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


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

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


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

What’s on Your Mind?

captureSo it happened again. Suddenly a phrase that I have read dozen’s, probably hundreds of times took on new life and meaning. I’ve been an intentional follower of Jesus since 1972 so I’ve read and studied the Bible a lot, spent ten years teaching it and another fifteen preaching from it, yet it can still amaze me when suddenly I ‘hear’ a word from scripture as if for the first time.

Philippians 2.5 ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’. Put on the mind of Jesus. So, I’m to have a mind transplant! Not my perspective, longings, interior jumble but that of Jesus. How might the world look through the mind, heart, experience of Jesus? What would be the contents of his mind?

One of my anchoring practices is meditation and when I sit each day I’m very aware of the mind of Anne. It’s not the mind of Jesus. I’m also aware that sometimes I put on the mind of other people. I let them speak into my mind in a way that isn’t helpful. I can hear the voice of….my family, friends, colleagues, advertisers, songs, shows – doesn’t the list go on and on! That feeling of failure that I wake up with in the middle of the night, that’s not the mind of Christ; that feeling of discontent when I’m overlooked, that’s not the mind of Christ.

This week I read that Einstein would get to a silent, non-questioning place and then he could hear what he needed to hear. He wrote, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence and the truth comes to me.” Ramanujan, the mathematician from ‘The Man from Infinity’ said something similar. In his prayers, the solutions would be evident. Both of those experiences sound like the mind of Christ to me. They are listening beyond themselves into the heart of the universe. In the stillness, when the mind of Anne is quiet, then I can hear the voice of God. What is it like for you to listen like that?

In that moment of awareness when I was reading scripture, it was a fresh wind blowing through my life. A tiny moment of silence; from that place once again, I say ‘yes’. I want to see the world, others, and myself with the eyes and heart of God. And in that moment, I feel the surrender of the mind of Anne into the mind of the Divine and it is good. I know the mind of Christ and I long to know it more deeply.

It’s a complex, mixed up world we live in. We need to be grounded, deeply rooted in who we are and whose we are. Putting on the mind of Christ is one more filter for me as I find my mystical way through a chaotic world.

“Let the mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus”

Peace to our world


Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada



The Bells are Ringing


On New Years Eve 2016 a group from Contemplative Fire Toronto met to welcome in the year together. Besides some food, drink and conversation we had bells, lots of bells and each with a different story. We shared stories of where the bells came from. One I brought was from my childhood. I was given it whenever I was sick. For in those days if I was sick I had to stay in bed, so the bell was to call for my mother. It ran loud and clear! One person brought a 100-year-old bell, another one from Loire Valley in France, another a Christmas bell with a gentle tinkle. Lots of bells with lots of stories.

We took time to celebrate the goodness in our lives from 2016 and form a wish for 2017. For each celebration and wish we rang all our bells. It was bell-ringing good fun!

As I listened to the wishes around the room they varied greatly. Several people went the same direction I did. The wish that surfaced within me that night was a longing for peace – in my own life, that I might be a peaceful person, in the lives of those around me, that I might encourage them into being peacemakers, and in our world, that the ways of non-violence may be enhanced and more clearly known. Since then two people have approached me with the same awareness that although the daily news is full of tumult and tragedy, there is an undercurrent of consciousness growing, of like souled people being called forth to bring in the peaceable kingdom. They put me in touch with a number of peace promoting groups.

Those of us who seek a different way are not alone. We need to be strong and faithful in our calling. There is a reason we are here on earth, at this time. We need to listen carefully to the One who sent us here. May we grow in courage to allow our souls to show up and be the people we are meant to be! It might not be noisy. It’s possible no bells will ring, but the vibrations of our well lived lives will reverberate throughout the universe. Let us be true to who we are and to whose we are. We have a job to do on earth in 2017. Let’s do it.

Peace to all


Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada

Remembrance Day Reflection


Goggle tells me that at last count, our earth has been divided up into approximately 206 nation states. Sixty-seven of these are currently engaged in war or armed conflict varying from outright war, to civil war, to rebel groups, to fighting Islamic terrorists or drug cartels. That doesn’t count the people controlled in slavery, human-trafficking or smuggling. I gasp at the daily violence on our planet.

I live in the safe and free country of Canada. Even travelling to USA, seeing the number of armed military in public places seems foreign. September 11 was a turning point for me. When I was safe at home that day, curled up on my couch watching the towers drop for the x number of times, I suddenly became aware that are all human beings and we are not to hurt each other. Thomas Merton far more eloquently describes his moment at the corner of Fourth and Walnut as waking from a dream of separation. He saw that we are not separate, we belong to each other. He saw us all walking around shining like the sun, with our core beauty, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only we could see each other that way there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.

I have growing in me, during the last decade, a great longing for peace. I’ve written before about being a Powerful Peacemaker. In a world where conflict seems the norm, what does it mean to be a peacemaker? How can I be non-violent in a violent world? —- Am I chasing rainbows? One person said to me today, “It’s a fairy tale, Anne.” I don’t think so. Do you?

Realistically, there are no soldiers at my door. But I know violence and I bet you do too. Violence is close to home. I think the first place I become a peacemaker is within me. Will I say “NO!” to the interior negative thoughts that seek to crush my God-breathed beauty? Then will I seek to engage in non-violent communication with others – no more sarcasm, teasing, critical words, judgement calls, competition or negativity. Will I choose to be thankful, see the core beauty of another, let go of grudges and extend forgiveness? That’s powerful work. It takes strength and lots of practice to lay down the weapons of my words.

Each year in November as we wear poppies for a few days, I recall those who died for my freedom, and each year the longing to find the pathway of peace grows. If you’re in Toronto, join me this Friday at 25 Wanless Avenue – 7.00pm for FIREWORKS! – Our topic this month is “Being non-violent in a violent world”. See http://www.contemplativefire.ca for details. We’ll explore together what this might mean. Let’s make a difference in our own world.

Go in peace


Community Leader Canada