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

 

 

The Big Beyond

I walked The Creek Path after a neighbour had done some more work on it and gasped. He had cleared off some of the forest rubble tossing it further down the cliffside, leaving me with a clear view of path. It looked more like a garden walkway than a trail through the forest.

When I started this project in March I was scraping away at the forest, the rubble on the ground, the rocks, trees, ferns, stumps and watching for the critters that live there. First Rebecca and Jas joined me as Great Quarantine Project took shape and then when John our neighbour and Master Trail Builder joined the project it literally took off. John brought his expertise to create switchbacks, his chainsaw for the trees, four-foot crowbar to move rocks and his delight in playing in the forest. Trudi and Rose have helped too with rakes and willing hands to move stones and clear the forest.

It’s not finished but there is now a clear path down the hillside from our home to the creek. What was in February rough forest is now a hillside, natural garden. The path is edged with rocks or tree limbs, with stairs at some of the steep points and even stairs that sweep gracefully around a tree trunk. It has been thoughtfully and lovingly created. I’m grateful.

As I study the different faith traditions, I see centuries of Master Trail Builders at work. My longing for a creek path is mirrored in my longing to discover the source of life, to know why we are all here on this planet, to know the purpose of life. I’ve asked those questions since I was a young girl. Smith’s book makes me feel so normal. For thousands of years humans have asked those same questions. I used to think I was odd for asking them for no one else in my home and few in my friendship circles were driven by them. He takes those questions and shows how faith traditions have approached them. My desire for spiritual knowledge is as old as humankind.

In the common desire to reach the creek, the source of life, people have discovered answers and created many pathways. Although there is diversity there is also so much similarity in the practices. Doesn’t it show a common source? I think many of the differences are cultural and historical. When I comb through the practices, I can see a path, one that allows for differences in temperaments, callings and stages of faith development. But the path is there. It’s for us to clear off the rubble so we can see it and then walk it. Some of the rubble I needed to clear away are my own theological limitations, my own western dominance worldview. Long before the western world developed, people in valleys and villages of Asia were asking the same questions I asked as a young girl in Toronto. Can I not listen to their answers and learn from them?

I needed help to reach the creek. I need help to live into the spiritual reality that I know exists. I am willing to learn from the Master Trail Builders of faith traditions, people who have been sent to us to teach us the way into The Big Beyond. There is a way to live that will align us with the spiritual reality that is bigger than our everyday existence. There is a path. I can see it. Can you? What does your path look like? Where does it take you?

Love and prayers from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Learning to Climb a Mountain

 

I’m getting stronger as I walk the mountain road behind my home. At first, I needed to catch my breath several times but now I can walk the whole way without pausing. Slowly. Step by step. A gentle pace, but I can do it. I’m learning to climb my mountain.

When I began my Christian journey although I had a delicious outpouring of God’s love, I ended up in a legalistic world of correct behaviour and doctrine. Years later I re-discovered grace and experienced again, in a more integrated way the warm embrace of acceptance. Now into the fifth decade of my journey I’m returning to a world I left behind in 1971. I have a strong base in my Jesus experience which is rooted in both scripture and mysticism, and now from that base camp I’m exploring what other faiths have taught over the thousands of years.

One of the pieces that I hear is that there is room for both action and grace. Knowing God’s grace-filled loving presence and saying ‘yes’ to that, I’m also invited into whole-hearted devotional commitment to God reflected in daily life. There are ways for me to learn and to practice that will lead me deeper into my life with God, within God. I have things to learn about climbing the spiritual mountain. I wonder if I’ve been on autopilot and now am being invited into hands-on flying.

In some of the other traditions I find a strong devotional heart and intentional practice that goes deeper than either the early legalism I encountered or the monastic structures of my later life. I’m invited to be an active co-participant in life. My daily choices make a difference to the whole universe. I’m not to be passive, receiving the gifts and grace of God, but asking with assurance as a child, for them. ‘Reveal yourself to me’. And intentionally structuring my days to live a selfless, devoted life.

Perhaps there is a sense that familiarity breeds contempt. Have I heard these things within the Christian world and not accepted them, or not to the depth I do now? Possibly, yet I smell I different aroma as wander through many traditions. I see the millions of people over the millennium who have searched for answers, hungered for purpose, and found pathways to God. They have worked hard and said ‘Here is a pathway.’ They have sought to learn to climb mountains and walk in deep valleys while engaged in Spirit Life.

I’ve held to a rhythm of life for the last ten years, and now I hear an invitation to a more intentional shape to that rhythm. Time to put on some crampons and head more deeply up the mountainside. So much to learn. So many ways to grow. Sometimes I feel like I’m just beginning.

How’s your climb going? Are you living on autopilot or intentionally? Are you climbing with me?

Love and prayers from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

New Perspective

 

 

The Sun is warm and embracing, yet a cool breeze dances around me. I’m watching the tide go out on Manson’s Lagoon. There are a handful of tiny people on the other side exploring what’s left in the tide waters. Gulls and a heron are feeding. I’ve walked out to one of the lagoon islands for my morning meditation and watched the trickle of water head back out to the ocean. I could sit here for the day. It’s one of my favourite spots on the earth.

Sitting on the edge of the lagoon, I can see its dry bed, the open waters of the sound, the mountains of Vancouver Island and the sky stretching above me. Dry – Open – Solid – Stretching. My imagination is caught in the flow of the tides, and the sense of being on this planet within the cosmos. I feel on the edge.

When I sense this edge, everything else shifts; the struggles of life both mine and in the world, the uncertainties, the stumbles, the hopes, the possibilities, all these take on a different hue. The Edge Keeper becomes more real to me. I’m not alone on the edge.

This week I read a story, so timely after last weeks ‘Troubled Waters’. The writer was asking an elder how to bring change into the world. The elder after a long pause throws a stone into a pond. “That’s how you bring change into the world, one ripple at a time”. Change comes as I change myself, and then focus on loving those closest to me. I don’t save The World, I bring healing to my tiny portion of it. Can I do that? Can I love those in my most intimate circle? Can I create a space safe enough for their soul to show up? Last night I spoke a harsh word at someone. Guess I still I have much more to learn. At least I heard it. Now I can apologize for it.

Dry – yes sometimes I’m dry even harsh and spiky like oyster shells on the bottom of the lagoon.

Open – yes I will live open to change, to acknowledging my spiky parts, my dry parts.

Solid – yes I know The Edge Keeper who is so solid, so sure, so constant, so loving.

Stretching – yes I will be stretched to let go of old ways and be loved into new ways.

I’m grateful to live on the edge, watching the flow of life, willing to be change in my tiny spot on the earth.

Love and prayers

From a Mystic in Motion

Anne

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

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

 

 

Lying in a Hammock

 

The world’s in upheaval this week Anne. How can you write about lying in a hammock? What if I said to you that it is a Hammock of Love?

This week the affirmation I’ve been working with is “Relax and cast aside all mental burdens, allowing God to express through me his perfect love, peace and wisdom.” Holy Creek Stuff! It speaks to me of one of the foundational truths that I received in Proverbs 3.5-6: “Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” The teaching of both is in alignment. What if I relaxed, let go of negative mental thoughts, of the planning, sorting out, explaining – all that stuff that goes on mentally. What if I didn’t lean on my intellectual ponderings? What if I relaxed like lying in a hammock and let God move through me? What if…..

I’ve just finished the first draft of my spiritual memoirs. It’s been a thoughtful experience. One of the places I got caught was when I was recounting a story from 1990. During that period, I experienced a call into ministry. From that call there was much spiritual nourishment in the class that I oversaw, but at the same time there was pain and chaos at home. I began to ask more clearly why didn’t that flow of love, peace and wisdom go into my home life? Why was it only channeled into my class life? Or was it in my home but I couldn’t see it?

Today I can see that the Holy Creek was flowing but that there were blocks, big rocks that stopped the easy flow into my home life. I wasn’t relaxed at home. I carried a lot of mental burdens around the house. At home I felt I wasn’t a good enough mom, wife or human being. Those are Huge Mental Burdens to carry! I didn’t know how to cast those aside, so I kept lugging them around everyday. I’d get to my class and walk into a world where I was enjoyed and respected. It was a very different atmosphere. Holy Creek was always flowing, but sometimes my mental rocks disrupted its flow.

Now imagine with me a world where we all, or even many of us, relaxed into a Hammock of Love.  We cast aside our negative thought patterns and received the truth about ourselves, that we are, each one of us, a child of God, created in the image of Divine Love, Peace and Wisdom. We can relax and let Love be expressed through us. Then, maybe then, we’ll find the healing pathway for the world so Rule of Love can be our way.

The world needs us now, more than ever to be our fullest self, so my friends relax today in the Hammock of Love and let God express through you, Divine Love, Peace and Wisdom.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

Listening Distance – Again

 

A reader sent me a link to a compelling video that speaks again to living within listening distance of God.  If you just want the clip – skip to the end! or linger with me for a bit of set up….

This week a friend was describing how, one day, she heard ‘the tapping on her heart’.  She wasn’t alone but with two other people who heard the same ‘heart tapping’. BUT they made a decision together not based on their common shared experience but on an external policy structure they’d been given by their organization. Later, as events unfolded, they regretted they hadn’t listened to their ‘heart tapping’.

I felt sad as she told her story, yet it was so familiar too. Having a sense of something yet not living into it…..isn’t that familiar to so many of us?

I remembered a community I was part of years ago that taught me so much about listening together to the Spirit of God. It was wonderful to sit with a team, listening for ‘heart tapping’, that inner sense that we all shared and then making our decisions, within a community structure but with the freedom to follow our ‘heart tapping’. We had wonderful years together, sometimes stumbling over each other, but generally growing together because we respected each other and respected the ‘heart tapping’ that we were learning to listen to.

In my early Christian years, one verse that jumped out for me was John 3.8 ‘The wind blows where it pleases. You hear the sound of it but don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with anyone born of the Spirit.’ I sat at a beach this week and watched kites fly in the wind, lifting, dipping and soaring again, responding to each breath of the wind. Oh I long to live so sensitive to the Spirit. To be lifted, dipped, flipped around all trusting the Spirit as I listen to the ‘heart tapping’.

Here’s the link I tempted you with. It’s the true story of a pastor who learns to slow down and listen to God.

https://www.livegodspeed.org/watchgodspeed

How might we live Godspeed? How might we live listening to the ‘tapping of on our heart’? How might we live blown by breath of God?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Holy Creek!

 

Just below our home is a creek. We live on a mountainside, so there is a steep hill of about a hundred yards down to the creek. But we can hear it! The snow is melting and it’s raining today so the creek is full and flowing well. I love standing near a creek, a brook or a river and watching it tumble over rocks. I love the movement. I’m told there is something healthy for us, something we humans breath into our physical nature through the flow of water. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know much about that, but I do know that I feel satisfied and refreshed when I pause near flowing water.

This week one of my readings reminded me of the continuous presence of God that flows through me. There is a constant flow of light, love, peace, joy, of all the nature of our omnipresent Creator. All of that is flowing through me. That feels so good to me. As I moved through my daily activities this week, I’ve been pausing to recall God’s flow through me. Just as my creek keeps flowing, so our Creator’s Nature of peace, joy, forgiveness keeps flowing through me. And you. As I slow down and recall that, I consciously open myself to that flow. Oh, that feels so good. And then I imagine the flow coming through you too. That feels good too.

I’m so grateful to live beside a creek. I’m so grateful for the flow of God’s Creek within me and within you. Come Holy Creek, flow freely today.

 

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Listening Distance

 

We’re all living with social distance and physical distance these days. Have you ever heard of ‘listening distance’? What will allow me to listen to someone, to something, to listen well and absorb what I hear.

This week a friend reminded me of a poem by R. S. Thomas that describes our listening distance in relation to God. The distance isn’t a physical one, but rather a soul quality. How still can I be? How much can I retire from my cocktail party mind, into the quiet room within me where I can hear God breathe?

But the silence in the mind

is when we live best, within

listening distance of the silence we call God…

It is a presence, then,

whose margins are our margins; that calls us out over our

own fathoms.

I know social distancing practices of two meters of separation and hand washing, but what are my listening distance practices?

For me, some of the best ways into interior silence are through slowing down activities and meditation. I know I’m able to be still within while I’m busy working or engaging with people. That’s an essential bit of life to learn. Yet I know too when I slow my exterior activity, such as in this stay-at-home time, my mind begins to relax, and I can more easily access a listening distance. The best for me is when I do retreat, pull back from all commitments and responsibilities and relationships and be still in solitude. Those are wonderful listening times for me. I feel so embraced by Love. I know I want to live in that warm embrace of interior stillness within the fullness of normal daily life. I always want to be in listening distance with God.

My daily meditation practice has taught me to observe my mind, watch it running around, asking questions, looking for answers, passing judgments. It’s relentlessly busy. I know there is so much more to me than my mind. My real self, True Self, is in the quietness within me, the part that lives in listening distance with God, the part that can hear Divine whispers. It is gentle, compassionate and seeks peace. It is also strong and resourceful for there, I’m in touch with the fullness of Christ within.

I can always add in some time in nature for that helps too! But even there, I must be attentive to my surroundings, not engaged in a podcast or organizing the world or people around me.

What does it mean for you to live within listening distance of God? What disrupts you from hearing God’s whispers? What helps you?

May we all be gentle with ourselves and those around us this week.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder