Finding a Sustainable Life – Part 6: Another Tree Friend

I’m still sharing with you some of the Spirit wisdom I gathered on our Pilgrimage to Now/here in August —

Later in our walk if found a place to sit within a tree. I don’t know what kind of tree it was or whether it was several trees very close together. Someone had placed a large stone at chair height within this cluster of trees. They formed the sides and back of a chair for me and I could nestle into it.

I felt myself surrounded by the arms of the forest. It was wonderful. A place of rest, ease and company. I saw that a sustainable life for me requires company, people I can be surrounded by and at ease with.

I’m an introvert and very content on my own. A week in a hermitage is delicious for me! Sometimes I long for a month or more – what would that solitude be like! But the wisdom God’s Spirit had for me that day was that for a sustainable life I need community, people around me. I need to let people know me, hold me, comfort and advise me. I’m not to walk alone, but to walk with other like-souled friends.

I’m not sure how this wisdom will unfold, but I look forward to it. It helped me be aware and value the community supports that have evolved over the years for me. It also calls me to look at the ways I live without support either by my own choice or the ministry arrangements. It’s heartening to name the supports I have and rather sobering to see the areas where they are missing, either by my lack of openness or others interest.

How about you? What is the nature of the cluster of trees that surround you?

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

On This Week….

Spirit Cinema

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Refreshments 6:15pm, Start 7pm

St. John’s York Mills, 19 Don Ridge Drive

This month’s film features the untold story of everyday women who brought a warring nation in West Africa to its senses…armed only with their faith & the courage of their convictions! Learn More

Monthly Gathering

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Our Gathering will be held on Sunday, October 30, 2016 with silence beginning at 4pm.  Please join us for an experiential encounter with scripture! Learn More

 

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Finding a Sustainable Life – Part 1

God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Ps 131

For years I have enjoyed this Psalm. I delighted in the affirmation of the quest of stillness and quietness. Throughout human history there are those of us who have sought that stillness. And it can be found. I felt at home with this concept and the writer.

Usually when I meditated on it, I hurried (!) past the first verse to get to the second, but this summer I stopped on the first verse and realized how important it is to the second. My soul was quieted this summer. As I took my month break I enjoyed the rest and could feel myself settle down during the time. When I read Ps 131.1 I realized that my quietness was disturbed when I became engaged in things that weren’t mine to tend to.

I believe we all have a significant place in this world. Each one of us has something of value to bring. My temperament is such that I see big pictures and want to bring change. I am a visionary and an agent of change. Give Anne something and she’ll tidy it up, re-arrange it and set it going again with purpose and vision. It’s simply who I am and what I do.

ego-spirit

The challenge I’ve come to realize is in whether I allow my well-trained and well-developed ego to use those gifts or whether I offer them to God’s Spirit via my soul. When it is a Spirit/soul venture, my soul remains calm and quiet as I do my work. When my Ego (intentional capital letter) gets hold of those gifts I usually experience push often leading to some level of exhaustion. I’m learning to let a lot of things go by me and only tend what I truly need to. I’ve encountered my Ego that enjoys and is capable of ruling the roost but doesn’t need to. My Ego is learning to heed the loving voice of my Soul and take the rest that is offered. I don’t need to bother myself with a great many things. Like a contented and maturing child, I can be at rest with my mother, my God and say thank you.

One step on the journey to sustainable ministry life; Sustainability is fed by discerning wisdom.

Life is good – All the time.

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

“Ego – acronym for Edge God Out” – Wayne Dyer, The Shift

Finding my Way – Eagle Wings

mg_9336Have you ever watched an eagle glide or hover? Their wings are so strong and wide, able to catch the air currents and ride them, seemingly effortlessly. There was a little hummingbird in my garden this morning and they seem to work so hard, with tiny wings in constant movement.

Am I an eagle or a hummingbird today? Sometimes in life I can feel the fast pace, the frantic movements from place to place, but other times…. oh other times I can feel myself sustained, held, supported and moved by an unseen force. How absolutely splendid those times are!

As a friend and I shared this week, we became aware that in our spiritual life we can feel like an eagle. We can wait for the lift of the current of the Spirit, then spread our wings and allow the Spirit to move us. I’ve known times of being held by the Spirit, seemingly effortlessly alive, moving, watching, being, doing. There is a life force beyond me that is holding me. Do you know such times?

What if we lived, like eagles, waiting for the Spirit current that will lift us? What if we waited for the Spirit of God? What if we waited?

I imagine there are many times in all our lives when we have had an eagle experience. I encourage you to return to those moments when life felt effortless and you felt supported and sustained by God. What was happening that allowed you to experience it?

Right now I trust the sustaining presence of God within my life. If I’m going to find my way through this hectic and chaotic world I need to learn to wait, patiently wait for Spirit movement. I need to learn to trust, trusting that God is always present and will come to lift me. And then I need to learn to stretch my wings and fly.

Eagle or hummingbird? Which are you today?

Love and prayers on our flight together
Anne
Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

“And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.”
~One Eagle’s Wings – Michael Joncas

Lessons from a Hurricane (5) Uncovering Anger

Lessons from a Hurricane (5)

Uncovering Anger

empty ice creamAfter I cleaned up the mess of ice cream containers that surrounded me …… It doesn’t take and Adult Anne long to realize that ice cream simply doesn’t solve any problems or clean up any hurricane-like mess! Under the hurricane mess and under the mess of ice cream I found anger.

I was amazed by the size and depth of the anger that was within me. How could this be? I’ve been a ‘conscious’ Christian for over forty years. I’ve done years of internal work and hours upon hours of reflective healing prayer. How could there possibly be so much anger still within me? At times it felt like there was an underground river of anger that was feeding my soul. It was the ugly, painful, sleep disruptive kind of anger. Do you know that kind?anger

The anger felt like an invader. I did the work that I know to do when I encounter a persistent intrusion like that. I meditated, prayed, journalled, sought a therapist, saw my spiritual director, drew pictures, took lots of deep breaths, found a friend – all the things that I imagine many of you know to do. This anger was persistent. It would disappear some days and I’d think I’d licked it only to have it appear again and again. I was hounded by it for months.

I learnt that I’m loved by God, even with the anger. I learnt to live with anger, not ruled by it but acknowledging it’s presence, not overwhelmed by it but recognizing that because of my history,  because of my temperament, anger is a companion. And, it’s worth repeating, I’m loved by God. I’m loved in my unfinished state. This persistent anger was humbling. It drew me closer to God. My need for God’s presence, my need for tenderness and compassion, deepened. My wonder at God’s willingness to be close to me when I didn’t want to be close to myself quite took my breath away. How spectacular, how stunning is the Holy One.

The hurricane humbled me. At least it humbled me a little bit, enough to know there is more humbling ahead.

Amazing what a wind storm can reveal. Amazing what a wind storm can heal. When has revealing and healing happened in your world?

With love and prayers

Anne

Community Leader (Canada)

Lesson from a Hurricane (3) – Changing Soul Windows

Lesson from a Hurricane (3) – Changing Soul Windows

Sometimes the storm windows and screens of my childhood home were really difficult to weather imagechange. Each was carefully numbered and some were labelled, such as ‘Anne’s Room’, and they were always neatly lined up in the store room, but sometimes my father would struggle with getting them into place. Perhaps it was as simple as I had moved rooms so clearly ‘Anne’s Room’ designation didn’t work anymore. I wasn’t there any longer. Sometimes it was as if the house itself had changed shape over the season.

As we move through our lives, as we mature and change, the shape of our Soul Windows may change too.

The force of The Hurricane helped me look at the shape and substance of my soul. Some Basic Soul Questions emerge:  What gives me life? What drains me? What are my gifts? How might I offer them to God for goodness in the world?

As I wrestled with these basic questions I realized that my soul was experiencing my father’s seasonal struggle.  I both had changed rooms and my soul was changing shape. My job had changed and I was different. I spent many months trying to force a window into a frame into which it didn’t belong. Lots of hammering. Lots of noise. Lots of stress. Lots of pain.

Does that sound familiar to you? Is it a time in your life to ask those basic Soul Questions and ask God for the wisdom of where you belong? My belief is that we all have a place where we belong, where we are needed, where we can contribute to goodness, to peace and justice in the world. Sometimes we need to change places. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be changed.

God’s blessings to you as you examine your Soul Windows.

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire

Lessons from a Hurricane – Closing Soul Windows

Lessons from a Hurricane (2)

Closing Soul Windows

weather imageI remember from my childhood how each fall, my father would carefully take down the screens and put up the storm windows. Each window was numbered and fit only one window of our home. It was a pre-winter ritual to protect us from the storms ahead. All winter long, as the cold winds blew outside, we were protected. The summer screens were carefully stored in their numbered order waiting for gentle winds to return.Last week we considered the expression ‘soul windows’. In my early life I learned to protect myself, to move very carefully through life. To some degree I think that’s normal for us all, however for me it went to an extreme. It was as if my soul lived in perpetual winter with the storms on and shutters closed. Summer screens seldom were used.

I have spent many of my adult years discovering and nurturing my soul life. A portion of that time has been spent opening my soul windows so I could receive what others, both Divine and human had to give me. I have come to value deeply those moments of receiving.

The Hurricane that blew through my world reminded me that I also have to learn to put the storm windows on my soul.windy face Sometimes they need to be partially shut, other times fully shut. This closing is very different from the closing that I developed as a child. It is intentional and temporary. I chose when and for how long. Sometimes I might even chose to remain open as a winter wind blows – but I’m aware of what I’m doing.

Some thoughts on closing soul windows:

  • Sometimes it requires a physical withdrawal from a conversation, a place or an action. The removal may be very short, could be longer, or it could lead to a discernment that something needs to be finished, to be drawn to completion.
  • Sometimes a space-creating word needs be spoken, ‘Okay. Let me think about that.’ I realize I don’t need to respond to everything right away. In fact there is a lot that doesn’t require my automatic, rather reactive responses.
  • Sometimes it requires an observation of the interior disruption. How wonderful when I can catch one of those moments and observe how I’ve been thrown off my centre. Just catch and observe.
  • Sometimes it involves an intentional decision to move to a place of Deep Listening. Most often, for me, this takes place afterward as I listen deeply to my soul and what it is saying to me. This often involves sharing with another and allowing them to listen to my soul often with ears that I don’t have.

The day the Hurricane struck I didn’t have any of those responses. I simply found myself a bit like Dorothy sucked up into the wind and blown into a new land, a land I didn’t like very much. In retrospect I see more clearly that my soul has windows and I have choices. As much as I seek to be open to what is around me, there are times when I need to close the windows partly or completely. Often called ‘setting boundaries’ – it is both helpful and healing.

Are your soul windows open appropriately or inappropriately? What ways have you found to take care of yourself in a healthy and healing way?

There are seasons to be open and seasons to be closed.

As we move into a new week – God alone knows what weather systems we will encounter! May we open and close our soul windows with wisdom and care.

Peace in the midst of all…

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire

Lessons from A Hurricane

Lessons from A Hurricane

One day I arrived at work and it was as if a hurricane blew through my life. Everything was in upheaval. The external arrangements at work were changing. What we did and how we did it was suddenly altered. My place within the organization was changed. The hurricane also scattered my interior world. It was as if I’d left the windows of my home open and the wind had uprooted trees, torn off the shutters, and scattered my papers and belongings around the house. Disruption arrived.

Can you relate? When have you had a ‘hurricane’ blow through your life?

In the following weeks which turned into months, I sought to restore order both to my external and internal world. I offer you a series of reflections entitled ‘Lessons from the Hurricane’. The first is…

Soul Windows

open windowWhen I arrived at work that day it was, within my soul, balmy and mild – a lovely summer day. My soul windows were wide open, welcoming all who came my way.

Thich Nhat Hanh uses that expression to describe the openness of our being to what is around us – to the TV shows, the internet, the advertising, the conversations, the interactions with strangers, friends, colleagues and family. And yes, we want to be open, but open wisely for sometimes we need to close our windows. Sometimes, during a TV program, or work project, or conversation,  when we can feel the loss of peace within us, it’s time to close a bit. We are to “Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” (Colossians 3.15).

That sense of peace is my known experience. I’ve come to value it deeply. When the hurricane blew, I lost my sense of interior peace.  I lived for the next few months rarely knowing interior peace. It was like crossing a rushing river with stepping stones. Occasionally I’d find a solid moment till the next rush unsettled me. One day from a scripture study in Colossians I was reminded that peace was to be my lived experience. It is the gift God gives to us when our lives are reconciled with the Divine.  We are at Peace with our Maker and that peace is to permeate our daily life. That awareness from the scripture study was like a hand reaching out to rescue me. I sought to grasp that hand and decided that nothing is more valuable than recovering the Peace that is God’s gift to me.

One lesson for me from the hurricane has been a deeper awareness that I have ‘soul windows’.  I am responsible for both opening and closing my windows. Next time more about healthy ways to close soul windows.

What does the expression ‘soul window’ mean to you?

Peace crossing the river…

Anne

Community Leader Canada

Contemplative Fire