Cleaning Up for the New Year: Three Ways to Refresh Your Life

 

Yesterday the cleaners came through our home. It was wonderful. I put away most of the Christmas decorations and did the light dusting. They did the heavier work of washing floors, vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen. When all was done our home sparkled! It felt wonderful. A fresh beginning.

After a New Year’s Reflection, I’m ready to refresh my life with a bit of house cleaning too. I call it ‘Life-cleaning’. The mop and dusting cloths that I use are threefold. First, my grounding rhythm of life: Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep.; second, my particular rhythm of Still Waters/Learning Journey/Across the Threshold or Contemplative Practice/Creative Practice/Compassionate Practice; third, focusing on Priorities – Let First Things be First.

Once again I say a big ‘YES’ to my grounding rhythm. I don’t want to let the ‘stuff’ of life creep in. This year I enjoyed discovering Richard Wagamese. One of his devotions was about ‘letting go of unnecessary stuff’. I want to continue to grow in living lightly, easily and gently. I also will say a big ‘YES’ to dwelling deep. I want my connection to God to be the grounding piece of all my life. I want to live connected to God’s Spirit, resting and trusting in God’s Presence. I will seek God each day, throughout the day.

I have found having a particular rhythm a significant part of keeping my life in order. I am clear on what my prayer practice is currently. It is focused on deepening my mediation experience. My study rhythm for the next few months is largely around contemplative lifestyle practices. I have several authors I’m reading for the first time. I continue with a desire to grow in compassion towards myself and others. I’m particularly interested in expressing that compassion to those closest too me, ones who might trigger me!

Setting priorities has helped me sort out what is helpful and what is the unnecessary stuff that has crept into my life. I find it is so easy to have commitments creep into my days. This year I name that I have two priorities. One is to develop more loving relationships with those close to me. The second is to write a book that will help people all over the world fall in love with our amazing God.

So, largely thanks to the cleaners K&V, my house is clean. My hope is to tend it regularly. Yet I know what a challenge that is to me! And now, I’ve done my refresh for 2020. My hope is to tend my life each day too. Oh I know that can be a challenge too! But I carry HOPE.

How about you? Do you have a grounding rhythm? A particular rhythm? What are your priorities for 2020? I’d love to hear how you enter into a new year.

Above all…lets enjoy each day, being kind to one another.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

End-of-Year Reflection

I have found that the moment  we move from the end of one year into the beginning of another is a wonderful time for reflection. In the darkness of our winter days, I can be slower and attentive to what has been through the sunny, growing months. Sometimes within Contemplative Fire we would gather on December 31st and have a few hours of reflection to toast the old year and welcome the new one.

Perhaps you would like to do this on your own, or with a few chosen companions. On your own, consider taking some time, over a few days to reflect on your spiritual journey. Here is an outline of what we’ve used in the past. Use and adjust as you like:

An Opening Prayer (something to help settle, so my heart can be open to listen)

God of our past, of every present moment that has brought us to this present momentBe with us now.

God of the seasons, of the year that is completing. Be with us now.

God of time, illuminate our reflections  and enlighten for us the way that lies ahead. Be with us now

Indeed God, be with us

Amen

 Contemplative Fire follows a rhythm of ‘Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep’. Look back on the past year and identify:

  • Some point/event/ or experience during which you felt you were travelling light
  • Some point/event or experience when you felt you were dwelling deep.
  • What was it that enabled you to experience this lightness and to experience this depth?
  • Express gratitude to God for your experience.

Looking ahead – Is there a longing that you carry? Is there something that you deeply hope for in the time ahead? Perhaps write or draw a picture of your longing. Offer your longing to God. Don’t hang on to it but release it with hope into the loving arms of the One who sustains you each day, the One who gives you breath.

May your reflection time be blessed.

Love and prayer

Anne

 

 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ in Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Holy Waiting: Standing in The Light

 

We’ve passed December 21, the mark of the shortest day in our year. We don’t see it yet, but already we are tipping towards the light. Begin your reflection time by lighting four candles, yes four, and as you light each one, do it slowly and gently, pausing as you go: the Candle of Presence, the Candle of Your Light, the Candle of Hope. The fourth candle I name as Love. Let us sit in its presence for awhile.

Jesus’s clearest word to us, by both his life and his teaching, is that we are to love one another. We’re to love those close to us and those who are strangers, those people we naturally care about and those who are different from us, even those we brand as enemies. He challenges us to love beyond what is comfortable and warm, but to draw a wide circle, an inclusive circle, one that embraces all human beings. His circle was so wide that his dying breath was one of forgiveness to those who hurt him. As he used so many nature illustrations to teach us about God and ourselves, I’m very comfortable in extending his circle of care to all life on our planet, to our earth, galaxy and universe. We are to be Love.

I read a bit of Karen Armstrong this fall. This religious historian’s perspective is that you can discern a spiritual truth by whether it calls you to practical compassion. For all faiths, that is their bottom line. So…. as I sit with the Candle of Love, am I open to another being? Am I open to helping, to being helpful to another, to creation?…… In that I recognize my gross imperfections. There are many times when I’m not open. Perhaps I’m not comfortable with someone, their sufferings or their opinions. Or perhaps I’m not ready to change my lifestyle despite the harm it brings to the air I breathe or sea that feeds me. I begin by sitting in the presence of Love and allowing myself, warts and all to be loved.

Jesus is the Light of the World, a light no darkness can extinguish. I invite you to sit in his presence. At Christmas we remember how one day, he entered our world. Two thousand plus years later, at Christmas we are invited to know that his Spirit Light is within us, and now we are to enter the world bearing his care, his compassion and his love to a hurting world. But our mission isn’t to save the world. Our mission is to be authentic light-bearers in our own circumstances. Who around you, needs you to be slow, to be gentle, to be a light in their world?

I invite you sit quietly in the presence of Love. When you are ready, stand up and stand in the presence of Love. Just stand for a few breaths. When you are ready step out into the world, knowing you carry the Light of Christ with you. He is here!

Of course, you’ll go back to extinguish those candles!!

Celebrate! God is with us! Love wins!

Spring will return!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion, “Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Holy Waiting: Another Candle is Lit   

 

For this reflection, find a Bible and three candles. Perhaps you’d be helped by having dim light around you, always that gentle reminder that we do live in a dark world. As you settle, light the first candle, The Candle of Presence, pausing for a few breaths to be open and aware. Then light the second candle, the one that reminds you that you/we carry within us The Light, for we too are the light of the world. Pause for a few breaths taking in that awareness.

Open the Bible to Matthew 12:18-21. This is a quote from Isaiah that describes Jesus. Through him and who he is, and his words of truth spoken into our dimly lit world, we are to receive hope. We are to read him, know him, follow him and have our hope strengthened. Hope is more than a warm feeling or vague wish that something good will happen. It is a confidence in the Presence of Light in a dim world. Light the third candle, The Candle of Hope. Pause for a few breaths, laying the word ‘hope’ on your breath.

Ephesians 1:18 is Paul’s prayer that those dear believers will have their eyes opened to know the hope to which they have been called. To what extent are your eyes open? If all you see is the darkness, or the turmoil of the world, I invite you to pause and ask God to open your eyes, so you may see the world with hopeful eyes. Most likely the opening will not be instantaneous. In the days ahead continue to ask for grace that your eyes to be opened to hope. Our calling is to know God’s Presence (first candle), to know ourselves as light (second candle) and to know that Christ bears hope into the world (third candle). This week a friend told me they were having ‘a shitty day, but they knew God was in the poop’! That’s hope. The world is difficult, AND God is always present. Often what we need to do is to ask that our eyes will be opened to see God. And often we are reluctant or forgetful to do that. I couldn’t tell you how many times my first spiritual director said to me, as I despaired about something, ‘Anne, have you talked to Jesus about that?”.

As we move toward our celebration of Light coming into the world, we also move into our shortest days. Is there anything that is weighing you down, dimming your light? Try these questions: What I long for is….. What I hope for is…..

God is present with you in your longings.

The days are short. But they will lengthen.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion, “Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Holy Waiting: In the Presence of Light

As you prepare to read this reflection find a Bible and two candles. Open the Bible to John 1.4-5 and Matthew 5.14. Put a marker in both those readings. Dim the lights around you and sit gently in the quiet light for a few minutes, maybe thirty breaths. Then light the first candle, pausing to take time to enjoy it’s flame and be open to the Presence of Light for another thirty breaths. Let the darkness be around you and the Light be in the centre with you.

The candle, as a light and as a symbol of light, is precious to me. Years ago, I was in a movie theater in France, waiting for the show to start. My attention was drawn to the top most corner of the theater. I saw a glowing light. There was no light fixture, simply, a beautifully, glowing presence. Deep within I knew that Light was at the centre of all Life and that I was heading towards it. And then the glowing light vanished. I’ve held that image for the last forty plus years. I’ve drawn it. I’ve lived into it. Now, all these years later I know that not only is Light at the centre of all Life, but that I’m within The Light, and that all of Life is within The Light. I know too that The Light is within me.

Turn to John 1…  Jesus is the light of the world, a light that no darkness can extinguish. I treasure the awareness that God is not scared of the dark like I might be. No matter what uncomfortable darkness in which we may find ourselves, God is always present. Sometimes we can’t sense the Spirit’s presence, but always, always God IS there, a Light that no darkness can extinguish. Take time to breath in that truth.

Turn to Matthew 5…to that rough, mostly uneducated, often contentious group Jesus said, ‘YOU are the light of the world.’ He said it loud of enough so you and I could hear him. We are the light of the world. We carry within us, his light, a strong, robust light that will not be extinguished no matter what happens to us. You are the light of the world. Light the second candle. Take time to breath in that truth.

To celebrate their 80th birthdays, Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama wrote a delightful book, ‘The Book of Joy’. In the introduction they describe the wonder that each day is our birthday, for each day we begin anew. Yes, we carry our past, but each day we can choose how to carry that past, how we will live today and how we will move forward.

So, Happy Birthday to you…..As we prepare to welcome the Light of the World, may we live within his light and know that we too bear his light today, into the world.

I invite you to close this time of reflection by again sitting with the image of light before you and imagine that light within you. As Jesus said, ‘You are the light of the world.’.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Holy Waiting: Journey into Darkness

This year I’m going to offer four advent reflections that will move us from darkness into The Light. Prepare yourself to join me on this journey. Today as we begin our journey into Advent, I invite you to find a candle, a match, a timer and a Bible. Open the Bible to Isaiah, Chapter 9, Verse 2 and set it by your side.

First some reflection —- Right now, as I live in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m in the darkest season of the year. From October 21 to December 21 each day, we’re heading into deeper darkness. For years I have resisted the shortness of these days but this year, as several people mentioned this season to me, I found my attention drawn to the many shades of darkness. I’m not resisting it as I have before. I’m more open and accepting of the short days and descending darkness. I realize there are many kinds of darkness.

There’s Fearful Darkness. When I was a child, I was so sure there were ‘bogey men’ out there, or snakes creeping around! Even as an adult, standing in the deepest dark of the night can be disconcerting. What is that sound???? When I can’t see much around me, my imagination can begin to play games so I’m not always comfortable walking up our unlit street at night. And then there are the times of emotional darkness, times uncertainty, unsettledness, unknowing. Sometimes it can feel dark even when the sun shines. Those are times of emotional darkness. And yes, I can still be scared in that dark!

There’s Lonely Darkness. Sometimes darkness can highlight the sense of loneliness. If only there was someone with me, it wouldn’t seem so dark. Their human presence would bring a light to me. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt alone and lonely. Sometimes it’s a physical loneliness for there is no other human with me. Other times it’s a mental loneliness when my ideas, beliefs or experiences separate me from others and there is no warm human companion walking with me. Sometimes it’s a spiritual loneliness when God seems so distant. I would name those as ‘dark’ times, difficult times.

There’s Womb Darkness. We all began our earthly lives in the darkness of the womb. That’s warm darkness, heartbeat darkness, nourishing darkness. That’s the darkness that allows seeds to sprout. Jesus began his earthly life in the very same way as you and I did, curled up within Mary’s womb, feeling her heart beat, being nourished by the food she ate, protected and cared for by her. During her pregnancy, I wonder how many times Mary repeated to herself and to God, ‘Not my will but Yours be done.’? Each time she repeated her desire to be open to God, Little Jesus within, heard her. How nourishing that might have been for His Spirit. Darkness can be warm and nourishing. It can bring forth new life.

Now some experience. —- Set the timer for five minutes. Turn off as many lights as you can and begin to sit in darkness. Wait in darkness. Become aware of what it’s like for you to be in darkness, to not know what is around you, what is coming. Experience the uncertainty, even the discomfort, perhaps the fear of the darkness. Be patient with everything unresolved in your life, every unknown aspect, every shadow that flickers. Just be present within the darkness.  If you can, sit for the full five minutes, then light the candle and read Isaiah 9.2.

Allow that verse to be yours: You are a person who has walked in darkness, and now you can see a light.

The Advent Journey requires that we spend some time in darkness, knowing pain and difficulty. Being pregnant isn’t easy! There is no way it could have been all easy for Mary. May we pause long enough to acknowledge that we too, sometimes, wait in darkness, with unresolved ideas, relationships or decisions.

In the midst of our seasonal darkness, let us be patient. More light will come. In time. But we must wait.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Advent is Coming!

In my church world, the next four weeks are the season of Advent’.  While the world gets busy preparing for Christmas with shopping and feasting, the church turns our attention to God’s presence right here and now. The focus is on preparing for the coming of Jesus and of Christ into the world.

I have often found this season emotionally challenging and have great sympathy for others who do. Now, I quite enjoy minimal shopping and gentle feasting. I have written four specific reflections for Advent and will post them each Sunday morning. I wrote them last year for Contemplative Fire yet found they still spoke to me this year. I wrote them to help slow down and consider thoughtfully some ways to prepare for a warm and meaningful Christmas.

I hope you will enjoy them. Please feel free to share them with anyone else you think might like to pause and breathe during the days of December.

Do let me know how they speak to you.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion, ‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire, Canada (Founder)

 

Heartbeat Prayer

 

A few nights ago, I watched a baby being born on a TV show. I had no idea the impact that show would have on me. The next day in my meditation I stayed with: Father you and I are one. I’m your child. I’m born of you. I’m one with my Creator.

I kept seeing the baby come out of the mother. I could feel my own birth from the womb of the Holy One and my heart opened.

“I came out of you, my Creator. I am a part of you, just as a baby is a part of her mother. Our cells mingle. I belong to you as a baby belongs to her mother. We are one. Yet two. We are one. My journey is always to return to the closeness of the womb, to your heartbeat. We’re one.

Sometimes I can hear your heart. Sometimes I can’t. but always I’m your child. You and I are one. I am born of you. Each breath I take is a sacred breath, a gift of you to me. Each breath. Sacred.”

Gentle Reader, what is true for me, is true for each one of us. Whatever our upbringing, wherever on the planet we are placed, each one of us is a child of God, born of God, and carries the Divine Spark within us. Each one of us is on a journey back to the heartbeat of God.

 

Where do we hear that heartbeat? Where do you hear that heartbeat? I know you know it.

Love and prayers from your spiritual sister….

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way of Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

 

Lessons from Children

First it was my grand puppy and then the grandchildren. I have found animals and children to be some of my best spiritual teachers. Have you? What lessons have you learnt?

Last week as the grandchildren visited us, I was so aware of their relationship with their father. He is a quiet, thoughtful and attentive man, a primary school teacher by training and a caring father. The children are very secure with him. They can ask him anything and they listen to him, at least most of the time! They know they are loved by him and safe in the world. They are visiting us in a new home, a new location and are content, curious about what is around them, but content.

The same week they were visiting, in my meditation time I was invited to ponder both the phrase and the reality that I am a child of God. Repeatedly I held that phrase, that reality within my mind and my heart. I’m very grateful that I know I’m loved by God. I know that deep down within my soul. It was what makes everything all right for me. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move across the country and open myself to a new life. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to say, ‘I think I have a calling to priesthood’, despite the world around me not affirming women in leadership. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to work in environments that weren’t supportive to my perspective. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move towards forgiveness when I’m ignored, snubbed or ridiculed.

But it wasn’t always that way. I didn’t grow up in a home where I felt safe and content. I grew up frightened and hiding. I didn’t have a relationship with my father or mother where I could ask questions, where I could explore new ways. My childhood experience was radically different than my grandchildren’s. I’m so grateful that theirs is different!

I know that I’m not alone in my experience. Many of us grow up troubled and then we’re told ‘we’re children of God’. That’s not such a good thing when our childhood memory is troublesome. I’m grateful that I was able to make that transition from a frightened little girl to a mature and secure woman, one who knows she is a Child of God, who knows that her father is generous, compassionate and kind. Being with my grandchildren helped me deepen my child-like trust of God. They really are ‘grand’!

We are Children of God. Everyone of us. Everyone of us. And our Father is good, all the time.

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

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)