Loneliness

If you’re hungry, you find something to eat. If you’re thirsty you reach for a drink. If you’re lonely perhaps like many of us you berate yourself, call yourself a loser and feel bad. Sound familiar?

What if loneliness was seen just as another basic human response to an essential human need? We need food so we get hungry. We need water so we get thirsty. We need human connection, so we get lonely.

What if being lonely wasn’t a shameful or bad feeling, but a healthy human indicator that needs a response. It is your psyche saying, time to talk to someone, go outside and smile at someone, look up family or friend, time to pick up a phone. That’s all it’s saying. Let go of the other rubbish.

Last week we watched Renee Fleming interview Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of America on her show ‘Music and the Mind’ regarding his book ‘Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World’. I really enjoyed his presentation. One thing he did was remove the stigma from loneliness and turn it into a healthy human attribute.

What a switch.

I found his whole presentation around how to survive, even thrive as a human so helpful. When we were children no one in my world talked like he did, offering guidance on how to navigate the rapids of human life. How to be genuinely kind and thankful when the world is cruel. How to connect intentionally and authentically with image and prestige are being promoted by others. Perhaps some of you got that as a child. I didn’t. I’ve learnt a lot as I matured, but still have so much to learn. The world is turbulent right now. We need to find compassionate ways to be together, to heal past wounds and create new ways going forward. We are meant to work together. As spiritual beings we are meant to draw on the Spirit source within us, everyday, not on special days or occasions but everyday, all day.  

Got a couple of good books on the go, but then I’m ordering ‘Together’!

I’ve got something else on loneliness and friendship for you next week, but in the meantime…. Wishing you all a warm and connecting week where you draw from the Source within.  

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member, Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living.

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

 

 

There’s More to That Story!

 

Sometimes a trip into town can be most surprising. Today was one of those days.

As I headed into town to do a few errands I listened to a podcast from Michael Meade with ‘Living Myth’. I didn’t know anything about him. It simply was the first one that showed on my app and the title was intriguing. Off down the highway I went and soon found myself enjoying his social commentary from a contemplative perspective. He was telling a story about three fish and nestled within that story was another one about a wise bird. Although his main social commentary was coming from these animal stories, he also was describing the role of story, folk stories and myths in human culture. He said the stories exist not for us to believe them, but to learn from them.  They are a means for one generation to teach another. Ah….will I allow myself to move from belief into learning, into transformation, into new ways, into something new being birthed????

During my first few decades within the church being a Christian involved knowing what to believe. I was taught ‘correct’ doctrine through sermons, small groups and independent study of authors who taught ‘correct’ theology. I did hours of Bible study that was shaped by commentaries with a particular perspective. I was taught apologetics, so I’d have a ‘correct’ answer to any question. It was all about belief.

What if we read the Jesus stories not to believe them but to learn from them? I was taught that it was important to believe that each detail of the Gospel stories was true. The belief in historical reality was what was important, not that I ponder and be shaped by the truth within the stories.  Later I learned to pray with the gospel stories using my imagination. Jesus became so real to me. I watched him laugh, sweat and fall asleep. I sat with him as a child and walked with him as a man. He wasn’t a storybook character, nor theological construction, nor a remote divinity. He was a real man, who knew me and cared for me. He wanted to hear my questions, my worries and my discoveries. His love for me began to change me as I allowed him to give me his wisdom.

I’m grateful for my years of scripture study. And I’m grateful too that now I can still learn from those stories, as well as the stories within different traditions. I’m grateful that I’m not constrained by specific beliefs, but allowed to constantly grow and change, held and shaped by a compassionate, loving God who I know through Jesus.

It was a great trip into town. I came home with new plants for the garden, food for tomorrow’s picnic, reaffirmed in my perspective on being a spiritual human and having found a thoughtful person who is doing his bit to bring some help into our groaning, smokey world. Of course all done keeping social distance and mask on!

Where are you at today? Learning or believing?

Love and questions from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member

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

 

The Sun and I

 

Do you ever have a ‘special encounter’ that just makes your day? Yesterday I had one of those with Our Sun.

Most mornings I walk the watershed road behind our home. It twists through the forest for about a kilometre, past a couple of houses, the warning sign about Bears, the trail head that goes deep into the forest, and our local reservoir. The road doesn’t stop, but there is a formidable fence that marks the area that is declared ‘no-go’ for we get our village water supply from the mountain stream that is in the protected area.

I stop my morning walk just before the gate near some beautiful boulders and of course, handsome trees. I admit a particular fondness for one fir, but I’m an equal lover of trees. From my vantage point I can see Mt Harvey behind the trees and one of The Lions straight ahead. There are two mountains the Brit’s named ‘The Lions’ that give our village its name. The indigenous people named them ‘The Sisters’ and tell the story of two sisters who were peacemakers giving their lives so tribes could be united. The tall, commanding mountains are ‘The Sisters’ to remind us of peacemaking and brotherhood. I’m grateful for that story and naming, but the world around calls them ‘The Lions’.

Yesterday morning as I stood before one of ‘The Sisters’, I watched the sun rise over her shoulder. I was there for those few moments when our earth tipped, and our sun appeared to shine upon us. Her light was breath-taking, warm and full.

I spent the day in gentle daily activities that included trail making and seawall walking, reading, chatting with Hugh and cooking. Hugh chose to set our dinner table on the front deck. We are fortunate to live where we have lots of nature around us. I think I’ve written frequently on how much it means to me to live surrounded by forest, with creek flowing below and Howe Sound spread before me. Our front deck gives an open view of Howe Sound, some islands and the mountains of the mainland. Hugh and I settled in to enjoy our meal in the most beautiful ‘dining room’ possible.

As we finished eating and lingered chatting, the sun was streaming across the Sound. It was brilliant, so bright I couldn’t look at it. The sun’s radiance filled the sky and shone off the water, filling the air above it. I realized that the sun was about to disappear. We watched as the earth continued her tipping and said good-bye to the sun with her radiance. In the pause after her descent, we both began to sing the song of our youth, ‘Day is done, gone the sun, from the lakes, from the hills, from the sky. All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh.’

In one day, I had said ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Night’ to our sun. My simple day had been bracketed by Light, Radiant Light. As I transition into a different season of life, a season of stillness and reflection, a season of a small circle, I found my life being held by the sun and its sustaining power, by the universal warmth of the sun. I felt the eternal ‘yes’ on my simple life. It’s not for me to determine my life, yet it is for me to live my life well, fully expressing my heart longings within it.

We  walk on our earth, as it spins its way through the galaxy and turns on its axis around the sun. Tiny upon the earth. Humbly significant within the cosmos. Each day simple. Each day unrepeatable. Each day precious.

May you live today well, honest and grounded in your very best life.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Footprints in the Sand

 

After writing about my imperfections last week and how I was STUCK in memoir writing…. This week I was sharing with a Dear One about being stuck when suddenly I became unstuck! What if…. my manuscript was already complete?? What if… I don’t have to write The Best Book Ever???

The longing I originally discerned was to write my spiritual story so my family could have it. They don’t’ really know who I am and I wanted them to know me. Well, I’ve done that. I’ve crafted my story around seven encounters with God, added in my reflections on the meaning of those encounters and given them some contemplative practices that have helped shaped my life. I’ve done what was on my heart to do. If any of them read it, they would both recognize me and know me more deeply.

Sometimes I take what I’m given to do and then EXPLODE it into something more.  I let the simple task I’m given get bigger and bigger and even bigger. I have a tendency to think I have to save the whole world rather than love the person who is closest to me. Do you catch my drift?? Does that ever happen to you? We think we must leave some mega footprints on the beach of life, whereas we’re just to live simply, lightly with small footprints. Some part of my untended ego wants to expand jobs and make them bigger, wants to save the world. I think it just wants to be noticed and hugged, but it feels it will only get attention if its noisy, or BIG, or IMPORTANT.

So, now I’m holding the idea that my first draft is actually my completed manuscript. I can print it out and tuck it away for my family to find someday. If I want to play with it, finding different voices for my different ages, or expressing more emotion through the stories or editing it, I can do that for fun, but I don’t have to. I have completed the task that I was given by the desire of my heart. My footprint can be small. I don’t have to run all over the beach leaving lots of footprints. I can just walk simply to the water’s edge and swim, relaxed and enjoying life.

For me, that’s a vastly different way to live. I’m glad I’m never too old to learn.

I hope you can know and be content with your footprint too.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Living with Imperfections!

I’ve got a perfectionist drive  – just ask those who live with me or have worked with me! I’m a One on the Enneagram. Those are people who have a clear picture of how things might be, a strong drive to get there and usually see their way as the Right Way. A major part of maturing is to be able to grow beyond your core preferences into a broader way to be. For me, growth has included learning to see things from many perspectives, to know that others may have a valid perspective that offers a helpful ‘right way’ and that I don’t have to be perfect, in fact I can be radically imperfect and be happy.

This week was one of those Imperfect Weeks. I have felt stuck in my memoir writing. A friend suggested I needed a clearer focus. She wanted to know who I was writing the memoir for as I was naming several groups. I got that! I cleared up my focus group and hung a photo of most of them on the wall of my cabin. But then, my friend, husband and editor all said that I was writing from a very reserved placed. I needed to be more emotionally connected to my story.

Yikes. Yikes. Oh no. I’ve heard that before. More than one time. Yup. Often. And then a soul sister said to me “Anne, what’s it like for you to cry?”. Yikes…. “Cry, what’s that?”.

For years I have worked to harvest emotions. I’ve done a decent job of it for I am much more emotionally alive now than I was twenty years ago, but there’s more room to grow. Isn’t there always! I’ve felt challenged this week to look at the block within me that’s making it really difficult to tell my story not from a ‘reporting’ place, but from a personal and warm perspective. It’s hard for me to do that. I’ve tried to get acquainted with Little Annie as she tells her first story of seeing a glowing figure  praying for her in the middle of the night in her room. I can report the story, but struggle with feeling as I did when I was a child.

But then, my ‘crying’ friend, after asking her question and hearing my response, went very quiet. She is someone who knows how to listen to the tapping of her heart. After awhile she said, “You know Anne, it’s okay to have a block within you. You’re not to judge yourself.” Sigh. Sigh. Deeply Sighing.

I trust Jesus within me. I know he knows every bit of my being. He knows the block, the dam, the resisting wall within me. And he loves me just as I am. I belong to him. Actually, my inner dam belongs to him too. I have given him permission many times to dismantle it. My way now is to TRUST him. He will dismantle the dam within me, when and if he chooses. My way, my job in this life, is to relax and trust him, so his love, peace and wisdom can flow through me. I’m not the demolition expert. Gosh, I like living this way. Comfortable with my imperfections. 😊

How about you?

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

 

 

Leftovers!

 

Sometimes I can be a driven person who needs everything to be done the Right Way which equals My Way! Anybody else out there like that?!

Last week a friend shared a dream where she was in the kitchen of a retreat centre watching people rush to serve leftovers to retreatants. The leaders rushed into the kitchen, grabbed leftovers from the fridge, tossed them into the microwave and hurried out to serve them to the retreatants. “No!” she shouted within herself. She wanted them to slow down, cook a meal and properly serve people. But the retreatants felt they were full, nourished and happy with the microwaved leftovers.  All was well. Even though she wanted to give them a carefully prepared home cooked meal, they were well satisfied with leftovers. God was in the leftovers.

I’m so grateful for her dream. It’s easy for me to get caught in the vice of things being done a specific way, the right way, My Way. Her dream calls me back to relaxing, letting go of my own agendas and letting things unfold. Years ago, I learnt that God works within what I would name as our imperfections, mistakes and even hurtful behaviours. God doesn’t require Anne’s strict guidelines of a ‘good’ process to work.  God is always present, even when it looks to me like Trouble with a capital ‘T’.  My job is to TRUST God is always present, keep myself within the Holy Creek flow of LOVE, no matter what is happening around me and keep my eyes open for Spirit LIFE.

So the next time you take leftovers out of the fridge….maybe you can recall that God is in the leftovers. God can use our leftovers when that’s all we’ve got to offer. How big and wonderful is our God. How little and humble are we.

Time to relax, lie back in my hammock, and listen for the tapping of the Spirit.

Happy listening to you.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder