STILL Listening for the Big Yes!

Thanks so much for your responses to my questions. I enjoyed hearing some of your ‘Big Yes!’ stories. It is so good when we know something deeply and intuitively. It helps me know that I belong and that I’m on track – whatever that track is and wherever it is going.

Responding to my side of the question you welcomed both memoir and devotions (a bit tipped towards devotions) but also said keep up this blog. A few responded with the wisdom ‘You’ll know.’ I know that is true. I am still to keep listening. This season of my life is a time of deepening, a time of exploring, a sifting and sorting time. I can be so action-oriented…but this is a time of waiting, a time of Holy Waiting. I desire to wait on the Holy One to show me the pathway.

I can look back over my life and recall some major times of sorting and shifting: when I slowed down commitments to learn to pray; when I joined Community Bible Study as a Teaching Director; when I left after ten years; when I returned to school; when I sought ordination; when I encountered Contemplative Fire; when I stepped back after ten years; and when I moved to British Columbia. Each time I had a ‘Big Yes’. I knew deep within me it was time to walk that pathway. I wasn’t besieged by doubts or fears. I knew what I wanted. Sometimes there were obstacles in my way. Sometimes it was slower that I thought it would be, but I still kept knowing a ‘Big Yes’.

I believe in the guiding hand of God. I believe we’re not alone. God’s Spirit guides and sends angels to protect and affirm us. The Spirit sends people too. We are to help each other, speak into each other’s lives with affirmation and encouragement.

Anymore ‘Big Yes’ stories out there? Have you had times of knowing God’s guidance?

The world needs us strong and clear in our spiritual life. Let’s strengthen each other through sharing our stories.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

Listening for the Big YES!

We have had some friends visiting with us for the last few days. Conversations rambled all over the place, but one day as we were climbing the hill from the beach one friend turned and asked me, “What are you working on Anne? What are you writing?”. It was such a lovely question. He truly was interested in my writing. He’s a songwriter so we connect over words and how evocative they can be, as well as a shared spirituality.

I’ve discovered I really enjoy being ‘a writer’. It feels so comfortable to me, like pulling on an old pair of slippers! Yes, that’s what I’ve always been, yet never acknowledged till this past year. I do acknowledge that now and can talk with him about what I’m working on. Yet I don’t really know yet what I am working on, except my writing craft. Maybe you, Gentle Reader can help me focus.

I replied to him that I’ve started up my blog again ‘Mystic in Motion’, so I write weekly for it. I also usually do Morning Pages, rambling thoughts each day to keep me writing. I’m wondering about a book focus. I’ve started my spiritual memoirs which are not my whole story, but the times when the veil was pulled back and I encountered the presence of God in a significant, life-shaping way. I’ve also wondered about gathering my devotional writing, the reflections I wrote for years for Contemplative Fire and organize them into a devotional reader. They would be little tidbits you can taste. Or is there something else? Over the years I’ve thought of writing about gender issues in the workplace, particularly in ministry. But then I began a Master Writer’s Class and have been focused on sorting through my motivation, audience, ideal reader etc. Don’t I need to decide which project I’ll focus on? Or do I hold several at a time?

I unloaded all that on my friend as we climbed the mountain. It was good to share with a kindred soul, but I didn’t come to any conclusion. All I know, more and more clearly, is that in this next season of life I’ll spend significant time spreading words around a page. I like that thought… a lot.

Help me Gentle reader… memoir or devotions? Or something else? Help me hear the Big Yes, the kind of YES, that makes other things melt away.

When have you heard a ‘Big YES’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

 

The Whispers of Love

 

We live in a rain forest. I’m so delighted to live here. Yes, it rains, seventeen days this past month, but oh the clouds! A few weeks ago, the weather turned from summer to fall. I noticed it, not only because of the drop in temperature and the arrival of rain, but because of the clouds. I discovered last year that during the rainy season the clouds take on a life of their own. They are always moving, twisting, turning, slipping through the trees and across the Sound. Some days they embrace us and other days they are wispy, floating through the forest, rising up, slipping down, melting away only to return again. As I drive our highway, I often watch the clouds dance, for they’re always shifting their shape.

John O’Donohue writes of the importance of love in our lives, yet how easy it is for us to miss it. Last week as we sat before our dinner meal, my husband read to me a few lines from O’Donohue’s book, ‘Anan Cara’. It included a bit of Boris Pasternak: “When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.”

If I’m not slow and attentive, I can miss the beauty of the clouds that move around my forest dwelling. If I’m not slow and attentive, I can miss the whispers of love that tap at my heart. When has my heart jumped? What has drawn my attention? Who has caught my eye and truly looked at me? The Whispers of Love. They are constantly moving, changing shape. I never know when they will come. But oh, I want to be ready, ready to open the door and say ‘Welcome.’

What does Love feel like for you when she knocks on your heart?

Peace in the midst of all.

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

How to Handle Distractions: The Squeaky Shoes!

The community had gathered. We had heard a sacred reading. The bell was struck. A gentle silence descended on us. Then, on the other side of the wall, in the parking lot a frustrated mother began yelling at her child, “I didn’t drive all this way for you to refuse to go to camp!’. The yelling continued, accompanied by a child’s mournful cry.  Beneath our feet the piano began, joined by happy voices of children singing camp songs. One after another their songs rolled along. The final straw were The Squeaky Shoes, rubber soles on linoleum, that sauntered down the hall outside the chapel. Really! So what was that sacred text???

That particular morning highlighted for me the delight of meditation. We (or is it just me!) have this image of sitting in stillness, all is serene. Maybe a few birds chirp or a gentle waterfall is a soothing white noise. Within a pristine setting perhaps I will settle into a place of inner peace.

But usually as soon as I settle on my cushion, I’m aware of the flopping of my mind, or emotions that get triggered. Again and again, as Fr Keating taught, I get hooked by some ‘boat’ that has entered the river of my thoughts and I’m engaged in sorting out all the stuff on the boat. Whether my physical space is serene or not, my internal space seldom is very orderly.

That morning, with all the yelling, singing and squeaking, gave me time to reflect again on how to deal with distractions when I meditate. They will happen! It might be internal thoughts that engage me or the squeaky shoes outside the room. I know they will come, so how can I let them not trigger an annoyance or sense of failure, but become one of the delights of meditation?

I know as my practice deepens the external sounds move more easily into something ‘out there’ and cease to trigger the cords of annoyance within me. They can still cause me to feel disruption. I look for the day when I’m oblivious to them. I’m not there yet. I’m not able to walk on hot coals! But I can breathe and let them pass. The internal roommate that chatters is more of a distraction to me. But the good part is that I can recognize when I’ve climbed on board and jump overboard one more time.

The real delight of distractions in meditation for me is the growing awareness that those distractions help me bring the quiet centre of my practice into everyday life. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store or caught in traffic I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then, right there because I’ve done it in my practice when The Squeaky Shoes walked down the hall. Or when someone gets annoyed at me or I feel irritated towards someone, or jealous of who they are, I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then because that’s what I’ve done in my meditation practice when The Squeaky Shoes were the last straw for me. Again, and again, pause, breathe and return my focus to God’s Spirit within me. I am a branch of God’s vine. I carry God’s Life-giving, Ever-Loving, Healing Sap within me. I belong to God. That is who I am.

Distractions! How do you deal with them in life and /or on the cushion???

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

The Importance of Approaching Sleep Well

Day AND Night

What is your attitude to night time? Do you dismiss it? Do you think that the only things of significance take place during the day?

I have a new mediation teacher in my life right now.  I learnt today that I’d seen night as very different from day. I realize that unconsciously I thought that important things only took place during the day. The daytime hours were when it all happened! Sure as I went to sleep I’d give myself into God’s care for my slumber, but whatever… it was nighttime. I really didn’t prepare for the work or the experience of what my soul was up to during the hours of slumber.

Today I was taught to formally meditate twice a day – sure that’s normal. I was taught to begin my day with meditation, before my mind took off to plan the day or engage in the days work – sure that’s normal. But then he said to make my second meditation time just before bed, sometime between nine and midnight. He told me I was to prepare myself to sleep. As I read that I realized that my ‘day’ has two parts, one where the sun shines (or not!) and one where the moon shines (or not!). There is dawn, high noon, dusk and deep dark. Each phase of a day has it’s own energy.

I love the early morning hours, daybreak that shines pink on the mountains, that holds a stillness and anticipation in the air. Noon is bustling, activities happen, things are accomplished. Dusk is unwinding from the days work, settling down and sometimes gloriously beautiful. The deep dark of night is like a deep exhale, a time of rest. Each part of the cycle is significant, none more than the others. Each precious as part of our life.

So I’m changing my meditation routine. I don’t know how it will work or if I can do it, but I’ll try. Morning meditation continues. My afternoon meditation time will become a study/reflection period. I’ll try to meditate before bed with the intention of preparing myself for the soul work that takes place during the darkness and time of rest.

Practicalities trouble me. Where will I meditate at night? In my cabin? In a room in the house? In our bed? Hmm… I’m just not sure how all this will work.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

View from the Edge

In a conversation with a soul sister today I found myself describing how I see the church, the world and place of the church within the world. It came out so clearly. Can I capture it again?

I live on the edge of my country which gives me a sense of freedom as I look around. I perceive the institutional church disappearing into irrelevancy. People don’t attend any more. They’ve dismissed it. The church has lost her spiritual authority. It seems to me that the church has lost spiritual authority because she no longer listens intently to the Spirit of God nor lives within the flowing energy of the Spirit.

Today we don’t just live in villages, cities or even countries but are called to live within a global community, an earth community. Yes, we do have the intimate relationships of family and community, but in this new age of human history, we’re aware of the global community and how our actions affect one another as well as our planet.

Any denominational church needs to have that awareness too. The Spirit of God is moving globally. Spiritually we need to be aware of all the spiritual pathways that are within the global community. We need to not only be aware of them, but awake and responsive to them. Within the main spiritual communities there is a meeting place in the mystical world. We all arrive at some point of recognizing the presence of God around and within us. We need to be open to each other and to the wisdom inherent in different pathways.

From my perspective, for too many years the Christian church has separated herself and become closed. She has ceased to reflect the life, energy and power of Jesus. Through history and theology, we have built walls between us and other faiths. It is time to step out from behind those walls and be open. We need to stand together, within the Light of God. God is so much bigger than any one human-constructed faith that has evolved from a divine teacher. I have found my study of other traditions has made Jesus bigger and more alive for me. He is not diminished but expanded and strengthened. We need to listen to what the Spirit of God is saying today.

For our human species to move to the next level of consciousness we need a spiritual rebirth that will bring healing to those who hurt, a deep peace to the planet and healing to our earth. We need to move beyond small worlds into the global, even cosmic world. We need to move beyond a small church into the wide, expanse of spiritual life, the big ‘C’ Church of All Followers Everywhere. That’s when spiritual authority will return to the newly created Spiritual Community.

The people on this planet need a strong, healthy, united spiritual voice. Will we listen? Will we respond?

We’re all in this together. It’s time we lived into that reality.

I think that is the essence of my response to my soul sister. I share it with you as a way of mulling it over myself. How does it strike you? Helpful? Heretical!?

Love and prayers
Anne
Mystic in Motion
Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada
If this is helpful or interesting to you, please pass it along.

 

Why this World is the Way it is….

This week I heard it one more time and something inside me said ‘STOP’! “Silence makes me depressed”. “Silence and solitude….” and then she shuddered. I’ve heard it so many times. People pull away from contemplative practices. Why? Why do they sign up for yoga retreats but not for Contemplative Fire or for contemplative retreats within a Christian tradition? Why will they learn a new language of Sanskrit, chant in words they don’t know but not join a reflective service? Why?

When I was in a contemplative group the other day and a member said how her husband found silence depressing, I found myself stirred inside, some frustration stirred, some deeper anger, some hurt and some sadness. I observed a messy little stew pot of emotions emerge within me! I have found my twenty-five plus years within the contemplative world to be deeply healing. I’ve learnt how to face my negative emotions and move beyond them. Fundamentally I’ve experienced the LOVE of God, the deep, deep love of God that holds and sustains my life. Has it all been easy? No, much of it has been hard work, but it’s been wonderful. It is now my life passion to help other people find their own healing path. I offer the contemplative path and I grieve when it is dismissed as depressive. The door is slammed shut. ‘No thanks. Don’t want any.’ Slam.

As I pondered that perspective and my own response to it, I heard Silence/Solitude/Contemplative Practices being blamed for the person’s depression. I realized it that was a common response I’ve heard over the years. “It’s too difficult. It’s too scary. I don’t know what will come to my mind if I’m still. It makes me nervous.” I’ve heard so many responses like that, but suddenly, this morning I realized that those people are blaming the contemplative practices for their emotional response. It’s like me blaming my husband for my anger. I’m responsible for my angry response not him. if he behaves in a way that provokes my anger, well it’s my feelings and I’m responsible for learning from my reaction and caring for myself.

How come people can blame the contemplative practices for their feelings and get away with it? The practices of silence or solitude or meditation or imaginary prayer or (insert any contemplative practice)… are not the problem. The inability to accept responsibility for our own feelings and reactions is the problem. Too much of our church life is directed by people who aren’t willing to own their own feelings and do their work, do The Work of maturing spiritually, of following Jesus. Too much of our world is also led by people who won’t do their work.

I see the problem more clearly today, but I don’t see the solution. Right now, I hold it in the presence of our Loving, Omnipresent God.  I want to be able to put my foot in the door and not let them slam it shut.

How do you respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada

If this is helpful or interesting to you, please pass it along.

 

Breathing Underwater

 

One night in my dreams I found myself swimming in beautiful clear water. It felt wonderful! I realized that I was breathing under water. I wasn’t snorkeling or scuba diving. I had no equipment, just Anne, swimming and breathing in sparkling clear water.

Now all of you who love dream work will have some fun with that dream! I dabble in those explorations too and have had some deeply rewarding insights from dreams, including that one. But today…. Today I want to share with you a special moment from my waking life that reminded me of that dream sensation.

My granddaughter asked me if I’d join her scuba diving. We were on a family holiday at a resort that was offering a free scuba session. She loves the water and wanted to give it a try, but wanted company. Fifteen years ago I took the Padi Open Water Dive Training program and became certified. I let it lapse because I had such awful experiences. I’m a strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water but found myself unable to relax with the scuba gear on. As I looked at the surface of the water far, far above me I felt claustrophobic. I thought I would go home in a mahogany box. One time I thought I was going to vomit! I decided no more diving. But then, a granddaughter asks and of course I’m in.

We dove that afternoon and then, both of us so excited from our experience, signed up to do a longer training the next day. I think two things made the difference; a very competent, enjoyable teacher and how my meditation practice has matured over the last fifteen years.

Our teacher was wonderful. He was warm, engaging, clear, and encouraging. He delighted in my granddaughter and me, so glad to be teaching us to dive. He was one of those people that draws out the best in me.  After we had the gear on and were breathing under water with the regulator he asked us to sit on the bottom of the pool, simply rest there. The last time I tried to do it I couldn’t rest. This time I could feel I was at ease.

The sensation of resting in the water, either sitting on the bottom, or simply floating while deeply submerged, felt just like those moments in meditation when I’m held. Those moments when thoughts cease and the still point that is the ground of my being is all that there is within me. it is a place of deep rest and ease. As I floated in the water, recalling the mediation experience I could breath in the LOVE that sustains me. The dive became an experience of being held in LOVE, in LIFE.

Do you meditate? I think everyone can benefit from learning how to meditate. There are so many different pathways. I follow a Christian path and have learnt a variety of Christian meditation practices. I’ve also learnt secular, Buddhist and yogi meditation practices. There is scientific research now regarding the physical and mental benefits of meditation. There is a meditative practice that would suit you! It is a practice. It calls for persistence when it’s difficult. but oh, it’s worth it.

There is nothing quite like breathing underwater.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

 

The Colander of My Life

 

Perhaps this will feel like an upside-down image for you, but please stay with me and see if it works!

We are God’s children, lovely, delightful, complex creatures, dearly loved by The Divine One. God pours out an abundance of generous grace and love towards us each day, even each moment of each day. That is the Nature of Love – abundant and freely given.

For many years I couldn’t receive the Love that was there for me. It was as if my life was a colander, a large bowl made to receive, but filled with holes. The holes in my life were things like fear, doubt, anxiety, envy, judgement and insecurity. Or words such as ‘not good enough’, ‘you can’t’, ‘that’s not true’, ‘how could you?’. Each time Love was poured into my life, it would escape through one of the holes and I’d not experience it. Instead of a large full round colander, it was as if I held up a tiny thimble to God. I could only receive the tiniest bit of Love.

I was so thirsty for Love. I went to God again and again, asking to be filled. Slowly over the years through hours of reflective prayer and personal work, I began to experience those holes being filled. I discovered  an internal sense of peace, joy and love that wasn’t dependent on my circumstances. I began to recognize the untrustworthy voices and feelings within me that had drilled the holes into my colander.

God’s Grace is always pouring Love towards us, but will we receive it? I needed to slow down, open myself to the healing work that I needed, acknowledge it and engage in it. Then I was ready to begin to receive the constant flow of God’s Love into my life. Yes, there is God’s Grace, but I have an active part in receiving it.

Once the holes in our colander begin to be healed, we can receive and relish the delights of Love. Then our colanders, our lives can fill, fill to overflowing and God’s Healing Love can reach others through us. But we need to do our own work first. I’m persuaded that I won’t love you, anymore than I honestly love myself, and I don’t begin to deeply love myself till I acknowledge my holes and enter into the healing work. Then I will be of service to others. That’s the human journey.

I know part of this image doesn’t work for a colander without holes becomes a bowl…. but there is something in it that speaks to me, something about those holes in my life that lets goodness seep away. I hope there is something to help some of you as well.

How are you on receiving and retaining Love? What are the holes in your colander? What kind of internal work are you being invited to participate in?

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

 

A Question One Morning

 

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

In my devotional readings this morning, that was a question that jumped right off the page and into my lap!

I’m the youngest of three daughters. As a young person, even into my early twenties, I often felt that I couldn’t do anything my older sisters hadn’t already done. I went to the same primary school, high school and university. I attended the same summer camp and the went on the same family holidays. I felt defined by those objective events and blind to the uniqueness of ‘Anne’.

When I juggled that question around in my lap, I began to find many things that I had done that nobody else had done in the world. I began to savour anew my uniqueness. Some of the unique things I found were on the showy side, the upfront side, the side that can be noticed in the world. Other things were quieter, small everyday expressions of creativity. I appreciate that I was given the privilege of bringing Contemplative Fire into Canada – that’s on the upfront side of life. It touched my creative side and has been a real joy to me. I appreciate too that I was gifted with being able to birth four amazing young women. They are like no one else in the world. But creativity is in everyday things too. I moved from Stibbard Avenue in Toronto to Oceanview Road in Lions Bay. I don’t think anyone else, besides my husband has done that! Let’s get into even smaller everyday things looking for creativity. A dear one taught me how to open my closet and create an outfit to wear each day that will give me joy! No one else in the world will have that particular outfit on, on that particular day!

The devotional writer was stirring our creative energy. He was teaching us how we are within our spirit united to God’s Spirit. We are to relax and follow our intuition. It will lead us into a creative expression in the world, one that only we can make. I know deeply the presence of God within each one of us. Will we listen. Will we be awake spiritually, attentive to the movements within us? And listening, will we respond and move within the creative flow, saying ‘YES!’?

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

Celebrate the goodness that is YOU.

 

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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