Becoming Human Through Place

by Mark Votava


Sometimes I take for granted the gift it is to be human; to be able to move, breathe, create, work, reflect, dream and walk.  The ability to love, experience friendship, pleasure and laughter is wonderful.  I have been exploring my own growth in my humanity for over twenty years now, and I am always amazed how unending this journey is within me in the place I live.

  • Deepening our humanity

Thomas Merton writes, “It is the strict truth, and until we realize before a man can become a saint he must first of all be a man in all the humanity and fragility of man’s actual condition, we will never be able to understand the meaning of the word, ‘saint.’  Not only were all the saints perfectly human, not only did their sanctity enrich and deepen their humanity, but the Holiest of all the Saints, The Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, was himself the most deeply and perfectly human being who ever lived on the face of the earth…”

  • Learning to be human

Jesus Christ lived in his humanity in the place he inhabited.  He lived in a local context in his humanity.  He had to learn how to become human.  His incarnation manifested all that is good in humanity.

  • Manifesting goodness in our humanity

We are called to manifest this goodness in our humanity.  We are called to be deeply human as the body of Christ in everyday life in the parish.  We are called into becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to our world in the place we live.

  • To live as saints is to become human

To live as saints is to become human.  To live as children of God is to become human.  To work out our salvation together is to become human.  To live in the freedom of the Holy Spirit is to be human.

  • Living in reconciliation with others is to be human

To live reconciled with others in the parish is to be human.  To become human is a good thing as we practice reflection and rest.  Our reflection and rest helps us to become human through the mystical imagination.

  • Honoring human beings as beautiful

The mystical imagination is calling us to become human.  The mystical imagination is showing us that humanity is beautiful.  We need to honor and search for this beauty in one another.

  • Rest, quietness and trust  

“In… rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15).

  • Experiencing our salvation in everyday life

Our salvation cries out from the earth.  The earth blossoms our salvation.  Our lives experience our salvation in everyday life together as the body of Christ in the parish.  Our salvation is intertwined with our humanity.

  • Becoming a people of place

When we are deeply human, we will be a people of place.  We cannot become human without a love for locality.  We cannot become human if we abandon our neighbors.

How can we explore what it means to be human in the place we live?