Effortless Leadership (2)

This one is still ringing inside me. I heard from some readers about their leadership experiences and another pointed me to The Tao. Sometimes I read a bit from the Tao Te Ching near the end of my day. Are you familiar with it? There’s a wonderful story about how it was written by Lao Tzu about the 4th century BCE. If you know the ying/yang symbol – that’s Taoism. Lots of flow from the centre of being. I know little about it, so feel out of my depth to even mention it here. With my reader’s reminder, I knew it was time to read more of it for he does speak of effortless leadership.

Last night I read that I wasn’t to change the world. What? That’s so against my nature. I want to rid the world of every evil. I want people to be different, to treat each other kindly and with true justice. What do you mean, I’m not to change the world? I’m a #1 on the enneagram. We are reformers, change artists. Give me anything – a house, a garden, an organization, a person and I will see how change might happen.

Could there be another way to live? One day when I was starting a new job, my husband told me that it wasn’t my job to change either the person who would be my senior priest or to change the community. I listened and thought that on one hand he was warning me but on the other hand he was missing something. Change is my middle name. I’m always changing myself and seeking a new way forward for any organization, community or person with whom I’m involved. My perspective is that there is always more to experience and if we stay put, we’ll miss the beauty of life.

Yet last night when I read, “Do you want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done. The world is sacred. It can’t be improved. If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it. If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it. There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe, a time for being in danger. The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.”, I stopped. I sat still. Maybe there is another way to live.

Maybe this broken, hurting world is the way it is to be. Slowly, with the speed of a tortoise we’ve evolved to be able to communicate globally, irradicate some diseases, limit population growth, increase access to education and clean water – there is lots that could be added to the list of ‘good’ things we’ve done to make life easier on earth. However, we could all compile a list of wrongs still here, slavery, sex trafficking, child pornography, war, racism, gender inequality, ageism, consumerism, earth abuse – there’s lots to be added to this list too. but what if…our main purpose as human beings is not to eradicate all forms of systemic evil, but to be at the centre of the circle, to awaken spiritually so that no matter our situation we know we are loved and a child of God. Yes, some of us may be called from The Centre to make changes in the systemic problems, but that is not the main event. Living with the flow of Love, within Spirit energy is the main event. Maybe some of the hardship is what brings us to that awareness of our deep human need for spiritual connection.

Maybe I don’t have to change the world, or anyone in it. Much less effort in that approach to life. Maybe this Mystic in Motion can eventually be a Mystic in Flow. How about you? Change artist? Avoider? Flow? Activist?

love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion (still)

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Effortless Leadership

Of all the books written about leadership, are any of them about ‘effortless leadership’? Maybe it’s time for one.

Since I was a teen, I’ve been asked to plan, organize and lead groups. I had lots of enjoyment with organizing and leading when I was in high school and summer camp. I felt humbled being asked and trusted to lead groups, yet also found it stimulating and fun. I discovered an innate sense of organization and that people seemed to enjoy working with me on projects. I was off and running as a leader.

That part of my life took a nosedive when as a young married woman we were in a church that wouldn’t allow woman to speak and our homes were to be run by men. Ah well, you can imagine that those were challenging years for me! After I emerged, people once again began to ask me to step into leadership roles, but I continued to decline them. It took some time till I was ready to see myself in any leadership role again. Eventually I said yes to one small commitment and then later agreed to a much a larger one that would change my whole life. I was back in the saddle.

I loved the years leading a Bible study class. For the first time I was taught leadership skills and a style rooted in prayerful consensus and team consultation. We studied together, prayed through our decisions as a team and cared for one another. The class grew numerically but also spiritually. We flourished together. And it was a lot of work, equivalent each week to a part-time job while I was still at home with four children. Frequently when I began to make retreats, I would sleep for the first day. I was tired.

The years I spent as clergy were wonderful too — and a lot of work. I burnt out within a year of my first placement and on retreat sorted out what I needed to do to not get exhausted. I managed most of years to be okay, but I worked hard, in parish ministry and adding Contemplative Fire into the mix as well. My days were long often with evening work. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but when I retired, I could feel the mantle of responsibility and leadership lifted from my shoulders. I had definitely been carrying a weight.

This story brings me to the other night, sitting around a campfire talking about Contemplative Fire, groups and leadership with a new Companion on the Way. He sighs with a mixture of exhaustion and frustration, ‘Leadership is so much work.’ Without thinking I responded ‘I prefer effortless leadership. That’s what I’d like to see move Contemplative Fire here.’

I’d never used those words before, but I know what I mean by them. I want to lead like a wave in an ocean. I sat at the beach today and watched the ocean and the waves. I watched how the ocean releases the waves onto the land. Sometimes gentle little waves, but other times, wow, they can rise up and smack the shore! But each wave, whatever the size, is the ocean’s effort. I can feel the depth of the ocean and see its breath in each wave.

One of my teachers has written that in spiritual life God’s effort is 50%, Jesus is 25% and Anne is 25%. That means that I am to show up, but I don’t run the show. Jesus is my guide, he directs my actions, gives me my assignments and helps me. Through him I have access to the full power of God. Anne shows up, but 75% of the effort is by spiritual power. Now that to me is effortless leadership. Grounded in God’s power, directed by Divine Will and acted out by two very human hands.

Too often what happens is our ego chooses what we do, we muster our own energy to accomplish it, get tired out and wonder what happens. I want to live, knowing myself as a wave in God’s ocean, in and out, moving and resting, listening and responding, being sent as I’m needed. God’s breath in and out. God’s the ocean, I’m the wave. Effortless Leadership. Not no effort, but effort-less. Listening Leadership. Holy Listening Leadership.

How does this sound to you Gentle Reader?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Eternal Happiness

Happy New Year! In the last few days, we may have said or written that wish many times, to different people, some close to us, some passing acquaintances. This year it has a special feeling for what a year 2020 was for all of us, with nothing we expected, many adjustments and discoveries along the way. It seems more meaningful this year to wish those we share our lives with, a ‘happy’ new year, a year filled with health, happiness and hope.

But I’m going to stretch that a bit for you. I wish you happiness, but it’s a deep eternal happiness I wish for you. Not the happiness that comes from ease in life, or even having your health, or material security, but I wish for you a deeper happiness, one that isn’t attached to your life circumstances but that flows from within, regardless of what Life throws your way, regardless of pandemics or tsunamis, ill health or well being, the expected or unexpected. I wish for you the relentless flow of JOY from deep within you.

You’ll find the JOY within, for it comes from the God Fountain that is within us all, but you must go looking for it. Yes, the eternal spark is in all of us, but the fire doesn’t spread, the spring doesn’t flow uninvited. We need to slow down, look within, and listen to the voice of Love within us. We might need to get through the clamour of negative voices, those writhing reptiles that whisper or shout at us that we’re not good enough. We need to get past those to the voice of Love, to actively seek out God. Happiness lies within each one of us, independent of our circumstances because it comes from an eternal source. For years, the one I have spoken to is Jesus. He has been my guide to the fountain of living water that is within me. He is there to guide any who ask for help. 

I wish for you, this year, a further journey within to the source of JOY, PEACE, WISDOM and LOVE that lives within you. But you must go on the journey yourself, not just read the guidebooks, but get on your cushion or into your prayer chair, day by day by day and ask Jesus, ask God for more. Ask for JOY, for Eternal Happiness. Ask and you shall receive. Didn’t someone special tell us that??? Ask, ask again and again, patiently, trustfully with perseverance. Don’t just read about God, seek God. Our seeking and finding God through a real experience of the Divine is our purpose in life.

May you this year, know your purpose in life. May it truly be a Happy, New Year for you. And if you’re happier, with eternal happiness….remember happiness is contagious, so it will ripple out into society through you. Happy New Year my Gentle Readers.

With Hope and Happiness

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

The Pause Between Times

Do you ever take time to pause and reflect on the past year?

Our global pandemic has sent each of us into a different year than we had anticipated. Let’s learn from it and set our course for next season.

I find the days between Christmas and New Years the perfect time to look back over the last year. Sometimes I let memories surface. Often, I re-read my journal recalling the highs and lows of the year. After the bustle of Christmas gift giving, this reflection time is a gift to myself, to my soul, to my spiritual growth. You can take an hour, a morning, a day, or several times over the week. Whatever time you take, will be a gift to yourself….and need I say it …you deserve it. We are meant to live fully and that requires us to continue to grow spiritually which calls for some effort. So sure, I sometimes set intentions for the new year, but more frequently and more successfully I reflect on what has been, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learnt – all things that will change my soul’s shape as I move into the new year. And I know as I change and become healthier, I help the world as well, for I relate differently to those around me.

Be in your quiet place, breath deeply, releasing your tensions and busyness, be present to yourself and One who created you……

  1. What word or phrase best describes the past year?
  2. What were some of your moments of insight?
  3. Recall a time of joy, contentment or peace, a time when you felt connected to the bigger whole, connected even to God.
  4. Recall a wise person you met during the year. What did you learn from them? How have they shaped you?
  5. Recall a time of constraint, of sorrow, of disappointment. What have you learned from that time?
  6. Take time re-read your journal asking the Spirit to show you what you need to harvest from this past year.
  7. Again ….in a word or phrase, what is your deepest learning from the past year?
  8. And looking forward….What is your longing for the coming year? Your greatest fear? Your supports? How is your relationship with the One who created you?

To live well and experience spiritual growth, it’s necessary to examine our lives, engaging in purposeful introspection, not wallowing, but observing and loving ourselves, knowing that we are beloved children of our loving God.

May you receive the gifts that are waiting for you this week.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Happiness is Contagious

One afternoon this week I found a note in my What’s App box that ‘bit’ me. You know the ones. They hurt. Stir up old memories and reactions. I knew the person sending it was hurting but I still felt my own hurt too. At least I know enough not to respond until I’m settled! Whew. Cyber Bites can be as contagious as COVID!  

Later that night I as I meditated, one of those delightful moments happened. I’ve changed my routine so I’m using a Passage Prayer at night. After a brief reflection on my day, I repeat The Prayer of St Francis for the remaining time. Over and over I repeat the words, letting them seep into me.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

That night I could barely get past the first line. I want to be an instrument of peace. That means I want to find a way to respond to someone who is hurting, with hope, who has hurt me, with pardon. I want to find healing words, words to build a bridge between us. I’m so grateful I have choices in life. There is so much power in having a choice in how I will respond. I wrote back with conciliation and peace in my heart and received a positive note back. Whew. Step forward. Didn’t catch that Cyber Disease.

Later this week I was listening to a talk on happiness. It’s contagious. In this time of pandemic, here’s something we don’t wash way! We can let happiness spread. We can make choices to smile, to not retaliate, to be an instrument of peace. Apparently, the researchers say that in our circles of influence our happiness can spread to others and the people they know. If I have a happy spouse, friend or co-worker, someone close to me, then it increases my chances of being happy by 15%, If someone close to my first contact is happy I still get a benefit of 10%, and even a third degree contact increases my chances of happiness by 6%. Happiness is contagious. It flows both ways. I can both receive happiness and give it out to others. I can smile. I can choose to be an instrument of peace, of happiness in the world.

I can’t ‘see’ them, but I hope there were ripples of happiness that went out into the world this week, especially to the one who was so upset with me. I imagine happiness spreading to them. I hope they catch it! I’d like to be a contagious mystic.

The world needs us all choosing to be an instrument of peace and happiness. Who might receive your smile today?

From an Infectious Mystic

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Settling in Unsettling Times

Three times this week the subject of moving entered my conversations. It takes so many shapes. I think COVID has tossed us all into a moving zone without any of us asking for it.

When we moved to BC two years ago it was a clear decision to uproot ourselves from familiar people, places and rhythms of life. Whoosh. Well not quite whoosh. We were intentional in talking about what we were letting go and what we would need in our new location to help us feel at home. We worked hard to move well; sorting belongings, talking about our needs, saying goodbyes and making connections when we arrived. It was almost a year from decision to sleeping in our new home. Not quite whoosh!

From the time I arrived I felt at home, yet I knew I wasn’t settled. We had family to welcome us, met new people and found groups we were interested in joining. We found a grocery story, a coffee shop, dry cleaners, a church and a WW group for me. Everyday felt like a holiday with a sense of freedom and freshness in the air. This fall it all changed. I felt a shift deep in my psyche. I was no longer on holiday. I missed the holiday feel, but I realized I had arrived home. No longer a tourist, now a settler. I like being settled. From decision to settling – three years – hardly a whoosh.

COVID has whipped us all around, untethering our souls from many of our anchors, our special people, places and rhythm. I think there is a similarity to what happens to us when we move.  We need to be kind to ourselves and those around us. It’s very disruptive to move, disruptive on a deep soul level. I was extremely happy in our move and yet I could feel that deep inside me I hadn’t arrived. It’s as though a part of my soul was driving across the country when the rest of me had flown. It takes time to move, time to settle. COVID is time to be gracious to ourselves and those around us. We’ve been forced to move without time to plan and we haven’t chosen our new home. It’s been allotted to us. Many of us haven’t arrived in the new location. We aren’t settled yet.

I know what helped me during my move was my awareness of God’s presence within and with me. I’m not alone. Maybe because of the move, the untethering from the familiar, I’ve gone deeper in my spiritual exploration and experience. So much around me is different, but God is constant, unchanging but constantly changing, constantly inviting me into more. In my uncertainty I’ve turned toward the Spirit. In unhooking from the familiar I’ve sought attachment more deeply to Spirit and to my closest companion.

Where do you turn when you feel uncertain, unsure, unsettled? Maybe in these unsettling times there is an invitation to you to go deeper, to explore God in new ways. And do remember, it takes time to feel at home in a new way of living, a new place.  

Love and prayers from a mystic in motion who’s enjoying being settled

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Polepole

My heart is pounding. My breath is short. I stumble over one more rock on the trail. Behind me I heard, ‘Polepole. Walk polepole’.

It was my first fall living in the mountains and I was climbing with a seasoned hiker. ‘Anne, only walk as fast as you can walk without loosing your breath. Walk slowly. Walk polepole’. He described this wonderful Swahili expression that teaches one to walk slowly, gently and calmly. He wanted me to learn that I was to climb the mountain at my speed. I was to walk uphill slowly and steadily. It’s not a race. There’s no competition, only self-care, acceptance, wisdom and completion.

In my early days in the village, sometimes it seemed like too much work to climb the mountain behind my home. It’s like having a Stairmaster from a gym in my backyard, only I don’t get to chose how steep it is! What he was teaching me was that I can’t adjust the steepness but I’m completely in charge of my speed.

Since those early days I’ve changed my walking pace. My heart still pounds, but I seldom lose my breath. I walk polepole (sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’). And I enjoy my walks. I have time to breath, to enjoy the trees, the creek, the birds and anything else that my senses linger on.

I know that pace of life has helped me find my way. As a Mystic in Motion, I’m susceptible to the chaos and fast pace of our world. I need help to walk slowly and calmly, not taking on more than I can manage without loosing my breath, my grounding. I think too this relates to the bigger world. We’ve just entered another season of restrictions due to COVID19. I think it’s time to remember ‘polepole’. That means it’s time to move slowly, gently and calmly through the days. Not get out of breath through an overload of news, worries or anxieties. Time to hold life lightly, move through it gently, savoring what we see, accepting that we can’t change the size of the mountain, but we can change how we walk it. Polepole. We can walk polepole.

Are you fighting the ‘size’ of anything in your life? Is there anyway you might adjust your pace to ‘polepole’?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Spiritual Moorage

Years ago over lunch, a friend asked me to describe a core quality to my life. I told her that I dropped a drag anchor each day. I didn’t think about it. I’d never used that image before. It just came out of me. As soon as I said it, I recognized the truth in the description even though nautically it was incorrect! Large boats and ships have many kinds of anchors for different reasons. Technically a drag anchor is what happens when an anchor doesn’t hold properly. It will slow the boat down, but not keep it in one place. I responded from the desire to live more slowly, to have something in my life that would slow me down  and help keep me stable in uncertain times.

Currently someone close to me wants to live on a boat. She describes building a moorage, a solid base in a harbour where she can tie her boat. It will be strong, made of concrete, and set to the bottom of the ocean. She’ll be secure whatever currents, winds or storms come. This week my spiritual director asked me to describe what I was experiencing in life and without thinking I responded that I had within me a spiritual moorage. I could feel it inside me.

Today I don’t just drop a drag anchor to slow me down, today I know my interior world secured to a spiritual moorage that is in the ocean that belongs to God, Creator of All.

I feel secure, despite the challenges and hurts that blow through my life. I feel secure, attached, embedded within God. My eyes are opening. My faith is growing deeper. I’m grateful to Contemplative Fire’s rhythm of life for it’s been the drag anchor that has brought me here. Prayer/study/action have become a normal flow in my days; a regular meditation practice, regular, intensive and specific study of the contemplative life, and an intentional compassionate practice towards myself and all others have become the path that I walk. That path is taking me deeper into the spiritual reality that surrounds us.

Are you curious spiritually or a seeker of God? Do you sample many different ideas or are you focused on going deeper spiritually? If you want to go deeper, do you have a rhythm that guides your life, a teacher who you trust? If you do – wonderful, hang in there and go deep, do the cleansing work of deep spiritual diving. If not, I encourage you to begin to ask God for one. Those are precious requests for our Loving Spirit. As they say….when the student is ready, the teacher appears.   

from a Anchored Mystic in Motion

Love and Prayers

Anne

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion with The Rivendell Way

In Chaotic Times

I’m writing this during the US elections, those never-ending elections. Ah our simple Canadian ballots! I know the elections are south of the border, but their turmoil surges into my life. It hits some deep waters in my family with significant pain in lives close to me as well as an upsurge in my own commitments. The sun is showing up today, the garden awaits but I know I’m not going to get there. One day this week I went to bed with sorrow in my heart and woke to it still being there. Sometimes life feels complicated and chaotic. This week has been one of those for me.

When complications come, I enjoy turning to John O’Donohue. I’ll share a bit of him with you this week. I was flipping through his book ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’ looking for a blessing for someone special and came across his page of questions. I love questions! I slow down, open up and turn another direction when I encounter questions. So my gift to you this week, to your world whether calm or chaotic – some questions. Hope you enjoy them.

What dreams did I create last night?

Where did my eyes linger today?

Where was I blind?

Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?

What did I learn today?

What did I read?

What new thoughts visited me?

What differences did I notice in those closest to me?

Whom did I neglect?

Where did I neglect myself?

What did I begin today that might endure?

How were my conversations?

What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?

Did I remember the dead today?

Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?

Where did I allow myself to receive love?

With whom today did I feel most myself?

What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?

Who saw me today?

What visitations had I from the past and from the future?

What did I avoid today?

From the evidence – why was I given this day?

John O’Donohue, ‘At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions’ from “To Bless the Space Between Us”

How do you receive these questions?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire, Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Companion with The Rivendell Way

Going Deeper into God

As a young girl I didn’t know why I was alive. I sought meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. Then I sought Truth with a capital ‘T’. Jesus became alive to me and I immersed myself in a relationship with him – totally smitten. I got to know him better and better through the ups and downs of life. Now in this less active season of life my yearnings for spiritual depth have opened. I want more of God. I want to go deeper into the reality that holds the universe together. Hanging on to Jesus’ hand I ask him to take me with him a bit deeper into the heart of God.

I see more clearly that life is about our experience of God. We get distracted by achievement, accumulation, accomplishment. We get distracted by desires to be seen, known, to belong, desires for fame, wealth, power, affection, security and control. We get distracted by fears, worries, wounds and grudges. In my meditation practice I learn to recognize distractions and return to God. That is one of the strengths of a mediation practice, constantly seeing distractions and consciously choosing to release them and return to rest within God.

Distractions are all around externally and internally, but they’re not the main event. God is the main event. Going deeper into the Spiritual Heart of the universe is the main event. That is why we’re here on earth. First is our relationship with God, our experience of Love, Joy, Peace, Forgiveness. Out of that experience we can hear our mission, see our path and find the courage to walk it.  Out of that experience we can change the world.

But changing the world is not why I’m here. I’m here to open myself to God. It seems to me that people would rather hear about changing the injustices in the world. You can get grant money for that. But I’m saying that the most important part of life is not fighting injustice but opening your heart to more of God. Where or how God sends me is the Spirit’s business. I’m an employee of the Spirit. I’m not CEO or even upper management in the world. Seek the kingdom of God first. And then the world will be changed.

Seek the kingdom of God first. That’s it. I’ve heard it a zillion times. I’m beginning to actually ‘hear’ what Jesus, and all the other spiritual leaders, have been saying. God first. Go deeper into God.

This Mystic in Motion wants to deep dive.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

Shalem Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living