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

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

First Anniversary

 

A year ago this week that I began my Sabbath Leave. As I cleared my desk and said good-bye to people, I had no idea what lay in store for me. The four months I took off from work proved to be a time of transformation in my life.

No responsibility, no organizing, no leadership, no public speaking, no group facilitation. Open-ended days, to linger, to play, to pray, to reflect and read, to walk the beaches…. Even though I thoroughly enjoy all those ministry/leadership things, I quickly grew to value the new experience of laying them aside and opening more deeply to being, not doing, but being.

During those four months I re-connected with Jesus in a friendly way, but at the same time connected more deeply than ever before with the Cosmic Christ, the one who always has been, who is the glue that holds all this together. The awareness that I was a spiritual being having a human experience took deep root within me and continues to this day. I feel connected to The Always.

 

 

Each day as I move through the relatively mundane events of my now, quite simple life, I know they are significant because each event is part of the Great Unfolding. One of the ways I can express what I’ve experienced is by moving to the use of capitals. I’m sure my grammar teachers are shuddering in their resting places!

I’ve shifted inside into a world that is grounded in all there ever has been, all that there will be, forever and ever. I sleep, rise, eat, dress. I do all the things humans do, and yet I find embedded within them a significance they never had before. The significance comes out of the awareness that I’m not alone. God’s Spirit is always within me, with me, around me.

I thought my Sabbath Leave decision was about leaving some ministry responsibilities that were exhausting me. I told people my purpose was to find a sustainable life. A year later I say I’ve discovered a rich and highly sustainable life. I’m so grateful for the two communities who released me from responsibilities, my parish and my community of Contemplative Fire. And so grateful to God. One more time, God always shows up. When you put the busyness of life aside and seek more God, the Spirit will always show up. Always.

What would it be like for you to set aside your busyness for awhile and seek the Holy One, the Loving One, the Great Compassion, The Great Always?

Maybe someday I’ll be called back into the working flow, but that’s not today. When, or if, I do return, it’s up to me to live differently, to live leaning into the Jesus I’ve met this past year. Right now, I still have my training wheels on. I’m learning to live simply, day by day.

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

 

 

 

From One to Many

Last week ended up being a week of contrasts. As I described it to my daughter, I realized one of the reasons it felt so full was that I went from solitude to an abundance of people.

I took some time on retreat last week.  I went to a cottage in a retreat centre for some solitude. Three days to pray, reflect, and walk the lake shore, to put away the computer and phone and open my heart. I brought along some friends, Henri (Nouwen), Jean(Vanier) and Jesus (scripture). What beautiful souls to accompany me. Jean’s writing on community life touched me deeply and I could feel layers of my false self peeling away. How good to go on retreat and leave some stuff behind!

From the solitude I returned to full community life with a number of group meetings, individual conversations and one special service. One day was a twelve-hour working day. I haven’t done one of those in over a year, and I know why! There was much joy in the conversations and groups. I wouldn’t have missed one of them!

It had been a long time since I reconnected with my home community of Contemplative Fire. It was good to be with other Companions, offer an introduction to Contemplative Fire in a different part of the city and finish the weekend with our monthly worship. Returning to community life was rich and full.

Amid all the abundance, my husband and I continue our discernment around a move and of course family life happens. A second daughter turned 40. It’s just not possible.

When I write a blog I often write from what has been working most deeply in my life in the last week, but this past week was simply full to overflowing. Where do I turn? What am I to process more deeply? What might I highlight for myself through sharing?

It feels like there is a huge buffet table spread before me. I can go back again and again and taste the goodness that is there. When I was sharing my week with my daughter I suddenly felt the POP of the week. I’d moved from one to many and the crush was like fireworks going off inside. When I push back from the table and consider my meal, there are some things I know.

God is so present, so longing to let us know that we’re held, loved and valued. I hear God’s voice calling to me from so many different places, through so many people. “Come, welcome, be at rest with Me. I am here with you. You are never alone. You have nothing to prove. I have my eye on you.”

How is your week? How do you know God’s watchful, loving presence in your life?

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

 

Life is Full of Surprises!

Last week I was in the excited flow of being transplanted. We’d bought a new home and we were planning a move. Then the unexpected happened. We discovered some things about the house we hadn’t known and decided to cancel our offer. Our tender, transplanted shoot that looked so promising, suddenly withered. The move will still probably happen, but the timing and certainty are unclear. I didn’t expect that, but then…… do I live with the expectation of ‘Surprise!’ every day?

 

I realized that I don’t live expecting the unexpected every day. In ministry life, it’s always the unexpected happening. I wouldn’t know what the next phone call, visitor, challenge or learning would be. Something is always happening. But in my personal life, especially now I’m in the slow lane, I’m rather ordered, and my days gently unfold. This surprising turn has given me an opportunity to look at how I live.

What surprise will come my way today?

How will I respond to the surprise?

When we got the news about the house, my husband and I both felt stunned. We decided to enter into one of the Ignatian discernment practices we’ve been taught. We lived with both sides of the decision during a set time and then compared our feelings. I also went to some of my mature Christian friends and listened to their wisdom as they heard me. We were looking for that beautiful peace that Jesus breathes on his followers. When we had a shared peace, we made our decision. Since then, although we’ve spoken of it, neither of us have been caught in second-guessing our decision. We are working well together, and it simply feels right.

An unexpected hit came, we absorbed it, and responded with integration and waited for peace. YES!

I realize too. I haven’t in the past responded to surprises as well as this. I’ve been hit and sometimes hit back, other times I’ve been sent reeling into a corner and collapsed, and still other times, I’ve run away.

I still hold the hope of a home where I can wake and see the ocean, where I’m surrounded by trees, but not too far from a local café!

Surprises – Life is full of them!

How have you responded to surprises?

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening Gentle Reader. You help me learn and grow.

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

 

 

 

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

 

Still More Fallow Time (4)

more and more definitions spoke to me….

3. plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

Crop rotation! Yes, we don’t need to be doing the same thing year after year, season after season. We can change. May I be open to whatever changes My Farmer has in mind.

Surplus production! Yes, sometimes I think we just do and do and do. In churchland it seems more is always better, numbers are always a determining factor, but deep inside me I don’t believe that. I don’t want to be part of More, always More. I want to be part of significance, Spirit led significance in each of our lives. That might be more, it might be less. May I be open to the Whatever the Spirit wills, rather than the bigger and better our world, including the church, clamours for.

4. the tilling of land without sowing it for a season

in the midst of my ease. God’s Spirit is ‘doing’ something. I don’t know what it is, but I trust My Farmer with the care of my field. May God till the soil of my soul. May I rest and receive God’s care of my soil. Till away Dear One.

Are you experiencing the invitation to a crop rotation and the drive of surplus production? What would it be like to change what you are doing or to rest awhile?

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