Taking A Conversion To Place Seriously
by Mark Votava
My conversion to the importance of place happened about ten years ago as I started to become disillusioned with many of the faith expression I have seen in my North American context in the Pacific Northwest. Looking at church as a building or meeting once a week were there was very little relational connection together Monday through Saturday in a local context felt like a dualism to me. I have struggled with what this all means and sometimes I want to abandon the whole thing. But committing to a relational context in the place I live together with others is bringing about a new imagination for something more holistic in me.
- Taking place seriously
We need to take ownership of our place. We need to invest in our place. We need to take some responsibility for our place. This is what the parish imagination is about.
- Ownership, investing and responsibility with a listening posture
We need to do these things in an anti-colonial way. Colonialism will damage the parish. But taking ownership, investing and responsibility with a listening posture; will bring about the collective good of the place we inhabit together. Colonialism does not exist within the parish imagination.
- Intending the good of our place, the good of the world
Wendell Berry says, “We cannot intend our good, in the long run, without intending the good of our place – which means, ultimately, the good of the world…” All goodness exists within participating citizens who care about place. In this is the preservation of the world that we live in. We cannot pursue our own good without pursuing the collective good of the place we inhabit.
- An integration of self with place
We all want the best for our lives, but we get mixed up if we pursue this individualistically. We get mixed up when this is not integrated with our commitment to the parish. A dualism is created within us when we do this. When we do not have an integration of self with place, we do not understand life holistically.
- Being converted to the importance of place
The self needs to be converted to the importance of the parish. This will bring out life within us all, as we live together taking some ownership of the place we inhabit. We must be intentional about pursuing the good of our place. We must be intentional about our responsibility to the parish.
- The gift of creating a local fabric of care
We must be intentional about our investment in our place together with our lives. This is all gift. It is a gift to create a local fabric of care through the parish imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life.
- All of us have gifts to contribute together
All of us have gifts to contribute to our locality. There are many ways to contribute our lives to the lives of others in the place that we inhabit together. All of us have relational gifts that contribute to the local fabric of social care in the parish.
How can we take place seriously in our lives?