My Job

So many people ask me — ‘What will you do out west Anne? Will you work as a priest? Are you transferring your license to work in a parish? Will you continue to write? What is your dream for your life?’.  

This week embedded in one of Barbara Brown Taylor’s sermons I found a descriptive phrase for my life – my current one, and the one to come.

‘Our job is to wait without losing hope.’

We’re nearly at the equinox when the days are long, and then we begin the cycle into the long dark days of winter. So many of us find the world in dark place right now. World leaders trouble us, slavery continues, refugees suffer and daily we see violence in the news. Even without nature and the world’s happenings, we all know situational darkness that envelopes our lives when the phone rings, or doesn’t ring, when someone no longer comes home, when the pay cheques stop, when the dreams fall apart…..Or the silence when the God we knew seems to disappear and we can’t find the sparkle of faith we once knew.

Taylor was writing about the darkness, so I’m comfortable tweaking my job description:

My job is to wait in the dark without losing hope.

I don’t know what my days will look like when I wake up one morning in my same bed, but in BC. But I do know the flow of my days here and I imagine they will continue no matter what lies ahead for me.

My rhythm involves taking time in the morning for devotional reading and meditation. I read from a variety of sources – scripture, poetry, theology, prayer, spiritual masters. I have many teachers who I allow into my world for soul formation. I contemplate and meditate which allow me to rest in the presence of God. Even in the silence of God, I know myself as a branch entwined with the Divine Vine. Then my day unfolds as prayer. What mischief will we get up to today? To whom am I to smile? To whom will forgiveness be given? To whom will I be vulnerable?  My prayers are no longer tucked into a few devotional hours in the morning, but flow through me throughout the day. And they flow, whether the light is sparkling in me like it did during my Sabbath Leave and the year that followed, or whether the darkness surrounds me as it can in this time of the relentless work of a move and significant uncertainty. No matter what…

My job is to wait without losing hope.

Each moment of each day is prayer, unceasing prayer, all grounded in the God I know and yet don’t know, the One I open to and rest in each morning in my study time and meditation, and the one I play with as I sort through each drawer in our home.

My job is to wait without losing hope.

How about you Gentle Reader … Where are you called to wait and hope? What’s your job description?

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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From the Quiet Within

Usually something surfaces for me to write about, but this week, I’m quiet inside. Usually there is a word, phrase, image or thought that has held my attention. I want to either share it or chew it over with you. But tonight, I’m quiet inside. I ask…. ‘Precious One, is there anything I might share this week?’. And I’m quiet inside.

I’m grateful for the quietness tonight, for my prayer times have been anything but quiet for the last few weeks. The work of move has invaded my interior stillness. My mind is active.

This past week we visited the house that will become our new home in August. I’m awed at the privilege of living in such beauty. During our visit, I met Madame Mountain. She lives at the end of our driveway. I’ll see her every time I leave my home. Each time I go to the grocery store or take out the garbage, I simply need to look up and see a mountain towering overhead. I’m sure someone has ‘named’ her, but I have no idea what it is. How strange to think we can ‘name’ a mountain or a lake, river, or ocean…! I wonder if she’ll tell me her name if I sit very still with her and get to know her? Ahhh – all that lies ahead!

Perhaps it’s the activity of the move that steals away my writing thoughts. Hmmm perhaps it’s the awe I’m standing in. It’s hard to grasp that I’m being given something I’ve longed for. Can this really be true? Can I be so loved?

It’s time for me to be still, to settle into the Quietness within and be grateful for all.

Would you join me in a few minutes of quiet?Take a deep breath…. Sit within the Divine Quietness. Let Jesus love you, in just the way you need.

 

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

 

 

The Guest House

 

I continue to be a Mystic in Motion! I’ve got my head in boxes and drawers and cupboards sorting what to take, give away and discard. We are on the move.

The quote from last week – Deep down we all know that all life is on loan to us.  – continued to follow me in the days ahead.

I went to the AGO and found a painting that spoke to me of the hope, the light that lies deep within me. I believe that within my depths there is hope, laughter and a way of travelling lightly. I’m so sure that Jesus had an infectious laugh! The painting is by Joan Mitchell an abstract expressionist. I responded to the lightness being at the bottom. No matter what, there is hope, there is light under it all. I can see and feel that lightness within me. I look forward to more and more of it breaking through my depths.

Yesterday, in my memoir writing group we were given one of Rumi’s poem’s ‘The Guest House’. I will share it with you at the end of the blog. Again it spoke of holding life lightly, welcoming all that comes our way as guests, being at the door to welcome whatever comes with warmth and laughter. I believe that our life on earth is about learning how to live well, to live with compassion and kindness. That involves learning how to suffer well. Our lives are woven with times of pain, all sorts of different kinds of pain and we are, I am, to learn how to navigate the rough waters of life with integrity, with care and compassion, with even a welcome smile. That gives me enough to work on for the rest of my life!

So learning about  ‘Travelling Lightly – Dwelling Deeply’ continues. Who has come as a guest to my house today? Who has knocked on your door?

The Guest House by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

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

 

 

 

Life’s Lending Library

One night many years ago, I had a dream where I held a small bird in my hand. I knew I was to hold it very gently, not grasping, but simply letting it rest on my hand. If I grasped it, I knew I would harm it, even kill it.

I’ve been drawn into Joyce Rupp’s book ‘Praying our Good-byes’ this week. She begins with: ‘Deep down we know that all life is on loan to us.’

Somewhere hidden within me, I know I’m not in charge, that I’m gifted with life, entrusted with it. Somewhere deep within me I know that. But selling our home, moving far away, into a smaller home and with a different lifestyle challenges me to let go of most of the things that surround me, most of the people that make up the fabric of my daily life, and most of the involvements that give my life meaning. On loan? That means these things, these relationships, these activities aren’t MINE. That means I need to be holding them lightly, not grasping, but holding gently like that little bird from my dream.

Contemplative Fire follows a Rhythm of Life entitled: Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep. I’ve usually responded that I’ve little problem with the depth part, it’s travelling light that stretches me! My journey has been to lighten up, learn to play, to laugh, to let go, to simply live more lightly and with greater ease.

This week I’m considering that lightness comes from depth. I’ve seen them as  separate, both to be nurtured, but separate parts of me. Rupp’s teaching has opened a new door. I see that embedded in my depth, is lightness. It is from a place of depth, deep within, that release comes. Deep down in my True Self, in My Core, in the Centre of All, there is the way of being that holds life lightly, knowing that it is on loan. Life is not mine to grasp, possess, control or orchestrate, but it is mine to enjoy and live, openly, deeply and lightly. As long as I’m in angst about what to keep and what to let go, as long as I’m not releasing current relationships to become something new, as long as I’m getting my purpose from an activity or role, I’m not living my full life. I’m not living from my depths. I’m not Travelling Light- Dwelling Deep. Within me is freedom. Within me lightness. Life doesn’t belong to me. It’s loaned to me. So how shall I live?

I’ve loved our home in Toronto, but it is a home that was given to us for a season. It’s time to give it to someone else. I’ve been richly blessed in the life that has grown around me in Toronto, but this life was given to me for a season. It’s time to release it, to allow the groups and people to continue without me. It’s time for me to discover what being a stranger is all about. It’s time for me to build a new home. I will live into the truth that deep down, all life is on loan to us.

Right outside our bedroom window a robin has been building a nest on the drainpipe. It looks like an exposed an awkward place, but I suppose he’s done it before. Deep down, he knows how to build a home for his family. Deep down he knows that it will be just for this season. Deep down, he knows. Deep down I trust that we’ll be able to build a new home too.

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

ild a new home too.

What do you know deep down? Do you know that all of life is on loan to you? That you have it just for a season.

 

Broken and Open

He was there every day. How many days had they passed him by? But this day was different. Was he different? Were they different?

‘He’ was a man who had been lame from birth, living his adult life as a beggar asking for help of people as they entered the main worship place in the city. Surely those people would be kind to him. ‘They’ were two of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, that impetuous one and John, the one who sat close to Jesus. That day, they ‘saw’ the lame man reaching out to them and from their open, broken hearts the healing power of God moved through them to heal the lame man.

That was the Gospel in church this week. I listened as the homilist created the context for the story, drawing us into the lives of Peter, John and the Lame Man. She asked us to consider the changes in Peter from a simple fisherman to preacher/healer and how that had happened as he received the Holy Spirit and partnered with God.

She continued to develop that point, but I didn’t want to join her there. I wanted to look more deeply at Peter. I wanted to be on the beach with him when he encountered Jesus after …. after… after….he had been exposed as the superficial one, the one who betrays not for money, but for personal safety, for other’s good opinions…after the humiliating crush of his denial.

There are several resurrection stories that mention Peter. In none of them do we hear a word or reprimand or condemnation from Jesus to Peter. In the beach scene, they walk together, a bit apart from the others. Jesus reaches to him in love, restoring him, entrusting him with ministry.

I yearned this morning… Please take us to the beach, walk us through his denial, his grief, his confrontation and reconciliation with Jesus. Walk us into his humility. I wanted to touch his humility, to sit with him in it and experience it myself.

I believe that’s where our power connection lies. Peter and John could be vehicles of

Christ’s healing power because they had been healed themselves. They knew their own lameness and had reached out their own hands receiving healing. They had been humbled, stripped of their own layers of competency till they were open channels for the flow of Divine Love.

This morning I could feel my own layers of competency, of training, of knowledge, of understanding, of pride, and yearn that the dam be broken, that I not be bound by them. Let me crumble before Jesus as Peter did. Let me know my own weakness so that all that is left is a humble heap, a lame woman, with a hand reaching out.

Humility.

Openness to God’s Spirit.

I catch glimpses of how much quiet, internal resistance there is within me to humility. Glimpses of how I can flee from weakness and whip up a shield of competency.

May my heart be open, may my heart be broken so the divine healing power can flow through me to those in need.

Imagine with me … what if more and more of us were open, were broken, were channels of the healing power of Divine Love.

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

 

The Higher Rock

In this ‘Land of I-Don’t-Know’ that I named last week, some of the stepping stones that steady me were a sense of God’s reality, having family and friends within reach and knowing the inherent stability of my life.

 

 

After writing last week about those wonderful solid stepping stones, I found myself taking steps onto slippery stones this week. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the middle of the afternoon I’d encounter anxiety, worry and fear. The whispers….’What have you done?!’  ‘You know the market is soft right now. Too bad you didn’t sell last year or wait till it rises again.’ And then….’Why did you buy that small, odd house? Surely if God were in this EVERYTHING would be smooth and effortless. The seller wouldn’t be difficult. The price would be cheap. The decisions on letting go of our belongings would be simple…..’.

Oh, those slippery stones of anxiety, worry and fear, those whispers!

Last week two other people didn’t whisper but spoke clearly into my life. One told me about trains and the other about rocks.

If I board a train hoping to go to Vancouver and discover it is going to Halifax, I’ll get off! When a ‘train of thought’ goes through my mind, I have a choice whether to stay on that train or get off it. One of the fruits of a meditation practice is a growing awareness of the train of thoughts that flow through my mind, and the flow of emotions that steam through me. I don’t have to stay on a particular train. I KNOW my destination. I can get off a train. There is no seat belt forcing me to stay.

Another person shared one of their favourite Bible verses, Ps 61.2 ‘Lord lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.’. When the waters get rough, when the rocks get slippery, Loving God lead me to The Higher Rock, the rock of You, of your truth, your presence within me and within the world. There IS a Higher Rock. It isn’t slippery. It is solid.

There are slippery rocks in ‘The Land of I-Don’t-Know’. Each day, each moment I need to consider where my feet are. Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes I slip. Sometimes I’m all wet. Lord, Help me. I want off this train. Lead me to The Higher Rock.

Back to Henri’s prayer:

Dear God

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

and bring me home.

Thank you God for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.

There is a Higher Rock, a Higher Ground.

What are your slippery stones?

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

 

 

 

 

Living in the Land of ‘I Don’t Know’

From a Lenten reflection it’s grown into a state of awareness. I recognize that I’m living in a land where I don’t know what’s going to happen.

When we move, who will be our neighbours? Will we make a friend or two or three? Who will they be? What will their stories have been? Who will know my story? Where will I get my hair cut? Who will be our doctor, dentist, chiropractor, let alone run our favourite local coffee shop? What activities will we be engaged in? How are we going to decide what comes with us and what stays behind? Who is going to buy our home? I simply don’t know.

I picture myself standing in the shallows of a river. I’m in ‘The Land of I Don’t Know’. I like acknowledging that I’m living there right now. Sure, in reality we ALL live there everyday, but usually we have enough scheduled in our life that the uncertainty is muffled. It doesn’t shout at us the way it is shouting at me these days! My calendar is pretty empty!

As I stand in the shallows of unknowing, I see flat stones that I can step on to make my way through the river. Even, in the midst of uncertainty, there are some things I do know.

Stepping Stone 1: I know God’s presence and live with an awareness of how much I’m loved. Without doing anything, with an empty calendar, I’m still beloved.

Stepping Stone 2: I know that you’re loved too. God’s love is a vast, warm embrace that holds us all together.

Stepping Stone 3: I know I have with me a dear husband who keeps me company in the journey. I have family around me and that there are friends I could call if I need to.

Stepping Stone 4: I know I’m a very privileged person. Of the seven billion or so of us on earth today, I have more materially, emotionally and spiritually than most. There is money in the bank, food in my fridge, a warm bed at night and I’ve just walked on three precious stepping stones.

If we’re honest, don’t we all live in ‘The Land of I Don’t Know’ every day? Oh, we plan and prioritize. We have calendars and make appointments. We’re very busy and purposeful people driving around the city, making sure things get done. But haven’t you had days when ‘life’ happens at you? We really don’t know what’s going to happen next. What are your stepping stones? What keeps you grounded?

And then I smile and enjoy Hafiz:

It used to be

That when I would wake in the morning

I could with confidence say,

‘What am ‘I’ going to

Do?’

That was before the seed

Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed

In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and

Tickling each other

While fixing the evenings food.

Now when I awake

All the internal instruments play the same music:

‘God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do

For the world

Today?

         (The Gift – Poems by Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky.)

I can’t run away from uncertainty and not knowing, so I’ll jump in with two feet splash around and have some fun. What love-mischief can we do 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+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Know

Am I allowed to enjoy Lent???? Yes, I can! I’ve had a very invigorating time in the wilderness of Lent this year. As I’ve shared before, as part of my discipline for this journey, and as part of preparing for a move,  I decided to intentionally purge our home.  I dove intentionally into cupboards and drawers I haven’t opened in years. Boxes came out, photos got sorted, little parcels went in the mail to family members…. It’s been great!

Somewhere along this sorting and cleaning the word ‘freedom’ began to emerge. No doubt it was related to the freedom that comes from a good household purge, but accompanying ‘freedom’ was the image of a beaver dam. I kept seeing, kept feeling, all those logs twisted together and the mud that held them in place. I began to feel a beaver dam inside me and started to wonder if there was a block inside me, a restraining wall, holding back the expression of my full self. I began to ask “What are my logs? ‘What might be holding me back from greater freedom, greater joy, greater tenderness, greater kindness, greater laughter?’.

Today I experienced an art exhibit like none I’ve ever seen before. It was like walking into a wonderland. The artist is explosively creative. I was ready not to like the show, but was completely drawn in.  At one point she writes that she had never lived in a mould but has always lived in freedom.

Ah… I’ve lived in a mould or two…. I’ve still got a box of cookie cutters from my grandmother in one of my cupboards. Cookie cutters are great for Christmas cookies, but I’ve got years of living within my family’s mould! But I’ve also had years of living beyond their mould, slowly and steadily finding my own pathway. I’ve grown into more and more internal freedom, yet I do hear a Lenten invitation to experience even more freedom.

So tonight, as I’m church for a quiet Holy Week service and the scripture is read from a reflective perspective asking us to listen for a word, I hear from Mark 11, so clearly, ‘We don’t know’. I know that is my phrase to take, to savour, to mull over, to ponder, to meditate on. It quickly becomes ‘I don’t know’. I realize that one of the logs of my beaver dam is ‘I know’ and freedom comes when I can say, ‘I don’t know’ and be comfortable with that.

Freedom words:  I don’t know…….I need help…….I’m sorry…….I’m wrong…….I made a mistake……..

What are your freedom words?

I find a huge amount of freedom in not needing to know everything, in being able to continue to grow and learn. As I ponder these words, I feel the dam dislodging. Can the spring rush be far behind?

I don’t know …..

Yet there are something I do know. I do know that there is a heart at the core of our universe that beats Love. I know I’m loved and I know that you’re loved too.

I’ll leave you with the prayer I found this week. It’s from Henri Nouwen.

Dear God

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

and bring me home.

Thank you God for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.

 

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Praying Again

 

I find myself drawn again to prayer. I thought I might write a series of blogs on many different types of prayer: the prayer of fear, or of desperation, or of surrender, or of hope. But instead, I simply want to pray.

Often at the beginning of the day I peek at the news of the world. What’s going on beyond my safe prayer room? Today it wasn’t the horrors of the world that caught my attention but the rapid technological changes that are coming. I felt rise within me a desire to pray, not just in this moment, but as the ongoing course of my life. As I enter my elder years, is this my season to deepen my prayerful presence? I long to sit on a rock, be still, listen and hold the world in God’s loving embrace.

I leave the service prep and offerings, the educational programs and groups, the practical pastoral activities to others, and find myself turning to being still, to listening, to holding our dear pounding, aching world, in God’s embrace.

I came across a story this week, a story of prayer. Once when Mother Theresa was asked how she prayed, she said she sat still and listened. When asked what she heard she replied nothing. God was still and listening.

Sometimes the veil has been lifted for me and I’ve heard something, but most often, I too sit and all is quiet from the Precious One. I love the image of simply sitting together. I believe in that simple sitting, there is power, there is a conduit of goodness into the world.

Did you know that Contemplative Fire offers “Hidden Houses of Prayer”? It is a place for those of us who feel a call to solitary prayer to gather. Would you like to join me?  https://hiddenhousesofprayer.wordpress.com

What moves you to prayer? What are those moments like for you?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Fox

fox

I live in the middle of Toronto. It’s a lovely neighbourhood but it’s definitely ‘in the city’. Last Sunday morning as I was heading out to walk to church, there was a large fox strolling down my street. I’ve seen fox in the ravines nearby, but never walking down my street like he owned the world!fox in teh city

This past week I’d begun to meditate on the scripture where Jesus says that bird’s have nests and foxes have holes, but he has no place to call home. Hmmm…. Why have I been sent this fox?

This past week my Lenten discipline of purging our home has gone even deeper. I’ve pulled out boxes upon boxes of ‘family treasures’ – the letters, artwork and photos going back several generations. As we continue to consider a move, we’re letting go of things we’ve held on to for years, memorabilia from our parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins as well as our own children.

clutterAs I do the sorting, I’m very aware of the home I have all around me. When we moved in eighteen years ago, many of the cupboards were empty. None of them are empty now. How did all these things creep in? Did they come while I slept?

Maybe they did come while I slept, while I lived on auto-pilot, not aware of what was coming into my home. It feels like some things have crept into my life. Like that fox on the street, I’m looking at them and saying, ‘Just what are you doing here?”. I’m more sure now of who I am and that helps me be more sure of what to keep and what to release. What belongs and what is out of place. What I’ve had long enough and what still brings joy.decluttering

I have loved this home, yet something in me is releasing it too. I have no secure home to move into, so this week I’m holding the thought of being homeless with Jesus. I like knowing. I like knowing where I’ll sleep. I like having a fridge and food close by. Yet I hear in this reflection an invitation to consider homelessness, an experience of spiritual poverty.  To live with less. Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep.

Somewhere that fox I saw last Sunday has a home. Somewhere there is a new home for my husband and me, but in the meantime, I’m to experience releasing, letting go, having less, living with uncertainty and instability. …. Pray for me, for us that we can trust in the slow work of God.

How can I fuss, when my problem is too much, and others have so little and no home at all?

What has been your experience of accumulation and releasing, of being secure or being homeless?

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

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up there to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada