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

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Relax, Trust in the Slow Work of God

What do you do with souvenirs that you bring home from your trips? The crazy Hawaiian shirt that looked so good …., the shells and rocks, the coffee mugs and plates, the masks and carvings, the maps and guides and of course the photos! What do you do with your trip memories, the ways you’ve been shaped from your adventure that took you out of your ordinary routines?

Sometimes I lie in bed and pull my Sabbath Leave memories over me, so they are wrapping me like a blanket to keep my soul warm, tender and willing to show up. I would love to share my memories with others, but I usually find that most aren’t too interested. We seldom want to sit for long and look at photos of a trip someone took to some place with some people other than ourselves!

But I’ll share one keepsake with you. The title of this blog probably sums up the work of my leave: Relax, Anne. Trust in the slow work of God. I can’t say it often enough. I do say it frequently as I re-enter community life. It aligns really well with our Rhythm of Life: Travelling Lightly and Dwelling Deeply. Again and again I return to it – relax, be at ease, move lightly through life, for God is at work, in the depths God is there, with the Presence of Love guiding the movements. I can be so impatient, so eager to make things happen. My sabbath leave was full of what I’ll call ‘Moments of Encounter’, times when I know so clearly there IS a God, a Divine Presence within all there is. I am to relax, trust in the slow work of God. God’s speed is often very slow – at least by Anne’s schedule! And that’s okay. That’s what I’m learning and what I bring home from my Sabbath Leave. Thanks for listening.

Love and prayers on 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

 

 

Be Still, Be Very, Very Still

I’ve just returned from an eight-day Centering Prayer retreat. Of course we spent hours being still, very, very still! One of the beauties of it for me was our location. We were on Long Beach in New Jersey. As we sit being still, very, very still, the Atlantic Ocean is relentlessly pounding away on the shoreline. I love the picture of God’s relentless love washing onto the shores of our souls, never, ever stopping, and at the same time God’s presence as stillness and silence from the ocean depth. A surging ocean containing a still point. Constant noise and deep silence. All within one.

It was one more wonderful week. Held within our hours of communal prayer, I spent much time walking the beach and pondering my way forward. I’m coming to the end this week of three months of Retreat in Daily Life. I feel like I’ve been gifted with three months on the mountain top. I am aware I will be coming down. Or sort of aware…..

I’ve called myself “Mystic in Motion”, but I feel now there is less motion in me. The different pace of life, the Retreat in Daily Life discipline, the three retreat weeks, and the month on Cortes have slowed me down considerably. I’ve been in search of a sustainable life and I’ve certainly experienced it in these three months. I’ve lived into the core life of Contemplative Fire –prayer/study/action or slow down, listen to God and then live from what you hear. I’ve deepened my practice of slowing down and listening, yet I know there is still much more for me to learn there. And I’ve heard more guidance on living from what I hear. I know there is much more to experience there. I hear the call to have the ‘motion’ be moment to moment led by the surging stillness of God.

How still can you be?  Physically we can try to sit very still, yet perhaps feel the urge to twitch, scratch or shift positions. How about your emotions? Can you be aware of them and see what their energy level is like in this moment? Are they jumpy or deeply flowing? And then of course there is our mind and that torrent of thoughts! For most of us, those thoughts love to rush around, pushing each other out, repeating themselves, a relentless driving noise like the city’s churning. How still can you be? Take a moment and try it!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Returning

During one of our cottage summers we had two dogs with us, Timmy, a five year old Golden Retriever and Major, an eight month old Labrador Retriever. The dogs had the best summer ever! Running in the forest, digging at the beach, swimming endlessly, catching frogs, and playing with the children – it simply doesn’t get any better for a retriever! The first week home, they lay in the middle of the kitchen and looked at me with mopey, sad eyes. What – back here again? Returning.

Last week I returned to Toronto from my month on Cortes. I felt a bit like Timmy and Major. Really? Back again to concrete and asphalt, to close tiny lots, to the relentless strum of the city, to the human energy of city density? Really? There were a few people I thought I’d be in touch with on my return and I simply wasn’t able to do it. I needed some time being a retriever ‘lying on my kitchen floor with mopey eyes’.

It is so easy for me to move from the roar of Toronto to Cortes. It’s virtually instantaneous. I feel it happening on ferry #2 as we cross from Quadra to Cortes and the slowing down continues with each day I’m there. It’s much tougher for me to return to bustle. Something in me resists re-entering the relentless roar.

Whenever we have a wonderful experience, one we want to treasure, how do we re-enter our ‘normal’ life while retaining the goodness we’ve experienced? It could be returning from a holiday, a retreat, a concert, an engaging conversation or an engrossing book –  any number of soul touching experiences. How do we do it well?

Two Returning Principles: First, for me I recognize I’m doing it slowly, respecting my interior life while also respecting the world I’m in. I value living in the present moment so that entails not dwelling on the past, or worrying of the future, but being open to now. I’m open to the concrete and roar with a soul that has been formed by spaciousness and beauty for the past month. Second, I continue to live with the awareness that my life is more than my own. I’m responsible for it AND I have said ‘yes’ to Jesus directing my life. Once again John 21.6 and the fishing command has spoken into my life. I don’t want to live from my own driven needs (got to go fishing), but under the direction of God’s Spirit. So, I cope with returning slowly and gently, continuing to honor some core values from it.

How are your returning times? Bumpy? Irritable? Sacrificial? In what way do you lose the goodness you experienced? What helps you retain the goodness?

I leave on Sunday for the last of my silent retreat weeks. I’ve chosen to do something a bit different on this one. Although still silent, it will be in a community with a particular focus. I hope to deepen the flow of God’s loving and compassionate presence through me. Again, you remain in my prayers and I appreciate yours as I travel and immerse myself in a week of prayer. Both weeks in March and April were strong, deep and a lot of work. I wonder what this one will bring.

Love and prayers on the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

 

Being Called Off Stage

How many times have I read the Christmas stories in scripture??? How many times have you read or heard them? Beginning my Sabbath Leave I read them again and they ‘popped’ for me! It was absolutely wonderful and set the stage for my Sabbath time.

I felt I wanted to get to know Jesus in a different way during this break so my Spiritual Director suggested the Spiritual Exercises and to begin with the Hidden Years of Jesus, that’s his childhood that we don’t know much about. Although she’d suggested starting in Nazareth, I was drawn to read the whole story in Luke 2. As I did, I found myself drawn behind the scenes. I experienced the mystery of God choosing to enter our world at that time, the prophets being spoken to by the Divine One, the angels being sent into homes with messages, stars being placed and dreams being touched. Our world became a stage and God plus the divine team, were the stage managers, directors, producer. I saw it all happening.

And then I heard my name, felt the touch on my shoulder and a call to come off stage. I was invited into the Producer’s Office. I’m being removed from the divine drama of the world. I’m off stage. I’m to rest in the Producer’s Office while the production continues. I don’t have a role right now. I don’t know when I’ll be sent back on stage, but right now I’m to rest with the Producer.

Please don’t think it is a puppet show with God pulling our strings. It didn’t feel like that at all. It was a freely moving drama with God’s attentive presence. Sometimes all of us need to step off stage, out of the drama of life, maybe for an hour, a week’s holiday or maybe for longer. Have you ever felt that call? Did you say accept or resist it? Right now, I’m enjoying my time off stage. I love the unscheduled days, the extra prayer and reflection times, time to swim or walk and the times to chat with people. Somehow in the midst of this, I trust I’ll get to know Jesus in a different way.

So far – Week 2 feels good!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion.