.

That gets me back to frequencies. I want to be attuned to Jesus, to be able to hear his whispers and sense his movements. I want my spirit to be sensitive to Jesus and to all his friends, the ones both alive and who have left us, all who draw us closer to the source of all life, to what we call God.

I know sometimes I don’t hear his sound. Sometimes I’m distracted by the stuff of life or my own internal workings and I can’t hear when his bell rings or when he comes down the driveway at night. But I want to. I want to be attuned to the whisper of Jesus. I think I’ll ask him to help me. He’s really good at helping his friends.

What gets your attention? What or who do you listen to? Who is your friend who will help you?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

I Am Part of Something Larger

 

One of my favourite authors used the expression ‘I’m part of something larger’ and a deep chime sounded within me. Yes – me too!

My readings recently have taken me into an exploration of many faith traditions  and how they’ve each answered the basic questions of  human existence; why are we here, what is our purpose, how do we make meaning out of life? As I sip from many different spiritual watering holes, I become more aware of my connection to everyone, past, present and future as well as to Earth. I carry within my physical genes the DNA of my parents, grandparents and their ancestors. As ‘Anne’, I’m not a single individual living in Lions Bay BC, but one whose body DNA is a container of ancient and future life. As ‘Anne’ I’m not a single individual, but one whose soul DNA is part of the cosmos, an eternal and complete being, connected to Earth and Heaven. I am a part of something larger than my own everyday life.

Today someone asked if I’d share with them some ‘coping strategies’ of breathing and meditation. I agreed, but realized that I don’t offer ‘coping strategies’. For me breathing practices and mediation are ways I nourish my soul. Without them my soul would be malnourished. My body needs water to survive and grow. My soul needs prayer and meditation. Without them, my soul withers. Too often I see people not nourishing their souls with meditation, but instead trying other coping strategies to survive or give their life purpose; working, accumulating wealth, focus on relationships, amusement, exercise, food – you could make the list. We have many ‘coping strategies’!

If only we stopped, took a deep breath and began to be present within this moment. If only we meditated regularly, opening our soul to God’s Loving Presence, allowing ourselves to connect with the Source of All Life, to follow the pathway that Jesus, or the Spirit gives, a way of peace, forgiveness, wisdom and joy.

Our life is so much bigger than our daily grind. Each one of us is part of the larger picture. I hope so much that many more of us will stop and be open to who we are as God’s Children, part of the human family on Earth. We are all part of the larger picture and hence, all part of the solution.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Living with Imperfections!

I’ve got a perfectionist drive  – just ask those who live with me or have worked with me! I’m a One on the Enneagram. Those are people who have a clear picture of how things might be, a strong drive to get there and usually see their way as the Right Way. A major part of maturing is to be able to grow beyond your core preferences into a broader way to be. For me, growth has included learning to see things from many perspectives, to know that others may have a valid perspective that offers a helpful ‘right way’ and that I don’t have to be perfect, in fact I can be radically imperfect and be happy.

This week was one of those Imperfect Weeks. I have felt stuck in my memoir writing. A friend suggested I needed a clearer focus. She wanted to know who I was writing the memoir for as I was naming several groups. I got that! I cleared up my focus group and hung a photo of most of them on the wall of my cabin. But then, my friend, husband and editor all said that I was writing from a very reserved placed. I needed to be more emotionally connected to my story.

Yikes. Yikes. Oh no. I’ve heard that before. More than one time. Yup. Often. And then a soul sister said to me “Anne, what’s it like for you to cry?”. Yikes…. “Cry, what’s that?”.

For years I have worked to harvest emotions. I’ve done a decent job of it for I am much more emotionally alive now than I was twenty years ago, but there’s more room to grow. Isn’t there always! I’ve felt challenged this week to look at the block within me that’s making it really difficult to tell my story not from a ‘reporting’ place, but from a personal and warm perspective. It’s hard for me to do that. I’ve tried to get acquainted with Little Annie as she tells her first story of seeing a glowing figure  praying for her in the middle of the night in her room. I can report the story, but struggle with feeling as I did when I was a child.

But then, my ‘crying’ friend, after asking her question and hearing my response, went very quiet. She is someone who knows how to listen to the tapping of her heart. After awhile she said, “You know Anne, it’s okay to have a block within you. You’re not to judge yourself.” Sigh. Sigh. Deeply Sighing.

I trust Jesus within me. I know he knows every bit of my being. He knows the block, the dam, the resisting wall within me. And he loves me just as I am. I belong to him. Actually, my inner dam belongs to him too. I have given him permission many times to dismantle it. My way now is to TRUST him. He will dismantle the dam within me, when and if he chooses. My way, my job in this life, is to relax and trust him, so his love, peace and wisdom can flow through me. I’m not the demolition expert. Gosh, I like living this way. Comfortable with my imperfections. 😊

How about you?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

Four Words

 

As I walk the mountain I’m humming four words. Each word slows me down so I pay attention to my footsteps. I’m more attentive to my walk, the woods around me, and to being alive, today.

My words grew out some mindfulness meditations from Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve been doing an online course from him and realized I needed to do it a second time.  (It’s one that Sounds True offers: Body and Mind are One). This time I’ve laid aside my knitting so I can take notes.  My mind wanders less when my hand holds a pen and puts marks on paper!

Each section of the course begins with a guided meditation, a series of repeated phrases that the student is to take into a walking meditation and daily practice. Over the last few months as I’ve listened to them, I found I was creating my own phrases, a tiny bit different and reflective of my life. The phrases fall on the in breath and out breath:

Breathing in: The mountain is solid

Breathing out: I’m solid

Mountain/solid (stay with these words till ready to change)

Breathing in: The creek is flowing

Breathing out: I’m flowing

Creek/flowing

Breathing in: The trees are still

Breathing out: I’m still

Trees/still

Breathing in: The birds are singing

Breathing out: I’m singing

Birds/singing

Breathing in: Solid

Breathing out: Flowing

Breathing in: Still

Breathing out: Singing

Solid/Flowing/Still/Singing  (repeating these four words until it’s time to move on)

During the day I’m carrying those four words around with me. Sometimes I pause, take a breath and lay my words on my breath. Then I know I’m here and present with whomever I am with, wherever I am.

Do you have four words that are yours to ground you? What might they be?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

Leftovers!

 

Sometimes I can be a driven person who needs everything to be done the Right Way which equals My Way! Anybody else out there like that?!

Last week a friend shared a dream where she was in the kitchen of a retreat centre watching people rush to serve leftovers to retreatants. The leaders rushed into the kitchen, grabbed leftovers from the fridge, tossed them into the microwave and hurried out to serve them to the retreatants. “No!” she shouted within herself. She wanted them to slow down, cook a meal and properly serve people. But the retreatants felt they were full, nourished and happy with the microwaved leftovers.  All was well. Even though she wanted to give them a carefully prepared home cooked meal, they were well satisfied with leftovers. God was in the leftovers.

I’m so grateful for her dream. It’s easy for me to get caught in the vice of things being done a specific way, the right way, My Way. Her dream calls me back to relaxing, letting go of my own agendas and letting things unfold. Years ago, I learnt that God works within what I would name as our imperfections, mistakes and even hurtful behaviours. God doesn’t require Anne’s strict guidelines of a ‘good’ process to work.  God is always present, even when it looks to me like Trouble with a capital ‘T’.  My job is to TRUST God is always present, keep myself within the Holy Creek flow of LOVE, no matter what is happening around me and keep my eyes open for Spirit LIFE.

So the next time you take leftovers out of the fridge….maybe you can recall that God is in the leftovers. God can use our leftovers when that’s all we’ve got to offer. How big and wonderful is our God. How little and humble are we.

Time to relax, lie back in my hammock, and listen for the tapping of the Spirit.

Happy listening to you.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

The World Today: Misty Mountain

This morning as I headed out the driveway and up the road to begin my daily mountain walk, I could see Mt. Harvey clearly,  with clouds behind it. Each morning I walk the watershed road for a kilometre to a special tree and rock I’ve come to mark as holy ground. Just beyond them is a barrier and I can’t go any further on the road. As I pause to pray, the creek is roaring below me, the forest is climbing the hill beside me, the trees are standing tall, the birds are singing and I can see a mountain ahead of me. I’m so grateful for this spot.

This morning when I got to the end of the road, the mountains had disappeared. What had been so clear as I set out, was covered in clouds  when I reached my resting place. But I knew she was still there.

Our world is in such upheaval. I’ve long prayed that the voices of the oppressed would be released, the voices of women, indigenous and all who have been silenced could speak clearly into the world. It’s happening. Now, how will we find our way forward? What do we need to bring about a social shift? The prayer that rises within me this week is around leadership. As I walk the mountain road I long for strong, moral, spiritual leaders to arise, to show us a way forward, a way to create a different social order. Where is the leadership we need?

Even though our world is in upheaval I know God is still present, still working, still caring. The clouds may cover the mountain, but the mountain doesn’t move. It’s solid. The clouds will pass and I’ll see her again. God with the eternal, spiritual world is solid. The upheaval will pass. Let’s remain solid as the mountain, trusting the presence of God and asking what our part is to birth a new social order.  

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder