Transplanted!

The farmers out there might be upset with me as I mix things around! As I write about experiencing a fallow time of life, my husband and I have been house hunting and purchased a new home in a new location. We’re being transplanted!

Can you be transplanted in a fallow time? Maybe some of you farmers or gardeners can help me here. Maybe not in the farming world, but in Anne’s world you can.

I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to Mystic in Motion. First, the external motion part of actually moving. I see a lot of work and a lot of doing ahead of me. Can I do it from a place of stillness? I hope I’ll eventually get there.  Second, the internal motion. I found today my thoughts wouldn’t settle down. They were racing around. I was having conversations with all sorts of people. I was watching my inner extrovert hard at work, chatting up a storm. I was so busy! Still a Mystic, but I was in MOTION.

I did breathing exercises. I practiced yoga, read a devotional book and scripture. Yet when I sat to be still, there was simply a lot of motion. Off I went to the gym, and into the pool. The physical exercise helped focus me. I often pray or intentionally focus on a topic for each length of the pool. Ah… somewhat less conversational.

Does this moving show me my inner-extrovert who wants to talk to everyone?

Does this moving stimulate a part of me I don’t really know that well?

Can I keep inner stillness in the midst of the moving? I trust I can and these are murky waters that will settle. I love the old saying: Do you have the patience to let the mud settle so the water can run clear? So…. may I be still, very, very still and still moving.

How do you settle yourself when you’re running rapid?

But I am excited by the thought of my new home! Did I mention I can hear a river from the deck!

I’m a Transplanted Mystic in Motion.

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 on that website to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

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Fallow Time (2)

 

I enjoy words and often poke through a dictionary. When I was reflecting on my time of rest, I dipped into the online dictionaries and found several ‘fallow’ definitions that spoke to me.

‘Fallow’ as either adjective or verb:

  1. usually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

I know I’m cultivated(!) and trained to be helpful or useful to the world, yet right now the gifts I’ve been given to use in the world are on the back shelf. They are not to be used. I’m to be idle. I’m not to lead or teach or organize. I still pray, but even my prayers are different.

All around me I see people busy at work. I return to my church or community and encounter busy people, planting, tending and hoping for growth. I know that is a normal part life. We are meant to be working and growth is to be happening, but I know that I’m not to be a part of that work. I’m at ease in that.

A different kind of growth is happening within me. There is a life energy to being fallow that is very different. I believe it’s very needed in our world.  We seem to be absorbed in work and activity and have forgotten how to rest, how to value times of ease. We resist allowing ourselves to be idle.

What if we allowed ourselves, at least a day a week, time to lie idle?

More thoughts on ‘fallow’ to come next week!

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

 

Returning, Still Flowing

 I’m back in my own place again. The disruption and stimulation of travel is behind me for awhile. The time away was fine. I felt the disruption at first, but then quite easily moved into a place of rest. I think my observation and reflection habit is part what keeps me grounded. I could see the empty creches around me and experience what felt like an empty spirituality, yet I’m fine. I know so clearly that the Light I once saw outside of me and calling to me, is alive within me. Doesn’t matter where I go, or what the people are doing around me, I know the Presence of God within me. In a very real sense, I’m home wherever I am. The manger is full.

 

 

 

In the UK Contemplative Fire Newsletter,

(see www.contemplativefire.ca/Resources) I found the following quote:

I would love to live like a river flows, Carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.     “Fluent”, John O’Donohue (Conamara Blues

Are you familiar with John O’Donohue’s voice? If not, do find him on Youtube and enjoy his warmth and accent. I can hear him saying those words. A river is a river. Most often it’s moving, flowing. It swells and shrinks with the seasons and weather patterns, while remaining a river.

We often speak these days of ‘being in the flow’ or another expression of being ‘in the zone’. For me ‘the flow’ is being open to the Divine Presence, to the Spirit of God. It is being in a place of ease, rest, receptivity, surrender, a place of allowing the Spirit to move, to carry me along.

When I was away, initially I felt some disruption, some rocks falling off the cliffside into my river, some unseasonal rainfall. But soon I recognized, rather unconsciously that the disruption wasn’t me. I’m still the river. I’m still in the flow. I’m still flowing. And I begin to relax again, amidst the chaos, the emptiness, I relax. I trust. I can allow myself to be carried along by the surprise of The Spirit. I can let life unfold as The Spirt wills.

And you Gentle Reader… are you this day, resisting or flowing? What is the state of your river 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

 

The Empty Creches (2)

Last week I wrote about the impact of the empty mangers on my life personally, but this time I want to turn to another impact of that emptiness.

I’m in a country that is officially Catholic, but is known to be very secular. They have every religious holiday the calendar offers, but they are vacation days, not holy-days. A few years ago, ‘Le Monde des Religions’ described the decline. It began historically with the movement towards equality. In 1905 the government declared that all religious buildings would be state owned. Now although half the population will name themselves Catholic, they say it is mainly a family tradition and half of those say they don’t believe in God. Only 10% attend church and one third of the population call themselves atheists.

When I walk the streets and see the empty mangers, I’m aware that I’m in a city, in a country, that has largely walked away from faith. There is a deep spiritual emptiness. We attend a school concert. I don’t hear any familiar Christmas Carols. Although we are spared the inundation of Christmas muzak in the stores, the music that I hear in restaurants is American music, some of it secular Christmas standards. Yes, there are church services, but most churches are filled with Christmas Concerts, not services. The city is beautiful. The windows sparkle. The gift bags dazzle. The food sumptuous. The manger is empty.empty creche

I realize that not all my struggles to keep a spiritual practice happening are related to travelling. I pick up on the spiritual energy around me. I enter one church for some time in meditation and as I sit quietly I feel the darkness around me. It was built in the 6th century. It once housed a flourishing monastery. It has experienced war and violence. All of the monastery has been destroyed, leaving only the sanctuary, not the living and serving quarters. The manger was emptied.

The empty mangers became a symbol for me, a feeling image, of the spiritual emptiness of this country and I fear, much of our world.

My hope lies partly in the fact that at least the Nativity Scene is still set out. I think today I’ll circle back and see Jesus in those mangers!

But the fullness of my hope lies in God, who is always present, who doesn’t run from darkness, or from our war and violence, who will, in the end, be the last word.

Another church I frequent is beautiful. People flow in and out of it all day, everyday. It is a place of prayer for the faithful. There I find peace. There are pockets of life everywhere. We need to seek them out and do our part to breathe new life into them and through them.

Nativity scene

Where do you find the pockets of God? How can you breathe new life?

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 Empty Creches

All around the city were empty creches. Outside and inside the churches, near shops and outdoor markets, the animals gathered in the straw, with Mary and Joseph kneeling, their arms open in anticipation, expectation, wonder, hope and I imagine a bit of fear. In each creche, the manger was empty.

In my home city, churches sometimes display the Nativity Scene, but often we put Jesus in the picture from the moment it is set up. Yet some don’t. I know in the church I last served we held him aside till Christmas Eve. Right now, I’m away in an officially Catholic country. Even though officially Catholic with many churches, it is known as a very secular country and the city is a showcase of material beauty. Yet here, creches abound and they are always with an empty manger.

Day after day, leading up to Christmas as I wandered the city doing family activities and attending events, I noticed the empty mangers with Mary and Joseph waiting. My last Advent Reflection took me to the surrender of Mary, to her openness and willingness to receive what God had for her. That place of empty willingness. The moment of openness, of reception. The moment of being an empty manger.

Emptiness and fullness are two frequent themes for Jesus. He said he came that he might give us full and abundant life, a life overflowing with Living Water and Light. But to receive such Life (a capital letter life) we needed to die, to let go of all that seemed significant, to detach from our parents, our families, even our ‘self’ and all that it clings to, in order that we might live. We must be broken open so new life could grow. We must set aside old wineskins, old ways, to taste the freshness of new wine and find the fullness of a new life.

Every helpful spiritual teacher I’ve encountered, ones who teach me to follow the pathway of Jesus, speak the same tough and true words to me. Let go Anne. Are you willing to let go of the old ways, so new life can emerge within you?  Again this year, seeing the empty mangers, I heard the invitation to open emptiness, to willingness. Am I willing to receive the new life of Christ within me? Am I willing to let his Life grow within me? Am I willing to follow where he might lead?

A Different Kind of Chaos

 

Originally the focus of this blog was about how to be a contemplative in a chaotic world. There must be a way! I’ve been writing it for almost two years and I know it has been helpful to me. As I articulate the obstacles and challenges I’ve faced, as I’ve worked them through with you, my anonymous, gentle reader, I’ve repeatedly found my pathway. I know myself more deeply as a contemplative and I feel less and less overwhelmed by the circumstances around me. YEAH!

For the next few weeks I’ve got a different kind of chaos in my life. It’s self-imposed. I’ve initiated it, said yes to it and will stay in it. It’s a very common kind of chaos. I imagine most of you have experienced it, and many do so often. For most people it’s an enjoyable, even sought after chaos. Many simply call it ‘change’ and say it’s good for us. The chaos? I’m away from home, away from routines, away from my prayer chair, my ravine walks and with my dear husband 24/7. We’re travelling for three weeks.

Who can complain about travelling you might ask? (especially if you knew where we were, for it’s lovely!). But for me, I feel the chaos of it. Mediating in an airport or on board a plane or in a small shared space, just isn’t the same for me. Perhaps it exposes the superficiality of my practice. Perhaps it’s the level of my empath temperament. Perhaps it’s just normal. What I know, is that it simply isn’t the same. It gives me one more way to discover how to be a contemplative when I feel the chaos around me with altered circumstances and jet lag.

What anchors you? What provides you with the container for your contemplative practice? Do you know? It’s helpful to know, not only to be grateful for it, but also to know how to leave the container and keep your practice, your sense of presence wherever you go.

Added into the travel disruption is Christmas chaos too. Christmas always has it’s own kind of chaos with broken routines and celebrations, but this year for me it is even more different. It is the first year in many years without parish responsibilities and celebrations. I’m away from the usual Christmas services, away from my community of Contemplative Fire and in a foreign land, with people who don’t walk with the Christ of Christmas.

So for these three weeks, I’m walking through the disruption of travel and an enhanced Christmas chaos. I packed my travel yoga mat and a favourite Christian contemplative teacher as I re-read one of his books. I brought along good intentions to exercise, eat well (!) and keep my Advent practices in place of present moment living, fasting from negative thoughts and this week is a Jesus focus. Surely I can do it. Surely I can keep my sense of who I am, whose I am and live from a core of both peace and love. Surely I can. I know I’m never alone. Wherever I am, I’m known and valued.

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

 

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

 

 

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