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

HELP! Finding Life within the Coronavirus Slow Down

 

Have you been required, or asked to self-isolate? Have your activities or work been curtailed? In some way all of us have been affected by the virus and its containment. We are all being required to live at least temporarily, a slower life.

For years I have helped people slow down, listen to the loving voice of God and then live out of what they hear. I have found that some people instinctively respond to the slowing down, but many, even most people, find it incredibly difficult. I am concerned for the mental health of our communities as the time of self-isolation deepens. I’m encouraged to see that mental health professionals are beginning to speak out about it. We are social creatures and need each other. It wonderful to see the concerts, exercise classes, talks etc. being offered on the internet.

I offer you today some aids to help you get through a slower and possibly anxious, period in your life. Give your slower days an intention and purpose. Some love a free-flowing day – let that happen. Others prefer to work within a schedule, so create one! I work with a combination. I have a schedule of activities I will probably do, but I allow them to flow. Perhaps you can schedule a time for meditation, a time for written reflection and a time for walking, even a walking meditation outdoors. I think it is a wonderful time to pray the Loving-Kindness meditation.  Here are four links to prayer practices:

Centering Prayer: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-1

Holy Reading – Lectio Divina : https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/lectio-divina

Loving Kindness Meditation: https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-on-lovingkindness/

Walking Meditation: https://www.tarabrach.com/walking-meditation-instructions-pdf-from-tara-2/

Please look after yourself during this time of necessary slowness. May it become a rich time of learning for all of us as a human community.  I treasure the quote from Gibran’s The Prophet, “Pillars of the temple stand together and apart”. 

How are you adjusting? What are you learning?

Love and Prayers continue…

Anne

If this is helpful, please pass it along to friends so we can broaden the contemplative pathway. 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Self-isolation or Solitude?

Sometimes it’s simply time to get away. About a month ago as I was struggling with writing a book about my spiritual memoirs, I knew I had to get away. I knew it was time to be quiet and listen deeply to God’s Spirit within me. I had to do some deep listening before I could do any writing. The Rubik’s cube within my soul twisted into shape that day. It felt SO right. I booked a week away at Rivendell’s Hermitage. Maybe I’d have a few days of listening and then write, or maybe I’d simply have a few days of listening, of being open to God and in God’s Presence. Either way, I knew I needed solitude.

I leave in five days. I am so happy to be going. As I leave, the world around me is twisting in a strange tornado tumult of COVID19. Each day new directions come out. New information. New travel restrictions. New gathering restrictions. I’m content to pack my bags and disappear into solitude. They now call is self-isolation. I call it solitude and I welcome it. I’ll use this time to go more slowly and hopefully listen deeply and experience God’s presence in a soul-formative way.

A part of me is concerned about so many people entering self-isolation without knowing how to do it. We’re created to be social creatures and to separate ourselves can cause inner turmoil. I wonder how we will respond to so much solitude, especially untended solitude. Not only am I an introvert, I have spent, over the years, many weeks in solitude and know how to care for myself as I open to God’s Spirit. Sometimes it’s very challenging to be alone, while other times it is full and nourishing.

Will you be called into self-isolation in the next few months? Will you see it as ‘isolation’ or as ‘solitude’? I think those are two very different approaches. If you are required to separate yourself from loved ones for two weeks or more, I hope you can find within it time for reading, reflection, prayer and meditation. Perhaps, rather than fighting the separation, it could be an opportunity to deepen your life, so when you emerge, there will be more of you that will emerge.

Isolation or solitude? Two very different words for very different experiences.

Choices. So many choices in life. What path will you walk?

Love and prayers

Anne

If you find this helpful, please share with a friend so we can broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

“There’s No One There!” Life Beyond the Clouds

Clouds move up and down our mountain. Sometimes I can see the trees and the water, and other times I only can see the cloud that embraces our home. Yesterday a new person arrived at our home during one of those moments when we were immersed within the cloud. She responded with “I bet the view is wonderful here!” Despite the cloud, she could imagine what we most often see. How wonderful it is to be able to see beyond the cloud.

Sometimes in our life we move through cloudy spells too. The other day I led a group through a guided meditation that involved entering a wilderness. Each person held a small stone with an angel impressed on it. As part of the meditation I invited them to look around and with their imagination see who was accompanying them. Since we had read scriptures to set the scene, I asked if it was an angel, or Jesus? Afterward one member came to me to let me know that there was no one with her in the wilderness. She felt all alone, covered in a dense cloud.

What do we do when we feel all alone spiritually? I’ve certainly known those times when I felt disconnected from God, times when doubts assailed me, fears stabbed me or worries poisoned me. Times when I felt overwhelmed by life. Exhausted. Times when I couldn’t see beyond the cloud.

That sense of being alone is so penetrating. On my mountainside I’m at the mercy of the winds and pressure zones to move the clouds, but in my own life, I have been taught and experienced ways to help me see beyond the clouds. First, I acknowledge the cloud, not running from it but rather opening to the fear, worry, doubt, exhaustion, loneliness or whatever is assailing me. I say “Hello” to it. Second, after saying “I see you”, I remind myself that there is more to life. There are trees and water beyond the cloud. In humility I ask ‘The-God-I-Can’t See’ for help. I recall some time of connection, of goodness in my life. I recall a spiritual memory when I did know God’s presence with me. Often, I write both down, acknowledging the cloud and then going more deeply into a memory of a positive time. Third, I think of someone else. Is there someone I could help today? If I’m alone, I might find someone to hold in the loving presence of God. Even if I can’t see God, I know that God’s reality and healing presence is NOT dependent on my cognitive or emotional awareness. The trees are always there! Fourth, I find some mature friend and speak to them about my cloud. I ask them just to listen deeply to me. These four steps can be repeated – as often as needed.

Hello Cloud – Help Me – Help Another –Hello Friend.

Hello-Help-Help-Hello.

I found it quite precious yesterday when our visitor could instinctively see beyond the clouds. I seek to live from such a place of trust. I seek to live not running from the clouds, but knowing they will pass, and the reality beyond will not. I will trust the Bigger Reality beyond these passing worries and difficulties. I will trust the Unseen Reality for it is more real than the current cloud that is blowing through my life. Trees and Water win over Clouds.

How about you? Do you feel alone? Is there a cloud moving through your world? How will you live your best life?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please share with a friend. Together we’ll broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Surrender

Today ‘surrender’ is my word. It’s my second day at Rivendell leading the group meditation. This time it was Richard Wagamese writing about surrendering the outcome of an event to the Creator. The word opened within me a gentle release. Ah yes, I don’t need to concern myself with outcome, or expectations, or productivity or success. I’m invited to be open to My Creator, to invite her to move within and through me, to unfold her ways in my life. The Way of Love.

“When my energy is low, meaning I don’t feel at my best in terms of creativity, inspiration, attunement or rest, I let Creator have my flow and ask only to be a channel. My deepest audience connection has always happened when I do this. So, on my way to a podium nowadays, I say to myself, “Okay, Creator, you and me, one more time.” When I surrender the delivery, along with the outcome, the anxiety and expectation, everything becomes miraculous. It’s a recipe for life, really.” Embers pg67

‘Surrender’ used to be a scary word to me. I have come to recognize that what I felt in those days was my controlling ego not wanting to let go of what it knew, what was its protection and projection. Today when I hear the word my heart warms. Oh yes. Remind me again and again to surrender to God. It is You and me together Precious One. You lead. I follow. I trust wherever You want to take me and whatever You want to give to me and to others through me. This life is Your show, Your pathway. We walk it together, but I want it to be about You, You and me, not about ME. My life is more embedded in you than it used to be, more entangled with the delight of You.

Thank you Richard for reminding me one more time to surrender, to live as Creator and me dancing together. I need to be reminded. Often. Do you?

Love and prayers

Anne

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

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)