The Beautiful Base of Life

For a couple of hours this week I clipped ferns and bramble bushes, pulled and broke old sticks. I was on my own, tiding up one tiny area of the forest on our new trail. There was one amazing moment when I realized I was uncovering the base of an old growth Douglas Fir. It’s big. My arm span reaches about half-way around her trunk. She soars high into the sky. Her bottom (I imagine there is a technical term for the base of a tree but I don’t’ know it), the part that spreads out as her roots sink into the ground, was covered in forest debris. I cleared it away revealing a delightful little trailing plant and some moss as a ground cover beneath her height and width. Ah…. It felt like a wonderful addition to our trail. I can’t move boulders like some, but I can tidy the forest in a few small areas.

We’ve been in COVID awareness land for a year now. In BC we began constraints and lockdowns March 2020. Of course, most of us thought it was just for a little while, but we’ve lived with the constraints, limited social circles, hand sanitizers and masks for a year. I’ve begun to wonder what I’ve learnt through this first year of the COVID invasion.

I feel like that wonderful fir tree! This year a lot has been removed from my life and I’m left more aware of grounds me. Family is important, that small circle of folk I’m given to be with in this life. Who are they? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? What do they value? Do I really know them? Friendships are important, that chosen circle of people, some who move through life with me, some who appear and disappear, especially those who are on a spiritual journey of their own. How do they see the world? What do they value? How have they lived during COVID Year 1? And then spiritual growth. Nothing is more important to me than growing spiritually, becoming more aware of God’s moment-by-moment presence within and around me. This year removing some of the activities of my days has allowed me to focus more intently on my prayer life. and that feels good. I hope I’m standing tall like my fir tree. I hope my branches provide shelter to those around me and my roots nourish other like-souled trees.

What has COVID Year 1 been like for you? What have you begun to value more deeply? How have the constraints of the year spoken to you? What has been revealed to you? What is the base, the ground cover of your life?

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 on The Rivendell Way

Voices of Harmony

Campfires! So evocative of life and energy. Embraced by a dark night. Sparks flying. Stars overhead. A tiny bit of life in the midst of the cosmos. Drawn to warmth.  Flames dance. A long stick to re-arrange the logs or poke at embers. Yes!

In the last few weeks, I’ve experienced a long stick poking at some embers inside me. I’ve held a dream for many years. Sometimes it would sparkle and send off sparks, other times it would settle to a warm glow or even seem to disappear as the rest of life took fire. As I was poked once or twice, it’s starting to glow again, getting warmer.

Phyllis Tickle wrote about The Giant Rummage Sale that the church goes through every five hundred years or so; a sort through, clean out, clear up and general shake out before beginning again. She was sure we were living through another rummage sale time. That makes sense to me.

The dream I’ve held is that the new shape of the church will be global, universal, cosmic. No more national churches. No more denominational divisions. Oh yes, those can be there on some level, but let there be a bigger faith community. From my vantage point the world needs us faith-filled people to come together, one voice, singing in harmony. I sing the Jesus song, but I sing it with all faithful people of all traditions.

We need to sing in harmony. The world needs the presence of the Spirit to be magnified. As long as we keep ourselves in our nationalist, denominational, creedal and religious boxes we weaken the gift of Spirit that we bring to the world. I want to sing in harmony. I want the strength of the Spirit to shine in the world. Her Light is diluted when we say, ‘only our way’ and strengthened when we say together, ‘we are all spiritual beings, made in the image of LOVE now, with me, follow your path, deeply and intently into the heart of LOVE’.

I know there are people offering perennial philosophy and inter-faith groups at work. Yes, first steps and I want more. I want more. I want a place where we encounter LOVE and are changed. I don’t think that happens in an institution or even a building.

Where does it happen? I don’t know yet. It does happen around campfires, places of human connection within the cosmos. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn back to campfires. I’ve just been poked a few times. I don’t know where this is going. I bet it’s going to appear here again. I’d like to hear from you. Tell me what you dream, how you’re poked, how my embers appear to you.  Do my sparks land on you? We’re in this together. I’d like to hear from you.

Love and prayers from around a campfire

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Spiritual Spring

Today on my forest walk I saw my first robin and first slug! Two signs of spring. I enjoy living in a climate where daffodils start to poke up in January and then take their sweet time to blossom. And now, with signs of spring, another winter is laid to rest. Days lengthen. Air warms. Garden calls louder and louder. Yes!

For years spring has been my favourite season. In Toronto each spring day brings a surprise. It’s riotous. Buds pop. Flowers bloom. It all just happens within a few weeks. Here in the bottom corner of British Columbia spring is an ongoing concert. Those daffodils in January…they’re the reminder that winter isn’t all we’ve got, more is coming. Now in March lots of spring flowers are dazzling us, but the bit I like best is when the trees blossom and the rhododendrons shout ‘I’m here too!’. They last for weeks! It’s not one quick show that you might miss if you go away for weekend (remember those days 😊), but they linger for a long time. Spring here is a lazy, long concert of beauty. Slowly the deciduous trees begin to join their evergreen friends and our forests fill out. It’s all so wonderful.

Hmm you might be asking if I’m getting lost in the wonders of spring. What does that have to do with making sense of spiritual life and growing as a contemplative because that’s what I usually write about, right? Well, I’ve been noticing some springtime spiritual awareness. I think I’m experiencing a spring time in my soul. Spiritual truths that I’ve known for years have begun to take on a new meaning. It’s as if I’d never actually heard them before. They are sprouting inside me like little crocuses. Really? Did Jesus really say that?

One blossoming truth is that the whole purpose of our human life is to find God and know that we are deeply loved. That’s it. Our purpose is not to clean up the mess of the world. Yes, there are systemic evils in the world that we can work to remove but doing that is not the purpose of human life. Yes, some of the activities around me aren’t run the way Anne would run them, but that’s not my purpose.  Our purpose is to know God, know Love with and within God. Yes, we have families to care for and jobs to earn a living but that’s not the purpose of life. The reason we are here on earth is to know God and know a Divine, unconditional, all embracive Love. That’s what Jesus said – ‘Seek the kingdom of God first and everything else will come along too’. Our purpose is God. Or this one, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. That’s what Jesus said. Our purpose is our search for God. That’s where our focus is to be.

I’m finding these age-old truths, long known but hibernating within me, are suddenly in a Toronto spring-like way, becoming alive, making new sense to me, a springtime in my soul. I trust their vitality will linger in a long enjoyable BC spring-like way. The new truths lead to simplicity. When I know what life is about, all sorts of other things melt away. Relax, enjoy life, keeping my eye on the main event and knowing that the One who watches overall, has her eye on me too. Just today She told me so. I know I heard their voice.

Most of us get caught up in the busy activities of life and we forget our purpose. Jesus knew that too. Remember the lost sheep, lost coin, lost son stories? Most of us are prodigals that wander away. Regularly. We forget who we are and whose we are. God is always calling us home. As sure as spring follows winter, God is calling us home into LOVE, into divine, unconditional love.

I know I have often gotten caught in the busy stream of life. I want to keep my eyes on my true-life purpose. I don’t want to miss it. I want everything God has for me in this life. It’s one of the reasons I write to you. Connecting with you helps me keep my focus. Thank you for reading. I hope my words can help you connect more deeply.

It’s quite simple, but deeply profound. My purpose, your purpose is to know we are loved by God, loved in a way that intimately touches us, giving us new eyes so we see that we are all brothers and sisters, and we seek to live in harmony with others and nature.

That’s one of the little blossoms that’s showing up for me this week. Wow. I thought I already knew this, but I’m knowing it in a whole new way. What’s showing up in your corner of the world? Any hidden treasures?

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 on The Rivendell Way

The Junkyard and the Sea Lions

Today I was walking quickly toward the cry of the sea lions. ARRRKKKK! Their cries were filling the air as I hurried down the road to enjoy them. But along the road I kept forgetting their cry and seeing the rubble all around me. The first stretch of road is nicely cared for, but around the corner is a repair shop, with boats, car parts and sea planes waiting to be repaired. To me – ugly. I crossed the path, ran over a bit of grass to find a deserted trailer and dog-house. To me – ugly. Further down the road was a heap of broken chairs, heaters, motors, propellers, you name it, heaped up and just left. To me – ugly.

The sea lions were calling me and all I was seeing was somebody’s leftovers, broken bits of life left to rust and collect muck.

I’ve been meditating in some form for about thirty years. I’ve heard God’s call and had wonderful experiences of the reality of God’s presence. Often those experiences haven’t occurred during prayer or meditation but randomly when I least expect it, yet I meditate every day hoping I will disappear into some blissful depths. I don’t usually. Yet I still show up to pray.

Rather, like hearing the cry of the sea lions, walking out to enjoy them, and seeing instead, the broken bits from other’s lives, I enter into meditation knowing the call of God upon my life, and get distracted by the broken, obtrusive bits of my own life. Why do I give them any energy???!! May my heart be set upon the call of sea lions, the call of God upon me.

I understand distractions, their shape, form and reality. I’ve taught about them and I still experience them. When will they stop? I know some people, during meditation do make it past the reptiles and enter an interior castle of stillness. I know stillness within. I know peace and joy. Yet I still know the junkyard of distractions too.

Guess I’m just a human soul, a work-in-progress. I know where I’m going, but oh….the journey is long. Hmmm, but the one who walks with me, walks through the junkyard with me is so sweet. Unfinished as I am, I’m secure and held. From that place I can see beauty, for what is one person’s junkyard is another person’s creative opportunity. God is not a junk maker, but a restorer of human souls. Yeah God.

Do you ever get caught by a junkyard?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

Companion on The Rivendell Way

Walls and Windows

This week when I hit A WALL, I felt sad. One more time I was in familiar territory. I’d offered a suggestion and I heard it come back to me with a ‘well maybe, if you really want’. I hung out in sad for awhile, mulling it over, aware of the trigger that had been hit. This morning when I felt The Wall appear again, I decided that I would look through windows and doors instead of looking at The Wall. I began to recall all the people who smile when they see me, the offerings I’ve made that have been received, the invitations I’ve had, the connections I’ve made. It was wonderful.

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-control in the last while. I used to shudder when it was listed as a fruit of the Spirt. Alongside love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, self-control seemed like Big Brother, a chaperone who stops the fun, a rule-maker. Years ago, I did some Greek word work and found a different take on it, but not till this past month have I enjoyed the word. Self-control now says to me that I can make choices. I have power within my world, power to choose how I will respond, how I will see the world, and see myself. I have both ‘will power’ and ‘won’t power’. What a gift from the Spirit! I can align my will with Spirit and bear wonderful fruit. I am strong.

Today I was able to not look at a wall but to see the windows and look through them. It doesn’t mean the wall goes away, but it shrinks into proportion, into its proper place. It moves from WALL to a wall. Yes, there are times when suggestions aren’t received, and yes there are many times when they are received, when I’m received.

It’s part of my journey into effortless leadership. I’ll continue to look for windows and doors. I have the ability to choose how I will look and how I will respond.

What’s true for me is true for you…..you too are strong and powerful. Self-control is one of your gifts too.  

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

Releasing Hidden Treasure

I continue to enjoy the awareness from last week of God’s Loving Presence within me, within you. What a treasure we hold! Sometimes while I meditated, I could feel the Vibrant Life within the glove of my life. I want to wear thin my glove life so God’s Vibrant Life shines through.

How shall I wear thin the glove, the ego that holds this life?

As often happens, my mind wanders down the pathways of prayer. I’ve had a long-standing desire to learn and experience more about it. I remember as a young Christian, reaching for O. Hallesby’s book on prayer from the library at L’Abri. It was the first intentional study I did as a new believer. My desire to know more continued over the years so books on prayer began to fill my library, days were spent combing the scriptures to learn the teachings about prayer, courses from many teachers were taken and of course hours were spent exploring the depths of experience.

Prayer is opening myself to Gods Presence. It might last an instant or be an aching heart I carry for days. It is always, dare I use that word ‘always’….an opening to the Divine One, the Creator, the Holy, the Pain-bearer, Life-giver.

One of my current favorite teachers tells me there is but one pathway in prayer, it is full and rich, but only one pathway. I am to learn to sit deeply in meditation, till I sit with peaceful bliss within the Presence of God. I turn to my bookshelf or the internet and teachers abound offering many pathways or methods of prayer. All those offerings weary me. I find that teachers are insistent on ‘their’ way. I suppose I’m the same. At this point in my life, I continue to recognize that there are many ways to pray. ‘Pray as you can, not at you can’t’ remains my foundation. It makes sense to me that we need to start where we are, not trying on something that doesn’t suit our temperament, experience, or stage of spiritual growth. And we also need to stay with what we know. We need faithfulness to our rhythm and spiritual practices.

Both faithfulness and flexibility are needed for spiritual growth. I need to show up each day for my practice and I need to be open to that practice showing up in my daily life, my regular encounters with family, neighbours and strangers. I need to let the glove of my life wear thin. Faithfulness in seeking God day in and day out as well as flexibility, being willing to change, to listen to how the Spirit is moving within me, living always with a beginner’s attitude, and in humility knowing I have so much still to learn spiritually.

Faithfulness and flexibility. I need them both. I want the glove of my life to wear thin, transparent so the life of Christ shines through me. It’s what is meant by teaching ‘It is in dying, I’m born to eternal life.’ As the glove of my life wears thinner, the Eternal Light of Christ within me, my life hidden within him, my soul life, shines brighter.

Ah Gentle Reader, thanks for letting me think my way through something this week. Faithfulness and flexibility. Releasing the Hidden Treasure. Life from within a well-worn glove. Yes!

Love and prayers from a mystic in motion

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

Hidden Treasure

Do you like treasure hunts? As a child, whether it was searching for Easter eggs or following clues, I loved it! As a mom, I  created them for my own girls; scavenger hunts on birthdays, or turning mealtime into a game by hiding dinner around the house. I like discovery and hunting and exploring. Well, one evening this week I got much more than I ever expected. I stumbled upon a treasure hidden inside me.

It had been a long day. I had missed my usual late afternoon meditation and felt too tired to concentrate. I chose to listen to a recorded meditation just before bed. You may have heard them before, a gentle voice guiding you to a quiet space, asking you to recall someone you care about so you can be in touch with a warm feeling. I’ve led such meditations and enjoyed them with others before, but that evening when I was asked to recall a warm feeling, such as we have with someone very special to us, or a baby, or puppy, someone or something that evokes a tender love, I felt myself connected to a very warm feeling, one I know very well. Usually when it rises up I simply smile and move on, but that night I didn’t move on. I stayed in the puddle of warm, tender feelings. The facilitator invited me to move other people into that warm flow. Some I shied from being so open with, others were easier to embrace. It was a short and warm meditation time before bed.

The next morning, the experience lingered on. I realized that warm tender love is God’s Divine Love within me. It is there within me. All the time. ALL THE TIME. I don’t have to look for it out there, nor do I have to work at it. Instead,, I recognize that warm, tender, accepting, enjoying love is the expression of Divine Love through me. It’s like a loving hand within the glove of my life. Time again I’m invited to TRUST Love’s Presence within me, to relax and let Love smile through me.

What a treasure, Divine Love hidden within me. It’s not just in me, it’s in you too. Take a breath or two or three. Let the image of someone or something you care about surface. Stay there. Don’t move an emotional muscle. Stay in the warmth. You have Divine Love within you too. What a treasure! What a treasure within you. What a treasure you are.

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 on The Rivendell Way

Cloudy Thoughts

Clouds move down the hill sweeping past my window.

Sometimes I see clearly, bright sun illuminating the hillside and water.

Sometimes I barely see anything as mists and clouds embrace me.

No matter how transient weather dances,

Earth remains below, around and before me.

No matter circumstances of life,

no matter ancient wounds within,

no matter lack of understanding,

no matter unknowing,

God, Eternal Presence, Divine One, Source of All, The Light,

 The Heartbeat, The Holy One

remains below, around, before and within me.  

Who’s not to say but transient weather dances are beautiful!

So let’s say too, in a loud voice, ‘Life is beautiful!’

Not always sunny,

often foggy,  

not without suffering and surprises,

                             yet holding hidden moments of joy.

In all God is calling to me ‘Come my child, Come my beloved one. Keep your eyes on me and me alone. I will show you the path of life’.

Let the clouds come, the mists swirl, even the fog ,

 the earth remains my home,

my temple not made with hands.

Within that temple I hear a humming, a love song for us all.

Shh…Listen with me….

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

Do You Trust Me?

“Close your eyes. Open your mouth. I have a surprise for you!”. I was perched on a step ladder cleaning the curtains in the living room of the manor house. Each day I had a gardening or household task to accomplish as part of my responsibility of visiting the Christian community that lived in this old house in Hampshire, England. I liked being in the community and doing simple tasks. They were a welcome release from the intense study that we were supposed to be doing. I wanted to escape a lot of thinking so weeding the garden or house cleaning were gifts to me.

I was by myself in the large living room when the young man, came to me with his surprise. I imagine most of us have heard that children’s rhyme before. I certainly had, but when I tried to close my eyes, I couldn’t. When I tried to open my mouth, I couldn’t. I froze in front of him. I knew him a bit and had no negative reactions to him, but I completely froze, unable to respond to him. Smiling gently, he said ‘Ah, you’re not able to trust me. Here is the candy Anne.’. He moved quietly out of the room leaving me with a life-long learning. Can I trust? Do I trust? Who will I trust? What will I trust? Trust……

From that moment in June 1972, learning about trust has been a regular theme in my life. Last week it emerged one more time. I live in whale country where we often share videos when the Orca’s or Humpbacks that frequent Howe Sound emerge from the depths and show themselves. They flip their tails, breech, sprout and even nudge boats. We celebrate the hidden beauties!

Last week TRUST emerged, flipper her tail in my face and even nudged my boat. I was away on retreat, with my meditation and prayer times interspersed with re-reading ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. This time his description of Spirit guiding him and people close to him, had an extra vibrancy for me. I could feel the weight of God’s presence in his life, in our world, and in my life. Yes, the very details of my life being held by Loving Spirit and the details of your life too. Flip. Breech. Nudge. I do trust the presence of God within me, around me and with you. I can’t see Spirit all the time, yet I do TRUST her presence and celebrate those moments when I KNOW I trust.

Trusting provides a different life experience. In June 1972 I was a raw, wounded and scared young woman. Now, nearly fifty years later, I’m quite different. As I live from a place of trust, I know that deep down, often hidden, but always present is my Loving God and that I belong to God, am one with my Creator. I’m so grateful for the spiritual growth that I’ve experienced so I could move more deeply into a life of trusting the hidden beauty within me and all creation, the hidden beauty that guides us and that sometimes flips her tail.

How about you? Close your eyes, reach out your hands. Life has a surprise for you. Will you receive what life is sending? Or are you too struggling with trust?

Last week, when TRUST emerged again, it was coming from my depths, to show both it’s beauty and reality. God is always present, always, willing to guide us and sometimes shows up with big sprout of water!

Covered with whale water…

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

Ouch! That Hurts!

Now this sound really simple, but oh…I saw it in a new way this week.

Sometimes, someone says something, or doesn’t say something, or looks at you or doesn’t look at you and you feel hurt. Know what I mean? The head noise starts: they don’t like me, he doesn’t love me, I’m not important to her, he didn’t hear what I said, I’ll never be good enough, there’s no room for me here, I don’t belong…..Ouch that hurts! I’m quite sure that anyone reading this knows what it’s like to feel hurt emotionally, feel that pinch, that tender spot.

What I realized this week was when I feel hurt, someone, usually unintentionally, has sent a dart that hit one of my old tender spots, some old untended wound. That’s all that’s happened. Some old hurt has been exposed to me.

It’s not about the other person. It is an invitation to me, if I want to take it, to bring put some healing ointment on the old wound and heal it. That’s all. A hurt is an invitation. I don’t have to RSVP the invite. I can sit in the hurt, savour it, allow its pain to consume me. The hurting little one is still loved by God.

I can also pick up the invitation and tentatively open it, apply a bit of healing balm and cover it up again by comforting actions like eating, running, working, shopping, scrolling, TV binging, or reacting with some well-chosen words… haven’t we all had these responses!

It’s also possible to acknowledge the hurt. Ouch, that hurts! And explore what part of me hurts, and why I hurt. I can talk to Jesus, Divine Mother, Loving Spirit, Creator. I can talk about the hurt, seeking wisdom and healing. If I continue to hurt, it’s one more invitation to explore the inner pain.

Deep within us is a rubbish pile and a treasure box. The rubbish pile is full of discarded sharp pieces that cause hurt. The treasure box is full of our Creator-given goodness. I know some people say to embrace your shadow side. I’m more inclined to acknowledge it’s existence, but to focus on the goodness, the treasure, the presence of God within me. I want the world to receive less of Hurting Anne, more of Trusting Anne, less Reactive Anne, more Compassionate Anne. I don’t want people to experience the sharpness of my rubbish heap, but I want to help others find their way past the sharp pieces that hurt to the treasure box full to overflowing with goodness.

We all have times when ‘Ouch! That hurts!’ happens. It was a delightful moment of clarity this week when I saw the source of my pain. I hope you, Gentle Reader can see the source of your pain the next time it happens to you. God’s healing presence is with us. Everyday. All day. Everywhere.

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 on The Rivendell Way