A Life Slips Away

Last night, 5.45pm, I was alone driving the Sea to Sky Highway, going to my Tuesday yoga class. With COVID protocols in place we no longer carpool. It was a beautiful evening; the sun was still above the mountains, and the sky clear. I rounded a bend and saw the brake lights come on in the car ahead of me. There was a cluster of people on the left-hand side of the road. Across the barrier in the northbound land was a white car, upside down and torn apart, belongings scattered across the road. People were on their phones calling for help. One person knelt looking into the interior. This was a wreck, the car a write-off and mostly likely a Life slipping away. I decided not to stop. I know my presence can be helpful to people, but in this instance I felt my primary offering was prayer, so I entered more deeply into a place of prayer in my heart.

I continued to drive, but with a heavy heart. I took my exit and on the road below met an ambulance heading towards them. I entered yoga. One other class member had driven by the scene. She too said her response was to begin to pray. During our class we heard a helicopter with air rescue arrive on the scene.

An hour and half later I left my class, still carrying a prayerful heavy heart. The entrance ramp to the highway was strangely empty. In a couple of kilometers I saw the brake lights ahead of me. I too slowed down and soon turned off my engine. I had joined the pack of those in the enlarged circle of pain.

I don’t know the details of the accident. The news only covers the superficial info that traffic in both directions was blocked on the Sea to Sky Highway last night. We sat there, one, two three hours. Sometimes we’d slowly move forward a few yards, but mostly we sat as darkness surrounded us, and stars emerged. Twice emergency vehicles appeared and we maneuvered our cars to the edge of the highway to let them through. Then we turned off our engines again and sat so quietly in the encompassing darkness. No one tried to barge through the passageway we’d created. Once, I got out of my car to stretch and see what was ahead. All I could see was a line of mostly dark cars, waiting. Inside cars lights glowed as people focused on their phones. One child was protesting. A few dogs were out for a walk. Mainly we all sat quietly, silently in our cars. Drawn together by a bad turn, a roll-over no one had anticipated.

I felt a Life slip away. I wondered about that life, or lives. Who was it? Where were they going? What did they hope for? I wondered about the close circle around them and how radically their lives would be changed. I wondered about the hundreds of us stopped in the normal flow of life. Where were we going? Where were we not going to be going? How will these hours change our lives? Did anyone care what was happening to us? What if I’d been in my usual carpool car? I was content to be alone.

I couldn’t see the angels that all praying people in that traffic jam had stirred into action, but I could feel their presence. I felt both locked in and secure. Four hours passed. Four hours of waiting, of praying, of being still, of repeating my current mantra, of listening to some gentle music. I didn’t bring my glasses to yoga so that helped me be still rather than catch up on news, emails or games. At 10.15 an emergency vehicle drove down the other side of highway informing us that the highway would open in forty-five minutes. In the last half hour, I dialed in a movie.

They were true to the timing and shortly after 11.00pm we slowly began to move forward. It was still another thirty minutes to get home. Usually it’s ten minutes door-to-door. Last night it was four hours. But I got home; to a warm home, a husband who stayed up to welcome me, and food in my fridge. My life continues. But I witnessed another Life slip away and felt the impact we have on each other. I’ve watched people die, sat with them as they took their last breath. Sacred moments. In a perverse way I’m grateful for last night. In the darkness, in the creeping cold of the evening, God is present to me. Life comes and life goes. We know not how long we have. How shall we live today?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member

Lingering Feel of the Wild

I climb the watershed road above our home most mornings now. I began in early February when it was still the rainy season. I decided to try it for a month – some exercise, some stretching as I start my day. I hold distant memories of when I used to get up by 6.00am, toss gym clothes on and head to the gym with a book or friend to let exercise start my day. The mountain behind me is my gym now so back in February I decided to give it a try.

By the end of first month I was hooked. I felt my body respond well to the morning climb. I began huffing and needed to catch my breath by the time I reached the flat space at the barricade at the top of the road where our friends live. Then I had to pause again at the level near the first reservoir, and then at the sharp turn before the climb to second reservoir. Heart pounding, breath short I would pause there too for the final climb. But after a month, my pauses were fewer. Now nine months later, my heart still beats heavily but I don’t need to pause anymore. I’ve gotten stronger physically, but I’ve also learnt my pace for climbing a steep slope. This isn’t a competition. It’s part of my morning meditation.

Somewhere within those first few weeks my morning walk became a delight. No one tells me to do it. I don’t even make myself do it. I want to climb the mountain road. Those trees and rocks call to me. I want to be with them. I want to feel the mountains, so solid, all around me. I want to hear the creek whether it’s a torrent or a trickle. I want to listen to the birds. It was so glorious when they arrived to sing every morning. It’s quiet now. And I so want to be with my rocks and trees. And the smells. And the air around them. And the mists that cover the mountains and dance through the trees.

Something happens up there each morning. I’ve found my comfortable spot to pause and pray, settling more deeply into Life, into Love. Last night as prepared for sleep I read a bit of Richard Wagamese who wrote about his dog walks and feeling the ‘lingering feel of the wild’. I wouldn’t presume to have his connection to nature, yet there is something that calls me into the mountain rainforest. I feel the call of the wild, the call of the free, the call of The Creator.

Coming out of our Thanksgiving Weekend, I’m so grateful to live so close to the wild, and to be able to know my Creator more deeply. As Hafiz says, ‘I have learned so much’ and there is so much more to learn. I’ll keep lingering, listening and learning.

What’s your connection to nature? Where? How do you feel?

Love and prayers from a wandering mystic

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem  

I Have a Friend

Around the same time I encountered ‘loneliness’, I also was thinking about ‘friendship’. Remember the old hymn, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’? We’ve talked about having Jesus as a friend, but what if he really was a friend to you? Think about friends and friendship. Maybe allow a good friend to come to your mind and your heart. How do you feel when you’re with them? What do you talk about? What part of your life do you share? What do ask them?

Back in the early days of Christianity there were people who knew Jesus as a friend. They ate with him, talked, laughed, worked, and walked with him. They listened to him, and worried about him. They knew him and trusted him. He was a friend.

After reading ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ a year ago, I began listening to Yoganada’s followers talk about him. He died in 1952 so there are still disciples that knew him or have been trained by those closest to him. They call him ‘Master’ because he is one who has mastered his senses, wasn’t controlled by them but was open to God’s Spirit and they call him ‘Friend’ for they knew him as a friend and feel his presence still with them. They trust him as you would trust your best friend. They know he will help them and that he has their good in his heart. They will say things like, ‘I know Master will help me. I just need to ask him.’ Listening to their devoted trust in their teacher has given new life to me to trust my friend Jesus. I know he is still alive and is attentive to me for I am one of his followers. The old words are taking on a new life, new experience for me.

During my friendship wanderings I once again re-wrote a favourite psalm.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

You’ve led me to solid mountains, flowing creeks, still trees and singing birds.

You have restored my soul.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

You’ve shown me some of the many paths that teach me how to live so your goodness can flow through me.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

Even if I walk through the valley of anger or sadness, or fear, or illness or even death, I know you are with me to guide me and comfort me.  

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

When people around me are hurtful, betray me, misunderstand me, ignore me, I know you are always there. You notice me, nurture and nourish me. I know you place your hand on me for I feel full and overflowing.

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

I am sure that your goodness and mercy follow me every day of my life. No matter where I go, you’ll always be with me. Every where. All the time.  

The Lord is my friend. I have all that I need.

****

How about you? Who is your Spiritual Friend? What does that friendship feel like?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member, Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living.

I Am Part of Something Larger

 

One of my favourite authors used the expression ‘I’m part of something larger’ and a deep chime sounded within me. Yes – me too!

My readings recently have taken me into an exploration of many faith traditions  and how they’ve each answered the basic questions of  human existence; why are we here, what is our purpose, how do we make meaning out of life? As I sip from many different spiritual watering holes, I become more aware of my connection to everyone, past, present and future as well as to Earth. I carry within my physical genes the DNA of my parents, grandparents and their ancestors. As ‘Anne’, I’m not a single individual living in Lions Bay BC, but one whose body DNA is a container of ancient and future life. As ‘Anne’ I’m not a single individual, but one whose soul DNA is part of the cosmos, an eternal and complete being, connected to Earth and Heaven. I am a part of something larger than my own everyday life.

Today someone asked if I’d share with them some ‘coping strategies’ of breathing and meditation. I agreed, but realized that I don’t offer ‘coping strategies’. For me breathing practices and mediation are ways I nourish my soul. Without them my soul would be malnourished. My body needs water to survive and grow. My soul needs prayer and meditation. Without them, my soul withers. Too often I see people not nourishing their souls with meditation, but instead trying other coping strategies to survive or give their life purpose; working, accumulating wealth, focus on relationships, amusement, exercise, food – you could make the list. We have many ‘coping strategies’!

If only we stopped, took a deep breath and began to be present within this moment. If only we meditated regularly, opening our soul to God’s Loving Presence, allowing ourselves to connect with the Source of All Life, to follow the pathway that Jesus, or the Spirit gives, a way of peace, forgiveness, wisdom and joy.

Our life is so much bigger than our daily grind. Each one of us is part of the larger picture. I hope so much that many more of us will stop and be open to who we are as God’s Children, part of the human family on Earth. We are all part of the larger picture and hence, all part of the solution.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Leftovers!

 

Sometimes I can be a driven person who needs everything to be done the Right Way which equals My Way! Anybody else out there like that?!

Last week a friend shared a dream where she was in the kitchen of a retreat centre watching people rush to serve leftovers to retreatants. The leaders rushed into the kitchen, grabbed leftovers from the fridge, tossed them into the microwave and hurried out to serve them to the retreatants. “No!” she shouted within herself. She wanted them to slow down, cook a meal and properly serve people. But the retreatants felt they were full, nourished and happy with the microwaved leftovers.  All was well. Even though she wanted to give them a carefully prepared home cooked meal, they were well satisfied with leftovers. God was in the leftovers.

I’m so grateful for her dream. It’s easy for me to get caught in the vice of things being done a specific way, the right way, My Way. Her dream calls me back to relaxing, letting go of my own agendas and letting things unfold. Years ago, I learnt that God works within what I would name as our imperfections, mistakes and even hurtful behaviours. God doesn’t require Anne’s strict guidelines of a ‘good’ process to work.  God is always present, even when it looks to me like Trouble with a capital ‘T’.  My job is to TRUST God is always present, keep myself within the Holy Creek flow of LOVE, no matter what is happening around me and keep my eyes open for Spirit LIFE.

So the next time you take leftovers out of the fridge….maybe you can recall that God is in the leftovers. God can use our leftovers when that’s all we’ve got to offer. How big and wonderful is our God. How little and humble are we.

Time to relax, lie back in my hammock, and listen for the tapping of the Spirit.

Happy listening to you.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

The World Today: Misty Mountain

This morning as I headed out the driveway and up the road to begin my daily mountain walk, I could see Mt. Harvey clearly,  with clouds behind it. Each morning I walk the watershed road for a kilometre to a special tree and rock I’ve come to mark as holy ground. Just beyond them is a barrier and I can’t go any further on the road. As I pause to pray, the creek is roaring below me, the forest is climbing the hill beside me, the trees are standing tall, the birds are singing and I can see a mountain ahead of me. I’m so grateful for this spot.

This morning when I got to the end of the road, the mountains had disappeared. What had been so clear as I set out, was covered in clouds  when I reached my resting place. But I knew she was still there.

Our world is in such upheaval. I’ve long prayed that the voices of the oppressed would be released, the voices of women, indigenous and all who have been silenced could speak clearly into the world. It’s happening. Now, how will we find our way forward? What do we need to bring about a social shift? The prayer that rises within me this week is around leadership. As I walk the mountain road I long for strong, moral, spiritual leaders to arise, to show us a way forward, a way to create a different social order. Where is the leadership we need?

Even though our world is in upheaval I know God is still present, still working, still caring. The clouds may cover the mountain, but the mountain doesn’t move. It’s solid. The clouds will pass and I’ll see her again. God with the eternal, spiritual world is solid. The upheaval will pass. Let’s remain solid as the mountain, trusting the presence of God and asking what our part is to birth a new social order.  

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

I’ve Got Space Now!

 

A couple of conversations this week drifted into the area of spaciousness in our lives. Some people were finding that the pandemic lifestyle was allowing their lives to be more spacious. Others were finding space through a releasing of old connections and responsibilities; a bit of soul-cleaning was taking place. And then there was me! This week life felt so full. In the midst of our shutdown, have I managed to let my old busy habits fill my days again?

Walking the mountain this morning, I pondered the feelings of spaciousness and fullness. Each step on the mountain road was so beautiful. The rain fell gently. The still forest held a deep green secret. The evergreens were tipped with light green showing the brand-new edges of their branches. Step by step. Moment by moment climbing the mountain road. Spaciousness and fullness. Solid mountain, flowing river. Deep green. New growth green.

My life is spacious. I haven’t filled it up again. Besides home life and garden, I have two projects which give me joy. I realized that I feel full when I let don’t close those projects after working on them. My favorite tech support said to me one day that I leave a lot of docs open on my desktop. Yeah, I don’t clear them away when I’m finished! My desktop can get quite cluttered. Same for my life. It can feel full, cluttered and pressured if I allow projects to creep into another time. I seek to live moment to moment. Doing one thing at a time calmly, serenely, saturated with peace and fully focused. One thing at a time. One step at a time. I like living that way. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not listening to the voices around me, only to the voice within me. Voices around me shout, ‘Do this. NOW. You have so much to do. Do this.’ But the voice within me doesn’t shout, doesn’t pressure, but simply guides. ‘Ah this. Right now. This.’

When I listen and follow the inner voice, I have space. It feels so good. I know when I’m listening to the ‘out-there’ voices. They make me feel pressured or trapped or not enough. When I listen within, to the tapping of my heart, I’ve got space, plenty of space.

As our fourth month of pandemic restrictions comes nears an end, how are you doing? Are you feeling spacious or full, grounded or overwhelmed? What adjustments have shaped your life? How are you living with them?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Rule of Love

 

I hope, I hope, I hope that the upheaval within our world will take us one step forward as a human race. We’ve been shut down with a virus and now a justified viral outrage has spread. Will we move forward?

I received a note this week that the Pope has called us to prayer – one minute of silent prayer for peace for the world, at 1.00pm Sunday June 7th – possible today as you read this. Whatever your tradition, whatever your way, take a minute wherever you are around the world, in your time zone and let’s send a wave of peace around the globe and into the spiritual world. Calling for help. We need help. We can’t do this on our own. Would you join the wave of prayer? 1.00pm, wherever you are, Sunday June 8th…. And I’m a believer in cosmic time zones, so whenever your read this, send your prayer aloft!

Humanity lived for centuries under ‘Rule of Might’ where the strongest tribe won. Many of us have also lived under the ‘Rule of Law’ where, although safer, the privileged often were the winners. Now it’s time for the ‘Rule of Love’ to reign. Imagine with me, a world where compassion, forgiveness and kindness were strong. Imagine with me a world where we saw the goodness within one another, where we treated each other gently. I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus, so imagine with me a world where he, with his healing energy was welcomed. Imagine.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

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)