Heart of Berlin

Inspirations from Kerstin Hack

How I pray – my pattern for prayer

A dear friend recently told me, that she finds ist hard to sit and pray. And asked me: „How do you pray?“

I told her that I usually do not sit when I pray. I generally do not like to sit – I built myself a standing desk and a walking desk (a treadmill with a laptop stand) because sitting for a long time is not good for your body. The body is not made for sitting long term – not even in prayer.

Prayer postures

Most religious traditions honor that. So body posture for prayer includes

  • lying (I like that)
  • kneeling
  • standing – often with hands lifted up
  • dancing
  • walking

I like talking to God when I walk – it comes very natural to me.

Labyrinths as Prayer tools

As I do not have the time to go to a park every morning two artistic friends, Elizabeth and Scott, created a labyrinth on the roof of my ship for me. Especially in the middle ages Labyrinths were popular as a framework to hold your steps and your mind while you prayed. Some of them – for example the one in the Chartres Cathedral are really big – and it takes about one hour to reach the center.  I have a pinterest collection of Labyrinths.

My labyrinth is a bit smaller – but what I love about it is that it holds me and my steps, leads me to the center – marked by a heart and then from there back „to the world“. I can do a quick run through the labyrinth in a few minutes or take my time and very slowly walk and pray.

What I love about it is that et every turn the scenery changes. I see water on one side, factories on the other,. In some positions the sun shines in my face, in others she warms my back (providing she is there -after all i live in Germany). This change of scenery often inspires my prayers. So one time as I was praying about a woman who intensely requested something from me I did not want to give, I saw a buoy – it reminded me of my right and obligation to set healthy boundaries.

So – how do I pray

As mentioned I love to chat. But at times I do enjoy a more structured approach. This is how I pray then.

  • Connection:  Our father in Heaven

All prayer is a means for connection. So I remind myself that I am a daughter of a good heavenly father. IF the sun is out I give myself some moments or minutes to simply feel the sunshine on my face as a touch of his love. I also take time to think about his attributes and reflect and comment on them and express how they affect and touch me.

  • Thankfulness: Hallowed be your name

I take time to express my thankfulness. When my brain is still tired in the morning often the same things come to mind: Security (no war), Health, provision. To be a bit more diverse  it helps me to think about thankfulness in different categories: What am I thankful for in my Job, in my friendships, in my last experiences?

  • Learning to forgive Forgiveness:  Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us.

Forgiveness has so many shades and aspects that I wrote a whole training manual about it: Learning to forgive. n(also available as ebook) In my mornings I often ask the Lord to show me if there is someone I need to forgive. Sometimes it is someone else, but very often that someone is myself. To make forgiveness more tangible I imagine myself standing in front of the person  looking that person (or myself) in the eye and say: „I forgive you!“ As usually there is some accusation and anger involved (who is without sin) I also imagine asking for forgiveness from them and father God. And  also receiving His forgiveness as a gift. I love it that the word give is included in the word forgiveness.

  • Long-Term  Perspective: Your kingdom come!

This part can include prayers for the world, political and social situation, but very often I focus on how I would like to be available for God to be used to bring his kingdom. I think and communicate about the person he would like me to become in the long run to advance his blessing on the earth.  Here I also find it helpful not to take the whole package, but think about different aspects each day: My character. my relationships, my business.  I try to catch a glimpse of the picture of what he wants me to become in these areas and pray into it.

  • Short-term  Perspective: Your kingdom come…today!

Here I break the big picture into what it means for today. I run through the schedule of my day and think of the best, most god-honoring and life-filled way to go through this particular day. In my mind I imagine myself working with focus, envision myself meeting people in real life or on the phone with attention etc.

  • Asking for help and reminding myself of his strength:  Give us this day our daily bread … lead us not into temptation… deliver us… yours is the kingdom and the Glory…

Feeling and expressing my need for help and company. He is so good. And he is with my.

As you have probably noted much of my prayer practice follows the Lord prayer.

I personally like to put in then thankfulness right at the beginning and the forgiveness earlier in the prayer – then the „ugly stuff“ is dealt with. But following it in the way Jesus taught it of course is the original.

How to be creative – 10 Tipps

2017-02-16-10-11-50

My form of creativity. The arm of an old doll gets transformed into a toilet roll holder.

My friend Debbie, a wonderful clever and beautiful woman, a people – lover and worshipper of God told me that she would love to write more songs. She asked me for ideas how she could increase her creativity. Here they are.

1 Make it a habit to be creative (almost) every day

Write, paint, dance, draw etc. regularly. Even if it is only a little. That might sound boring, but the truth is: The more you practice the better you get. After all – Amazing grace was the result of John Newtons habit to write one song per week for his congregation. Discover what helps you and develop habits and routines that help you get into work/creative mode quickly – i.e. same spot, same place, same mug. You might find gems among the dust.

2 Detox from social media and other stuff 

Our brain is carving new stuff. If there is nothing new coming to us from the outside it will use its energy to come up with its own new ideas from the inside – i.e. it will start to be creative. Hence the “best ideas come in the shower-effect. If we constantly junk feed our brain with email, social media, noise etc. it will have no need and desire to come up with new thoughts and ideas. So detox regularly. Make sure you have enough boring times!

3. Care for your brain

The brain is an organ after all. It needs good, energizing nutrients (no, I do not mean Red Bull). You will not be able to do good work if your brain is deprived of sleep, oxygen, water and nutrients and a chance to go and pee.

4. Get moving

If you get stuck get unstuck by taking a break moving your body: walking, dancing… and yes, take care you are in a good body posture while you work. Bad posturer increases feelings of sadness and depression – usually not what you want to work from – unless you write depressing novels.

5. Fill your tank

Nobody can create from nothing. Only God. Maybe not even He worked from nothing – but from all that was in Him. In order to be creative we earthlings need fragments and pieces that we can combine in new ways. So: Get inspired. Take inspiration from others – a lot. But use only what is resonating with you and integrate it into your work.

6. Note all your fragments

Don´t wait for something magically complete to emerge. Use post-its and big pens – so that you see and can read the parts from a distance.

Ipad-holder made from leftover wood from ship-building.

Ipad-holder made from leftover wood from ship-building.

7. Work from the gut – later revise with the brain.

In the beautiful poetic language of German we say we do things “from the belly” when we allow stuff to flow from our innermost being. The belly needs some time to flow. Do not stop it in its flow. It is better to revise your work sometime later after a break.

8. Work from what moves you

Don´t try to write a song or paint a painting. Take time to feel and note what topics, issues, things move you right now. What fascinates you about life, God, people…? Work from there. Thus it will be your own. Find the topics that are on your heart. What have I been fascinated about!

9. Don´t multitask or jump to something else too quickly

When we get stuck or feel bored it is easier to jump to something else – stay there a little while… something new might develop out of that empty space.

10. Trust Gods Spirit in you and others. You are not alone in this creative journey. Pick up and work from what you feel the spirit of God is giving to you as inspiration – either directly or through the people around you. And yes let go of control and fear… what is in you is beautiful and it waits to come out.

Kerstin Hack, March 2017

What are your tipps and ideas to enhance creativity?

New years resolutions – yes or no?

One of my friends wrote on Facebook:

Seeing as I always seem to do the opposite of my new year’s resolutions: this year I’m going to smoke and drink more, exercise less and go far deeper into debt.

So that raises the question: Should we formulate New Years resolutions – yes or no?

The answer is: It depends.

  • NO: If they are unrealistic and vague.
  • YES; If they are routed in your personalty and values. And specifig.

key to really good new years resolutions is to answer three questions10781_729423323778946_4837512137458538047_n

  • WHY? Why should I do this? In what way would it enrich me and/or the world?
  • HOW? With what kind of attitude and what values?
  • WHAT? What exactly do I want to do? What is the specific plan?

One of my resolutions for 2017 is

[WHY] I believe that I can and should inspire people in the world with writing. [HOW] So I want to reliably and diligently work on improving  [How exactly] by spending the first two hours of every office day with writing and reading books or taking online courses that will help me improve my skills.

In a nutshell:  All general resolutions usually are of no value. And you can kick them out and plaster the way to hell with them as we say in German. Because not fulfilled resolutions tend to make you feel frustrated, shameful and so on. We all do not need more of these hellish feelings.

But good, resolutions who are anchored in your personality and deepest needs really empower you.

And yes, for those who recognize the basic idea – it was adapted from Simon Sineks Ted talk How great leaders inspire action.

Getting rid of to-dos

When I cry out to God he often answers – through books.

In the last days as I was thinking and praying about what I most wish for 2017 there was one thing I longed for most.

Less stuff in my head. 

2016-04-02-17-25-332016 was hard

  • Hackers attacked my German blog, my English blog, the websites for my 5 training courses and the blog of down to earth publishing  – several times!!! Having Hack as a family name it may sound funny when I say I was hacked. But it was not. It took my team and me several months to clear up the mess. And it cost tons of money.
  • Moving. Moving house is never easy. But moving after 20 years in one place (4th floor without elevator) is a challenge. Especially if it means moving home and office and you move to an office 1/3 of the previous place. Tons of sorting. Lots of organizing.
  • Building. Although I already live on the ship we still need to finish some building i.e. putting up ceilings, floor surfaces, doors, new heaters…
  • Finances: Hackers, German tax department charging me for income I had not made (and I did not have the strength for a legal battle), drastic increase in the storage costs for books, and other stuff that unexpectedly drained finances – and had me struggle for financial survival.
  • 1000 other problems – like an author cancelling a book project that we had worked on – 4 weeks before it was meant to go in print. And lots of the other stuff like a flood in the ship or the British Border control taking my identity card from me (it had once been stolen, but returned and I had reported both the theft and the return to the German government, but the Brits did not care and it cost me one day plus 300 Pounds to travel to the embassy, get a passport that is only valid for one day and book a new flight). You know – all the kind of stuff hat just happens, because it happens. Yikes.

Just thinking about 2016 makes me tired. Understandably. 

But there was more to that. There was an incredible tiredness in my brain. Just the thought of thinking about something made me feel exhausted. And I felt that somehow I was doing something wrong that took my energy. And creativity. And to some extend the joy in life.

I found the answer – or at least a big  part of it in an interview of the Bergman Leadership Podcast (20 Min Interviews with interesting  people, often authors) The Interview mit Christine Carter inspired me and on her page she had a link to an  Ebook, that promises strategies that would free up to one day per week.

In a nutshell she sais that our brain is craving for novelty as much as it is craving for food. If there is no outside stimulus it starts to search inside for new connections, processes things and  comes up with new ideas.

However if we constantly give the brain outside stimulus (email, Facebook etc.) it has the short moment of „happiness“ that satisfying an addiction gives (not the same emotion as true happiness that satisfies you deeply, whereas the act  of fulfilling an addiction only leaves you hungry for more).

I would like to add: Because this habit of constantly looking for outside inspiration the brain has no real time to process. And thus the brain gets exhausted, deeply exhausted. So exhausted it does not even have energy for things that are true fun and inspiration (She did not say that in the interview, I just describe my experience).

Shorty before that I had read that German employees check their emails every five minutes, but believe they do it far less often. Yikes. Ouch. I will not confirm that my email checking habits contributed to the statistics nor deny that I checked my emails every … minutes. Yikes.
Ideas to free your time

She recommends (among other things)

  • Reducing checking Emails to set times (1 – 3 times a day). And setting up different accounts for work, newsletters and private mail (I have work and newsletter, am thinking about a private mail account). I will have to experiment with this, but plan to reserve mornings for writing and answer mails before lunch. And maybe another time in the afternoon before I finish.

 

  • Reducing internet / social media time and being „off“ at least one day per week. And making it impossible to get access.  I will try to work on an 11 – 6 pm internet-time. And take Saturdays off. And put my laptop in my office in the evenings. At night it gets so cold there that the laptop  „freezes“. It needs several minutes to warm up enough to respond to commands. And keeping my phone out of reach, so I can hear it ring, but am not tempted to play with it. 
    2016-12-27-13-20-17
    Reducing to-dos. o not fit into any of these categories, but need to be done).Kick out stuff that does not fit with your five priorities in life.  There is lots of stuff that you think you might be doing sometime or should be doing, but you never will. Just decide to NOT do them. Or delegate. And sort the rest of the to-dos into the five priorities (and ok, one pile for the 5% that d

So I went through all the notes I had written to myself what I should do and ki
cked things out. A2016-12-27-15-26-36nd sorted the rest into the five priorities for 2017 – that part was easy as I do sort things by category anyhow. All in all deeply satisfying feelings

Going through this stuff I also realized that I had a ton of things in the back of my mind that never made it on one of my  to do lists, but are still there as a „you should“: i.e. I should go through my jewelry and decide what I no longer wear and would like to give away and through the books that did not fit into the shelves and the towels and pots and … I pulled all of these out of the back of my brain and started a new category.

  • Potential Happiness boosters: I know it makes me totally happy and relieved, when I sort things and put them in order. So I wrote all of these ideas what I do want to do to make my ship and my life more ordered and beautiful on little filing cards, put them in a beautiful box and decided that even day after work I would takle ONE of them. I know I can do this, because all through summer every day I took 20 – 30 minutes after work to reduces the content of two folders into one. So once I made the commitment I know I can keep it. I also marked those of the happiness boosters that others can help me with (i.e. sorting linen, wood…) as sometimes people who stay on the ship would like to do something for me. So it is good to have ideas.

I know it will be challenging – especially the detox from Internet and Social Media. But rewarding. Weeding out my to-dos, resisting „quickly checking what is happening in my life (i.e. did I get new messages  or book orders) or in the lives of others is a challenge, but I can sense how much it will strengthen and ease my life.

Just thinking of it makes me feel relieved.*

Thanks you, God and thank you,  Christine Carter. 

American Elections – make sense. To me.

Last night, while brushing my teeth I had a moment of enlightenment and I finally understood what is going on in the present elections in America.

Or let´s say a glimpse of enlightenment that suddenly gave me a perspective of how I could at least bring some sense to this bizarre spectacle.

It came with the word …

dinosaur 

I suddenly realized that I see both candidates as dinosaurs – remains from an age long passed that somehow made it into our world.

Clinton seems old to me

I am not young any more (turning 50 next year), but I am a generation younger than her. And am more sensitive to internet security than she is – however sending sensitive email through a private server, because it is less complicated than using government servers could have happened to me as well.

And I was in my diapers when she was protesting against Vietnam and for women´s rights (at least I guess she did). Most of this had to do with being able to make your own choices as a woman – without the dominance of men or the government. As a woman I am thankful for many of the good freedoms the women who were before us helped to achieve. But still a lot of the women´s rights language seems outdated. It sounds as if we still need to fight – whereas many younger women still see the need to discuss and explain and sometimes negotiate. But not fight. Rather find ways how WE men and women can work together.

And yes, the bizarre idea to define it as freedom or right of a woman to take the life of another human being – even if it is before birth – to me seems totally wrong.

Trump seems even older 

With his High Noon – I am alone on main street – is there anyone I can shoot – style of communication and action this  man seems to have jumped out of a time machine from the early days of the Wild West (as portrayed in movies, in reality it probably was slightly different). Movies where it is clear cut: The good, the bad , the ugly. Also he seems to be playing all roles in the movie himself… thinking he is good, while he talks and behaves bad…and ugly…well…there were some comments on his hair…and his communication style… he seems centuries old.

It all seems like reality TV, but the weird thing about it is that it seems to be real reality.

Why did two parties choose dinosaur candidates?

So why on earth would two established parties select two candidates that are old or even vintage? How can people lead a nation when their views and manners seem outdated and older than the nation itself and most of the people they represent.

I guess the answer is the same as usual: When we face too much new, too many changes we withdraw to the old.

I see the same in my country. When Angela Merkel at the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees courageously said „We can do this!“ she was dreaming of a flexible, welcoming, modern, integrative Germany. It inspired many – 10% of all Germans actively help refugees in one way or another. And it frightened more.

I guess in the same way as some Germans were frightened , the Brits were frightened about the new and changing world – slightly less British then before I would say, Mortime – and voted exit. And maybe Americans got frightened by the new world their president wanted to embrace.

And – like Angela Merkel he did not have the personal or communicative or political power to keep the dream of a flexible, integrative society alive in his nation.

The frightened ones go back to old patterns of us vs. them. Fear and rejection. The same game everywhere.  Nothing new under the sun. 

That is not only a problem of the right. It also is a problem of the left. I sometimes cannot believe the slogans I hear at left-wing demonstrations. They are half a century old. The us vs. them patterns haven´t change.

The WE-world does not exist in their heads either.

So what now? 

I guess in a few weeks the Americans will vote one of the dinosaurs for president. I hope and pray that it will still be good – somehow. Not just words. I seriously do. I promised to myself that I will spend more time praying for the candidates than discussing what they do or say.  A hard promise to keep with all the noise…

And for you in America

In those four years stretch yourself. Talk to strangers. Invite them into your home. Learn new stuff. Open to a world that is new to you. And gets newer every day. Revisit your values – how do you think life can be lived in the best way – and see how you can live them in this world.

And then – in 2020 nominate and elect someone who is at home in this modern – ever changing world and can be  a good leader in a WE world. 

Guests – meeting one another in the imperfect

14034749_10157383930850249_8109515405828354133_nWe are still building, building and building.

And there are times when it never seems to end. After 4 and a half years of building the ship is still not finished. That is what happens, when you are dependent on gifts, volunteers and miracles. They do come – all three of them – but not always at the time and speed that I would prefer.

But nevertheless – many parts of the ship are already beautiful and functional.

And one of the big lessons I learned during building is that things do not need to be finished or perfect to be useful.

Many people – especially those who grew up in a place like Germany – think that everything needs to be perfect before you can even start. Perfect finances, perfect plan, perfect setting.

In the ship I experience:

God lives in the imperfect, in the unfinished, the not yet ready…and uses all of this to meet people.

Like Evi, a wonderful, inspiring, passionate woman who came to the ship last weekend for a time out and a time of meeting one another and fellowship. I love what Evi wrote in her blog about her time here on her blog and took some great pictures.

Thanks, Evi, for your warm words.

Visited an inspirational lady: Kerstin Hack

Transition from the „old normal“ to the „new normal“ – in memory of Debbie Jones

CIMG1991Today marks the day of the memorial celebrations for the life of Debra (Debbie, mum) Jones. I miss her. And I miss being with friends and family at the celebrations in Portland.

I wrote down my thoughts and prayers for Andrew and of you Elizabeth, Sam, Abigail, Hannah and TJ and Jenna on this day.

I am thinking about you all a lot – feeling very close in my heart. But cannot be there in person – mostly because after a two month break my shipbuilder has returned three days ago and he needs my instructions as to how to continue build this ship into a haven for people – what it already is, but we try to make it nicer for those who are not so much into „camping style“.

But mostly because my brother, sister in law and my dad are coming to visit in a few days. My dad is getting old and fragile. And lives far away and finds travelling hard. So coming with my brother might be one of the last times – maybe even the last time – that he can come and visit. Knowing how fragile life is – and how soon it can end – I simply felt I wanted to spend these precious days with him – although I so much would have liked to be with you at this special time. I wanted to honor him and this rare time with him – although it means missing the time with you.

I feel very sad about it. And would have loved to be with you at this time of memorial, thankfulness, grieving, but most of all transition.

Thinking about this day I kept having two words in my heart. „Old normal“ and „new normal“.

Today marks the day of the shift between the OLD NORMAL and the NEW NORMAL…

DebbiimGarten_Hochzeit_Prag06.02

The old normal was that Debbie / mum was somehow there in THIS physical world with you and us.

At times she was there very close in person and in heart – cooking, warming, sharing, listening, working on something, touching with her words or hands.

At other times she was away – in her own world of thoughts or geographically far away – in a distant place.

But – no matter if she was close or more far away – the old normal was that she was there in this world of ours. And there was a knowledge of her presence here and a knowledge of more meeting, sharing, interaction and growth.

Today marks the letting go of the “old normal”.

The old way how life used to be – with Debbie being present somewhere in our physical world has passed. And won´t return. It is my prayer that you will find the grace to find acceptance – acceptance not meaning that you like it or think it is good. That would be crazy. It is violent, harsh, brutal to loose a wife, mother, friend, comrade.

But acceptance in the sense of not fighting against reality, but being able to say „Yes – it is what it is. This is what it is like now!“TiredJones07

And then walking into the NEW NORMAL.

The picture of the new normal I see in front of my heart is like waves at the sea shore. There are high waves to surf on – memoriest hat lift you up, moments, thoughts, treasures that you remember and that give you strength. Or that might even make you giggle and laugh.

But then there will also be the valleys – where you feel the pain and the sadness intensely – where even the beauty of the waves of memories can crush you into a valley of despair…

Most likely the waves will be less intense over the years as new memories with other people the father brings into your lives to strengthen, bless, inspire and honor and care get woven into that carpet we call life. And in all of our lives Debbie has woven her unique threats… most of all in the life of you, Andrew and of you Elizabeth, Sam, Abigail, Hannah and TJ and Jenna…but also in the lives of all of us… for some weird reason the memory of sitting with Debbie in a tent at Freakstock and smoking water pipe (first time ever in my life…) comes flooding back to me.

I pray that you find peace in the NEW NORMAL… that starts tomorrow.

Peace and joy in the hilarious, joyful and beautiful memories… and comfort in the valleys… and most of all that you know that there is future and a hope as there is a loving, caring father God who will continue to walk with you  – He is the ETERNAL NORMAL….

Ship, summer, sunshine and rain

2016-06-10 18.51.54It has been over a month since I moved onto my ship. And it has  been wonderful. Although the summer in Germany was pretty lousy for long stretches of time I enjoy every day on the ship: The water, the wild gheese, swans, sea-gulls, ducks and lots of other birds whose name I do not know in English.

BREAK
It was also good to have a much needed break from building – after 4 years and 3 months of work. No sawdust and noise for a while was a big blessing. And time to read books on health, personal grow, spiritual strenght and lots of other topic. And of course – simply enjoy the ship and visitors.
GUESTS
And I have had coaching-guests who received help and direction.One Lady who had suffered massive abuse in her childhood left the ship with some deep stuff being healed. One man received some help in sorting things out and an other one found help in finding direction for his future. That is in addition to those people who received help during paid coaching. And I had several international teams visit my ship to help or to receive inspiration. Or both. It was great meeeting them all.
BUILDING
We will resume building this week. Still much to be done. The seminar room, the entrance space and my office still need Hundreds of hours of work. And yes, some safe stairs downwards would also be useful as well as a stove in my kitchen.
PUBLISHING
While the ship is great publishing is challenging. In the last months the costs exploded (mostly for completely renewing our webpage: www.down-to-earth.de ). Sales did not. So at the moment I am not able to pay my huge bills in time.  Or buy furniture or new building materials for the ship. While as a pioneer I am used to financial challenges, it a pain in the neck right now and I need godly wisdom and grace to deal with it.
 2016-06-19 20.06.21
LOANS
I would like to start paying back the loans I received for building the ship. My dream would be to pay back 500 Euro each month – then it would still take several years to pay all of it back. If you want to help relief that burden (with a one time gift that make the burden smaller or a regular gift (i.e. 20 Dollar per month – that would cover one day of paying back loans) please let me know.

How she lives on – in memory of Debbie Jones

DebbiimGarten_Hochzeit_Prag06.02Grief comes in waves. Moments of sadness and pain interwoven with moments of sweetness and even joy and laughter as precious memories surface. One person once said: „Grief is sorting – the things that are gone forever and the things that remain!“

In the last days since I heard of the sudden death of Debbie she and her family were in my mind constantly. I was not super close to her, but we saw one another about every other year, spent time with one another, in spite of the infrequency I felt close to all of them.

Many friends posted on Facebook what she meant to them and what was lost and what a person she was. I felt almost unable to write. How can you „summarize“ a life like hers – that is like a huge tapestry of many, many colors.

So I spent time thinking about what remains of her – in her kids.

Sam, Elizabeth, Abigail, Hannah, Tamara:

I have seen you grow up from little children to the Teens and adults you now are. And while each one of you is unique I see some strands of how your mum lives on in you. And would like to share.

Samuel

When I first met you, you were in your early teens and fairly withdrawn. I do not remember you speaking a word with me for the first SamuelBestMan2_Hochzeit-_Prag06.02three years or so of knowing you. And I almost never managed to get you on a picture!

But then – one time while visiting in Berlin – you gave me your own copy of the Lord of the Rings  as a gift. I knew it was really, really special. I did feel like a queen.

Although I was quite different in lifestyle from you and your family I felt deeply accepted. And that is probably one of the biggest gift we can give to each other. And you carry that, too.

For me Debbie also was a very hands on person. She found practical solutions for problems when she saw them and she was just doing it, leading the way. And you carry that, too!

 

Elizabeth

GoCartRacetheGermanteam_Prag06.02One of your mums gifts was to make people feel special –  using little things to express that.

One time when I visited and the house in Prague was crammed full with artists, she made my own „room“ on the balcony… with a czech salt candle.

And you did join the „German team“ in the GoKart race… and of course we managed to push your dad into the tyres…

I feel that in your heart for baking and making really special food you inherited some of that gift from her – in a very tender and precious way that is just right for you.  You are wonderful and will bless many people with this gift. Your mum cared about you a lot. I remember that  once when you were in your late teenage years she once invited me for a walk to have a long time to talk – one hour of uninterrupted talking was a lot for her. She was concerned for you – longing for ways how she could best support and strengthen you. She loved you a lot.

 

Abigail AbigailJoes_Prag06-02

On the window sill of my ship there are three pieces of pottery. One sturdy feminine figure with long curly hair that you once made for me. And two pieces of pottery from your mum.

It was one of her first pieces – a little mug with a painting of grapes. And one really fine mug. I think it is one of twelve pieces. The other ones she gave to other members of the tribe like  Derek and Amy – building community with her art.

I believe you are more of an artist than you think right now. There is „stuff“ in you that is waiting to come out and to be expressed. And I guess what you will create – may it be material pieces of art or spaces to meet – will bring people together and connect them. To me you also are a person that provides  strength to  others and is a safe haven – like your mum.

Hannah

One of the thHannanachdenklich_Hochzeit_Prag06.02ings that I loved about your mum was here unique style. And I loved how she encouraged you to develop your own way of dressing and expressing who you are. I think you do that well – expressing to the outside who you are in the inside – with all the diverse parts of your personality.

I really like that about you.

Hoffnung-von Hanna Jones - 8 J.The biggest gift you once gave to me was a painting. When I was full of pain in a hard time in my life you wanted to paint something for me. I then asked you to paint a picture of hope. You asked me „How do I paint hope?“ I encouraged you to think of something yourself.

Then you painted a flower in all four seasons: budding, blooming with the sun shining on it in full force, then withering and gone.

In the winter part of your painting there was only white – with two musical notes. And You explained to me „In winter you have to sing!“  And that is my hope for you right now.

 

TamaraschläftbeiMami_Prag06-02Tamara

I do not know you so well, but I remember that your mum told me that when she was pregnant with you and felt God told her that she should call you Tamara, she was surprised, as Tamar had gone through a lot of pain and she did not want you to be named after a woman who suffered so much.

But then she realized that in spite of all the pain – and to some extend even because – she was a woman who wrote history. And that was her hope for you.  And it is my hope as well – as you experience loss so early…that in spite of it or maybe even because – you will shape your destiny.CIMG2052

And you are sturdy. One of the first memories of you is of your brother and sisters putting a hat on your face – while you were only two or three months old. You looked cool – and took it with a smile.

I guess you also carry your mums heart to let people feel they are loved. One of my sweetest memories was when you were staying with Maggie in Berlin.

We were playing run and catch and had a lot of fun. When I wanted to leave i could not find my shoes. You had hidden them – because you wanted me to stay. Your 4 year old way to say „I love you!“

 

Andrew

CIMG1991No clue how to express how much Debbie shaped your life – every since you put your eyes on this red haired amazing woman who could beat you in the 1980s version of computer games… She seemed like the haven from which you could launch out in the world and at the same time being the closed travel companion.

It will be hard, more than hard to develop and find a way on your own. But there is so much of her in you, so much that shaped both of you together that this will provide some of the strength that you need to find your own way into the future – carrying the many precious seeds that she put in your life and sowing them into the world – together with your own unique tall skinny Kiwi seeds.

 

 

Me

CIMG2045Well of course – meeting Debbie shaped me. Stretching my horizon. Introducing me to people i never met before. And helping me to expand acceptance. One time when you were all visiting me I told your parents to have a day off without kids and took you to the children Museum. What I had not expected was that TJ was in the mood of wearing her ladybug outfit and your mum said „ok!“

Well…it was me walking around with her all day through the city of Berlin – her wearing a ladybug costume. Now I laugh about it -but at that time it was quite a big stretch for me. Not caring about what people think.

JonesgirlsBerlinjuly02Or at least not enough about others peoples opinion to forbid a child to express her heart. It taught me a lot. I guess that I would not have been able to create a space like the ship without having met and been shaped by Debbie and all of you. God using you to expand and open my heart and make it a bit more relaxed…

CIMG1986Later that day after a lot of big adventures TJ fell asleep in my arms. And slept for three solid hours in my arms as we took the underground, walked to Potsdamer Platz, had a huge ice-cream (sorry, TJ, you missed something) and sat and talked with Andrew and Debbie as they joined us.

Juli 2011 Prag und Dresden 159It touched me that Debbies last Facebook entry was about sleeping. And your family ability to sleep just anywhere. I wish you that in this rough time of saying good bye and do all of the sorting of the things that remain and the things that you have to let you – there will be moments of rest, refreshment.

If you want you are always welcome on my boat – for a time of rest, joy and fellowship and to enjoy the pieces of art your mum made – both in clay and within my life.

Going into a boat, risking your life, …

2014-08-10 05.37.47I am touched by seeing the pictures of men, women, families, children going on tiny boats on the sea. Risking their lives to be in safety from war, terror, persecution. Looking at those tiny boats trying to face the waves the wind and the storm, my heart breaks. I just feel with them. Feel helpless for and with them. Wishing there would be ways to stop all this tragedy and bring them to safety.

It is so risky.  So many died. I recently read two stories of tow different brave young women Sarah and Yusra . Both knew how to swim and jumped into the cold water and swam for hours when the engine failed to bring the people on the boat safely to the land. I am proud that both of them are now in my country, building a new future.

Then, recently for the first time I remembered that there were other men an women on boats centuries ago changed the face of Europe. In the early middle ages,  when all of Europe was deeply bound by superstition, fear of spirits, heathen practices and fear of making the Gods angry and the constant need to appease them – there were men an women in Ireland who went into boats.

They risked their lives. However their reason to go on the journey was not out of fear. They did not flee from terror or war. They left their nice homes, families and friends and took the risk of a journey across the – because of love. They had heard and believed the message that God so loved the world that he came to safe and redeem. And that he wanted his followers to share his love in word and deed.

They did not want to live without sharing this love. And so they went. All over Europe. Starting little communities that cared for the sick, taught people how to read and write. They founded villages and towns. A lot of Europes education and knowlege came from them.

It was not easy. Leaving your home never is. Even if you choose to do it.  Many did not return. They died in the sea or under the hands of the religious extremists of their days. Or simply got sick and lost their strength.

One of the travelers, Brendan the Navigator, wrote a prayer expressing his heart.

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?
Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy,
without silver, without a horse,
without fame, without honor?
Shall I throw myself wholly upon You,
without sword and shield, without food and drink,
without a bed to lie on?
Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness,
tears streaming down my cheeks?
Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach,
a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?
Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

These men and women risked their lives. My life,  our culture, the whole of Europe would not be the same if they had not taken the risk. I am deeply thankful for them.

I hope that now in gratitude we will not harden our hearts to those who are now traveling the sea, desperate to save their lives.

I hope that in gratitude we live according to the things they taught us: There is a God who is loving and merciful beyond measure. And he calls us to learn from Him and be like him.

There are more prayers these people of old prayed that are deeply touching.

And I pray them for all those who are out there on the waves… trusting the mercy of God.

God bless the path on which you go
God bless the earth beneath your feet
God bless your destination.
God be a smooth way before you
A guiding star above you
A keen eye behind you
This day, this night, and forever.
God be with you whatever you pass
Jesus be with you whatever you climb
Spirit be with you wherever you stay.
God be with you at each stop and each sea
At each lying down and each rising up
In the trough of the waves, on the crest of 
 the billows.
Each step of the journey you take.

And this century old blessing  is one of my favorites:

Deep peace of the running waves to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you,

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.

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