Decision-Making

I’ve currently got a major decision perking through my life and it led me to reflect on decision making and the implications of our decisions.

I have some basic guidelines I’ve been taught that make sense to me on how to make decisions – discernment principles we call them. It all depends on the size of decision of course, but some basic ones for me, for personal decisions are:

  • Don’t make major changes when in a place of doubt or desolation. Wait for consolation.
  • If I’m living lightly and in an open, loving place with God, a good choice or action will feel like a drop of water on a soft sponge.
  • Be honest and open with my needs and the needs of others around me who are affected by my decision.
  • Share my decision making with a wise Christian who knows me and listen to their perspective.
  • Wait for peace, deep internal peace and the clarity it brings.

These guidelines generally lead me to live thoughtfully, with purpose and clarity. Sometimes my pace is fast, sometimes it is slow, but it tends to be steady. People often describe me as peaceful, yet intense, anchored yet very productive. Such is Anne!

But… another whole intriguing side of decision making to me is the huge ‘what ifs’ that occur or don’t occur. What if I hadn’t said that thing, or written that email or taken that job, or married that person, or lived in that house/apartment….. and on and on and on.

Forty years ago, Hugh and I made a decision in our lives around where to live and raise our family. We decided to not move to Victoria but stay in Toronto. What if we had lived in Victoria? Who would we have met/not met? …… My daughter and her husband made a decision a year ago to raise their family in Paris. What if they’d decided to come to Toronto? How would my life, their neighbourhood, our city, our world be different?

Thomas Merton wrote that each moment in each event of each person’s life plants a seed within their soul. That was one of the life changing bits I received from him. Each decision we make has ripple effects within our own lives, but also the lives around us and the ripples extend out into the universe.

Decision-making ripples.  What choices are you making today? May you unhook your Pinball Brain. May they come from a place of quiet and peace within you. (see Nov 29 and Dec 6)

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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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

There’s a Pinball Machine Upstairs!

One night last week, I looked at the clock and it was 2.00AM. Sleep wasn’t happening. It was as if I’d forgotten how to fall asleep! I wasn’t worried about anything. There wasn’t a call to prayer that I recognized. I just wasn’t sleeping. I tried my usual ways of gentle music, repetitive prayer thoughts, even counting. It was when I tried to meditate that I realized what was going on. There was a pinball machine in my mind. The lights were flashing and bells were ringing!

I could, very briefly, sit there and watch the activity of my mind. It was racing around. This was no frolicsome roomful of playful puppies. No, this was a pinball machine of racing thoughts, banging into one another, stepping on one another, repeating again and again old or sometimes hoped-for conversations.

Whew. It was exhausting to watch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exhausting enough to put me to sleep! 3.00AM clicked by and I was still awake.

Was it the stimulating evening I had with friends, the alcohol, abundance of both food and conversation? Most likely any one of those or the rolled-up combination of all combined to awaken in me such stimulation that sleep disappeared.

Have you ever had a time like that, when sleep eludes you, or you recognized the furious activity of your mind? What do you do?

I know for me, the first step is to recognize it. Ah yes, my mind is busy right now. I know I need to be gentle with myself, with my mind and hold the hope that I will sleep again. I know too, I can have a Pinball Brain during the day as well. I’ve come to value the ability to observe the pace of my mind, knowing there is much more to me than my thoughts. I seek the quiet, internal centre. I know that too and want to write about it next week.

Amazing – both a Pinball Brain and a Quiet Centre within one person. Aren’t we amazing beings!

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+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

The Way

I’m continuing some gentle study of First Nations spirituality. As I described a couple of weeks ago, the Elder showed me a gentle and grounded way to live. This morning, as I read about their understanding of the dependence that human beings have on plants and animals for their daily needs, I was aware how different their ways are from the ways I’ve been taught. I would need to live within a community that both carried those truths and lived from them to learn their ways. There is ‘a way’ that they follow.

In the early years, the New Testament years, to follow Jesus, the Risen Christ was to follow ‘The Way’. There was a new way to live, a way of forgiveness, of healing, of transformation that led into a new awareness of connectedness, that God’s love extended to ALL and we, who walked ‘The Way’, were to live as peacemakers and healers.

Yet as a child growing up in the church, I didn’t learn about ‘The Way’. I learnt rules, a moral code, prayers that were said like memory work, stories that were remote, not life shaping, and I learnt catechism. As a young adult, when I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus, I got closer to finding ‘The Way’ to live. I experienced some healing and re-direction in my life, yet many of my teachers still emphasized correct thinking rather than embracing me in a new way of life. They taught me a correct reading of scripture rather than an ongoing experiential encounter with God.

Is this not part of the reason many of our churches are empty on a Sunday morning?

As human beings, my awareness is that we don’t search for a moral code or correct teachings, but we do, in our most enlightened moments, search for a way to live, a well worn pathway that will brings a sense of purpose and meaning into our lives, a way that will teach how to get along with ourselves, with others, with our earth and with our Creator.

Today I sit with my Bible beside me, eager to enter the stories of Jesus, ready to follow his way of life. I know I’m to follow his way. He is my Chief Elder. I’m to continue to let him be my teacher. I’m to immerse myself within him and let him show me the other teachers he gifts me with, like my dog! I don’t need to persuade anyone else to follow me, but I will share, hopefully with growing humility, what My Elder has taught me and maybe together we will follow Him.

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+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Stillness

I’ve been drawn to the experience of stillness in the last while. A few times I’ve been aware of the invitation in prayer to be still after I leave the prayer time. I’m not to get caugstone and sand for stillness and actionht up in the busy conversations, the decisions that seem to need to be made, the city whirl. I’m to learn to be still. It’s partly emerged out of my attraction to the True Self work. I’ve experienced an inner stillness even when around me, it feels like chaos. It results in me feeling like I’m more myself, simpler, deeper, less pretentious, less a lot of things!

But it doesn’t mean I’m physically still. I’m still to be moving, but from a place of stillness. It doesn’t mean I don’t make any decisions, just that they’re to come from a still place.  A recent tag line on my email account was: Be still, be very, very still. And the I added to it: Be still and still moving.

As this was happening within me, one of our Companions inchild image for stillness and action

Contemplative Fire told me about a message he’d received during a Quaker Meeting. Ps 46 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” The speaker noted that the psalm said to be still, not to be silent. That is so much in alignment with what I’m learning. To be still doesn’t mean to be silent or not taking action. It means to be still within our soul, to be still and listening and knowing and being formed and guided by God’s Spirit.

In Contemplative Fire, part of our Rhythm is ‘Across the Threshold’. That refers to being led by the Spirit of God, perhaps into unfamiliar places. As with all our leaves, that one too is rooted in the central Wordless Space, in the deep stillness of God. We also talk about the Silence of God, about God’s first voice being silence. We become still within, listening to God’s silence and from the still, silent space we are formed and hear our life’s words and actions. How intriguing is that!  Out of stillness and silence come words and action and oh… those words and actions smell, feel so different from the ones that come out of my busyness!

What is your experience of stillness? Physical stillness? Interior stillness? Do you run from it, brush it off, find it impossible, or never consider it! How have you experienced the different sources of your words and actions?

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+

Contemplative Fire , Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Lessons from My Dog (#257)

The dogs I’ve known love to gnaw on bones. They’ll spend ages licking, chewing, crunching and simply gnawing on their bones. After they’re done, they might hide them to pull out another day. If they dig them up again, or if I give it back to them another day, they’ll start to gnaw all over. Ah yes… a good bone to gnaw on.dog chewing on bone 1

So what’s this got to do with finding a contemplative pathway?? Well, today I was sitting on the bench in the locker room at my gym, and I took a look at what was going on in my head. Have you ever done that, stopped and become aware of the patter that is happening? Today I heard myself going over a conversation that I’ve had before. Actually, I’ve had that same inner dialogue, or variations of it, again and again in my mind. Suddenly I realized I was like my dog as he chews on a bone. I was going over the same old ground again and again. Why? What was I getting out of it?

As I stepped back to ask those questions, I put my bone down. I was able to stop gnawing on it. I was quite purposeful. I know that to replay that conversation in my head will not move the situation forward. What will help is if I’m still, if I’m quiet within myself, and trust the Spirit of God to do her work, within me, within others, throughout the world. Relax and trust in the slow work of God. Replaying, gnawing on an old situation doesn’t help. Trusting does.

I’m happy to give my dog a bone to chew on. There are times when I do need to think carefully through things, but much of the inner chatter, especially when it’s playing the same old tapes again and again – I want to set that aside. I’m not a dog. I don’t need to chew the same old things over and over.

How about you Gentle Reader….are you chewing on an old bone today?

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+

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

Gentle Leadership

Years ago, while on my annual silent retreat, I’d heard the invitation to grow into a gentle leadership with Contemplative Fire. I spent some time after that in discussion with colleagues about what a gentle leadership model might entail, but then I think I let it go. I stopped consciously thinking about it or trying to grow in that direction. It surfaced again for me during my Sabbath Leave.

For me, a gentle leadership is one that comes from the Spirit of God. It is when I submit myself to deep listening and deep following. I set aside strategic plans, and my long-term goals are not measurable outcomes but adherence to the vision and values that align with our Christian faith and Contemplative Fire. It is less about accomplishing things or growing a ministry and more about adherence to the One I follow. I’m aware of a different space within me internally.

A couple of nights ago, I was lying in bed, and I had one of those ‘Sonburst’ moments I’ve written about before. This one was about gentle leadership. I don’t recall that I was even thinking about it, but I could feel the presence of being a gentle leader emerge within me. I felt the groundedness, the security, the warmth, the ease. I felt an inner quality I’d never experienced before. It didn’t last for long, but it was there. I will always retain that memory, that possibility. I hope I will not only retain, but actively remember it. I would love to grow into that more deeply, to lead more gently, to lead more intimately connected to the flow of the Spirit of God.

I’d like that. Have you had any experiences like that? What would you teach me/us about gentle leadership?

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

A Mystic in Motion

 

 

 

 

One Day in a Garden

One day a friend, during a prayer time, received an image for me. It was a jigsaw puzzle picture of an thatched cottage with an English country garden in front of it. I was tending the garden. I spoke with people who stopped by, attracted by the quiet beauty of the garden. The conversations were rich and transformational.

Sometimes when people share their prayer moments, or insights they bounce off me, but other times they penetrate and stick. The jigsaw garden was one that felt right to me. During my Sabbath Leave I have heard the call both to a quieter season of life but also to a life that is more deeply led by the Spirit. This prayer image gave more substance to my calling. What lies before me is a life where all the pieces are in place, and together they will create a place of quietness and beauty. All the pieces of my life will come together and will provide nourishment to a few. I will be in a place of internal quietness and beauty.

I’m humbled and awed, by the calling, by the image and by the image being given to one, who I only know slightly. How deep is the Father’s love for us! How connected are the children of the Father!

If I have one truth that I return with from my Sabbath Leave it is to say so clearly to any who might listen: We are not alone. God’s Spirit is present, watching over us all the time. It doesn’t matter if our days are happy or sad. God is present. It doesn’t matter if we’re devotedly following our faith or not. God is present. All the time. And the Spirit that is present with us is good, is cheering us on, wanting the best for us.

I do know there are dark spirits around too. We are not to live blind to them, but we renounce any engagement with them and open ourselves to the goodness of God.

We are not alone. You are not alone. May you know God’s presence today. May you open yourselves to the goodness and beauty of God. Breathe the sweet fragrance of the garden.

Love and prayers

Anne

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

 

Seasons

Into a Silent Retreat this week – somewhere in Yorkshire… catching a whiff of roses that cover the wall of the 16th century hall we’re housed in…. hearing the sheep ‘baa’ in the adjoining field… wandering the splendid gardens of this estate….enjoying an orange cake for afternoon tea and leading a group through the seasons of life – Autumn of letting go, Winter of rest, Spring of possibilities and Summer of abundance, only to begin again with harvesting and letting go… and wondering about the seasons of my own life.

This has been a helpful transition week for me. I’m back into a leadership role, but holding it differently – catching a whiff of how to be a…hmmm.. not-sure-of-the-name-type-of-leader, maybe a leader who leads by whiff of the scent of Spirit, one that listens to the sound of the Spirit, one that wanders in the life of the Spirit, one who savours the flavour of the Spirit…..Clearly I’m caught in the delight of this part of our world! It’s a leader who leads yet follows and the main responsibility is on following the One who leads me.

I can feel Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer happening in me all at once. I’m aware of letting go, of being dormant, can wonder about sprouts that might appear someday and feel the ABUNDANCE of this Sabbath Leave time.

But enough…shhh…. I need to stay quiet and still in an unfinished place during this retreat time.

Unfinished – wow! Is there more to come? Of course there is – always the seasons flow, one gives way to another. This Sabbath season is coming to an end for me and will give way to something else. Perhaps Unfinished is the perpetual season. What would it be like to learn how to live in the Season of Unfinished?

Be blessed

Anne

Mystic in Motion

 

Transition Time

I’m moving now from a Sabbath Leave with a Retreat in Daily Life into a holiday/work month. I met with my Spiritual Director a few days ago to bring my Sabbath Leave to a close. It has been three, absolutely glorious months of prayer, reflection, solitude and big doses of nature. I’m very rested and content. I feel like my eyes, heart and mind are open. I’ve been asking the question for over a year, “What makes a sustainable life for me?” and I know I’ve experienced it in these three months.

The next month of my break is a combination holiday/work – three weeks of holiday and a week leading a silent retreat. This is where the work of my Sabbath Leave will begin to show. I’m grateful for this transition month before I return to work in July. How do I integrate all I’ve enjoyed in this long sabbath experience into daily life? This really is bringing my mystical journey into everyday life. Or is it allowing my everyday life to be shaped by the mystical reality? Can I be a Mystic in Motion?

I’ve spent the last few weeks wandering in Jesus’ last words to his friends before his arrest, John 14-17. I’ve been using The Message which has helped familiar words drop more deeply into my awareness. I’ve let Jesus get a place ready for me; he taken me by the hand and guided me; he’s opened life for me on God’s terms; he’s poured his joy into me, joy that overflows it’s riverbanks and joy no one can rob from me; he’s reminded me again and again that he is within the Father, and within me and I’m within him; he’s invited me into the loving dance that he has with the Father; as the Father loves him (and oh he knows that so intimately, no fear of loving there!), that love is the love he has for me; I’ve know his arms embracing me, slowing me down and holding me close; again and again I’ve heard ‘remain in my love’. Okay – now I need to step out into a family holiday and a month of suitcase living with all this moving within me. Off I go……

What gives shape and meaning to your days?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion