Decision-Making

I’ve currently got a major decision perking through my life and it led me to reflect on decision making and the implications of our decisions.

I have some basic guidelines I’ve been taught that make sense to me on how to make decisions – discernment principles we call them. It all depends on the size of decision of course, but some basic ones for me, for personal decisions are:

  • Don’t make major changes when in a place of doubt or desolation. Wait for consolation.
  • If I’m living lightly and in an open, loving place with God, a good choice or action will feel like a drop of water on a soft sponge.
  • Be honest and open with my needs and the needs of others around me who are affected by my decision.
  • Share my decision making with a wise Christian who knows me and listen to their perspective.
  • Wait for peace, deep internal peace and the clarity it brings.

These guidelines generally lead me to live thoughtfully, with purpose and clarity. Sometimes my pace is fast, sometimes it is slow, but it tends to be steady. People often describe me as peaceful, yet intense, anchored yet very productive. Such is Anne!

But… another whole intriguing side of decision making to me is the huge ‘what ifs’ that occur or don’t occur. What if I hadn’t said that thing, or written that email or taken that job, or married that person, or lived in that house/apartment….. and on and on and on.

Forty years ago, Hugh and I made a decision in our lives around where to live and raise our family. We decided to not move to Victoria but stay in Toronto. What if we had lived in Victoria? Who would we have met/not met? …… My daughter and her husband made a decision a year ago to raise their family in Paris. What if they’d decided to come to Toronto? How would my life, their neighbourhood, our city, our world be different?

Thomas Merton wrote that each moment in each event of each person’s life plants a seed within their soul. That was one of the life changing bits I received from him. Each decision we make has ripple effects within our own lives, but also the lives around us and the ripples extend out into the universe.

Decision-making ripples.  What choices are you making today? May you unhook your Pinball Brain. May they come from a place of quiet and peace within you. (see Nov 29 and Dec 6)

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

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The Quiet Centre at the Heart of Me

 

Last week I was ruminating on my Pinball Brain, but this week my focus is on my Quiet Centre. I’m actually writing these two blogs on the same day, just minutes apart. You’ll get them a week apart, but they are deeply connected.

At the same time as I’m living with my Pinball Brain, I also am in touch with a quietness that pervades my inner world. I’m very still inside myself these days. One day I sat at my abandoned art table and got out one of my creative books to see if it would stimulate me. As I read, the author described pictures emerging from within her. I realized that one of the reasons my art table is abandoned, is that there are no pictures emerging within me. When I started about ten years ago to intentionally learn to draw and paint, there were pictures that were emerging within me, but now there are no pictures. It’s not time to create at my table. It’s time to be quiet.

Not only are there no pictures within me, there are no lessons to teach, illustrations to share, sermons to preach, or ideas for groups. That’s a huge change for me. Since my call to ministry in 1990 I’ve regularly had a flow from within for teaching. I’m very quiet in my central core right now. I continue to hold that sense that God has lifted my gifting from me and I’m to be still. It’s unfamiliar, uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time.

No pictures, no lessons and there’s also no leadership initiative within me. I read leadership books and can feel the old stirring, but then it subsides again. I return to the quiet place.

The quiet place at my centre reaches out and touches so many parts of my life. I have no desire to be in groups, workshops, retreats or services. I’m still resting in the depth of what I experienced during my Sabbath Leave.

At my core is quietness and yet I live with a Pinball Brain.

That’s me for now. How are you?

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Stillness

I’ve been drawn to the experience of stillness in the last while. A few times I’ve been aware of the invitation in prayer to be still after I leave the prayer time. I’m not to get caugstone and sand for stillness and actionht up in the busy conversations, the decisions that seem to need to be made, the city whirl. I’m to learn to be still. It’s partly emerged out of my attraction to the True Self work. I’ve experienced an inner stillness even when around me, it feels like chaos. It results in me feeling like I’m more myself, simpler, deeper, less pretentious, less a lot of things!

But it doesn’t mean I’m physically still. I’m still to be moving, but from a place of stillness. It doesn’t mean I don’t make any decisions, just that they’re to come from a still place.  A recent tag line on my email account was: Be still, be very, very still. And the I added to it: Be still and still moving.

As this was happening within me, one of our Companions inchild image for stillness and action

Contemplative Fire told me about a message he’d received during a Quaker Meeting. Ps 46 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” The speaker noted that the psalm said to be still, not to be silent. That is so much in alignment with what I’m learning. To be still doesn’t mean to be silent or not taking action. It means to be still within our soul, to be still and listening and knowing and being formed and guided by God’s Spirit.

In Contemplative Fire, part of our Rhythm is ‘Across the Threshold’. That refers to being led by the Spirit of God, perhaps into unfamiliar places. As with all our leaves, that one too is rooted in the central Wordless Space, in the deep stillness of God. We also talk about the Silence of God, about God’s first voice being silence. We become still within, listening to God’s silence and from the still, silent space we are formed and hear our life’s words and actions. How intriguing is that!  Out of stillness and silence come words and action and oh… those words and actions smell, feel so different from the ones that come out of my busyness!

What is your experience of stillness? Physical stillness? Interior stillness? Do you run from it, brush it off, find it impossible, or never consider it! How have you experienced the different sources of your words and actions?

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire , Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Lessons from My Dog (#257)

The dogs I’ve known love to gnaw on bones. They’ll spend ages licking, chewing, crunching and simply gnawing on their bones. After they’re done, they might hide them to pull out another day. If they dig them up again, or if I give it back to them another day, they’ll start to gnaw all over. Ah yes… a good bone to gnaw on.dog chewing on bone 1

So what’s this got to do with finding a contemplative pathway?? Well, today I was sitting on the bench in the locker room at my gym, and I took a look at what was going on in my head. Have you ever done that, stopped and become aware of the patter that is happening? Today I heard myself going over a conversation that I’ve had before. Actually, I’ve had that same inner dialogue, or variations of it, again and again in my mind. Suddenly I realized I was like my dog as he chews on a bone. I was going over the same old ground again and again. Why? What was I getting out of it?

As I stepped back to ask those questions, I put my bone down. I was able to stop gnawing on it. I was quite purposeful. I know that to replay that conversation in my head will not move the situation forward. What will help is if I’m still, if I’m quiet within myself, and trust the Spirit of God to do her work, within me, within others, throughout the world. Relax and trust in the slow work of God. Replaying, gnawing on an old situation doesn’t help. Trusting does.

I’m happy to give my dog a bone to chew on. There are times when I do need to think carefully through things, but much of the inner chatter, especially when it’s playing the same old tapes again and again – I want to set that aside. I’m not a dog. I don’t need to chew the same old things over and over.

How about you Gentle Reader….are you chewing on an old bone today?

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

This Precious Treasure

Last week I had one of those nights where I wake and move to intercessions. I also read a bit and found Guujaaw’s poem, ‘The Box of Treasures’. I’ll leave you to Google that delight for yourself.  It inspired me to write my own reflection on Christian life. The poem feels a bit clumsy to me, perhaps unfinished, but so am I quite often!

This Precious Treasure

And I know the Christian life isn’t just historical, architectural space, Sunday worship, sacraments, Bible study and outreach.

It is all of these things….

And the sweep of hands that embrace the cosmos and then settle into heart space.

         It is the knowing of God everywhere

and being indwelt by Risen Christ.

It’s about the stories of Jesus as he touches, sees and draws people close to him….

places of healing, times of hope, the breath of peace,

the repeating moments of forgiveness …

offered and received,

again and again and again.

Moments of knowing we’re all in this together,

all interconnected,

all affecting each other,

all known, valued and loved.

It has something to do with seeing, in the eyes of someone so different, the Spirit of the Risen Christ.

Watching the children grow,

feeling my own bones ache ….

and attending funerals.

It’s a matter of dealing with the squabbles within…..

And the greater troubles that come from the outside,

trying to shout their way in.

Its about experiencing the mess of spring, abundance of summer, letting go of autumn

 and being confronted by the great storms of winter

and still finding peace.

It’s about being home…

within myself, my family, my community

and the troublesome world around me

as I’m home in the heart of The Beloved.

And trying to look after this precious treasure.

 

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

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire ,Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Home — or NOT!

Today is the beginning of my new season of life! I took Finn on a wonderful off leash dog walk through the woods, baked a peach and blueberry crisp, read and pondered the essence of Holy from a gift book and then settled into my prayers. What an awesome beginning!

Although still officially on the payroll till Friday, I completed my last Sunday in the parish yesterday and nothing is required of me this week. Oh, maybe a little bit of my office still to be sorted and few people to say hello/good-bye to, but my time in the parish is complete. Even though I’ll collect my small pension, I’m not using the ‘R’ word for I remain as Community Leader Canada with Contemplative Fire which for me is very intentional ministry. But I do feel a huge spaciousness in my life.

With my parish, it is ‘au revoir’ rather than a final good-bye. On one level, they have felt like home to me for the last six years and I don’t quickly rush away from home. I have dearly enjoyed the people I have ministered with and to within that community. Contemplative Fire has been welcomed there and even though I’m not on staff, they continue to give it a home. Contemplative Fire will have some office space and I will continue to come and go, so it is not a final ‘goodbye’ but an ‘au revoir’. I’m grateful for that. When you find a ‘home’ somewhere it is very special and to be valued.

My leaving has given me the incentive to be thankful for my years in the parish, to intentionally recall the memories of meetings, small groups, parties, shared life stories, struggles, challenges, growth, and the love that has been shared among us. I’ve considered on a deep level what it means to find a home, and how many different places and people can be home to me.

What people and places have you called home over your life? Perhaps this week is a time for you too, to recall them and allow gratitude to grow towards them.

On another level, Contemplative Fire is my spiritual home. Within that community I find some kindred spirits who are called to walk through life with a similar rhythm and call to mine. I’ll write more about my thoughts on the future of our community in the newsletter and next few weeks. If you’re particularly interested in Contemplative Fire or interested in being part of this ‘community of Christ on the edge’ wherever in the world you call home, do be in touch through our website www.contemplativefire.ca. Perhaps you’re being called to make a home with us!

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just A Little Stuck

Usually the blogs just flow for me. I know there is a ‘something’ that’s caught my attention that I want to share. I began the blog with the intention of sharing my experience of the challenges I face in being a contemplative both with an active temperament and living in a busy world. I wanted to encourage others on the contemplative pathway as well as help myself think through the craziness of life.

Not always, but usually, they’ve been weekly notes. This week I feel stuck. Nothing is flowing.  Instead I feel some static within me: there’s a bit of conflict within my parish life, there’s two sermons to prep and lack of clarity on one, and there’s decisions resulting from re-entering Contemplative Fire and discerning our way forward. Did I mention our dog who’s been barking at night? There’s static! Where is that Peace, the deep peace with a capital ‘P’! After four months of blissful consolation, I find myself on the hunt for God, feeling rather alone, and with lots of inner static.

I might call it confusion, annoyance, anxiety, or lack of sleep from our dog barking but I know the spiritual term of ‘desolation’, and I know the guidelines. When you hit a time of desolation:

  • Don’t make any decisions. Keep on the set path.
  • Tell God how I’m feeling and ask for help.
  • Share with a wise friend.
  • Be still and remember who I am.
  • Go back to a point of consolation, reliving those memories.
  • Help someone else.
  • Repeat as necessary *

I began last night to re-read my Sabbath Leave notes. Big ‘YES’ in doing that! I continue to write the blog, recognizing two things. First, in the scriptures I’m pondering this week for my sermons, one deals with conflict in a faith community and teaches how to handle anxiety and worry, how to return to the peace that passes all understanding. The second scripture focus is around Jesus, one day caught in a busy place, and watching him change his mind. I know they are both speaking into my personal chaos and I also know from years of scripture teaching that I often need to live through the week’s message. I’m probably just doing that, one more time.

Second, getting stuck is very common. Maybe some of you feel stuck this week too. Maybe you, my thoughtful readers, are experiencing a bit of chaos or uncertainty in your life and some spiritual static.

So …. Let’s keep on the path we’ve set, take our static to God and ask for help, remember a time of consolation and reach out in kindness to another human being. We’ll make it through!

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

A Mystic in Motion

*adapted from Margaret Silf’s “Inner Compass”

Barging and Emerging

The other day, one dear to me said they’d recognized the difference in their life between ‘barging’ and ‘emerging’. For years they’d barged into situations, took control, got things done, but now they were learning to watch and see what emerges and join in the emerging work. She kindly said that I knew all this and no need to preach to me about it!….. oh how I need to hear the old, old story again and again!

I need repeatedly to hear of Jesus, who he was, who he is and how I’m completely known and securely loved. And then…living within that awareness, I can relax, trust and catch the emerging wave.

I’ve done a lot of barging in my life. I’ve taken charge, gotten things done. I don’t think it’s all bad, for there has been good in much that I’ve done. God is SO gracious. I’m often amazed goodness can come out of us crashing around, but it does. Over my twenty-five years in ministry I’ve seen it again and again. I may disagree with people and how they oversee ministries, I may be hurt by them, and I still see that God is blessing them. For years it was a mystery to me. Now I know a bigger God! However, I still chose how to live the life I’ve been given, and I don’t want to live barging around as much anymore. Less barging, more emerging. I want to be still enough to see what is happening beneath the surface, to catch a glimpse of the next rising wave. I want to continue longer in the beautiful inner stillness I’ve known so I can catch a peek at what God is doing.

I can’t be reminded enough – less barging, more emerging.

I’m returning to my communities after a four-month absence, returning to the fast ministry flow. I’m tempted to barge back in – well not really tempted, but I can feel some undercurrents that want to draw me back in. I’m glad to have had that clear reminder this week – Anne, how about living with less barging, more emerging?

Love and prayers for our journey

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

 

 

The World is My Cloister

 

I found the phrase, ‘the world is my cloister’ in Richard Rohr’s devotions yesterday where he is writing of the Franciscan approach to life. It expresses so beautifully what I have been aware of during this transition month. I don’t see The Holy as something I experience when in seclusion, something out there, but as God’s presence vibrating everywhere, all the time. I’m to know myself within The Holy wherever I am, to live as Jesus lived, listening deeply to God wherever he was, wedding party or hilltop, dinner table or village well, temple or garden, always, always listening and responding.

I’ve spent hours in prayer and reflection during my Sabbath Leave, yet contemplative life is not about interior work for its own sake. It is about service, but Spirit led service. For years I’ve offered as Contemplative Fire’s elevator speech, “We help people slow down, listen to God and then live out of what they hear.” That’s another way of saying prayer/study/action or being/knowing/doing – our Rhythm of Life.

This fourth month has been about transitioning back into a life of action.  The expression, ‘the world is our cloister’ makes sense to me. I don’t think I’m called out of the world, but called to get the world out of me so I can be alive, and listening to God while in the world.

I’m finding The Holy in the midst of everyday life. I’m at home in God’s Love wherever I am, be it a train station with police carrying machine guns, or a church, or a believing community, or in the beauty of nature, or in a landscaped garden, or walking the busy city streets, or watching the news. God is always present and I’m at home and hold internal peace. So now the time comes to move more clearly into busy ministry life, but still holding God’s peace within. Be Still …and Still Moving – that’s Rohr’s phrase for the week and couldn’t be better for me! Let our lives be still, and let our service come from that stillness, not compulsion, but from listening to the deep stillness.

The basic addiction of our culture is to activity. We must be busy. We’ve lost the ability to be quiet, to be still, to listen deeply. I don’t want to lose my slowness, my ability to listen and respond when I return next week. Pray for me! May I be a mystic whose motion is grounded in stillness.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

 

 

Sunburst Moments

It’s been raining on and off today. Just now the birds began to sing and sun broke through the clouds. I don’t know how long it will last. We’re in a part of the world where rain is common and clouds frequent the sky. Sunbursts are worth noting!

I had one moment this week when I had one of those spiritual sunbursts. Do you know what I mean? They’re moments of clarity when something deeply makes sense to you, you ‘know’ it, deep in your core.

Grad school continues for me in keeping my spiritual rhythms in place. I’ve wondered if the ‘Mystic in Motion’ name I chose now refers less to activity and more to rhythm, a life rhythm that pulses in harmony with the governing rhythms of creation. My motion doesn’t feel driven right now, but rather simple. Instead of strong hard strokes against the prevailing currents, I experience a gentle solid stroke just going with the deeper current of life.

My sunburst moment connected me with that deeper current of life. I’ve been reading Sardello’s ‘Silence’ and one morning as I lay in bed, the sunburst out and I knew I was living within The Silence. I’ve been meditating on John 14-17 where Jesus repeatedly tells us that he’s in the Father, and he’s in us, and we’re in him. We’re part of a Divine Dance that embraces us. Lying in bed that morning I knew more deeply than before, that not only is Christ’s Spirit within me, but that I’m within God – such protection. In the midst of busy city life, I’m enclosed by Spirit and connected to all by Spirit.

The awareness of the pervasive presence of God – the presence that touches everything, everyone, just like the sun when it bursts through, is so wonderful and so humbling. I take that awareness into my morning walk, and then continue to touch into it during the day. I end up standing in a busy train station, holding that sunburst moment, so many people around me, each caring their worries and pain, their hopes and dreams, each covered with the embrace of God. I can see the Son’s Rays covering us all. I turn both inwardly and outwardly to prayer.

The world does look like a rainy and dark place, yet I KNOW the Son is there and sometimes there are ‘Sonburst’ moments. I pray for more of them, for more soft places where The Son can shine through. Places where the deep currents of life can break through.

What have been some of your sunburst/Sonburst moments?

The journey together continues.

Anne

Mystic in Motion