My Life as a Dandelion

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Weedy and seedy, that’s me.

Not wedding bouquet material
But I adorn the heads of children
As milky fingered
They weave me into a crown
and regally wave to passers by

My husband’s name is William
Pronounced “Vill-helm” if we were properly German.
However we are not properly German
As evidenced by our butchering of our last name
Which we pronounce Weber.
Not Weeber, or Veber.

Vill-helm means helm of resolution
“You’re stubborn!” His mum chastised.
“Not stubborn! Resolute!” He countered.

Resolute
Stubborn
Like the dandelions proliferating in my backyard.
Mow em down
They spring up again.
Mow em down
They spring up again.

Like the old man in the Monty Python movie
“I”m not dead yet! Really I’m feeling quite fine!”
Or the soldier whose opponent systematically hacks off all his limbs.
“It’s only a flesh wound!” I cry.

It’s only a flesh wound.

Weedy and seedy.

How many of my companions
Have clutched me in their grasp,
Blowing their wishes into the receptive air?
Dreams and disappointments together
Tracing curlicues in flight?

They flutter and twirl
Land and curl
Their way into the receptive earth.

Don’t cry
It’s not dead.
It’s only a seed
Watch and wait for the unveiling
It will spring up again.

What I Like About “Simply Pray” by Johannes Hartl

I don’t like book reviews that assess and evaluate.  I’m not well read or intelligent enough to cast judgement on other authors.  Plus, I always assume when I read a book that there will be things that I agree with, and things I don’t.  And I learn just as much from my moments of resistance as I do my moments of resonance.  If I’m resistant to something in a book, it’s quite conceivable the problem is ME, not the book.

That being said, the thing I like mainly about Hartl’s book “Simply Pray” is Hartl.  Poet, philosopher and foodie, Johannes is the Director of  Gebetshaus – the House of Prayer in Augsburg, Germany.  Johannes is a fresh voice and perspective in the House of Prayer conversation.  He’s got waaaaaaaay more brain cells than I have (and uses them!) but his genius lies not so much in his wide breadth of understanding around all manner of topics, but in his ability to make the complex simple, accessible, easy to understand.

First of all,  the book has pictures!  Call me simple, but I’m a visual learner, so I like pictures.  What Hartl is actually doing is writing icons.  He finds an image that captures a theological concept, and through a simple drawing gives us a doorway into what he wants us to explore, understand, and easily remember at a later date.

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Hartl promises in his book twelve steps to transformation and then lays out simple, practical invitations to make more room for God in our lives.  He deals with formational practices, and with the wisdom borne of experience, shares how to overcome common obstacles to deepening your life of communion with God.

I love the chapter titles.

Nothing

The Secret

Dimension

Traffic

Why?  Again because he is able to capture a body of learning in a single memorable word.  It’s just good craftsmanship, and masterful communication.

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The final thing I enjoyed about the book is Johannes’ transparency and vulnerability.  It would have been easy to merely write a “how to” manual, but Johannes gives us glimpses into his own heart and processes, his dreams and disappointments.  We are invited to be a fellow pilgrim on the journey with him, rather than an acolyte under his tutelage.

This book is equally helpful for prayer novices or newbies, and also for those who have been cultivating prayer for a loooooong time and need a fresh perspective on how they might create space for encounter.  Now that I’ve completed it, I’m going to start passing it around to my friends and colleagues….

Luminous or Shiny?

She was a luminous soul.

It was a curious mixture of vulnerability and strength.  Her skin looked almost translucent.  Her eyes no stranger to sorrow, but also creased with joy.  She was slight, even a little fragile.  But somehow also solid.  Grounded.

 She was quiet, observant.  Attentive and present.  You could tell that she was just as aware of the Other in attendance at the table as she was the rest of us.  She didn’t speak much – she chose her moments carefully.  But when she did weigh into the conversation, her words carried heft and substance.

 I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and I hung onto every word.

Those who look to Him are radiant; 

their faces are never covered with shame.  Psalm 34:5

 This woman has been with Jesus.

 As we march towards Advent, I’m aware that my surroundings are becoming very shiny.  Lights hanging on the High Street.  Decorations in the stores.  The town is polishing itself up for Christmas.

Tolkien said in the Lord of the Rings, “All that is gold does not glitter.”  I wonder if the inverse is also true.  Is all that glitters, all that is shiny, gold?

 It’s so tempting to be shiny.  I want to polish myself up, put my best foot forward.  Make a good impression.  Possibly even impress.  My motives are good – well, mostly.  We are called to shine as children of light in a darkened generation, aren’t we?

 But am I full of light, or merely shiny?  Am I lit from within or do I merely glitter?

 Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18

  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The pathway to luminosity?  Paul would say the contemplation of God’s glory.  British poet William Blake says “We become what we behold.

What might happen if I search for God’s glory in all it’s multiple manifestations around me?  In the Scriptures and in the Chantry Woods?  In the faces and lives of those I am growing to know and to love?  What I set my heart on a quest for His beauty and when I find it stop.  Look.  Listen.  Contemplate.  Take it all in.  Let it invade the inner chambers of my heart and fill them with light.

Might I become a luminous one?

First produced in Herrnhut, Germany, the Moravian star adorns Christmas trees and homes all over the world, in particular communities wherever Moravian missionaries have been sent.  It represents the star that led those with questing hearts to find Jesus.

It is lit from within.

Lord, as we approach Advent, may my questing heart find you.  Finding you, may I gaze upon you.  As I gaze upon you, may You fill me with Your light so that I might point others to Jesus.

 

Imagination in Prayer?

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Some of you may be aware that over the last few years I’ve been training as a spiritual director.  I graduate from my program with Emmaus Formation on June 22!  Just finishing up my last papers and I thought this one might be of interest to folks.  It’s longer than a standard blog post and a bit technical, but hopefully helpful to those who are wondering if the use of imagination in prayer is helpful or not…

I’m attaching it as a pdf so all the footnotes position themselves properly…

Imagination and Symbol in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises-1

What are the Webers Up To! Resourcing Prayer Communities

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Prayer Truck is behind us, and now we are gearing up for the fall.  It’s going to be very full and rich!  We have over 15 part time interns in our 10 month Studies in New Monasticism Internship.  2 part time students from McMaster Divinity College.  We are running 2 cohorts of monthly group spiritual direction for women leaders, called Soul Sisters.  We’re expanding our prayer room hours so that we’re open whenever 541 Eatery and Exchange is open.  We’re beginning to explore the possibility of a Social Enterprise Business to run alongside GOHOP, and we’ve embarked on The Sustainability Project, which will be providing resources to front line justice workers to reduce burn out rates in the field.  Kirk is in the final stages of an amazing and creative upgrade to the GOHOP website.

Don’t worry, Kirk and I aren’t doing this all by ourselves.  We have a fantastic and ever growing team of gifted leaders that are working hard cultivating prayer, mission and justice in Hamilton.

As you may be aware, in addition to my local responsibilities with GOHOP, I stepped into a role with 24/7 International about a year ago. I am now serving on their global Boiler Room Team.  The function of the team is to cultivate the prayer communities and church plants that have sprung out of the 24/7 movement, helping provide structure, oversight and undergirding, developing training tracks for emergent leaders, and building national and international collaborations.

My area of responsibility is supporting and cultivating the New Monastic/House of Prayer communities affiliated 24/7, mostly in North America but also to some small degree in Europe and the UK.  I have monthly mentoring/spiritual direction with prayer community leaders via skype, and then annual “site visits” to their communities to offer support and to lend expertise.

Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team - fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!
Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team – fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!

Between my 24/7 responsibilities and my quarterly training in Chicago, with the Transforming Centre, I’m travelling a few days every month.  In September I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina as we formerly adopt 24/7 Charlotte into the movement.  And in October I will be in Hernhutt, Germany – home of the famous Moravian 100 year prayer meeting in the 1700’s and the birth of the first Protestant Missions movement.  Next stop is Salzburg, Austria where I will be doing a site visit of a 24/7 House of Prayer there.  Then it’s on to Vienna for 24/7’s Global Gathering.  I will be in leadership/oversight meetings with the Boiler Room Team, teaching workshops at the Gathering, as well as meeting with and doing consultations with New Monastic/House of Prayer leaders from all over the world.

A number of my expenses are being covered by 24/7, but I will still need to raise an additional $1500 – $2000 to meet my travel expense budget for 2015.  I’m also looking for folks who have an abundance of air miles/travel points who might be interested in helping me with some of my monthly flights.  Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me as I invest in the development of new leaders and young prayer communities?

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I just want to go back to Prayer Truck for a minute and tell a story.   Early one Monday morning in June I opened the truck for the first shift of the season.  As I did, a young man raced across the parking lot towards me.  “The prayer people!” he yelled, “Thank God!”  He sat with me for an hour and a half and shared his story.  He was a pimp, and in leadership in one of the local gangs, but crystal meth use was eating away at his life.  In the midst of all that, he was having encounters with God and wanted to talk about it.  He allowed me to pray for him, and even wrote some of his own prayers on the wall of the Prayer Truck, before he went on with his day.

It was amazing.

The scope of our ministry has increased, but really when it comes down to it, our work is all about helping an individual learn how to pray, how to open up conversation and communion with the God of the Universe who can (and often will) change everything.  Thanks everyone for all your love, your prayers, your partnership in the gospel.  Please pray for Kirk as he works hard to complete the website.  Pray for me for wisdom and discernment in my leadership, and that I could be fully present and fully loving not only towards Jesus, but towards those He puts in my path.

If you are interested in partnering with us, you can donate online at www.canadahelps.org (type GOHOP in their internal search engine), or send cheques made payable to GOHOP to Box 57022, Jackson Square, ON, L8P 4W9.  Email me at jill@gohop.ca for instructions regarding air miles/points.

Feast for the Senses

I just got back from a few days of retreat with the Transforming Community in Chicago.  This retreat we learned about the spiritual practice of Embodiment.  Seeing the body as sacred.  Being present to our bodies, caring for our bodies.  Exploring what it means for the body to be a place of encounter with God.  One of our exercises was to go on a prayer walk, so one morning in the wee hours I took a brisk stroll around the lake at the retreat centre.

This is the secret passageway to the lake walk
This is the secret passageway to the lake walk

The air was heavy and humid.  The silence was deep.  The beauty was astounding.

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There was a very interesting juxtaposition of wilderness and stone bridges with pillars.  Fascinating and lovely.

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The deer were plentiful, curious, and very tame!

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My body invigorated by walking.  My spirit nurtured by silence.  My soul nourished by beauty.

God present with me in all of it.

Communion (A Poem)

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I drop into silence

like the bottom of a well.

Sit in the darkness

and let my eyes adjust.

I see the etchings

the scratches

of my ancestors.

Hieroglyphics shimmer

Stories of long ago.

My fingers trace the ridges of their narrative.

My palms feel the heat

that radiates and pulses.

Their stories enter my skin.

Our hearts thrum together

The ancient rhythm

In the shadows of the earth.