The Shared Experience of Life
by Mark Votava
Recently I have been thinking a lot about my life. As another year passes and I find myself in a regular routine in everyday life where I live, I am struck by how ordinary my spirituality is. God is present to me in very ordinary ways although sometimes I do not understand this very much. I like to look for God in mountain top experiences, but it seems God is found through my neighbors in community.
How have I missed this for so long? I am understanding more that the God in me is connecting with the God in the other who I connect with in everyday life. This is leading me to a more interdependent way of life where community and relationships have more meaning to me now. As I have lived in my neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma for over ten years, I am discovering a new imagination within myself for this interdependent life.
I have cultivated a searching spirit within me that has questioned almost everything around me, but one thing I have discovered is that God is always manifesting wisdom to me through my everyday encounters with life. My imagination is always grasping for relational connection in community with others. This longing is so deep that many times I struggle with being disillusioned as I live in a culture that has been programmed for individualism over interdependence.
- Suffering from my own programming toward individualism
In a culture that values the individualistic over the interdependent, we become disconnected from one another. I have suffered from my own programming toward individualism and have longed to be set free to live into something different. I’m haunted by these words of Christ: “For whoever wants to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).
- Can we lose our individualistic dreams?
I want to understand what this means and how to embody Christ’s words. Can we lose our individualistic dreams and ambitions that take priority over everything and everyone else? Can we stop the pain that is caused by our self-centered pursuits where the imagination necessary for relational life is forgotten?
- Developing an imagination for interdependence and loving mutuality
It’s one thing to disconnect ourselves from the cultural comfort of the modern paradigm of success, but the authentic life should not be lived alone. Our imaginations are coming to the point of starvation and death. We must develop an imagination for interdependence and loving mutuality, if we are to flourish together.
- Our imaginations need the shared experience of life, goodness, and beauty
All the systems of our culture are ripping us away from one another, and few of us have awakened to what is happening. Our imaginations need the shared experience of life, goodness, and beauty. We cannot know for sure what will happen in us and through us together, but I think it will be something beautiful as we let go of all our controlling individualistic ways of life.
How can we live into a more interdependent way of life together?