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

 

 

The Big Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and prayers from a Mystic in Motion

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

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

 

Troubled Waters

Two rivers coming together often create turbulence. I’ve used that image in marriage counselling so many times! And it’s one I know is true. When two lives join, when two families join it takes awhile to sort out how the new family will live.

The last few weeks I’ve been reading from two different sources. One stream of books takes me deep into our spiritual life, how we flow from the Source of All Life, how we are all interconnected, each person, plant and stone is connected. That stream leads me to joy. The other stream takes me into the social structures that have determined the lives of people within our communities, to the segregation laws, to public attachment to violence and control. That stream shows me fear. What happens when fear and joy come together?

I’ve been reading Huston Smith’s work from the late 1950’s on world religions. I wonder what would have happened in my life if I had found him in my search in 1970’s! He is speaking to the questions that I was asking: what do we want, what is the purpose of life, why are we here? He looks at the major faiths and how people have wrestled with these same questions over thousands of years. I so often felt alone in my questions, but clearly I wasn’t. I was part of a huge stream of people that search out meaning in life and that’s what gives birth to religion as a solid part of human society. As I dip into the expansive spiritual world he describes, I feel at home, and hear so many faith traditions connecting us all. It feels good.

I’ve also been reading Isabel Wilkerson’s latest book ‘Caste’ and it troubles my heart. I realize it’s from an American perspective and to read a Canadian version would be instructive, but I have enough ties to America to know connection to that story and considering their place in the world it’s an important book. I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m still digesting, as much as I can what she documents, but so far she’s begun to outline the social structure that is deeper than racism, that subjugates one human to another in brutal and binding ways. In the last section I read she traces the origins of caste in both India and America to their spiritual roots. Both countries used their holy books to justify the ranking of people and the resulting control of a dominant group. It’s chilling.

How can what I love and that leads me to joy, lead to such brutality? How can humans read the same holy books and some come away ready to enslave and dominate and others ready to serve, even unto death? And the enslavement isn’t ancient history. The last laws were repealed within my adult lifetime and the effect of those laws continues long after they were officially repealed. How can it be?

Troubled waters today. I think sometimes it’s good and necessary to go through troubled waters.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

Attuned to Jesus

 

The other day I heard a bell ringing repeatedly. I mentioned it to another person near me and they didn’t hear it at all. It was ringing on a frequency that wasn’t in their range. Any of us who care for dogs will experience that too. Last night on our evening walk, our dogs were so excited, and yet I couldn’t see anything! Often dogs can hear things that we can’t. The sounds are still there, but I don’t have the frequency required to hear them.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus and how I’ve known him over the years. I feel close to him and consider him my friend, my very best spiritual teacher, the one who has made me whole, who connects me to God. I shy away from church language of ‘Savour’ or ‘Son of God’ for I find many of those words to be encased in theology and lacking the intimacy of the one who appeared in bedroom when I was eight or who spoke to me in an art gallery in Venice, or who washed me Joy one night when I was so very dirty. In this season of my life, I prefer to set aside theology and live within my known experience.

That gets me back to frequencies. I want to be attuned to Jesus, to be able to hear his whispers and sense his movements. I want my spirit to be sensitive to Jesus and to all his friends, the ones both alive and who have left us, all who draw us closer to the source of all life, to what we call God.

I know sometimes I don’t hear his sound. Sometimes I’m distracted by the stuff of life or my own internal workings and I can’t hear when his bell rings or when he comes down the driveway at night. But I want to. I want to be attuned to the whisper of Jesus. I think I’ll ask him to help me. He’s really good at helping his friends.

What gets your attention? What or who do you listen to? Who is your friend who will help you?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

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

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