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Getting away to pursue God in silence and solitude continues to capture the heart of Dutch people. And rightly so! It's hard to quiet our souls in the midst of the clutter and busyness of our lives. Twice a year I head to a retreat centre for a personal silent retreat, and each time I come home refreshed, intimately connected with God and full of new insights for my life.
Some benefit from joining others for a silent retreat experience. Deeper Devotion has several offerings coming up in the Spring and here they are:
Curious? Follow the links for more info and to register.
The launch of the School of Spiritual Direction went just beautifully. Last weekend Dave Nixon (the founder of Sustainable Faith) and I hosted our first international cohort of the School. We gathered at a retreat centre with 12 enthusiastic students from Amsterdam, 3 other Dutch cities and the UK for the first of 5 weekend modules that will stretch over the next 10 months. Our focus is to develop spiritual directors for the local church, people who are skilled in listening and asking questions and helping people to explore their experience of God within the stuff of their lives. In the process we anticipate loads of spiritual and relational and emotional and intellectual growth in us. Transformation is not too big of a word, I believe. It's a great group and we've had a superb start. We're off! Bring it on.
After a hiatus that lasted for several months, inspiration has returned to camp in the Gospel of John, and to respond with artful prayers as they emerge from my contemplation. John's gospel is one I've often studied and quoted and passed on to others, but it has also remained a bit puzzling to me.
But this time around it is coming to life in a whole new way. Gems of insight are being imparted to my thirsty soul. I think my writing is more for my benefit than for anyone else's, but if my prayers are an inspiration to you, you may want to bookmark Prayers to the Living Word or to follow on Deeper Devotion on Facebook. Be blessed!
Wow, I couldn't have anticipated that it would happen so easily. A training that asks a big commitment in a field that is so little known in my country, filled to the brim with 10 enthusiastic students, pretty much effortlessly. No PR, just invitations extended to a handful of people who are hungry to grow in caring for their own souls and have demonstrated a gift, the potential and desire to extend that care to others.
So we are off: Sustainable Faith's School of Spiritual Direction, the 2014-2015 cohort will begin 4 weeks from now. We're ready for a challenging, growthful, remarkable journey together.
If you are interested in next year's school, to begin 01 October 2015, check out the links in the next post and be in touch.
I am really excited to share the news that a new training opportunity is beginning in the Amsterdam area. The autumn I will be joining Dave Nixon, a fellow spiritual director and trainer of spiritual directors, in offering a School of Spiritual Direction. The training will extend from the end of October 2014 to the beginning of September 2015. Eleven months of learning (involving 5 weekends of face to face training) designed to develop skilled ´holy listeners´ for the local church.
Dave has developed this training over the past 7 years, offering it primarily within the Vineyard Movement of churches in the USA. This fall we will kick off the first international training in The Netherlands. This news has been greeted with great enthusiasm and the first year is almost fully booked up already. We´re very enthused about getting this off the ground and are already counting on a second run next year!
It has been a lo-o-o-o-ng time since there´s been any movement on this blog. I'd just like to say it's been an incredibly fruitful year. I am so pleased that I get to do what I love and love what I do. What a joy and privilege this is.
So this little ministry of mine is thriving. My website is doing the work it was designed to do, drawing hungry spiritual travelers into my life, and my practice is pretty much full at the moment. There is always some turn around so I am still accepting new people into spiritual direction, but it will be near the end of September before I'll be ready to begin to journey with anyone new.
That simply feels like a great place to be. So happy summer, whoever you are who has (still) landed here. May God bless you on your journey.
A silent retreat of 5 days. It seems radical. It is. It seems costly. To free up a week from an over-loaded life. To withdraw to a monastery. To decide to talk with no one but God, yourself and a spiritual director for 5 days? Yes, this is radical!
But oh, what I have been privileged to be a part of during 5 days of silence!
It's nothing short of life-change. Head knowledge taking root in the heart, at last. Convictions about self-worth and value and belovedness undergoing cosmic shifts. Needs being met, deeply, profoundly, even needs which had lain buried, unknown. Because God comes near when we count the cost and seek his face and wrestle and lay down our resistance and decide we will take him at his word.
This all becomes possible in the wide open spaces of silence. Silence opens up possibility. Silence surprises us, heals us, satisfies us. Because God meets us there.
How satisfying it is for me to companion with people as they make this journey. Read more at the silent retreat page. The next one will be offered in March 2014.
A silent weekend in English? Maybe that seems funny, but yes, the Winter Getaway with God will be our first one offered in English, so it's an opportunity to write about. Silent weekends are in serious demand here in The Netherlands. We are learning the value--and necessity--of silence, of times to draw away from all the busyness and demands. But how do we do it?! Getting away in itself can be a challenge. Then actually using the time away wisely and effectively can be an even greater challenge.
So attending a guided silent weekend can be a great help. Everyone is free to use the language of choice in the silent times, of course. But the Deeper Devotion weekends are complete with training and guided prayer times, and these will be led in English this time. Spiritual direction, worship stations and art supplies add to the sphere.
So if you are in Holland and have wondered about this phenomenon of silence, and haven't partaken as of yet because you don't speak Dutch, this may be a perfect opportunity for you. Registration is now open for the Winter Getaway with God, 31 January-02 February 2014. Maybe we'll see you there!
Beginning mid-September I began to travel through the gospel of John in my devotional times. I'm moving slowly, allowing the Living Word speak to me as I linger in the written Word. Something profound is going on as I do this. Have a peak at my heartfelt prayers, short, artful responses to what I'm encountering as I listen for the voice of God speaking through this treasure of a book. Prayers to the Living Word.
Have you missed the latest version of the Deeper Devotion e-letter? Read it and subscribe to receive your own copy) at the Refresh Your Soul page.
2013 was one of those years that you long for. Years of hard slugging and finally the flourishing comes.
It happened on many levels, in ministry and personally. Over the past year Deeper Devotion has grown into a vital entity. The retreat ministry multiplied, extending far beyond the planned three-per-year Getaways for women. Weekends, 3-day and 5-day retreats have been numberous. Invitations began to come in from other ministries and the responses have been wonderful. The number of people seeking spiritual direction through this ministry also increased, just to the number that I could handle, by God's grace. It's been a year of fruitfulness and of new potential ventures that I'm not yet free to share.
Personally there was flourishing too. My husband finished his Masters of Science degree (in IT Management) after many long years of weekend studying next to his work and we celebrated by taking the month of August in the unsurpassably beautiful mountains of southwestern British Columbia.
The picture above captures the vivid colours we experienced day after day. Look closely and you'll notice a dove-shaped cloud, resprestative of the Spirit's rich presence with us during our weeks of working our bodies and breathing in the beauty of the mountains, of God, and of life.
I start this fall season with a refreshed and rejeuvenated soul. Praise God for mountaintops! What is next in store?
April's theme at the Conversations blog is 'Streams of the Faith', inspired by Richard Foster's work at Renovaré. We were asked to reflect upon our own experience within the six streams.
I gobbled up Richard Foster’s Streams of Living Water soon after it was published. His work gave me a way to name (and appreciate) the various influences which have formed my Christian experience, and affirmed my finding my true home in the contemplative tradition. I have loved learning and growing in this tradition, and it has been a delight to pass along to others what I’ve gained. When my church decided to do a teaching series on the streams of the Christian faith, preaching on the prayer-filled life was natural for me. It’s where I am most at home.
The tradition at the other end of my spectrum is the social justice tradition.
I’m not happy about this. I even experience some shame about it. After all, social justice is important. It is ‘in’. So I feel some tension in being ‘out’. Read my reflection Serve the City over at Conversations.
March's theme at the Conversations blog is 'visio divina'. Just as in 'lectio divina' we ponder a sacred text to receive God's word to us today, In 'visio divina' we stop before an artwork to allow it to speak something of the holy to us. Rembrandt's masterwork Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee was my choice. Read my reflection In the Storm over at Conversations.
It's only for the past few years that I've celebrated Lent. I didn't grow up in a liturgical tradition, and my earliest memory of this season is wondering why my Anglican friends would load themselves up with pancakes on one early spring Tuesday and then, the following day, come to school with a cross of ashes on their foreheads.
The beauty of the symbolism doesn't go over my head any more. In fact, as I've endeavored to live more contemplatively, I've made a full about face.
Now I love Lent! Being intentional in my journey toward Good Friday allows me to arrive at the celebration of Christ's atonement prepared and ready. By giving the meaning and symbolism time to settle in my soul, I'm able to engage fully in Christianity's most sacred day.
The Lenten practice that has helped the most is to journey with Jesus through the gospels as he makes his way toward Jerusalem. Each day throughout Lent I will share a reflective thought from the gospels, something that you can take and reflect more upon as you choose. I invite you to journey along with me and, more importantly, with Jesus as we travel with him Toward Jerusalem. The posts with appear weekly on this site and daily on my Facebook page.