Living a Discovered Life

by Mark Votava

Small Smooth Stones

Sometimes I think life is boring.  I think life is supposed to be something different like the interesting stories that I see characters play in movies.  But I am coming to understand that much of life is just plain old ordinary.  And that is a good thing.

I am learning to see the sacredness of all of life within the most ordinary moments of everyday life.  This may seem boring to me at times, but I am finding some sense of gracefulness and authenticity to this rhythm of life.  I am learning to just be and rest in that.

Practicing silence and solitude is helping me center myself in gratitude.  As this gratitude grows in me, I am experiencing a new wonder and attentiveness I have never known before.  It is so ordinary, but interesting to find I am living my way into a new way of seeing.  I am being shaped within toward deeper honesty, vulnerability, grace, compassion and courage.

Discovering life through silence and solitude is making me content, less anxious, more inclusive and okay with the paradoxes of life.  I am realizing I am the beloved of God.  I do not have to fear the mysteries of life.  Resting in silence and solitude while practicing simplicity is so good for my soul.

This is where I want to live my life.  This is life-giving for me.  This helps me to touch a sense of happiness in everyday life.  I long to discover the truth of who I am in the ordinary moments of life.

As the Christmas season approaches, I am not getting all caught up in the consumerism of it all.  This season of Advent is not about spending money buying things, but about cultivating a deeper inner silence and solitude within myself.  This prepares my soul to embrace the life of Christ within me in the present moment of each day.  This is what gives me joy.

I long for a life that is rooted outside of the dominant narrative of North American consumerism and individualism.  I want to be rooted in love, mystery, paradox and gratitude.  Nothing else matters to me.  This is my true self and I find new expressions within myself every day.

God cannot be boxed up, categorized or labeled.  I am living a discovered life in all of its mystery and wonder.  God is showing me the wisdom of silence and solitude – the need for it, the desire for it, the imagination for it.

  •  Our identity comes from silence and solitude

Our process of being and becoming is wrapped up in following Christ’s example.  This needs to be a practice we take seriously in our lives together as the body of Christ in the parish.  Our very identity comes from this practice of silence and solitude.  It is our very being.

  •  Starting on the process of becoming

As we practice silence and solitude, we start on the process of becoming.  What is this becoming?  It is a becoming of our true self, a becoming of our true humanity, a becoming of the body of Christ together in everyday life.

  •  Christ practiced silence and solitude

This being and becoming is rooted in the place we inhabit.  Christ was rooted in his local context through his practice of silence and solitude.  Silence and solitude shaped Christ to be who he was in his local community.  It helped him to have a courageous strength to love, forgive, listen, inspire and befriend others.

  •  Cultivating the being

Silence and solitude is much less concerned with doing than being.  If the being is cultivated, we will not conform to the status quo.  If the being is cultivated, we will not express a form of colonialism that is so often seen in our world.  If the being is cultivated, we will be listening to the mystery and beauty in life.  If the being is cultivated, we will become an expression of love as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  A concern for one’s being

Franciscan Richard Rohr, who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes, “I would almost describe spirituality as a concern for one’s being, one’s inner motivation and attitude, one’s real inner Source, as opposed to any primary concern for one’s ‘doing.’  Doing will always take care of itself when your being is right.  It is our preoccupation with external forms and successes that make us superficial, judgmental, split off and often just downright wrong – without knowing it.”

  •  Losing our true self

Our spirituality is so often external to the point that we are losing our true self.  We are losing the mystical depth of our communion with God.  We have boxed everything up into judgments, categories and tangible successes.

  •  How we are shaped in the process of life

But silence and solitude is about being and becoming.  It is about our own spiritual formation as the body of Christ.  It is less about what we do and more about how we are shaped in the process of life.

  •  All our doing is rooted in our being

Our being is not a project to do, but an attentive cultivation to embrace within ourselves.  All our doing is rooted in our being and becoming through the mystical imagination within us.  A lot of our doing will be destructive to our place if our first priority is not on being shaped within and becoming an expression of love as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

  •  Seeing beyond the status quo

In our practice of silence and solitude we respond to the status quo, not with hatred, but with grace.  We gracefully embody a holistic counterculture as the body of Christ in the parish.  We have the strength to present an alternative to the status quo in our being.  The mystical imagination helps us to see beyond the status quo and into something more abundant.

  •  Becoming more authentic and honest

We are becoming an expression of the mystical imagination.  The mystical imagination facilitates a discovered life of silence and solitude.  We find a freedom from superficial living.  We become more authentic and honest.

  •  Living a discovered life

Gunilla Norris says in her book Inviting Silence, “By making room for silence, we resist the forces of the world which tell us to live an advertised life of surface appearances, instead of a discovered life – a life lived in contact with our senses, our feelings, our deepest thoughts and values.”

  •  Our humanity will be touched

The deepest parts of our humanity will be touched by our silence and solitude.  Our humanity will start to long for what is beautiful.  We will lose interest in the “advertised life of surface appearances” and discover more of ourselves and our neighbors as we listen in all of life in the place we inhabit.  We are becoming loving nonconformists to the status quo as the body of Christ in everyday life together.  Our silence and solitude will lead us to nothing less in our humanity.

In what ways have you lived a discovered life in the depths of your humanity?