A Little Bit of Merton

‘I will not break faith with my awakened heart’.

This little nugget comes from somewhere in the writings of Thomas Merton. I heard it in a podcast as I was walking my regular route in Paris yesterday. I stopped walking, letting the intent of his words drop deeply into my being. As I often get tossed around by the circumstances of life, I resonated with his desire to remain true to what he knows, not intellectually but experientially, despite the challenges. So today I begin my reflection.

First, what does my awakened heart know? What ‘knowing’ do I hold, not what I’ve read or heard, but what is true in my heart? Last night I could feel this question tumbling around. I’ll see what I can catch this morning. This heart of mine has seen a spiritual image both at my bedside and as light in a theatre, has heard a voice with unexpected words and has known truth impressed within. This awakened heart knows that LOVE is at the source of all, that this LOVE dwells within all people and gives all matter life, and that in the end LOVE will be here for it is the universe’s trump card. This awakened heart knows that opening to God is the purpose of life, all of the struggles and joys down here are the classroom for learning soul lessons, so we’re open to God. This heart of mine recognizes that most people walking the planet don’t see the world this way…..yet. Most people around me are caught in the whirlwind of surviving or thriving in the turmoil of what ‘life’ has thrown at them. My awakened heart knows life as a classroom and in it, I’m a life-long learner.

I know there is more my heart knows, but I want to pause to consider the first part of his walk-stopping thought. ‘I will not break faith’. He’s crying out a desire to live from his True Self, his deepest purest part, to be his best self, yet he knows the struggle too. His will is needed. He needs to make a choice, not once, not a confession moment in church or a moment of emotional surrender, but a moment-by-moment choice over breakfast, on the subway, around the family table, in the grocery store, at the computer screen, working at a meeting, watching TV, hanging out with friends……moment by moment in the classroom, of the School of Life. Merton lived with an awareness of the life-shaping component of each moment of our lives. And he knows the struggle to remain true to what he knew.

I know that struggle too. I think that’s why his vulnerable acknowledgement and desire for truth resonated with me. I… will…not…break faith…with my awakened heart. I will remain true to who I am today wherever I’m taken in the classroom of life. I will be myself, my Mystic in Motion self, wherever Life takes me. That doesn’t mean that I speak of what my heart knows, but that I live from the heart qualities so kindness, tenderness and compassion flow through me to those I meet. My awakened heart is a divine gift, but remaining open, and nurturing it is my choice, my ‘yes’ to growing spiritual energy.

Sometimes it feels like people around me want to put a gag on me, push back and don’t want me to be myself. Recalling, ‘I will not break faith with my awakened heart’, encourages me to be rock solid with them, often not in words, but in personal energy. Sometimes words might be said, but most often it’s a shift within where I let the restraint or rejection wash around me. Rock Solid in the tumultuous river. They don’t know what they are doing to me. They don’t know how their words are affecting me. Perhaps later there will be time to connect with them more deeply, but in the moment, I’m not to break faith with my awakened heart. I am to stay within the flow of compassion.

Still mulling over this one….. et vous?

Love and prayers


Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Companion on the Rivendell Way

Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living

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


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


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


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