Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding God in the Verbs: The Workshop is Now Taking Bookings

Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer
A Workshop and a Book

Do you long for deeper communion with God? Spiritual director Jennie Isbell and Quaker minister Brent Bill know how easy it is to lapse into repetitious refrains of prayer:
"Our hearts told us that we had lapsed into easy God speak. We weren't reaching deep into our spirits and drawing out living words of praise, confession, concern, intercession and longing. We were tired of speaking in clipped shorthand to God. We wanted to pray in such a way that we showed up with our whole selves."
If you have experienced a similar longing, come join the authors on this prayer journey into the deep waters of the Spirit. This book and workshop offer companionship and guidance as you begin to notice, consider and deepen your prayer experiences, with refreshing exercises sprinkled through every chapter to offer you a fresh language for prayer. Find God here—in the nouns and the verbs of your conversation.
Finding God in the Verbs can be presented as a two or four hour introductory workshop or a full weekend retreat. Either way, it's a lively opportunity to explore and unpack the language of prayer, including inherited and ancestral prayers, spontaneous prayers, and the unuttered prayers of your heart. In this highly experiential workshop, participants play with scriptural and personal images for God and the verbs (and other words) and implications that go with them. We dive into language and the silence that yields to listening, all while leaving theological baggage at the bag check.
Jennie Isbell, M.A., M.Div. is a Quaker spiritual director, writer, and retreat leader who joyfully serves people at the edge of church, inviting them to notice how close God actually is, unadorned by a particular creed or requirement. She lives and works in Greenfield, MA with her adoring husband Newell and their way-above-average child, Jasper.

J. Brent Bill is a Quaker minister, photographer, retreat leader, and author. Among his books are Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment, Awaken Your Senses (with Beth Booram), and Holy Silence. Brent lives on Ploughshares Farm, which is fifty acres of Indiana farmland that is being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

How to contact Jennie and Brent
Jennie Isbelllwww.jennieisbell.comljennieisbell@gmail.com
Brent Billlwww.brentbill.comlbrentbil@brentbill.comlholyordinary.blogspot.com


Jennie, Brent, and Finding God in the Verbs are also on Facebook! Follow them there!

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Holy Silence" is Book 22 of 25 days of Advent


My friend David Lott (one of the best editors and thinkers I know) has been posting a book a day for his 25 Days of Advent. He's listed some wonderful books and authors (Arthur Paul Boers, Diana Butler Bass). So it was a wonderful surprise yesterday to find that he had posted this:

25 Books of Advent, Day 22, Brent Bill, "Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality" (Paraclete, 2005).

It's tempting to call Brent Bill the best thinker on Quaker spirituality of our time, but why limit him that way? He's simply one of our finest contemporary writers on spirituality, period. While this is not his first book, it is certainly the one that most firmly set him on his current path of writing thoughtful, engaging books on the spiritual life--one that is all the more deep and authentic because he really does live it himself, immersed in the Friends community. Start here, and you'll find yourself not just appreciating his tradition, but wanting more of what's emerged from his warm, generous, creative spirit. ‪#‎25BooksofAdvent‬


High praise from someone I really admire.  I am humbled.  Though still enough of a promoter to suggest it would make a wonderful last minute  Christmas gift.

Now I'll be wholly silent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints: "Christmas Tunes"

Here's are some Christmas-time tunes for my "hymnal" project in conjunction with my "The Humble Stumble: Lessons on Simplicity, Stillness, Fashion and Faith from a Bad Quaker" book. The follow list is from my friend Ray Tetz, who took me up on my request for "hymns" that matter...

The whole "hymnal" is on Spotify -- "Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints."

1. “I Watch You Sleeping” by Frances Ruffelle
by Mike Batt
John Denver recorded it in the 1970s, but Frances Ruffelle turned it into a Christmas Carol.


"I Watch You Sleeping"

I watch you sleeping, little angel face.
And on behalf of the human race, welcome to this crazy place.
I watch you sleeping, innocent and free.
I don't know what your dreams may be. You don't know what you mean to me.

You have never heard thunder, you have never seen the rain.
But you can still feel the wonder, you can still feel the pain.
And sometimes you look at me, so wise and so sure,
I could easily believe you have been here before.

I watch you sleeping, little angel face.
And on behalf of the human race, welcome to this crazy place.
I won't be here forever, but as long as I'm around, I promise you I will never let you down.
To help make a world you can feel worthy of, I will teach you to fly on the wings of my love.

I watch you sleeping, brave and unaware. You don't know yet so you don't care.
I want you to know it's hard out there.

I watch you sleeping, little angel face.
And on behalf of the human race, welcome to this crazy place.
I watch you sleeping, I watch you sleeping, I watch you sleeping,
I watch you sleeping, I watch you sleeping, I watch you sleeping.

2. “The Star Carol” by Simon & Garfunkel
by Wihla Hutson & Alfred S. Burt
My old college roommate did the best version of this song I every heard, but I’ll settle for Simon & Garfunkel.

"Star Carol"

Long years ago, on a deep winter night.
High in the heavens, a star shone bright.
While in the manger, a wee baby lay.
Sweetly asleep, on a bed of hay.

Jesus our lord, was that baby so small.
Lay down to sleep, in a humble stall.
Then came the star, and it stood over head.
Shedding its light, 'round his little head.

Dear baby Jesus, how tiny thou art.
I'll make a place, for thee in my heart.
And when the stars, in the heavens I see.
Ever and always, I'd think of thee...

3. “Star of Wonder” The Roches
by Terry Roche
The Roches did a terrific album of Christmas music called “We Three Kings.” The title song is quite wonderful, but this is the standout.


For the lyrics (and musical score and note from Terry Roche) click here

4. “Corn Water and Wood” by Riders in the Sky
by Wendy Waldman and Carol Elliot
Cowboy music is one of my guilty pleasures.


5. "Long Way Around the Sea” by Low
by Al Sparhawk, Al, Mimi Parkern and Zachary Micheletti
Just a sweet song.

"Long Way Around the Sea:

We've come so far
We've followed the star
Herod heard
Said "bring me word"
Take the long way around the sea

Here for us
A humble birth
The son of God
Descends to earth
Take the long way around the sea

On Christmas day
On bended knee
Please accept
The gifts we bring
Take the long way around the sea
Take the long way around the sea

We turn to go
An angel shone
Said, "don't go back
To Herod's throne"
Take the long way around the sea
Take the long way around the sea

Take the long way around the sea
Take the long way around the sea

6. “Put the Lights On the Tree,” Sufjan Stevens
by Sufjan Stevens
At our house it wouldn’t be Christmas without Sufjan.

"Put The Lights On The Tree"

Put the lights on the tree
(Put them on the tree)

Put the ribbon on the wreath
(Put it on the wreath)

Call your grandma on the phone
(Call her on the phone)

If she's living all alone
(If she's all alone)

Tell her Jesus Christ is here
(Tell her He is here)

Tell her she has none to fear
(There is none to fear)

If she's crying on the phone
(Crying on the phone)

Tell her you are coming home
(You are coming home)

La la la la la la la

Blessings at Christmas— Ray and Brent

Friday, December 12, 2014

Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints: "The Rebel Jesus"

Here's a little Christmas-time tune for my "hymnal" project in conjunction with my "The Humble Stumble: Lessons on Simplicity, Stillness, Fashion and Faith from a Bad Quaker" book. The whole "hymnal" is on Spotify -- "Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints."

These are not "hymns" in the traditional sense. Rather they're songs that have spoken to my soul in a spiritual sense -- even if they are not "spiritual songs" per se, though my bias is that that our hearts hunger for beauty and meaning and so when artists create something that sings deep in our souls, well, they've created a "hymn," even if it was unintentional. Just as we are unintentional (often) saints -- and imperfect ones.

Suggestions of songs that have spoken deeply to you are welcome!

I'll also post lyrics and video  here.

Today's hymn is  The Chieftains – The Rebel Jesus

“The Rebel Jesus,” by Jackson Browne

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants’ windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
While the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by ‘the Prince of Peace’
And they call him by ‘the Savior’
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber’s den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

Well we guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

Now pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
There’s a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus


Jackson Browne's website is http://www.jacksonbrowne.com/home/

Friday, December 05, 2014

Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints: "Seven Angels"

I have stumbled a bit on my "hymnal" project in conjunction with my "The Humble Stumble: Lessons on Simplicity, Stillness, Fashion and Faith from a Bad Quaker" book. It's on Spotify -- "Humble Stumble: Hymns for Imperfect Saints." But I'm doing better at adding a "hymn" regularly.

These are not "hymns" in the traditional sense. Rather they're songs that have spoken to my soul in a spiritual sense -- even if they are not "spiritual songs" per se. Though my bias is that that our hearts hunger for beauty and meaning and when artists create something that sings deep in our souls, well, they've created a "hymn," even if it was unintentional.

Suggestions of songs that have spoken deeply to you are welcome!

I'll also post lyrics and video (when available) here.

Today's hymn is  Hem – Seven Angels

"Seven Angels"

Sleep come easy to your bed this night
Seven angels hold you in their light

One holds a candle.
One holds a crown.
One holds the moonlight shining down.

Dream of fortune in the world below -
Seven angels in the afterglow.

One holds the lantern deep in the mine.
One holds the daylight left behind.

One holds the lightning flashing then gone.
One holds the sun waiting 'til dawn.

by Dan Messe & Steve Curtis (from the album "Departure and Farewell")


Hem's website is http://www.hemmusic.com/