Hidden Beauty

 

I think I told you that we’re working on a trail from our home to the creek below us. I’ve found that my job, has been to tidy the forest around the trail. Doesn’t that sound odd?  Why would you tidy a forest? For years, the forest and those in the home have tossed branches down the hillside. I did it myself last year when a windstorm blew branches all around the decks. I just tossed them over edge into the forest below us. That’s just fine, till someone gets the idea to make a trail down the hillside to the creek! Suddenly all those branches become visible and many need to be moved to clear space for the trail.

As I began to clear the branches, I realized that not only the narrow trail needed to be cleared, but I wanted the space around the trail to be open too. That’s when I began to tidy the forest. Others are working away sawing trees, digging out rocks, grading a path and building steps. I’m climbing over rocks tossing branches over the cliff-side. I started at the top area just below the house and have been making my way towards the creek.

The first few areas near the house were amazing. Simply removing the loose branches revealed a delightful forest garden right by our home. As I made my way down the hillside I found more treasures; a huge stump with ivy tumbling over it, a massive rock partly covered in moss, two more huge rocks with tree stumps tucked between them and a moss covered hillside that was flecked with starburst flowers. As the mess of odd branches was removed the beauty of the forest began to shine through. Next trail making day I’ll get out my clippers and tidy up the ferns. Underneath all that clutter there was and is a beautiful forest garden.

Isn’t that an image of life? What’s underneath the clutter of our activities, underneath the knot of old tapes in our minds, underneath the weight of ambitions and pressures? I know there is a beautiful forest garden within each of us. Too often our beauty is covered by a lot of clutter that we’ve accumulated or let others dump on us. But we are beautiful. Each person around you is beautiful. Can you see your own beauty? Can you see the beauty in the one beside you? What is the clutter that can be removed so you can behold the beauty within yourself and the one nearest you? God is always present, ready to help de-clutter.

May you use these days well.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

Holy Creek!

 

Just below our home is a creek. We live on a mountainside, so there is a steep hill of about a hundred yards down to the creek. But we can hear it! The snow is melting and it’s raining today so the creek is full and flowing well. I love standing near a creek, a brook or a river and watching it tumble over rocks. I love the movement. I’m told there is something healthy for us, something we humans breath into our physical nature through the flow of water. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know much about that, but I do know that I feel satisfied and refreshed when I pause near flowing water.

This week one of my readings reminded me of the continuous presence of God that flows through me. There is a constant flow of light, love, peace, joy, of all the nature of our omnipresent Creator. All of that is flowing through me. That feels so good to me. As I moved through my daily activities this week, I’ve been pausing to recall God’s flow through me. Just as my creek keeps flowing, so our Creator’s Nature of peace, joy, forgiveness keeps flowing through me. And you. As I slow down and recall that, I consciously open myself to that flow. Oh, that feels so good. And then I imagine the flow coming through you too. That feels good too.

I’m so grateful to live beside a creek. I’m so grateful for the flow of God’s Creek within me and within you. Come Holy Creek, flow freely today.

 

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Listening Distance 2

 

In response to my blog last week, one of our readers sent me this quote:

“In his book The Heart of the Hunter, Laurens van der Post tells his story of living in the Kalahari Desert with the bushmen of South Africa. It became obvious to van der Post that these primitive peoples knew intimately the presence of wisdom in every blade of grass and in every heartbeat. The bushmen had a mysterious kind of inner knowing. They knew when the enemy was approaching and danger was near, they knew when to move their camps, and when and where the rains would come. They knew where to go for the hunting that would sustain their lives. When questioned about this mysterious inner knowledge, they spoke of what they called the ‘tapping of the heart.’

From an early age they had been commanded to heed this tapping. When they felt it coming, they were to become very quiet inside and to listen vigilantly to the tapping. It was like a sixth sense, an unexplainable knowing. Reflecting on the uncomplicated lives of these ancient peoples I have come to believe that this mysterious knowing in them was nothing less than the wisdom of God.”

Oh…to mature within a community, a family group, that commands one to listen to such inner wisdom! How different from much of my training!

In the next few weeks most of us will begin to emerge from different levels of social isolation. One of my desires is to listen to the ‘tapping of my heart’ as I emerge. What is life-giving? How is Spirit directing me? Will I have the courage to listen? Will I have the courage to act on what I hear?

It’s so easy for me to call the bushmen ‘primitive’, but my sophistication can be an obstacle to spiritual intimacy. May it not be so. May I, may all of us, wait on God. Sit quietly. Even within our activities to be quiet and to keep listening to the tapping, to the whisper, to the words of loving guidance.  To wait and to trust.

Be safe, be well, and emerge wisely

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Listening Distance

 

We’re all living with social distance and physical distance these days. Have you ever heard of ‘listening distance’? What will allow me to listen to someone, to something, to listen well and absorb what I hear.

This week a friend reminded me of a poem by R. S. Thomas that describes our listening distance in relation to God. The distance isn’t a physical one, but rather a soul quality. How still can I be? How much can I retire from my cocktail party mind, into the quiet room within me where I can hear God breathe?

But the silence in the mind

is when we live best, within

listening distance of the silence we call God…

It is a presence, then,

whose margins are our margins; that calls us out over our

own fathoms.

I know social distancing practices of two meters of separation and hand washing, but what are my listening distance practices?

For me, some of the best ways into interior silence are through slowing down activities and meditation. I know I’m able to be still within while I’m busy working or engaging with people. That’s an essential bit of life to learn. Yet I know too when I slow my exterior activity, such as in this stay-at-home time, my mind begins to relax, and I can more easily access a listening distance. The best for me is when I do retreat, pull back from all commitments and responsibilities and relationships and be still in solitude. Those are wonderful listening times for me. I feel so embraced by Love. I know I want to live in that warm embrace of interior stillness within the fullness of normal daily life. I always want to be in listening distance with God.

My daily meditation practice has taught me to observe my mind, watch it running around, asking questions, looking for answers, passing judgments. It’s relentlessly busy. I know there is so much more to me than my mind. My real self, True Self, is in the quietness within me, the part that lives in listening distance with God, the part that can hear Divine whispers. It is gentle, compassionate and seeks peace. It is also strong and resourceful for there, I’m in touch with the fullness of Christ within.

I can always add in some time in nature for that helps too! But even there, I must be attentive to my surroundings, not engaged in a podcast or organizing the world or people around me.

What does it mean for you to live within listening distance of God? What disrupts you from hearing God’s whispers? What helps you?

May we all be gentle with ourselves and those around us this week.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

What day is it? Who am I?

 

Are you beginning to wonder what day it is? Without the usual activities that give structure to my week, I find I have to stop and think about what day it is.  I know I’m not the only one!

Then the other day someone said, “I’m a baker!” I realized how often I hear people describe themselves as a skier, a reader, or a hiker. You know the list, it goes on and on. We describe our self by a hobby or a job or a role. I could be a hiker, wife, counsellor or priest.  Then COVID19 happens and we are at home, stripped of our usual activities and roles. The ones we keep are often re-defined with different expectations and responsibilities. What day is it? Who am I?

How about a completely different perspective? Who I am, is a Child of God. My life is not defined by activities, responsibilities, or roles. I am not the body, nor am I the role that it fills in the world. My life is eternal. I am a Child of God, born of God, an inheritor of God’s kingdom, the peaceable kingdom. Yes, I am alive on earth in this body and known as Anne by those around me, but who I am is within my soul. I am a Child of God, a spiritual being having a human experience.

So in the midst of my human experience of social distancing, of only essential outings, of elimination of roles and responsibilities, I find myself more clearly as simply my soul life. I am a Child of God, known by God, loved by God. I am not my body, not my role, not my hobbies. Yes, I have all those pieces of my life, I ordered groceries to be delivered today and planned our meals, but what is real, what I will take with me when I leave this life, is my eternal nature. Born of God, connected with God, seeking to experience more of God.

Who are you? Are you defining yourself by what you enjoy or do here within this life span? Is that all you are? What would it be like to have a bigger picture of your life, of your Self? What would it be like to know yourself as a Child of God?

During this unique period in history,  may the veil be pulled back and we awaken to a bigger picture of who we are, of our eternal purpose. May this time of slowing down, open us to a deeper life. Travel Light. Dwell Deep.

Be blessed this day my friends, for you are known and loved. There is much more to life than what has been cancelled and that you can’t do today.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

I took a look in my fridge…..

 

Wow! Today I looked in my fridge and realized that it has a lot of food in it. More than normal. Then I realized that I’ve been baking and looking for sweets.

Comfort eating was something I learnt as a child. As an adult I thought I’d learned to separate myself from it – at least most of the time! I keep a watchful eye on consumption and my size for I’ve seen it expand many times. Expand and contract was my pattern for years, but in the last few years I’ve settled into a comfortable size and keep a watchful eye on that Craving Monster that lives inside me. WW has been a very helpful support in changing my relationship to food.

But Wow! My fridge is full, and I’ve been baking and craving sweets. Without any intention something deep inside me said, “I’m a little scared. I think I need a cookie.” I didn’t hear the voice, but today when I opened my fridge, I realized that I have been responding to a deep current within me that seeks food for comfort.

When I was a little girl, I had regular nightmares. I’d wake scared and then go find my mother. She kept a box of cookies in a cupboard near my room. We’d sit down together, I’d tell her my nightmare and she’d give me a cookie….or two. Later we had a habit that she would simply leave me a cookie by my bed so when I woke scared during the night I could immediately reach for a cookie.  As the years moved on I satisfied lots of fears and insecurities with cookies, chocolate bars, ice cream, bread … and did I mention cheese?

It was years ago I saw those patterns. I’ve done lots of work in those areas. I realized this week how very subtle is my internal world. Yes, I know the patterns. I know the disciplines. I know how to make good choices. Most of the time I do. My senses don’t usually dominate my life choices.  In the midst of the virus seclusion I haven’t felt on a conscious level any fear. Yet without my awareness a scared part of me has been grocery shopping and baking. Some unconscious current has been moving. How subtle. How hidden. Yet not  – my fridge is FULL!

What an intriguing journey to be a human being. There is always something new to learn. I’m humbled with the awareness of power of unconscious currents in my life.

 

How’s your fridge? How are you coping with your seclusion? Any surprises?

A fellow pilgrim on this human journey….

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Early Lessons from the Virus Time

 

Does it feel to you like we’ve been invaded by an alien being from outer space? Our world has been shaken upside down in the last few weeks as the coronavirus, it’s containment and fear has spread around the globe. I know there are always lessons to be learnt from life, so I’ve begun to consider the lessons from this invasion. It’s still early days so I’m sure lessons will evolve, but here are a few I’m considering.

Humility – I hope we, all the people on our planet, will be open to learning this lesson. We are not in control. We watch it strike the rich and the poor. We are a vulnerable species. Let’s live more simply, humbly.

Resilient and Resourceful – We are resourceful. We can be flexible and respond to a challenge. We can discover what is needed and will find a medical aid to help us. It is one of our wonders that we can be both humble and resilient. We can hold both at the same time. We need not be black and white thinkers, who strut in our problem-solving ability but can be embracive, healthy people who know our place within the cosmos.

Togetherness – This is a piece I really hope we learn. Yes, we can use borders for containment, but we can also work together as a global family. We can pull our best scientific minds together for a medical solution. We can let the medical community and the organizers of the world tell us how to contain the spread by managing our movement and lifestyle. We can learn that all of us have responsibility for all us. We’re in this thing called ‘life’, together.

Vulnerability – The clear recognition that so many of us live without financial margins. For those of us who live with margin, can we imagine what these days feel like when your job disappears, and you still need to feed your children?  Is it time we re-organize our financial structures and move to a guaranteed income?

Earth has a voice – As we hear of polluted skies and water beginning to clear, it’s as if the earth herself has gifted us with time so we might learn how our consumer-oriented, selfish ways have damaged earth. Will we listen to our planet? How will we live going forward?

A slower and simpler life is possible – We are being forced into a slower pace of life. So many of us resist slowness. I hope we will learn to accept it and use it well; more time for reflection, for self-awareness, more time for a small circle of people close to us, more time to be attentive to where we can wisely be helpful. When the restrictions lift, will we have wisdom about what we let back into our lives?

I’m struck about who we hear from each day. Daily we hear from political, scientific and medical leaders. More recently, there is a presence for mental health practitioners. Yet there is no strong and clear spiritual voice. Because of the mailing lists I’m on I have lots of meditative tools and perspectives offered to me but for the general public, when do they get a spiritual perspective on this crisis? How our world has changed and silenced the voice of the Spirit. When will we acknowledge that each person has not only a body and a mind, but also a spirit.  When will we listen to our spiritual teachers and their perspective on how to respond?

So those are a few of the things I’m wondering about. How about you? What are the lessons you’re wondering about?

Stay home, be kind to yourself and others, be well

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

 

 

 

In Unprecedented Times

 

There are always lessons to be learnt in life. I had begun to reflect on lessons from our shared virus experience, but I decided this morning to save those for another time. I found a poem that I would rather share with you. It’s by John O’Donoghue from ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

              This is the time to be slow,

              Lie low to the wall

              Until the bitter weather passes.

              Try, as best you can, not to let

              The wire brush of doubt

              Scrape from your heart

              All sense of yourself

              And your hesitant light.

              If you remain generous,

              Time will come good;

              And you will find your feet

              Again on fresh pastures of promise,

              Where the air will be kind

              And blushed with beginning.

Let us continue to cultivate faith, compassion and generosity within ourselves and towards each other as we move through these unprecedented times.

We’re all in this together. We are not alone. His eye is on the sparrow. How will we respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is helpful to you, please share with others to broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Self-isolation or Solitude?

Sometimes it’s simply time to get away. About a month ago as I was struggling with writing a book about my spiritual memoirs, I knew I had to get away. I knew it was time to be quiet and listen deeply to God’s Spirit within me. I had to do some deep listening before I could do any writing. The Rubik’s cube within my soul twisted into shape that day. It felt SO right. I booked a week away at Rivendell’s Hermitage. Maybe I’d have a few days of listening and then write, or maybe I’d simply have a few days of listening, of being open to God and in God’s Presence. Either way, I knew I needed solitude.

I leave in five days. I am so happy to be going. As I leave, the world around me is twisting in a strange tornado tumult of COVID19. Each day new directions come out. New information. New travel restrictions. New gathering restrictions. I’m content to pack my bags and disappear into solitude. They now call is self-isolation. I call it solitude and I welcome it. I’ll use this time to go more slowly and hopefully listen deeply and experience God’s presence in a soul-formative way.

A part of me is concerned about so many people entering self-isolation without knowing how to do it. We’re created to be social creatures and to separate ourselves can cause inner turmoil. I wonder how we will respond to so much solitude, especially untended solitude. Not only am I an introvert, I have spent, over the years, many weeks in solitude and know how to care for myself as I open to God’s Spirit. Sometimes it’s very challenging to be alone, while other times it is full and nourishing.

Will you be called into self-isolation in the next few months? Will you see it as ‘isolation’ or as ‘solitude’? I think those are two very different approaches. If you are required to separate yourself from loved ones for two weeks or more, I hope you can find within it time for reading, reflection, prayer and meditation. Perhaps, rather than fighting the separation, it could be an opportunity to deepen your life, so when you emerge, there will be more of you that will emerge.

Isolation or solitude? Two very different words for very different experiences.

Choices. So many choices in life. What path will you walk?

Love and prayers

Anne

If you find this helpful, please share with a friend so we can broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

“There’s No One There!” Life Beyond the Clouds

Clouds move up and down our mountain. Sometimes I can see the trees and the water, and other times I only can see the cloud that embraces our home. Yesterday a new person arrived at our home during one of those moments when we were immersed within the cloud. She responded with “I bet the view is wonderful here!” Despite the cloud, she could imagine what we most often see. How wonderful it is to be able to see beyond the cloud.

Sometimes in our life we move through cloudy spells too. The other day I led a group through a guided meditation that involved entering a wilderness. Each person held a small stone with an angel impressed on it. As part of the meditation I invited them to look around and with their imagination see who was accompanying them. Since we had read scriptures to set the scene, I asked if it was an angel, or Jesus? Afterward one member came to me to let me know that there was no one with her in the wilderness. She felt all alone, covered in a dense cloud.

What do we do when we feel all alone spiritually? I’ve certainly known those times when I felt disconnected from God, times when doubts assailed me, fears stabbed me or worries poisoned me. Times when I felt overwhelmed by life. Exhausted. Times when I couldn’t see beyond the cloud.

That sense of being alone is so penetrating. On my mountainside I’m at the mercy of the winds and pressure zones to move the clouds, but in my own life, I have been taught and experienced ways to help me see beyond the clouds. First, I acknowledge the cloud, not running from it but rather opening to the fear, worry, doubt, exhaustion, loneliness or whatever is assailing me. I say “Hello” to it. Second, after saying “I see you”, I remind myself that there is more to life. There are trees and water beyond the cloud. In humility I ask ‘The-God-I-Can’t See’ for help. I recall some time of connection, of goodness in my life. I recall a spiritual memory when I did know God’s presence with me. Often, I write both down, acknowledging the cloud and then going more deeply into a memory of a positive time. Third, I think of someone else. Is there someone I could help today? If I’m alone, I might find someone to hold in the loving presence of God. Even if I can’t see God, I know that God’s reality and healing presence is NOT dependent on my cognitive or emotional awareness. The trees are always there! Fourth, I find some mature friend and speak to them about my cloud. I ask them just to listen deeply to me. These four steps can be repeated – as often as needed.

Hello Cloud – Help Me – Help Another –Hello Friend.

Hello-Help-Help-Hello.

I found it quite precious yesterday when our visitor could instinctively see beyond the clouds. I seek to live from such a place of trust. I seek to live not running from the clouds, but knowing they will pass, and the reality beyond will not. I will trust the Bigger Reality beyond these passing worries and difficulties. I will trust the Unseen Reality for it is more real than the current cloud that is blowing through my life. Trees and Water win over Clouds.

How about you? Do you feel alone? Is there a cloud moving through your world? How will you live your best life?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please share with a friend. Together we’ll broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)