Finding a Sustainable Life – Part 7: One More Tree Friend

I met this tree before we even began our Pilgrimage to Now/here. We were gathering together getting acquainted when I noticed it in the distance. I saw a dead tree, actually three dead trees and I wondered what they were doing there. Our Pilgrimage was located on the grounds of a well established University and Seminary in our city. The grounds were very well tended. Why were there three dead trees in the midst of the spacious grounds? I wanted them gone!

Our walk took us around the edge of grounds, along the border of the ravine. The Spirit began to pull within me, guiding my steps and whispering to me. The garbage, river and trees began to shape me. Finally, we made our way back to the beginning spot and we passed the Three Dead Trees. They weren’t dead at all. Quite the opposite. Each of the trees certainly appeared dead at the trunk and top, but when you drew close to them, each of them had brand new life bursting out at the bottom four or five feet of the trunk. It wasn’t just a bush growing close, but actual new life coming out of the tree. We called them Resurrection Trees!

New life can come out of areas of my life that appear dormant or done. In God’s hands new life can come anywhere, anytime. Am I open to the new life that the Spirit of God wants to birth? It can be surprising, coming in unexpected places. One of my sacred truths that I pray with each day is to release my agenda and seek God’s will to be done. I want the Spirit to move freely in and through me, and in the part of the garden I’ve been placed, to bring such unexpected new life and new hope. Even in places where once it looked dead to me, God can bring new life. YES! Carrying that hope within me gives me a sustainable life.

Are there any places where all you can see is the end, a dead tree? Will you join me in asking God’s Spirit to work to bring some unexpected new life?

Love and prayers for the journey
Anne
Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

Spiritual Fishing: Part 2 – The BIG ONE that didn’t get away…

Once again I ask: Am I worth what I’m paid? Am I paid to get exhausted or live sustainably?

Today let’s move from worth to exhaustion. I was trained to work hard, work responsibly and become vital to my employer. Were you too?

From my distant childhood to 2016 I think the pace of the world increased. Trouble is those values of hard work remain engrained within me. I get older and older, and the pace around me gets faster and faster. From globalization to information glut to constant changing, time demanding and soul-crushing technology, I can feel invaded. The culture tells me I have to be busy, working really ‘hard’. I found I was justifying myself and would say how busy I am or how hard I’m working, or how long it has been since I had two days off in a row. Last fall I hit a particularly difficult patch and felt overwhelmed by the amount of work and the difficulty of it. I was hardly able to be productive and much of the work I was doing was internal. One more time in my life I got exhausted.

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I don’t think exhausted, or even constantly stretched workers are giving full value. I don’t think exhausted and stretched workers are reflecting a Christ-like approach to life. I’m sure I’m not breathing Jesus air into the world when I’m regularly exhausted. I’m sure my value as an employee and as a priest increases when I’m in a sustainable flow. Then, I’m living my worth as a human being and giving my best, and earning my salary appropriately.

Perhaps some of the people who contribute to my salary carry those same core values of a hard, responsible, always busy, work ethic. They can fire me if they want. I want to model a sustainable life. I know people pay my salary, but I want to live accountable to God’s Spirit within me and offer my employers and my community a different way to be Human. The Big One I caught this summer relates to that lifestyle and I’ll share more in the coming weeks.

I can see a new way forward and I know my pre-programmed vulnerability. I need people around me who share this vision and want to walk with me as I find my way to be a contemplative in a crazy chaotic world. Do you want to find a different way to live? Or have you already? Are you walking with me?

Breathe deeply and enjoy.

Anne

Gone Fishing!

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As I’m getting ready for holidays a question about my salary came up in one of my workplaces. I sat down with someone to answer some questions about it. As I looked at what I was paid I felt a sense of obligation and unease rise up in me.

Am I really worth what they pay me?

Do I give them value for their money?

In the last four years I’ve been cultivating a life that is Spirit led, rather than driven by ego, culture, obligation or responsibility. In the last four months the word I’ve been living into has been ‘sustainable’. How do I have a life that is sustainable? I found I was getting exhausted and just couldn’t keep up the pace.

Do they pay me to get exhausted or do they pay me to be sustainable? I’m so well taught in obligation, responsibility and productivity. They feel normal to me. All around me in the workplace I see people that work, work, work. Somehow being exhausted at work is accepted, and actually, often silently applauded. It is seen as good to work really hard.

To say I’m feeling grounded,

rested,

at ease,

that my life is sustainable,

somehow seems like I’m cheating them! I’m not giving them my ‘all’. Do I really earn my salary if I don’t exhaust myself?

I need a new question: What difference does it make if I give my employers and parishioners – my exhausted ‘all’ or my ‘sustainable’ self?

I want a sustainable life, one based in Spirit led freedom. If I pursue that end I think the quality my people will receive will be a stronger Spirit offering. Am I deluded? Am I lazy?

As I head off on holiday, I’m delighted to realize that I’m not exhausted. I’ve been able to make the changes I’ve needed in the last four months so that I think I still fulfill my work commitments. I’m able to provide the spiritual leadership I’m asked to offer without draining myself. No burnout is happening. Parker Palmer describes burnout as happening when we’re giving what we don’t possess, giving beyond what is our calling to provide. I hope I’m learning to live closer to my deep God-soaked truth. I trust my people are still being spiritually nourished and spiritually led through me. I hope I’m learning to work more intentionally and stronger in the way that blesses God, and in doing that earn my salary!

I won’t be posting blogs during my summer break. I’ll return in August and start again. Right now, I’m hanging the sign ‘Gone Fishing’ on my door. I’m off to hug a few trees, listen to the birds, paddle a canoe, enjoy family time and read a few novels.

May you find a sustainable and enriching rhythm for your life!

See you in August!

Love and prayers,

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” ~ Etty Hillesum