HELP! Finding Life within the Coronavirus Slow Down

 

Have you been required, or asked to self-isolate? Have your activities or work been curtailed? In some way all of us have been affected by the virus and its containment. We are all being required to live at least temporarily, a slower life.

For years I have helped people slow down, listen to the loving voice of God and then live out of what they hear. I have found that some people instinctively respond to the slowing down, but many, even most people, find it incredibly difficult. I am concerned for the mental health of our communities as the time of self-isolation deepens. I’m encouraged to see that mental health professionals are beginning to speak out about it. We are social creatures and need each other. It wonderful to see the concerts, exercise classes, talks etc. being offered on the internet.

I offer you today some aids to help you get through a slower and possibly anxious, period in your life. Give your slower days an intention and purpose. Some love a free-flowing day – let that happen. Others prefer to work within a schedule, so create one! I work with a combination. I have a schedule of activities I will probably do, but I allow them to flow. Perhaps you can schedule a time for meditation, a time for written reflection and a time for walking, even a walking meditation outdoors. I think it is a wonderful time to pray the Loving-Kindness meditation.  Here are four links to prayer practices:

Centering Prayer: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-1

Holy Reading – Lectio Divina : https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/lectio-divina

Loving Kindness Meditation: https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-on-lovingkindness/

Walking Meditation: https://www.tarabrach.com/walking-meditation-instructions-pdf-from-tara-2/

Please look after yourself during this time of necessary slowness. May it become a rich time of learning for all of us as a human community.  I treasure the quote from Gibran’s The Prophet, “Pillars of the temple stand together and apart”. 

How are you adjusting? What are you learning?

Love and Prayers continue…

Anne

If this is helpful, please pass it along to friends so we can broaden the contemplative pathway. 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

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)

 

Surrender

Today ‘surrender’ is my word. It’s my second day at Rivendell leading the group meditation. This time it was Richard Wagamese writing about surrendering the outcome of an event to the Creator. The word opened within me a gentle release. Ah yes, I don’t need to concern myself with outcome, or expectations, or productivity or success. I’m invited to be open to My Creator, to invite her to move within and through me, to unfold her ways in my life. The Way of Love.

“When my energy is low, meaning I don’t feel at my best in terms of creativity, inspiration, attunement or rest, I let Creator have my flow and ask only to be a channel. My deepest audience connection has always happened when I do this. So, on my way to a podium nowadays, I say to myself, “Okay, Creator, you and me, one more time.” When I surrender the delivery, along with the outcome, the anxiety and expectation, everything becomes miraculous. It’s a recipe for life, really.” Embers pg67

‘Surrender’ used to be a scary word to me. I have come to recognize that what I felt in those days was my controlling ego not wanting to let go of what it knew, what was its protection and projection. Today when I hear the word my heart warms. Oh yes. Remind me again and again to surrender to God. It is You and me together Precious One. You lead. I follow. I trust wherever You want to take me and whatever You want to give to me and to others through me. This life is Your show, Your pathway. We walk it together, but I want it to be about You, You and me, not about ME. My life is more embedded in you than it used to be, more entangled with the delight of You.

Thank you Richard for reminding me one more time to surrender, to live as Creator and me dancing together. I need to be reminded. Often. Do you?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Unfolding

 

What a marvelous word! I heard ‘unfolding’ yesterday in our group meditation time at Rivendell. It was embedded in one of Nan Merrill’s psalms. I saw a pathway that was curled up, unfolding in front of me. It is called ‘The Way of Love’. I could both see the whole pathway unfolding as well as know that each step unfolds at a time. Step by step. Step by beautiful step. Each step leads towards healing and wholeness for that is The Way of Love.

Today I can still feel the word ‘unfolding’ within me. I love the unknown yet known, quality to it. I engage with the whole idea of unfolding, revealing, becoming known, step by step. So often when I hike the mountains I both enjoy the splendor all around me, but only concentrate on the next slippery, trudging step. Step by step I climb the mountain. Step by step I allow The Way of Love to unfold in my life.

I have so much to learn about love. I trust the Loving Spirit to be my teacher. I watch Jesus as he moves through his human interactions with people who like him and people who don’t, with people who are curious and people who challenge, with people who are searching and people who are suspicious of something new. Each interaction shows me what The Way of Love looks like in action. Each meeting, if the person is open, leads to healing and wholeness. Yet not everyone is receptive for some simply don’t want what he offers. He doesn’t push or insist on his way. He releases them. Each encounter unfolds a bit more of the pathway of The Way of Love.

I trust this pathway will continue to unfold in my life and yours too. Are you walking with me? What do you see as the pathway called ‘The Way of Love?’

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Promise Keeper, Promise Breaker, Promise Shaper

Warning… I’m sure some of you won’t like this so much. I’m going to go a place that can be unsettling.

Have you ever had someone break a promise to you? Maybe a clear promise, maybe a promise hidden within expectations…….. Of course. I’m sure you have. It’s part of being human. We all experience the disappointment, the pain of broken promises.

Have you ever broken a promise? And how did you feel when you did that? Avoidance, or maybe shame or guilt?…….. I’m sure you have. It too is part of being human. We give our word, with our best intention, and sometimes we don’t follow through, we forget, or something distracts us, or we simply make another choice.

I know we’re supposed to be Promise Keepers. It gives all of us a sense of security, that people around us will be true to their word, will stand by us.  Yet so often I’ve been hurt by people who don’t keep their promises to me. The reality is that we are Promise Breakers.

What if we accepted that about ourselves? Didn’t run away from it. Didn’t hide it from others?

What if… what if we/I held a different perspective, one that accepts that promises will be broken? Jan Richardson’s poem on Epiphany speaks of being on a journey and part of the path being strewn with the scattered pieces of broken promises. She says we keep walking. One step at a time. Eyes on the Star overhead that will lead us home.

I realized that I’ve seen promises as rules that must be kept rather than principles that can be lived. What if my promises could be based not on rules frozen in time, but on principles that may evolve as situations change? I could say, “I can’t keep the promise I made to you, but I can do or be this ….today. OR I can no longer live within the expectation that you hold of me but I can be…..today.”

In my closest circle, I’ve experienced many divorces. All good people who made promises to each other and then discovered they couldn’t keep those promises. I imagine each of them felt shame, guilt and pain as the relationship fell apart around and in them. They didn’t seek to be a Promise Breaker, but the promises got shattered and scattered all over the path they were walking.

What if they, all of us, could see ourselves as Promise Shapers who say something like, “I’m so sorry that I can’t keep the promise I once made. Something has changed and now, today, I can be (a different way)….. with you.” What if we gave ourselves and others the freedom to shape a new promise? I know some will say “NO!” We need the solid foundation of promises, vows that anchor us so that when difficulties come, we will withstand the turbulence. Absolutely. We do need solid anchors. And we need room to recognize, accept and forgive the Promise Breakers and let them grow into Promise Shapers, making promises not based in rigidity but soaked in loving principles.

Here’s the link to Jan Richardson’s poem if you want to walk the Epiphany Walk with her. I wonder what you will hear. http://paintedprayerbook.com/2011/12/31/epiphany-blessing-for-those-who-have-far-to-travel/

Thank you for letting me think this through with you Gentle Reader. It is what I do in these blogs.

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

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Holy Waiting: Journey into Darkness

This year I’m going to offer four advent reflections that will move us from darkness into The Light. Prepare yourself to join me on this journey. Today as we begin our journey into Advent, I invite you to find a candle, a match, a timer and a Bible. Open the Bible to Isaiah, Chapter 9, Verse 2 and set it by your side.

First some reflection —- Right now, as I live in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m in the darkest season of the year. From October 21 to December 21 each day, we’re heading into deeper darkness. For years I have resisted the shortness of these days but this year, as several people mentioned this season to me, I found my attention drawn to the many shades of darkness. I’m not resisting it as I have before. I’m more open and accepting of the short days and descending darkness. I realize there are many kinds of darkness.

There’s Fearful Darkness. When I was a child, I was so sure there were ‘bogey men’ out there, or snakes creeping around! Even as an adult, standing in the deepest dark of the night can be disconcerting. What is that sound???? When I can’t see much around me, my imagination can begin to play games so I’m not always comfortable walking up our unlit street at night. And then there are the times of emotional darkness, times uncertainty, unsettledness, unknowing. Sometimes it can feel dark even when the sun shines. Those are times of emotional darkness. And yes, I can still be scared in that dark!

There’s Lonely Darkness. Sometimes darkness can highlight the sense of loneliness. If only there was someone with me, it wouldn’t seem so dark. Their human presence would bring a light to me. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt alone and lonely. Sometimes it’s a physical loneliness for there is no other human with me. Other times it’s a mental loneliness when my ideas, beliefs or experiences separate me from others and there is no warm human companion walking with me. Sometimes it’s a spiritual loneliness when God seems so distant. I would name those as ‘dark’ times, difficult times.

There’s Womb Darkness. We all began our earthly lives in the darkness of the womb. That’s warm darkness, heartbeat darkness, nourishing darkness. That’s the darkness that allows seeds to sprout. Jesus began his earthly life in the very same way as you and I did, curled up within Mary’s womb, feeling her heart beat, being nourished by the food she ate, protected and cared for by her. During her pregnancy, I wonder how many times Mary repeated to herself and to God, ‘Not my will but Yours be done.’? Each time she repeated her desire to be open to God, Little Jesus within, heard her. How nourishing that might have been for His Spirit. Darkness can be warm and nourishing. It can bring forth new life.

Now some experience. —- Set the timer for five minutes. Turn off as many lights as you can and begin to sit in darkness. Wait in darkness. Become aware of what it’s like for you to be in darkness, to not know what is around you, what is coming. Experience the uncertainty, even the discomfort, perhaps the fear of the darkness. Be patient with everything unresolved in your life, every unknown aspect, every shadow that flickers. Just be present within the darkness.  If you can, sit for the full five minutes, then light the candle and read Isaiah 9.2.

Allow that verse to be yours: You are a person who has walked in darkness, and now you can see a light.

The Advent Journey requires that we spend some time in darkness, knowing pain and difficulty. Being pregnant isn’t easy! There is no way it could have been all easy for Mary. May we pause long enough to acknowledge that we too, sometimes, wait in darkness, with unresolved ideas, relationships or decisions.

In the midst of our seasonal darkness, let us be patient. More light will come. In time. But we must wait.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Just One Letter Different

Vector Single Doodle Sketch Illustration - The Letter LI love the games that our English languages plays, like the way ‘ear’ and ‘hear’ are embedded within ‘heart’. Hmmm so is ‘art’! Today I found a new one. ‘Compete’ and ‘Complete’ are distinguished by just one letter ‘L’.

If only we could stop competing with each other and LOVE each other more, wouldn’t the human journey be more complete?

As I reflect, I can see that I’ve been so competitive in my life. I’m not athletic so it didn’t come out in sports and trophies, but I sure did like accumulating every badge possible at camp! I’m not particularly brilliant so it didn’t come out in academic achievements, but I did manage to acquire a few degrees and physical prizes along the way which somehow still made the cut in The Great Purge when we moved west. They are sitting on my bookshelf as I write.

So yes, I can acknowledge a level of competitiveness, but there is something else, just one letter different 2something deep within. I can sense something embedded within me that competes. I want to be noticed, known and valued. I worked in places that didn’t value me as a woman or as a contemplative. From this safe distance I can feel a competitive spirit driving me to be accepted and valued as both a woman and the offering of a contemplative pathway. Oh yes, I can see that some of my offerings came from a desire to show those active oriented men a thing or too!

What if I focused on loving? What if self-compassion (noticing and valuing myself) and compassion for others was my driving force instead of competition to be noticed? What if I inserted an ‘l’ into compete? Would I feel more complete? I think I would.

just one letter different 4So practically this week how will I do that? I could be more attentive to being in the present moment, to seeing who is around me, hearing what is happening and listening to whoever I am with. I could be more aware of my choices of activities and motivations with a gentle reflection during the day and at the end of the day. I could be attentive to any negative voices that whisper (or shout!) in my mind, anything negative about myself or another, anything that breathes competition and firmly open the escape hatch to let them go. I will not feed those monsters but will set my course to walk gently and bow often, to live from a place of completion not competition.

How about you? ‘Competing’ or ‘Completing’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ of Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Lessons from My Dog

Lessons from My Dogmy job waiting with hope dog and ball

One more time my dog is my spiritual teacher! If you have one, or have ever had one, you probably know what I mean. Time and again their love and presence have offered me deep spiritual truths. It happened again this week.

We’ve been looking after our ‘grandpuppies’ for the last three weeks. One day Finn started his dinner dance about 4.30 in the afternoon. I’m NOT going to feed him then. lessons from my dog 3Right! I’m NOT. I’m NOT. He locks his eyes on me. I turn my head away, plowing deep into my book. Then the nails start clacking. The dinner dance had begun. He’d moved from the deep concentrated stare to the dance with prancing and jumping added to the deep stare. The final level comes when he adds in a bark or two. Just random barks that I accompany the prance and are always tied to that deep concentrated stare. When he is in full flow, he is one powerful beast!

Wouldn’t you know it, but just this week I’ve been reading in my meditation course about concentration. You know when Jesus says we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? Well my mediation teacher takes those verses and says, ‘Yes! We’re to apply all of our being, our feelings, our thoughts, our whole energy towards God. Everything. Everything. We’re to apply deep concentration in our prayers, in our meditations.’ Just like Finn throws his whole being into convincing me to give him dinner at 4.30, I’m to throw my whole being into an openness towards God within meditation and within life. Just like Finn.

Honestly, over my Christian life, I’ve spent hours in prayer, but really, how much of that lessons from my dog 2time have I done a ‘dinner dance’ with God? How much of that time has been fully concentrated on God, not taking my eyes off, prancing and jumping, evening barking till I get what I’m looking for? How much? Honestly not that much. My mind wanders. A lot. It’s not that I don’t seek God and love God, it’s just that my mind wanders and I’m still much of the time, lost in my mind.

One more time, my dog is my spiritual teacher. I have so much to learn. I am humbled by how much I still have to learn.

What lessons has your dog taught you?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder Contemplative Fire (Canada)

A Question One Morning

 

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

In my devotional readings this morning, that was a question that jumped right off the page and into my lap!

I’m the youngest of three daughters. As a young person, even into my early twenties, I often felt that I couldn’t do anything my older sisters hadn’t already done. I went to the same primary school, high school and university. I attended the same summer camp and the went on the same family holidays. I felt defined by those objective events and blind to the uniqueness of ‘Anne’.

When I juggled that question around in my lap, I began to find many things that I had done that nobody else had done in the world. I began to savour anew my uniqueness. Some of the unique things I found were on the showy side, the upfront side, the side that can be noticed in the world. Other things were quieter, small everyday expressions of creativity. I appreciate that I was given the privilege of bringing Contemplative Fire into Canada – that’s on the upfront side of life. It touched my creative side and has been a real joy to me. I appreciate too that I was gifted with being able to birth four amazing young women. They are like no one else in the world. But creativity is in everyday things too. I moved from Stibbard Avenue in Toronto to Oceanview Road in Lions Bay. I don’t think anyone else, besides my husband has done that! Let’s get into even smaller everyday things looking for creativity. A dear one taught me how to open my closet and create an outfit to wear each day that will give me joy! No one else in the world will have that particular outfit on, on that particular day!

The devotional writer was stirring our creative energy. He was teaching us how we are within our spirit united to God’s Spirit. We are to relax and follow our intuition. It will lead us into a creative expression in the world, one that only we can make. I know deeply the presence of God within each one of us. Will we listen. Will we be awake spiritually, attentive to the movements within us? And listening, will we respond and move within the creative flow, saying ‘YES!’?

Ask yourself this question: “Have I ever tried to do anything that nobody else has ever done?”

Celebrate the goodness that is YOU.

 

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

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Easter Reflections: God is Enough, More Than Enough

 

(( I love that Easter, within the church year, lingers for fifty days. I penned these words just after our Easter celebration 2019))

Last week I experienced The Abundance of God. Today I linger in my pjs till noon, a bit exhausted by the abundance! I found one of those waves of the Spirit and rode it all week so today, I’m tossed on the shore to delight in the experience. God is enough, more than enough.

The week was full of activities, with people, with conversations, with experiences and ideas being exchanged, with errands and appointments that make up life, with meals out with family and new friends, with an abundance of worship services and punctuated with a day of fasting and prayer.

In the midst of the flow of Holy Week I heard the voice of The Loving Spirit drawing me closer. As I sat in a contemplative prayer service around the last supper with Jesus and his friends, he called me to trust him. The words were both surprising for they weren’t in the text, but also so familiar and real. Again and again I’ve heard the invitation to trust God’s Spirit, to lean into the presence within me. Surrender. Let the Spirit carry me forward. I am to be open.

On Friday as I held a crucifix in my hands and then later sat in front of a cross, I began to wonder what in me needs to die so I can trust more deeply, so I can live surrendered into loving arms. I realize I’ve prayed that same prayer, perhaps different words, but the same prayer, for over forty-five years. I’ve carried an inner sense that there something in me that blocks the free flow of God into the world through me and I long for that block to be released, for the dam to be broken, so more and more of God’s healing presence might flow through me.

Easter Sunday gifted me with the words of Jesus to Mary in the garden, ‘Don’t hold on to me.’ Ah yes, trust, let go, surrender. Are there old beliefs, labels, perspectives that no longer serve me? I’m in a new life here, finding new ways forward. It’s time to trust even more deeply, trust the goodness, the abundance of God.

God is enough, more than enough.

Today our home is drenched in a cloud. I can see the first few meters of trees, but that is all. The sun will re-appear. I know I can trust that. Resurrection is a part of life. Everyday. Everywhere. The sun is always shining somewhere. There is always new life happening. I trust. It is into that goodness I surrender, letting go of old ways, prescribed ways of being, old doubts and fears.

God is enough, more than enough.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

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