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

 

 

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The Way

I’m continuing some gentle study of First Nations spirituality. As I described a couple of weeks ago, the Elder showed me a gentle and grounded way to live. This morning, as I read about their understanding of the dependence that human beings have on plants and animals for their daily needs, I was aware how different their ways are from the ways I’ve been taught. I would need to live within a community that both carried those truths and lived from them to learn their ways. There is ‘a way’ that they follow.

In the early years, the New Testament years, to follow Jesus, the Risen Christ was to follow ‘The Way’. There was a new way to live, a way of forgiveness, of healing, of transformation that led into a new awareness of connectedness, that God’s love extended to ALL and we, who walked ‘The Way’, were to live as peacemakers and healers.

Yet as a child growing up in the church, I didn’t learn about ‘The Way’. I learnt rules, a moral code, prayers that were said like memory work, stories that were remote, not life shaping, and I learnt catechism. As a young adult, when I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus, I got closer to finding ‘The Way’ to live. I experienced some healing and re-direction in my life, yet many of my teachers still emphasized correct thinking rather than embracing me in a new way of life. They taught me a correct reading of scripture rather than an ongoing experiential encounter with God.

Is this not part of the reason many of our churches are empty on a Sunday morning?

As human beings, my awareness is that we don’t search for a moral code or correct teachings, but we do, in our most enlightened moments, search for a way to live, a well worn pathway that will brings a sense of purpose and meaning into our lives, a way that will teach how to get along with ourselves, with others, with our earth and with our Creator.

Today I sit with my Bible beside me, eager to enter the stories of Jesus, ready to follow his way of life. I know I’m to follow his way. He is my Chief Elder. I’m to continue to let him be my teacher. I’m to immerse myself within him and let him show me the other teachers he gifts me with, like my dog! I don’t need to persuade anyone else to follow me, but I will share, hopefully with growing humility, what My Elder has taught me and maybe together we will follow Him.

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

Stillness

I’ve been drawn to the experience of stillness in the last while. A few times I’ve been aware of the invitation in prayer to be still after I leave the prayer time. I’m not to get caugstone and sand for stillness and actionht up in the busy conversations, the decisions that seem to need to be made, the city whirl. I’m to learn to be still. It’s partly emerged out of my attraction to the True Self work. I’ve experienced an inner stillness even when around me, it feels like chaos. It results in me feeling like I’m more myself, simpler, deeper, less pretentious, less a lot of things!

But it doesn’t mean I’m physically still. I’m still to be moving, but from a place of stillness. It doesn’t mean I don’t make any decisions, just that they’re to come from a still place.  A recent tag line on my email account was: Be still, be very, very still. And the I added to it: Be still and still moving.

As this was happening within me, one of our Companions inchild image for stillness and action

Contemplative Fire told me about a message he’d received during a Quaker Meeting. Ps 46 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” The speaker noted that the psalm said to be still, not to be silent. That is so much in alignment with what I’m learning. To be still doesn’t mean to be silent or not taking action. It means to be still within our soul, to be still and listening and knowing and being formed and guided by God’s Spirit.

In Contemplative Fire, part of our Rhythm is ‘Across the Threshold’. That refers to being led by the Spirit of God, perhaps into unfamiliar places. As with all our leaves, that one too is rooted in the central Wordless Space, in the deep stillness of God. We also talk about the Silence of God, about God’s first voice being silence. We become still within, listening to God’s silence and from the still, silent space we are formed and hear our life’s words and actions. How intriguing is that!  Out of stillness and silence come words and action and oh… those words and actions smell, feel so different from the ones that come out of my busyness!

What is your experience of stillness? Physical stillness? Interior stillness? Do you run from it, brush it off, find it impossible, or never consider it! How have you experienced the different sources of your words and actions?

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

Lessons From My Dog #367….

Some of my best spiritual teachers have been my dogs…..How about you? What do you learn from your pets? I’ve learnt so much over the years from caring for dogs and cats. The First Nation Elder who taught me in September said that God told them that our main teachers are our animals, birds, fish and plants. I guess I’m in traditional company when I’m learning from my dog!

Last week when Finnegan and I were walking in the ravine with other neighbourhood dogs he became my teacher once again. He says ‘Hello’ to almost every dog he meets. He stops, does his smelling thing and then moves on. As he does that, I usually greet the one who is walking with the other dog. Sometimes it’s a simple ‘Hello’, sometimes it becomes a conversation.

As Hugh and I have been walking Finn for these last three months we’ve started to connect with the dog community in our neighbourhood. Anyone with a dog will stop to greet, and often people without dogs will pause too because our Finn is so great!  I realized we do this, because the dogs do it. They usually greet each other.

Imagine if we humans behaved in such a friendly fashion to other humans that we meet. Oh we don’t need to put our ‘nose into everyone’s business’…..but pick up a bit more of dog friendliness! I might greet people on my neighbourhood street, but turn the corner onto Yonge Street and I don’t greet people. Could I keep more eye contact happening? Could I keep more good-thoughts-towards-all happening?

We’re all in this together. Can we be open and interested in one another, honoring each other? We are all human beings on a journey together.

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

Finding My Way (3): Community Life

The second part of our Rhythm of Life that is important to me is that it is based in community life. Contemplative Fire is a dispersed monastic community. We fall into what is known today as the neo-monastic stream of the emerging church. We could think more about that another time, but what I want to highlight for myself and for you today is the community aspect.

The teaching I’ve received is that we’re not meant to live as isolated beings. We are relational and we are to live knowing others and being known by others. That is the source of some of our chaos, challenge and spiritual growth!

In Contemplative Fire we hold our Rhythm of Life both individually and locally. I craft my own rhythm for this year, and I’m to be in intentional relationship with others allowing them to know how my spiritual walk is going.

During my Sabbath Leave I spent quite a bit of time in solitude. It was wonderful for me for I know that solitude and silence nourish my soul. I also learnt how important community is to me. I really wanted to return to my family and to my faith family. I wanted more clarity in allowing them to know me and for me to know them.

One aspect of my return that has intrigued me is that there is a handful within Contemplative Fire who are asking for just what has landed inside me. They are asking for more intentional spiritual growth – a place where they can explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I’m wondering if we might craft some of our triads, Deep Listening groups into ones that intentionally focus on spiritual growth based on our rhythm.

Do you have people who know you spiritually? Do you have people you share your ups and downs of your faith life, your struggles, your questions and your delights?

We’re all in this together.

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

Finding My Way (1): Ancient Pathway

Imagine an ancient doorway, carved into the rock. It creaks open slowly revealing an overgrown but well trodden path. In early September I had two back to back experiences that felt like they were opening up a hidden door for me that led to an ancient pathway.

This blog has been about learning to find a contemplative path in our chaotic world. What I became aware of in September was that the path I’ve been walking on, has been around a very, very long time. First, we visited Drumheller, Alberta with Badlands and Tyrell Dinosaur Museum which was a great peek into our past. Then I spent a week on Manitoulin Island visiting some of our First Nations and learning their perspective on history, culture and spirituality. We also visited an archeological dig on the island that showed evidence of human habitation from 9000 years ago.

An elder spoke to us about their history going back thousands of years and of the transmission of their principle beliefs. One of their basic beliefs is that we are spirit beings on a temporary, physical journey. I’m a newcomer in learning about their spirituality. I listen with my ‘Jesus’ ears and from my Christian contemplative perspective, and I’m struck that we could have learnt from them when we first arrived. There are similarities.

I’ve quoted before Teillard de Chardin’s line about us being spiritual beings having a human experience. He comes from the Jesuit tradition who were some of the earliest Europeans to arrive in North America. I wonder if they received that teaching from the natives, recognizing in it the truth that is in harmony with our Christian faith. We are spiritual beings, created by God and called into an open awareness of our relationship with God, all others and creation. I’m listening. I’m realizing that our contemplative path is very well worn. It’s been trodden not only by us, but by many others all over the world for a very, very long time. That helps me walk more firmly, more boldly. The chaos shrinks. The pathway becomes clearer.

In this shifting and chaotic world we need to be grounded. What grounds you? I’m coming back to naming my pathway in the next few weeks. I think I’m clearing the pathway, weeding it a bit! Join me!

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