Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

by Mark Votava

“This book covers essential territory for building healthy communities of Jesus for the long haul.”  Kelly Bean, co-founder Convergence, author of How to be a Christian Without Going to Church


  • Valuing the small things in the particulars of everyday life

“A relational call to love as the body of Christ in the parish seems small, but it’s not…  The small things are hard to value in a culture that craves anything but the small.  We think the small will make us seem nonexistent and invisible.  We want so much to be noticed that we have taken our life into our own hands and forgotten the small acts of love in the neighborhood.  When will we realize that love is the only thing that miracles are made of?  The communal imagination loves the small things in the particulars of everyday life…”

  • Becoming disillusioned with loving our ideals of community

“We always face a great tension between the ideal of what we want life to be like and the reality of life as it is.  The communal imagination is not built on a ‘wish dream’ or an illusion, but on reality.  We will struggle sometimes to figure things out relationally in the parish.  It is not always easy and we might often fail.  But we need to keep trying to learn to live with grace towards one another.  Without grace, we will build our lives on a lofty illusion of how things ought to be with little contact with reality.  What we are building will not last very long without grace.  When we love our ideals of community more than the reality of the community, we will become disillusioned and bring an oppressive agenda into it that will quickly poison everything around us.”

  • Getting down to what is right in front of us

“We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love.  We will have to let go of some control.  We will have to let go of the cliché that we can ‘change the world.’  This vision is too big, too abstract.  Let’s get down to what is right in front of us: real people in real life contexts who live in our neighborhood.  These are the people we are called to love and become faithfully present to relationally.”

  • Bringing grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles

“We cannot share life together in the parish without this gift of forgiveness and grace infusing our relationships.  We like to talk about God’s grace in terms of our own forgiveness, but when will we shift to a new paradigm of translating that grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles to love one another?  This would be a miracle indeed.”

How can we do the small things and live relationally as the body of Christ in everyday life?