The Gift of a Fox

fox

I live in the middle of Toronto. It’s a lovely neighbourhood but it’s definitely ‘in the city’. Last Sunday morning as I was heading out to walk to church, there was a large fox strolling down my street. I’ve seen fox in the ravines nearby, but never walking down my street like he owned the world!fox in teh city

This past week I’d begun to meditate on the scripture where Jesus says that bird’s have nests and foxes have holes, but he has no place to call home. Hmmm…. Why have I been sent this fox?

This past week my Lenten discipline of purging our home has gone even deeper. I’ve pulled out boxes upon boxes of ‘family treasures’ – the letters, artwork and photos going back several generations. As we continue to consider a move, we’re letting go of things we’ve held on to for years, memorabilia from our parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins as well as our own children.

clutterAs I do the sorting, I’m very aware of the home I have all around me. When we moved in eighteen years ago, many of the cupboards were empty. None of them are empty now. How did all these things creep in? Did they come while I slept?

Maybe they did come while I slept, while I lived on auto-pilot, not aware of what was coming into my home. It feels like some things have crept into my life. Like that fox on the street, I’m looking at them and saying, ‘Just what are you doing here?”. I’m more sure now of who I am and that helps me be more sure of what to keep and what to release. What belongs and what is out of place. What I’ve had long enough and what still brings joy.decluttering

I have loved this home, yet something in me is releasing it too. I have no secure home to move into, so this week I’m holding the thought of being homeless with Jesus. I like knowing. I like knowing where I’ll sleep. I like having a fridge and food close by. Yet I hear in this reflection an invitation to consider homelessness, an experience of spiritual poverty.  To live with less. Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep.

Somewhere that fox I saw last Sunday has a home. Somewhere there is a new home for my husband and me, but in the meantime, I’m to experience releasing, letting go, having less, living with uncertainty and instability. …. Pray for me, for us that we can trust in the slow work of God.

How can I fuss, when my problem is too much, and others have so little and no home at all?

What has been your experience of accumulation and releasing, of being secure or being homeless?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

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From One to Many

Last week ended up being a week of contrasts. As I described it to my daughter, I realized one of the reasons it felt so full was that I went from solitude to an abundance of people.

I took some time on retreat last week.  I went to a cottage in a retreat centre for some solitude. Three days to pray, reflect, and walk the lake shore, to put away the computer and phone and open my heart. I brought along some friends, Henri (Nouwen), Jean(Vanier) and Jesus (scripture). What beautiful souls to accompany me. Jean’s writing on community life touched me deeply and I could feel layers of my false self peeling away. How good to go on retreat and leave some stuff behind!

From the solitude I returned to full community life with a number of group meetings, individual conversations and one special service. One day was a twelve-hour working day. I haven’t done one of those in over a year, and I know why! There was much joy in the conversations and groups. I wouldn’t have missed one of them!

It had been a long time since I reconnected with my home community of Contemplative Fire. It was good to be with other Companions, offer an introduction to Contemplative Fire in a different part of the city and finish the weekend with our monthly worship. Returning to community life was rich and full.

Amid all the abundance, my husband and I continue our discernment around a move and of course family life happens. A second daughter turned 40. It’s just not possible.

When I write a blog I often write from what has been working most deeply in my life in the last week, but this past week was simply full to overflowing. Where do I turn? What am I to process more deeply? What might I highlight for myself through sharing?

It feels like there is a huge buffet table spread before me. I can go back again and again and taste the goodness that is there. When I was sharing my week with my daughter I suddenly felt the POP of the week. I’d moved from one to many and the crush was like fireworks going off inside. When I push back from the table and consider my meal, there are some things I know.

God is so present, so longing to let us know that we’re held, loved and valued. I hear God’s voice calling to me from so many different places, through so many people. “Come, welcome, be at rest with Me. I am here with you. You are never alone. You have nothing to prove. I have my eye on you.”

How is your week? How do you know God’s watchful, loving presence in your life?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

 

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

 

 

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