Punk Monk Newsletter – Feb 2021

I’m told by other GOHOPers that I should be sending out an update every month or so. I’m already behind but I plan to grow into this.

A Global Pandemic is a strange time to start a new job!
At first I was having a hard time feeling connected to my new coworkers. I found this really perplexing because I knew half the team already (a little bit). I eventually realized that I build a sense of connection and trust with people through laughing and having fun. For me it is all the fun little conversations that happen on lunch or before or after a meeting that allow me to feel a sense of belonging. These are all the “frivolous times” that are cut out of Zoom meetings. I talked to my spiritual director about it (super helpful by the way) and he suggested I talk to Andy (my boss at GOHOP). We decided to dedicate the first 30 minutes of our weekly staff meeting to being our “fun time.” Think of it as the virtual water cooler. I  was put in charge of the fun times, and each week I get people to play a game or tell stories. We have done trivia, charades, and told nostalgic stories. At Christmas I made everyone play a game where they had to try and sell me their hat (see the photo above). We laughed and laughed as each person made their ridiculous sales pitch. It might sound like a poor use of time but it has been these little contrived moments of fun that have helped me feel connected to my GOHOP family.
Please pray that we could continue to find creative and grace filled ways to do ministry online.
Creative Prayer Walking Resource:
I have been working on a big project that I’m very excited to share with you. It is called “A Creative Guide to Prayer Walking.” It can be downloaded for free HERE. The idea is to get people out prayer walking during this years’ online TrueCity Conference and Virtual Prayer Room. Often prayer walking resources are so specific in geography that they can only be used in one place. Other prayer walking resources are so theological that they make the practice seem dry and stoic. I wanted to make something creative that wasn’t a map to follow but rather a guide that gave people permission to play with prayer. I would love to know what you think. My dream would be to develop the resource into a deck of cards so that you could shuffle the different prayer ideas into different walks. Kind of like a scavenger hunt. If you have any ideas of what I should be drawing next please let me know. The TrueCity Church Conference is happening this weekend (Feb 26-27), and the Virtual Prayer Room will be running from Feb 26th until March 13th. The theme this year is “Together in the Wilderness” (an appropriate description of being the church during the pandemic).
Please pray that people will engage with the conference and prayer room in a meaningful way. My prayer is that this will be a “get to” and not a “have to” for people.
TrueCity is very much a Hamilton thing but we are encouraging people from outside of our city to also get involved this year. The online conference is free so if you are curious to see what God can do when a diverse group of churches decide to work together , this is your year. Register Here.
Fundraising Update:
It is a very vulnerable feeling to ask people for money (I drew the “zipper drawing” above in my art journal to express this feeling). That being said, I’m getting more comfortable with talking about money because of the prayers, encouragement and generosity of this support team. Your belief in my ministry is such a blessing. Thank you to everyone who has been helping me reach my fundraising goals. I’m very happy to report that I have raised enough money to be paid in full until the end of June 2021. This was made possible through a number of one time donations. My next fundraising goal is to build up my monthly support team. My goal is to raise $2710 a month and I have 40% of that raised for the rest of the year. I Currently have 6 monthly supporters giving a combined total of $1115 each month. By July I need to raise an additional $1595 per month. In my mind this is totally doable. I don’t know what God has in mind but this is what it could look like for me to reach my goal:

  • 3 people giving $200 per month.
  • 4 people giving $100 per month.
  • 4 people giving $75 per month.
  • 4 people giving $50 per month.
  • 4 people giving $25 per month.
That comes out to the $1600 needed for me to reach my goal. I have all my fundraising goals, salary and donation info posted here: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/fundraising-plan/
Please pray for my fundraising efforts. Specifically, pray that I could build up my monthly support base. Pray that God would direct me to the people I should be talking to about support.
Info about how people can sign up for a monthly giving plan is posted here: https://randellneudorf.com/gohop/donate/
Thanks so much for being part of my support team. Since this is my first “Punk Monk” newsletter I would love to know what you find helpful/interesting. What I don’t want is to be adding to your email overload.
Good job on getting to the bottom of this newsletter
Grace & Peace to you,
Randell Neudorf
C#: 905-379-3717
To receive these Punk Monk newsletters by email contact: randellneudorf@gmail.com

Sacred Silence

There is a sacredness to silence.

One of the most profound spiritual practices I have engaged with over the last year has been silence. For my prayer time I light a candle and just sit quietly as a way of being in God’s presence. No requests, no agenda, and lots of grace if my mind is too busy or loud.

I have been told practicing 10 minutes of silence a day is a good idea, but if that is too daunting that starting with 5 or even 1 minutes is great. At first for me it took my mind 10 minutes to just shut up, so I would practice 20 minutes of silence. Now I find I can often enter into silence a little quicker. I must admit that I don’t take time for silence nearly often enough but it has become something that I am more and more comfortable with.

Sometimes this prayer practice is just silence. Other times there is a sense of being aware of God with me. Some times a picture or thought comes to me that feels like it is not my own. There is a emotional resonance that makes me aware of God in a different way.

Lightning a candle and sitting in simple silence (or profound silence) have become a holy place for me.

Click Here to find all my Art Journal posts,
or feel free to follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Laughing Together Builds Trust

I’m learning that laughing together builds trust.

It has been hard starting a new job with GOHOP during covid. There are some in person meetings with masks but the majority of my interactions have still been on Zoom. In a normal year all of these meetings would have started with an informal meal. A time set aside for chitchat, jokes and getting to know each other. At first I thought all my awkwardness, feelings of disconnect, and difficulty concentrating were just part of the transition of the new job combined with Zoom fatigue. Eventually I realized I was having just as much trouble in person as online. I also noticed I had no problem connecting online with some other circles. In those circles I realized that I was even enjoying the Zoom meetings and coming away energized.

I had an epiphany, I realized that the Zoom meetings that I was able to fully engage with were the ones full of laughter. I realized I was missing the “wasted” time of jokes and chitchat about family, music, movies, comic books, etc…

I realized that it is all that laughter, smiles and fun stuff before or after the formal meeting or class that allows me to build up a trust in the people around me. For me I need the laughter to make the circle feel safe.

Under the advice of my spiritual director I shared these thoughts and feelings with my boss (since I work for an urban monastic movement technically he is my Abbot). He thanked me for sharing and not bottling it up. The very next Zoom meeting I was in led by my Abbot began with everyone sharing about a movie or fiction novel they had recently watched or read. The agenda allotted 30 minutes for this, but it ended up being almost 45. I was beaming through it all. It was fun and people were laughing and jotting down shows and books that were being recommended. After all that “wasted” time, we still had a lot of work and learning to do, but for me it was the first time I was able to fully engage and be present. It felt good, it felt right and I felt connected.

Click Here to find all my Art Journal posts,
or feel free to follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Life Doesn’t Fit On A Screen

Life doesn’t fit on a screen and that is OK.

It is important to remember that life is bigger and more complicated than what a tweet, photo, article, post, update, or YouTube video can convey.

This is not about hiding the negative and only sharing the polished positive versions of ourselves online. This is about giving people permission to have private matters in our lives without feeling shame or blame.

It is ok to:

  • feel sad,
  • be mad,
  • make a mistake
  • have an unpopular opinion,
  • do something weird,
  • be boring,
  • be unproductive or super productive,
  • or just keep something to yourself for no reason at all.

When I see a photo of your cat, I’m happy to see your cat but I don’t think you are the crazy cat lady. I know there is more to you than I’m being shown.

Vulnerability online is fine and good but even that is still just a shadow of real life. It is an image of an image pointing to something else. Don’t feel bad about your online self not being 100% you, it never will be. You are 100% human and that doesn’t fit on a screen.

All that being said don’t keep things bottled up that are causing you harm just because you don’t want to share them online. Share them with just one safe person. It could be a friend, a teacher, a family member, your therapist, spiritual director, pastor, priest, or a help line. You can also try praying. I believe that God sees us fully and loves us fully (no exceptions).

Click Here to find all my Art Journal posts,
or feel free to follow me on Facebook or Instagram.