Why Faithful Presence Matters: Finding the Love Within Ourselves
by Mark Votava
There is a new movement around place that is awakening others to the importance of collaboration, community, locality, networking, contextualization, experimentation and relational embodied practice in everyday life. This is what we were created for: to love in the here and now of the earth, land and place where life happens in everyday life. To learn this is to start allowing the incarnation to live life through us for the beauty of the world. This is the embracing of the true self that fosters a communal imagination within us.
- There is no controlling technique
Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight J. Friesen write in their book The New Parish, “…there is no controlling technique, no magic code or habits of highly effective people that can take the place of practicing love, friendship and Spirit-led collaboration within the neighborhood. In a multitude of contexts, churches, faith communities and everyday people are discovering the hope of life together in and for particular places…”
- The sacredness of life together
Life together is such a sacred thing. It is my longing and passion in life. I’ve often struggled to find a way of hospitality within myself that is not buried by the weight of my learned individualism. I want to be free to love wholeheartedly in my context.
- Love enables faithful presence
“Without love there is no motivation to be faithfully present to the other. Without love there is no capacity to be fully available to the Spirit’s revelation. Without love there is no reason to drop your outcomes and enter into relationships with vulnerability. Love enables you to be present to the other,” write Sparks, Soerens and Friesen.
- Being faithfully present takes work
Being faithfully present to the other takes intentionality and work. It is not always easy. Sometimes I want to give up, but God is leading me to love even when I think that I can’t. This is shaping me into a depth of growth, formation and maturity.
- Figuring out what faithful presence means
I have lived in my neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma for over a decade now trying to figure out what faithful presence means for me here. I am finding that I need to let go of all my techniques and expectations of controlling the development of life in the here and now. This post-everything culture that we live in is a great opportunity for a new social movement of learning to embody a fabric of care in the place that we live together. But it will take time and cannot be controlled or manipulated.
- Learning to be a neighbor
I am learning to be a neighbor to others and show some love. I am learning to not be so afraid of others who I think are too different to love. Faithful presence is ruining me to life. Faithful presence is becoming my spiritual formation. It is becoming my hope of an embodied authenticity within myself in the place I live and will continue to live into the future of whatever life brings.
How can we allow faithful presence to guide everything about ourselves?