Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: February, 2015

Book Review – Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr


I absolutely love this book from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.  It is filled with wisdom that you won’t hear inside the structural boxes of Christianity in North America.  It is essential reading for anyone who wants to embrace finding a way to live life in our twenty-first century world.

This book covers territory about our dualistic thinking, embracing simplicity, awareness of our connectedness, seeing the sacredness of all of life, trusting our own souls within, the inner authority of suffering (letting go of control), the integration of the masculine and feminine, mysticism and contemplation.

I like how letting go of control is a primary theme in the writing.  He says that letting go of control is the way we experience suffering in our lives.  And suffering leads us to an inner authority we will find in no other way.  Those who suffer and love have the deepest wisdom that nobody can understand completely.

Richard Rohr makes mysticism something that is accessible to us all by stating it as an experiential knowledge of our spirituality.  I constantly long for an experiential spirituality that is not based on abstract theology or ideas about God, but is based on something authentic in everyday life.  Exploring a mysticism where we are all ordinary mystics who live out our experiential spirituality in community together with others is what I want to embody.  This is hopeful to me like nothing else.

This book has inspired my imagination beyond the status quo life of mortgages and luxuries to find God in the ordinary.  Rohr has led me to embrace a simplicity where I find solidarity with the marginalized, where they are no longer a threat to me and I stop objectifying others for my own gain.  This seems like freedom from the empire I find myself in.

I love how the book talks about how St. Francis brought the feminine back into our spirituality.  He integrated the masculine and the feminine together.  When we lose the feminine side of spirituality we do things like the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and all others forms of colonial violence because masculine spirituality tends to be about being right and competition.  The feminine side tends to be more relational and about the embodiment of love through collaboration and partnership.

Rohr says that we are taught to mistrust our souls.  I am coming to see that we can trust what is deepest within us, our true self, the authentic longing that lives within.  We are created in the image of God and are beloved.  We need to honor this true self within ourselves and allow it to live more fully as the Spirit of love lives within us.

Subverting a dominant narrative of the sacred/secular divide to see all of life as sacred is essential to the book.  All sorts of distortions happen to us when we live in our dualistic thinking of separating life into little compartments of our own making.  When we do this all of life cannot be embraced as sacred and we live in dualities.  This is not healthy and will lead us to believe in a narrative of separation from ourselves, God and one another.

  • Mysticism is experiential knowledge

“The most unfortunate thing about the concept of mysticism is that the word itself has become mystified – and regulated to a ‘misty’ and distant realm that implies it is only available to a very few.  For me, the word simply means experiential knowledge of spiritual things, as opposed to book knowledge, secondhand knowledge or even church knowledge.”

  • Taught to mistrust our own souls

“We were taught to mistrust our own souls – and thus the Holy Spirit!”

  • Everything is a revelation of the divine

“The Christ Mystery refuses to be vague and abstract, and is always concrete and specific.  When we stay with these daily apparitions, we see that everything is a revelation of the divine…  There are henceforth no blind spots in the divine disclosure, in our own eyes, or in our rearview mirrors.  Our only blindness is our own lack of fascination, humility, curiosity, awe, and willingness to be allured forward.”

  • All of the world is sacred

“In Franciscan mysticism, there is no distinction between sacred and profane.  All of the world is sacred…”

  • Refound on a new level

“What the crucified has revealed to the world is that the real authority that ‘authors’ people and changes the world is an inner authority that comes from people who have lost, let go, and are refound on a new level…”

  • Some form of suffering is absolutely necessary

“If suffering is ‘whenever we are not in control’ (which is my definition), then you see why some form of suffering is absolutely necessary to teach us how to live beyond the illusion of control and give that control back to God.  Then we become usable instruments, because we share our power with God’s power…”

  • A kind of crucifixion

“…to accept full reality will always be a kind of crucifixion both for God and for ourselves.  For us, it is a sure death to our easy opinions, our forced certitudes, any futile attempts at perfect control, our preplanned life, any intellectual or moral superiority, and eventually any belief in our separateness from God.”

  • Our mortgages, luxuries, and chosen lifestyles control our whole future

“Today most of us try to find personal and individual freedom even as we remain inside of structural boxes and an entire system of consumption that we are then unable or unwilling to critique.  Our mortgages, luxuries, and chosen lifestyles control our whole future.  Whoever is paying our bills, and giving us security and status, determines what we can and cannot think.  You cannot remove the plank that you are standing on.  Self-serving institutions that give us our security, status, or identity are almost always considered ‘too big to fail’ and are invariably beyond an honest critique for the vast majority of people.  And thus corruption grows.  The way of radical Christianity is simply to stay outside of such systems to begin with, so they cannot control your breath of thinking, feeling, loving, and living out universal justice.”

  • When you agree to live simply

“When you agree to live simply, you do not consider the immigrant, the refuge, the homeless person, or the foreigner as a threat to you or see them as being in competition with you.  You have chosen their marginal state for yourself…”

  • People cease to be possessions

“When you agree to live simply, people cease to be possessions and objects for your consumption or use.  Your lust for relationships or for others to serve you, your need for other people’s admiration, your desire to use other people as a kind of commodity for your personal pleasure, or any need to control and manipulate other people, slowly – yes, very slowly – falls away.”

  • Fragile and vulnerable

“The true Gospel always leaves us both fragile and vulnerable…”

  • An inner capacity to live with paradoxes and contradictions

“…contemplation gives us an inner capacity to live with paradoxes and contradictions.  It is a quantum leap forward in our tolerance for ambiguity, mystery, and paradox.  More than anything else, this new way of processing the moment is what moves us from mere intelligence, or correct information, to what we normally mean by wisdom or non-dual thinking.”

  • The beginning of training in non-dual thinking

“Paradox held and overcome is the beginning of training in non-dual thinking or contemplation, as opposed to paradox denied, which forces us to choose only one part of any mysterious truth.  Such a choice will be false because we usually choose the one that serves our small purposes…”

  • Live into new ways of thinking

“…humans tend to live themselves into new ways of thinking more than think themselves into new ways of living…”

  • Honest self-knowledge

“Honest self-knowledge, shadow work, therapy, and tools like the Enneagram are dismissed with such hostility by many fervent believers that you know they are hiding something or afraid of something.  They disdain this work as ‘mere psychology’…”

  • Overcompensate with external window dressing

“When you have not had any internal experience of God and grace, you almost always overcompensate with external window dressing.  The ‘window dressings’ are not wrong in themselves, but do tend to make nonessentials into the essentials that we obsess about and divide over.  When you have done this for half your life, it is very hard to let go of it…”

  • Patriarchy frames life as essentially competition

“By patriarchy (‘the rule of the fathers’), I mean when any group or individual operates in such a way that others must concede so that the dominant group is always first, in control, and right.  Patriarchy frames life as essentially competition and ‘the survival of the fittest,’ and there must be clear winners and losers.  This is an obvious case of the dualistic mind at work…”

  • In the male world, humility looks like weakness

“In the male world, humility commonly looks like weakness, lack of exposure to the ‘real world,’ or even low self-esteem; but it is not an admirable virtue or any kind of needed strength…”

  • Love is the nature of being

“The divine pattern is first and itself love, as opposed to thinking that God can be rationally understood, and this God then orders us to love.  Love is then a mandate instead of the nature of being itself…”

  • No such thing as failure

“If your only goal is to love there is no such thing as failure…”

  • Incarnation is actually our ordinary life

“…there is shock involved when we suddenly see that incarnation is actually our ordinary life, now, everywhere.  At first, it is a disappointment.  But once we become practiced at a contemplative worldview, a ‘thisness’ way of seeing, there is nothing trivial anymore and all is grace.  But those who have chosen a split world of sacred or profane don’t know how to live in a world where everything is sacred…”

  • Life is about being connected

“Life is never about being correct, but only and always about being connected.  Just stay connected!  At all costs stay connected.  Our only holiness is by participation and surrender to the Body of Love, and not by any private performance.  This is the joining of hands from generation to generation that can still change the world – and will.  Because Love is One, and this Love is either shared and passed on or it is not the Great Love at all.  The One Love is always eager, and, in fact, such eagerness is precisely the giveaway that we are dealing with something divine and eternal.”

Have you read Eager to Love?  What would you give the book from 1 to 10?

7 Tips for Honoring One Another


I have found that everyone wants to be honored and loved.  In my life I want to seek out ways that I can be an expression of love in everyday life, especially toward the voiceless and marginalized.  It seems that focusing on our commonalities and not our differences is important in the process.

The image of Christ lives in us all.  We need to find this beautiful image in one another and honor it with everything we’ve got.  I am finding that this is where a true, authentic love comes from when we can offer compassion, honor and reconciliation instead of criticism.  We are all beloved of God and we need to constantly affirm this in one another as our world tends toward judgment, hatred, indifference and war.

Here are several ways we can honor one another in everyday life together.

1. Develop some solidarity with Christ

Christ was the ultimate image of humanity.  He was a human being just like us. He breathed the same air.  He walked the same earth.

He inhabited a place that shaped who he was.  He slept and ate and drank. He had relationships.

He struggled with emotions.  He laughed and cried.  We were all made in his image and that is reflected in our humanity.

2. Tease out in one another the image of Christ

Our lives call out to the indwelling Christ in each of us in everyday life.  We do that through grace.  We are drawn to tease out in one another this image of Christ.  How do we do that?

“Honor one another above yourselves …” (Romans 12:10).

3. See the image of humanity that lies deep within

Grace and honor will always lead to the communal imagination.  When we honor others we will see the image of humanity that lies deep within them.

4. Be a sort of mirror for others

Jesuit Mark E. Thibodeaux says in his book Armchair Mystic, “I am to call forth the Christ I see in others and to be a sort of mirror for others so that they may see the image of God that they are …”

5. Embrace a spirit of reconciliation

When we see in each other the image of our humanity, there will be a spirit of reconciliation that constantly lives within us as we go about our everyday lives together in the parish.  When we see the image of our humanity in each other, we will become better at relationships.

6. Become relational healers instead of destroyers of relationships

We will become practicing, relational healers in the place we inhabit instead of destroyers of relationships.  This is a miracle of grace.  When the body of Christ awakens to this, there will be all kinds of relational revelations taking place in our neighborhood in everyday life.

7. Offer compassion instead of criticism

Debra K. Farrington writes, “The acceptance of others begins by recognizing that each of us is a beloved child of God.  If we can see that in each other we may be able to better appreciate the differences between us.  We may even grow to love the differences. At the very least, if we can see what is precious within each other, we can begin to offer compassion instead of criticism.”

What makes it difficult to honor one another in everyday life?

6 Benefits of Local Responsibility, Local Investment and Local Ownership

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I have seen so many people abandon what is local.  I am constantly being drawn away from local ways of life to a life of upward mobility, speed and fragmentation.  But I am finding that living locally with others in community bring a sense of peace.

When I root myself locally, I am less lonely.  I am happier because my life is not scattered in all directions by freeways and airports constantly.  I am able to center myself in resting, listening, loving, humility, grace and compassion through face to face relationships in everyday life.  This is becoming rare in a society that values technology, speed and entertainment to an extreme.

But I am coming to find that this abandonment of what is local is not healthy.  I have become filled with anxiety when the local has been lost in me.  Life becomes about making the most money we possibility can at an extremely fast pace that is centered on escaping the local context we live in.  Face to face relationships, social capital and the common good of neighbors is forgotten in our relentless pursuit of upward mobility.

This is no way to live.  This is not the way of the spirit of love, compassion or humility.  Are we destroying the world because we have abandoned locality?  This is the dilemma we find ourselves in today and must face in order to bring some healing to our world we live in.

Here are some thoughts on the benefits of local responsibility, local investment and local ownership.

1. We become cocreators of the future

We are to be cocreators of the future of the place we inhabit together.  It is our local responsibility, our local investment and local ownership that will develop the parish imagination among us.

Tom Sine writes, “Incredibly, God invites us to be cocreators in giving imaginative expression to God’s new creation in the here and now…” 

2. We escape the franchise approach

We are called to be “imaginative expressions” of the body of Christ in everyday life together in the parish.  There is no franchise approach to this.  When we cocreate with God through the parish imagination our expressions will be organic, grassroots, creative, contextual, relational and based on our gifts together.  All our assets will come together to create the parish imagination in everyday life.

3. We begin to subvert the empire and the status quo

This is the cocreation of beauty in our world together in everyday life.  Our expressions of local responsibility could subvert the empire.  Our expressions of local investment could subvert the status quo.  Our expressions of local ownership could subvert the systems that are creating fragmentation, loneliness and isolation.

4. We engage with society in the place we live

Local responsibility, local investment and local ownership take a great amount of engagement and risk.  The parish imagination is about engagement with society in the place we live.  There is no running from our culture within the parish imagination.  The parish imagination cocreates within the twenty-first century world.

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch say, “It is truly an adventurous thing to embrace the risky call to societal engagement in our own neighborhood…” 

5. We realize our gifts, assets and passions

Our local community is calling out to the parish imagination within us.  Our local community is calling out to our gifts, assets and passions.  We have so much to offer the place we inhabit together in everyday life.

6. We create a local fabric of social justice and care

The parish imagination is helping us to be grounded in our incarnational ways.  The parish imagination is helping us to live intuitively by local responsibility, investment and ownership.  The parish imagination is helping us to create a local fabric of social justice and care among us.

What are some ways you have taken local responsibility seriously?

10 Ways Pilgrimages Cultivate the Parish Imagination


I have experienced the blessing of being faithfully present in my neighborhood together with others for over a decade.  It seems that community can easily be lost without this.  But sometimes living locally can become too insular if we are not learning from other contexts in life.  I have had many rich experiences of learning from other places that has been so essential to my own growth and cultivation of imagination within me.

Here are 10 ways that pilgrimages cultivate the parish imagination within us.

1. Opens us to exploration

The parish imagination is undiscovered in a lot of our local contexts.  The parish imagination needs to be activated and embodied in everyday life by the body of Christ.  Our pilgrimages help us to explore and exercise the parish imagination within us.

Phil Cousineau says, “Remember again and again that the true pilgrimage is into the undiscovered land of your own imagination…” 

2. We become creative and free

Pilgrimage is about connecting to our undiscovered parish imagination among us.  There is unlimited potential within the parish imagination.  There is a lot of life that we can receive through the parish imagination.  The parish imagination is creative and free.

3. We learn from other contexts

Being rooted and linked helps us to inspire the parish imagination.  Learning from other contexts could help bring the parish imagination to life in our neighborhood.  Learning from other contexts will help us to become rooted and linked into the future.

4. We dream about the possibilities

When we go on pilgrimage and spend time with others who are embodying the parish imagination in another context from our own, we learn so much.  We become inspired by their everyday life together.  The parish imagination becomes contagious.  We need to dream about the possibilities of the parish imagination in our neighborhood.

5. We find empowerment and inspiration

When we start to dream and learn from other contexts, God will begin to shape us.  We will begin to see the importance of networking through being rooted and linked.  Our pilgrimages will empower and inspire creativity and innovation among us as we begin to dream again.

We must not let our dreams die within us.  We must cultivate the dreams of the parish imagination within us as the body of Christ in everyday life together.  The parish imagination is filled with dreams to be explored and experimented with.

Jenny and Justin Duckworth state, “…we learn so much when we go and spend time with others who are living out the dream in a different context.” 

The dream of the parish imagination is within us.  The dream of the parish imagination is among us.  The dream of the parish imagination is calling out from the world we live in.  The dream of the parish imagination is slowly breaking through to us as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

6. We become rooted and linked

Pilgrimage could awaken us to all of this.  Pilgrimage could help us to become rooted and linked.  Pilgrimage could help us through our struggles in the parish.  Pilgrimage could teach us to learn from others.  Pilgrimage could help us to be human.

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you – for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you…” (1 Corinthians 16: 5-7). 

7. Furthers our own presence in our local context

Spending time with friends from other contexts will help us immensely.  We need support from friends in other contexts who are living into the parish imagination.  We need times where we experience pilgrimages as important to the furthering of our presence in our own local context.

8. Shapes our perspective on life

Pilgrimages shape our perspective on life.  Pilgrimages help us to strengthen our paradigm of being rooted and linked in the parish.  Being rooted and linked cannot happen without pilgrimage.  Being rooted and linked calls out for pilgrimage in us all.

9. Creates a posture of listening in us

When we go somewhere on pilgrimage, it should be intentional.  When we go somewhere on pilgrimage, we need to go with a posture listening and learning from the other.  When we go somewhere on pilgrimage, we need to embrace the paradigm of being rooted and linked.  Being rooted and linked will bring us empowerment through pilgrimage.

10. Helps us to see the sacredness of all of life

Pilgrimage is a sacred act of learning from another context, of listening in another context, of experiencing relational connection in another context.  This sacred act could add a lot to our own parish.  There is a sacredness to pilgrimage that cannot be ignored as we become rooted and linked.

How have pilgrimages shaped you?

Do We Live in the Truth of Our Mortality?

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One day I will die.  I will not live forever.  This is a sobering fact of life and one that helps me live more fully in the present moment.  It is hard to keep death before my eyes in a culture of entertainment.

As I have watched many action movies in my life, it seems I have become numb to all the death, killing and violence within them.  I see so much death being acted out in movies that I do not really think death is real – so I evade it, deny it and pretend that I am above it in everyday life.  But this is not reality and keeps me in my own fear of death.

What will happen to me as I die.  I do not really want to think about it.  Maybe I will experience shame, fear, guilt or joy.  Will it be a terrifying experience or will it be an experience of wonder, mystery and peace?

The truth is that I am afraid to die.  Many people might lie and say that they know exactly what will happen after death, but nobody knows what life will be for us after death.  It is unknowable.  Even if someone believes in heaven no one knows exactly how we will experience it.

But thinking about death often could help us to live more freely.  I do not like to think about death, but it is a good thing for me to do in a culture that denies it.  This is not authentic, truthful or honest.

Thinking of death often has been a Benedictine monastic practice for hundreds of years.

Macrina Wiederkehr notes, “In the rule of St. Benedict we are asked to keep death daily before our eyes…” 

Keeping death always in our attention sounds kind of morbid, but it’s actually liberating for our souls.  When we are not afraid of our mortality we become more human.  I think this happens because we start living more honestly and authentically.  Keeping death before our eyes strengthens us to have a better perspective to live relationally in the place we live.

We consider the words we speak more carefully.  We become more sensitive to our locality.  We have solidarity with our environment.  We see the beauty in life.  We long for the collective good.

The Benedictines have a lot of wisdom to share with us after so many years of practice.  Thinking of death often cultivates the mystical imagination within us in everyday life as the body of Christ.  This is a powerful practice if we can handle looking into what is real within ourselves.  The mystical imagination does not fear keeping death before us in our everyday lives together in the parish.

Sara Miles states, “…we are all going to die.  That these busy lives, full of eating and drinking and buying and talking on our cell phones, are going down to the dust.  That despite the lies of the culture, the fantasy that money or objects will keep us alive, we mortals are just mortal and connected to one another through that raw, fleshy fact.”

We are only alive if we can face death in everyday life.  We are only alive if we use our life to live.  The status quo does not like to face death.  The status quo wants to pretend that there is no reality of death for us.

We are too strong and healthy for that.  We are too independent.  We are too young to be thinking about that.  This is only what people do when they are senior citizens.  How do we truly know that we are alive?

Benedictine David Steindl-Rast says, “The fact that you are not dead yet is not sufficient proof that you are alive.  It takes more than that.  It takes courage – above all, the courage to face death.  Only one who is alive can die.  Aliveness is measured by the ability to die.  One who is fully alive is fully able to die.  In peak moments of aliveness we are reconciled with death.  Deep down within us something tells us that we would die the moment our life reached fulfillment.  It is fear of death that prevents us from coming fully alive.”

What keeps us from coming fully alive in our mortality?

Some Great Quotes by Some Great Writers

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“Modern society is losing its appetite for community…”  Jen Pollock Michel Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith

“A dark night of the soul is not an intellectual exercise but a life-shattering experience.  This kind of experience cannot be crafted or sought after – it can only be submitted to.  Darkness of the soul, though terrifying, is a profound grace.  It is an invitation by the Spirit to transformation.”  Phileena Heuertz Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

“We stop looking to the future; we take time to live.  We are no longer in a hurry because we have discovered that there is gift and grace in the present…”  Jean Vanier Community and Growth

“Let us remember that attentiveness toward others is attentiveness to God.  We cannot have one without the other…”  Natalie Smith Stand On Your Own Feet: Finding a Contemplative Spirit in Everyday Life

“The voices of the poor simply aren’t as loud or demanding as the ones constantly insisting that I deserve to satisfy my every whim…  When I really focus, though, and when I do pay attention to the voices of the poor, I hear in them God’s own wisdom.”  Margot Starbuck Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor

“I’d never before considered how my identity was tied to my place…  I’d never realized how my place defined me until I was no longer there…”  Michelle DeRusha Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith

“Community carries us over the rough spots of life.  It lifts us in its current and moves us when we cannot move ourselves.”  Joan Chittister Listen with the Heart: Sacred Moments in Everyday Life

“After years of being taught that the way to deal with painful emotions is to get rid of them, it can take a lot of reschooling to learn to sit with them instead, finding out from those who feel them what they have learned by sleeping in the wilderness that those who sleep in comfortable houses may never know.”  Barbara Brown Taylor Learning to Walk in the Dark

“…if people skimp on their inner work, their outer work will suffer as well.”  Parker J. Palmer Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation

“Once we’ve found a community that accepts the way God has made us… we stay.  We grow roots.  We take a vow of stability.”  Marlena Graves A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness

“God can work in me even when I can’t see squat…”  Becky Garrison Jesus Died for this? A Satirist’s Search for the Risen Christ

“Walking lends itself to a contemplative rhythm…”  Carolyn Weber Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present

“While earthly kingdoms belong to the rich and powerful, Jesus spoke of a kingdom that belongs to the meek and the gentle, the merciful and the peacemakers.  Whereas earthly kingdoms usually start with a sovereign leader taking control, Jesus said his kingdom would start small, like a mustard seed, and grow from the bottom up.  While earthly politicians associate with the rich and elite, Jesus associated with the outcasts.  While earthly kings prefer liberty by conquest, Jesus spoke of liberty through forgiveness.”  Rachel Held Evans Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions

“Jesus had come to make the world a place in which it was a little easier to be grateful…”  Mary Jo Leddy Radical Gratitude

“Fixating on differences leads us to ignore glaring commonalities…”  Christena Cleveland Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart

“It is, of course, impossible not to hear things from one’s own position, but it is possible to listen in a sensitive and careful way that has the power to unsettle our preconceived ideas.  This means that one pays attention to what the other says, allowing the words and phrases to place our own assumptions into question.”  Peter Rollins The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction  

“We cannot miss that Jesus makes no such division or distinction between the spiritual and material needs of humanity.  The righteousness and justice we are called to hunger and thirst after, and the shalom we are called to create in the world… are absolutely concerned with the whole person, and indeed all of creation…”  Jamie Arpin-Ricci The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom

“We are an infamously mobile nation…”  Maggie Jackson Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age

“For centuries, humility was seen as a key component of a healthy spiritual life.  In more recent times, humility has lost a good deal of status…”  Paula Huston Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit

“On any given morning, I might not be able to list for you the facts I know about God.  But I can tell you what I wish to commit myself to, what I want for the foundation of my life, how I want to see…  Let this be the place I work, struggle, play, rest.  I commit myself to this.”  Lauren F. Winner Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

“The reality of God appearing in live action is to be found only in this sense of the present moment, because it alone is living, real, dynamic…”  Beatrice Bruteau Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World

“Life can too easily get away from us when we unintentionally just follow whatever daily rhythm we fall into.  When we do not take a moment to reflect on what values are guiding our decision making.  But when it comes to their own habits, the wise will choose awareness.”  Sarah Cunningham The Well-Balanced World Changer: Staying Sane While Doing Good

“God picks us up, carries us a little way on the journey, and then puts us down for a rest.  Then God picks us up and carries us a little farther, and stops, giving us small increments on the journey, one piece at a time, in the hope that we might stop focusing on where we are going and instead notice where we are.”  Lillian Daniel When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church

“Inevitably, all adaptive work is a creative act…”  Sharon Daloz Parks Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World

“Where you have freedom in love, the space to be yourself, there you truly exist…”  Ilia Delio Compassion: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis

“Although Jesus had a tremendous amount of power, he did not refer to himself as a leader or a king.  Yet no one else has influenced this world as much as Jesus.”  MaryKate Morse Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence

“There are Dorothy Days everywhere.  Some are known; others serve invisibly.  None seem to be interested in personal recognition, and dismiss characterizations as saints as silly and irrelevant…”  Mirabai Starr God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

“When I experience myself as separate from everyone else, it creates an automatic mentality of scarcity and an automatic sense of competing for limited resources.  Another person’s gain is at least potentially my loss, so I need to be constantly vigilant that my rights and needs are being upheld; that I am not being taken advantage of…”  Cynthia Bourgeault Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God

“We all shape and are shaped by others and by our own experiences.  I do not believe there is one way of following Christ…”  Wendy McCaig From the Sanctuary to the Streets: How the Dreams of One City’s Homeless Sparked a Faith Revolution that Transformed a Community

“It is no more possible to live in the future than it is to live in the past.  If life is not now, it is never.  It is impossible to imagine ‘how it will be,’ and to linger over that task is to prepare a disappointment.  The tomorrow I hope for may very well be worse than today.  There is great waste and destructiveness in our people’s desire to ‘get somewhere’…”  Wendell Berry The Long-Legged House

“This gift, to see Christ in others, is mystical…”  Emilie Griffin Wonderful and Dark is this Road: Discovering the Mystic Path

“May we all keep growing, continue learning, and become communities that bear light together, even in our brokenness.  And as you go forward wherever you find yourself, remember, you are not alone – others are on similar paths.  This is hard work.  It’s okay to find closure.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  It’s okay to start simply.”  Kelly Bean How To Be A Christian Without Going To Church: The Unofficial Guide to Alternative Forms of Christian Community

“Hospitality is not the only answer to difference, but it is one way to respond to this challenge.  It points us to the future that God intends, where riotous difference is welcomed!  Hospitality will not make us feel safe, but it will lead us to risk joining in the work of mending the creation without requiring those whom we encounter to become like us.”  Letty M. Russell Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference

“Wherever there is love, the poor can have hope, and we can have it with them.”  Jon Sobrino No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays

“As we keep traveling forward on this bumpy, beautiful road looking for signs of life, we turn our attention to the passions we have inside of us to love, serve, create, advocate, and cultivate some of our dreams…”  Kathy Escobar Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

“What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible?  Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.  It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life…”  Henri Nouwen Seeds of Hope

“Commitment to a place and a people means that relationships can be formed that are able to withstand trials and disagreements, but often people move in and out of… communities before deep roots are established.  When expectations of mobility are combined with a consumer mind-set, people are very likely to leave when things get difficult.”  Christine D. Pohl Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us

“Although Western Christianity would eventually be defined as a belief system about God, throughout its first five centuries people understood it primarily as spiritual practice that offered a meaningful way of life in this world – not as a neat set of doctrines, an esoteric belief, or the promise of heaven…”  Diana Butler Bass Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening   

Which quote resonates with you?

8 Ways Innovation and Creativity Will Bless Our Lives


When I think of innovation and creativity I get excited about the possibilities among us.  So much of North American culture is boring because of a lack of imagination.  Our lives are becoming almost invisible because we have given ourselves over to the market and empire without hardly any resistance.  Embracing innovation and creativity could change everything about how we experience our lives.

My family has taught me a lot about the status quo lifestyle, but I am coming to see that life is so much more than what I have learned from my family.  It has been a struggle for me to live with an imagination beyond what I received from my family, but I am trying the best I can.  In a culture that promotes individualism, narcissism and speed how can I find something more authentic amidst it all?

Maybe it all starts with having the courage to embrace innovation and creativity in our local community.  Maybe it starts with awareness.  Maybe it starts with longing, experimentation and growth.

Here are 8 ways that innovation and creativity can bless our lives.

1. Moves us beyond the status quo lifestyle

Innovation and creativity will not be forgotten by the parish imagination in everyday life.  Innovation and creativity are the very fabric of an alternative to the status quo lifestyle.  There needs to be an integration of innovation and creativity among the body of Christ so we can become an expression of love together in the twenty-first century.

Tom Sine writes, “We need a new level of imagination, innovation and creativity…” 

2. Keeps us from becoming machinelike

Our levels of innovation and creativity need to be unleashed into our everyday lives together in the place we inhabit.  We cannot allow the status quo to dictate who we are and what we do in our local community.  The parish imagination will not be frightened by the status quo.  The status quo is uncreative and machinelike.

3. Preserves what is beautiful within us

We lose our humanity when we embody the status quo.  The status quo is not countercultural.  The status quo does not follow Christ.  The status quo steals almost everything that is beautiful within us reducing our lives to meaninglessness.

4. Draws out our discontent

Innovation and creativity draws out our discontent with what is and our longing for something more.  Discontent and longing live within the parish imagination.  Discontent could be our greatest gift.

5. Brings about embodiment  

Discontent is of the Holy Spirit.  Discontent will haunt us through the parish imagination.  Longing is also of the Holy Spirit to bring about an embodiment of innovation and creativity among us.

6. Draws out our longing for a better life, a better society, and a better world

Diana Butler Bass says in her book Christianity After Religion, “Not many people think of discontent as a gift…  Only by noticing what is wrong… can we ever make things different.  If people were satisfied, there would be no reason to reach for more, no motivation for creativity and innovation.  Discontent is one short step from the longing for a better life, a better society, and a better world; and longing is another short step from doing something about what is wrong…” 

7. Promotes experimentation and integration in the place we inhabit

The status quo does not like any experimentation of innovation and creativity.  The status quo has no tolerance for innovation and creativity.  The status quo wants no association with innovation and creativity.  Innovation and creativity seek integration in the place we inhabit together as the body of Christ in everyday life.

8. Calls us to growth

Innovation and creativity call for growth within us all of the time.  Innovation and creativity are never static in everyday life.  Innovation and creativity are evolving constantly through the parish imagination.

How have you explored innovation and creativity in your life?

30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal


As I think about the word renewal these are some of the things that come to mind.  Sometimes I think the church cares more about money, power and status than renewal.  But as St. Francis worked to rebuild the church in his time by renouncing riches and following Christ, I think we can do similar things in the twenty-first century world.  I think God is leading us this way and I am wanting to listen to this leading.

1. Become rooted in a particular local community.  If we are not rooted in a local community, what I like to call the parish, we will not be connected relationally to others.  We will live independently, autonomous and isolated.  This is the breakdown of local community in our country and the demise of what will preserve beauty among the body of Christ, the church.

2. Collaborate and partner with others in the place you live.  The church needs to become a collaborator and a partner in everyday life for the good of the place it finds itself in.  Collaboration and partnership fosters renewal, respect and community.  Collaboration and partnership cultivates unity over competition.

3. Take a posture of listening to yourself, others, God and the place you live.  Listening promotes unity, openness and transformation among us.  Why are we afraid to listen in the place we live?  A lot of time is it easier to label someone as “wrong” or “stupid” than to allow ourselves to be faithfully present to them through listening.

4. Practice a contemplative spirituality.  Contemplative spirituality is one of the most neglected practices of the church.  A church that is not contemplative will soon turn colonial and violent.  Contemplation goes way beyond words and helps us to listen by becoming honest, vulnerable and open in our communion with what is authentic in everyday life.

5. Understand your Enneagram Type and practice Nonviolent Communication.  The enneagram is a tool of growth that guides us to understand how to live more fully human in all of life beyond our dualities that we have created.  It is a tool of self-awareness that will show us what is happening to us in times in times of stress and times of security.  The enneagram is made up of nine personality types and each one has a particular gift that is also its particular struggle in life.

I like this so much because we all have different personalities.  It shows us how to live healthy in our lives and how to avoid unhealthy, destructive patterns.  The enneagram puts everyone on the same plain as those we label as “leaders” are often thought to be above all struggles.  When we live into the unhealthy side of our type, we will not live into our true self and will become destructive toward others and ourselves.

Nonviolent communication is a process of communication that takes into account 4 steps.  First, make a statement of observation around something that happened without judgment.  Second, identify what you are feeling by taking full responsibility of your emotions.  Third, communicate what you need from the other person.  Fourth, make a request of that person that is tangible and concrete without demanding.

I like this so much because it helps us to take responsibility of our feelings without blaming others and leads us to open communication that is nonthreatening in a vulnerable way.  This promotes authentic connection, honesty and respect.  It seems our most difficult struggles in sharing life together are over our personalities and communication styles.  Understanding the enneagram and nonviolent communication are wonderful tools to help us understand one another, respect one another and share life together in our local community.

6. Have a paradigm shift to value community over North American definitions of church.  We need to deconstruct our faith and enter into a new paradigm where the church becomes a network of relationships in a particular place.  We need to embody a communal imagination where love, humility and grace become a reality in everyday life.  This will help the church to find its way out of its colonial patterns that foster to services, buildings and wealth.

7. Embrace the value of living in proximity and becoming neighbors.  Embracing proximity could bring so much renewal to us.  It seems we do not want to be neighbors in the same neighborhood.  If we do not live in proximity we cannot live as a community in the world we find ourselves in.  And the church will turn into a service in a building where we learn information about God, but are disconnected from one another in everyday life as neighbors engaged in our culture together.

8. Practice vulnerability, humility and compassion.  It seems Jesus practiced vulnerability, humility and compassion in his life.  We are called to follow the authentic way of Jesus and follow this path also.  But in an American culture that does not value such things, it is very difficult.  We have to live intentionally or it will never happen.

9. Practice hospitality to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.  If we practiced hospitality, this could move us toward social justice and out of our homogenous cocoon.  The poor are all around us, we just live blind to it.  Maybe we could start sharing our lives with the poor entering into a process of discernment on what this means to us.  God is revealed through the poor more than anything else in life.

10. Eat together with others.  Eating together breaks down class structures and makes everyone equal.  The one commonality we have as a human race is that we all need to eat.  Let’s not eat in isolation, but together.  Life is fuller when we share it with others.

11. Commit to a lifetime of working through your own pain and codependence.  There is no renewal in codependency.  When we cannot say no to others while being controlled by another’s actions we will live a life of shame, guilt and always being tired.  We need to work to transform our pain into compassion as we become dependent no more.

12. Take care of yourself.  It is okay to take care of ourselves.  It is essential.  Take care of your needs so you can be sustainable in the good you are doing in the world.

13. Stop trying to save the world and do small things with great love.  To bless the world starts with the small, ordinary things of everyday life that we do with love.  Love is the authentic path for all of us.  We must find how we can become an expression of love and not hate in the world.

14. Become connected and linked to other communities in other contexts.  As we live locally, we need to be linked to others who are pursuing community in other places.  We learn so much from other contexts.  Experiencing a new place shapes our imaginations for the place we live.

15. Read 100 books a year (especially by women and minorities).  Reading transforms us tremendously.  Books can become our friends when we feel alone and frustrated.  They are always there for us and are our companions along our life’s path.  I would suggest replacing the practice of watching TV with the practice of reading or some modification of it.

16. Let go of patriarchy.  The church would find so much renewal if we honored women along with men on an equal plain.  When we don’t allow women to have a voice, we destroy the church because it becomes unbalanced as the masculine dominates.  Men have produced so much disunity, competition, colonialism and violence among the body of Christ.

17. Learn to see love as the only thing that matters above theology, doctrine or ritual.  Love is more important than theology, doctrine or ritual.  Many will cry out to Jesus after they have lived a life without love and he will say I never knew you.  Love is the most beautiful value in the world and everything that is beautiful comes from love.

18. Learn to release expectations and take on a posture of grace.  Expectations are premediated resentments.  Expectations demand and control.  Expectations will destroy us if cannot release them in everyday life.

19. Support and create local economies in the place you live.  Economies shape life.  The global, corporate economy is based on progress, exploitation, competition and greed.  The local economy is based on collaboration, community, social capital and benevolence.

20. See all of life as sacred.  We need to get out of the sacred/secular divide.  All of life is sacred.  There is no secular.  This is the call of Christ to our lives to embrace all of life as sacred.

21. Practice simplicity over consumerism.  Consumerism runs the United States.  It is the narrative of progress that we are taught by everything around us.  Simplicity subverts consumerism giving us space to have an imagination outside of the narrative of the market and empire.

22. Do not believe in upward mobility.  Renewal will come when we stop believing in and practicing upward mobility.  Upward mobility does not value neighbors in everyday life.  It makes money and possessions the priority which Jesus taught against.

23. Live in risk, uncertainty and unraveling constantly.  We cannot live if we do not risk.  Our whole lives should be about unraveling and uncertainty in the ways we risk.  We need not to be afraid of risk and the places it puts us in.

24. Find what is authentic in you and follow that path.  All of us have a unique path to follow that is our own.  It is no one else’s.  We need to seek out what this is for us as we live engaged in the world.

25. Connect truth with a deep way of honesty about yourself.  Honesty is truth.  There is no truth without honesty.  Without honesty there is no love, but only manipulation and apathy.

26. Do not allow the American Dream (market or empire) to capture your imagination.  The American Dream holds our imaginations captive.  The church cannot find life within the American Dream.  It is made up of money, progress and possessions which Jesus cared nothing about.

27. Live in your body by engaging your senses, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.  Valuing the body enough to slow down, work less and rest more is healthy.  This will help us to see, hear, smell, touch and taste what is authentic in everyday life.  We need a healthy balance of exercise and sleep.

28. Learn to practice gentleness, compassion and kindness toward yourself.  Gentleness, compassion and kindness is what we need directed toward ourselves first.  We need to be compassionate to ourselves.  We need to find a kindness that overflows to ourselves.

29. Work to rebuild the church into something more authentic instead of complaining about all the damage it has done.  It is easy to complain and hard to work for something better.  For the church to become more authentic, we must love it and hate it at the same time.  We must work for the things we can change, accept the things we can’t and have the wisdom to know the difference.

30. Stop focusing on what we perceive of as our sin (being driven by shame and guilt) and start building your life around Christ living in you (love, compassion and authenticity).  Do we have any awareness that Christ lives within us?  Is this the focus of our deepest longing?  This is the way to discover our true self which is an expression of love in the world.

What do you think brings renewal?


This is a post that is a part of the February 2015 synchroblog on renewal.

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul

Done With Religion – Renewal

Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)

Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car

Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design

Glenn Hager – Repurposed

Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival

Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit

K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord

Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!

Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus

Leah – Renewal!

Liz Dyer – Put Your Mask On First

Peggy – Abi and the February 2015 Synchroblog – Renewal

Book Review – Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self by Richard Rohr


I love this book by Richard Rohr!  As I have longed for what is authentic in life, Immortal Diamond has been a companion to help me search for my True Self.  At the core of it, the True Self is the place where I can center my life in love.  I can live in the present moment and embrace all of life as sacred.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish what is the True Self and what is the False Self in life.  But in reading Immortal Diamond, it has given me a sense of awareness and discernment.  The False Self it seems is promoted by a lot of the church.  The church creates so many dualities, spaces where it is not safe to be honest, a fabrication of certainty and little tolerance for what is beyond the status quo.

Does the body of Christ really desire to discover the immortal diamond within itself?  The True Self is that part of ourselves that has always been there and no one can take it away from us.  It is given by God.  For many of us, we have never gotten in touch with it.

My False Self is not who I am, it is who the culture has made me to be.  It is a fabrication or an illusion of my own making.  It is taught to me by the media, my family, my schooling and many religious systems that are unhealthy in our world.  The embracing of my True Self and my longing for God are one and the same desire.

My desire for the True Self is comforting to me.  It is there.  I believe everyone has it.  Our True Selves are all very particular to who we are, and everyone has a True Self that is waiting to be discovered.  There is meaning when we are connected to the True Self within us.

The True Self is usually marginalized by mainstream religious culture.  We can’t discover our True Self when we have created a very tiny American Jesus in our own image.  It is ridiculous, but that’s what many of us do.

That is what is comfortable and safe.  It keeps us from being vulnerable, honest and authentic.  This is the North American way of narcissism that so many follow.  And we wonder why people do not like the church and find Christians anything but graceful and compassionate sometimes?

It is sad to me that many people experience the judgment of the False Self and not the love of the True Self.  Our world needs more expressions of love, not judgment.  We need to be extremists for love, nonconformists to the status quo and practitioners of empathetic listening.

I like how the book talks about when we get attached to our “successful” roles in society that is when we give up the search for the True Self and get stuck in the False Self.  It seems our True Self is within us and the False Self is always defined outside of us.  These “successful” roles we play in life have trapped our imaginations inside the dominant narrative of the market and empire.   We put in so much energy and effort into building the False Self that we do not even know there is an alternative to it.

Rohr talks about how it is not wise to fear, attack, or hate the False Self because God uses the stages we find ourselves in for our own transformation which help us to discover the True Self that is more expansive, authentic and compassionate.  If our pain is not transformed it will be transmitted to others.  So the True Self finds healing within that transforms our pain into a deeper way of being broken open to love.  I like the analogy of the immortal diamond that no one can give to you or take away from you because it is grounded in the core of love which is our True Self that everyone has within.

I highly recommend this book!  It will take you on a search for your True Self, bring to you more self-awareness and connect you to what is authentic within.  One of the best books I have read on the True Self.  Make sure you read it this year!

  • Your True Self

“Your True Self is that part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, although largely unconsciously.  Your False Self is just who you think you are – but thinking doesn’t make it so.”

  • A threat to the world as we have constructed it

“Somehow resurrection – which I am going to equate with the revelation of our True Selves – is actually a risk and a threat to the world as we have constructed it.  After any ‘raising up’ of our True Selves, we will no longer fit into many groups, even much of religious society, which is often obsessed with and yet indulgent of the False Self , because that is all it knows.”

  • Always live in the backwaters

“Perhaps the True Self – and the full mystery (not the same as organized religion) – will always live in the backwaters of any empire and the deep mines of any religion.”

  • A very tiny American Jesus

“I can no longer wait for, or give false comfort to, the many Christians who are forever ‘deepening their personal relationship’ with a very tiny American Jesus – who looks an awful lot like them…”

  • Stuck in the False Self

“Many people have lost all interest in our grand spiritual talk and our Scriptures because they too often have been used by people who are themselves still small (who are stuck in their False Self).  It does not help to deny that we are stuck, and yet it does not help to stand arrogantly above it all either…”

  • Little emphasis on spiritual practices

“Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, there has been little emphasis on spiritual practices…”

  • Utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time

“…in finding your True Self, you will have found an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time…”

  • The alternative to your False Self

“I promise you that the discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight have fallen from your back.  You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote any idealized self image.  Living in the True Self is quite simply a much happier existence, even though we never live there a full twenty-four hours a day.  But you henceforth have it as a place to go back to.  You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self…”

  • Settle into any “successful” role

“Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lesson if we settle into any ‘successful’ role.  We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it.  Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…”

  • The name we have always had

“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had…”

  • To see what is – as it is

“The soul has no agenda whatsoever except to see what is – as it is – and let it teach you…”

  • What makes you, you

“Your True Self is what makes you, you…”

  • We cannot imagine this False Self not being true

“Most of humanity is so enchanted with its False (concocted) Self that it has largely doubted and rejected – or never known – its True Self.  And so it lives in anxiety and insecurity.  We have put so much time into creating it that we cannot imagine this False Self not being true or not being ‘me’…”

  • It will feel like freedom and liberation

“When you are able to move beyond your False Self – at the right time and in the right way – it will feel precisely as if you lost nothing.  In fact, it will feel like freedom and liberation.  When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the mere part.  You are now connected to something inexhaustible.”

  • Our False Self does not let go easily

“Our False Self does not let go easily.  But that doesn’t mean the False Self should be attacked or eliminated.  In time, it will reveal itself for the false wizard that it is.  If you go after it directly, it will only disguise itself further, while you in the meantime get to feel quite virtuous…”

  • The separate self is the False Self

“The separate self is the False Self, and the False Self thus needs to overdefine itself as unique, special, superior, and adequate…”

  • The True Self sees everything in wholes

“The True Self sees everything in wholes and therefore in contrast to the way the world sees things, which now appears upside down to them.  The False Self sees everything in parts and hierarchies and in reference to itself, which is not to see very well at all.”

  • A largely mental and cultural construct

“Your False Self is not bad or wrong; it is just mortal.  It is relative and not absolute.  It is passing and not substantial, a largely mental and cultural construct.  It will die when you die…”

  • Without meaning

“Without meaning we are surely less than human and deeply discontented…”

  • The home for our greatest hopes

“Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes.  Without such implanted hope, it is very hard not to be cynical, bitter, and tired by the second half of life.”

  • The good, the true, and the beautiful

“The good, the true, and the beautiful are always their own best argument for themselves – by themselves – and in themselves.  Such beauty, or inner coherence, is a deep inner knowing that both evokes the soul and pulls the soul into its oneness.  Incarnation is beauty, and beauty always needs to be incarnate.  Anything downright ‘good,’ anything that shakes you with its ‘trueness,’ and anything that sucks you into its beauty does not just educate you; it transforms you.”

  • The same longing

“Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing…”

  • Our True Self remains untouched

“Our True Self remains untouched for most of us…”

  • Various forms of immediate gratification

“The False Self has no substance, no permanence, no vitality, only various forms of immediate gratification…”

  • Do not fear, attack, or hate the False Self

“Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self.  That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway…  In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted.  God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them.”

  • No hatred or violence in God

“There is no hatred or violence in God…”

  • The True Self is a shared and sharable self

“The True Self is a shared and sharable self, or it is not the True Self…”

  • Pain transformed is no longer pain transmitted

“Remember that resurrection is not woundedness denied, forgotten, or even totally healed.  It is always woundedness transformed.  You still carry your scars forever, as both message and trophy.  They still ‘hurt’ in a way, which keeps you mindful and humble, but they no longer allow you to hurt other people.  Pain transformed is no longer pain transmitted.” 

  • People who risk intimacy

“…people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more real people…”

  • Your True Self is who are, and always have been

“Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God, and at its core, it is love itself.  Love is both who you are and who you are becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower…”

  • The very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives

“…the very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives are what lead us into larger life and love…”

  • This strong diamond of love

“For the True Self, there is nothing to hate, reject, deny, or judge as unworthy or unnecessary…  The detours of the False Self were all just delaying tactics, bumps in the road, pressure points that created something new in the long run, as pressure does to carbon deep beneath the earth.  God uses everything to construct this hard and immortal diamond, our core of love.  And diamonds, they say, are the hardest substance on this earth.  It is this strong diamond of love that will always be stronger than death.”

Do you feel like you have experienced living in your True Self lately?

28 Simple Ways to Become Compassionate


We are trying to do something new at the Tacoma Catholic Worker where we live in relationship with so many who are marginalized and have no voice in our culture.  This saddens me because the poor have so much to offer us.  Many of them no longer believe that others care about what they have to say or who they are.  Even though we do many services for those on the margins, we are reluctant to really listen to them and the things they care about.

So we are trying to be better listeners to the poor, oppressed and marginalized in our neighborhood.  This week at our Tuesday night liturgy meal, I facilitated a conversation with a bunch of people about their thoughts on a specific question.  The question I came up with was: How can we become more compassionate people?  The question thrown out there was especially for those who might feel marginalized and voiceless.

Many people who come to our liturgy are extremely poor, with no homes, very little money and a lot of mental illness.  Some are depressed, most are hungry for food, thirsty for something to drink and hurting for relationship.  Some of the people have given up on God or been rejected by the church because of the way they look and act.  Some are drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, immigrants, have recently come out of prison, unemployed, disabled, struggle with their physical health or are working beneath a livable wage job where they get treated unfairly.

But on this day I found out that those who feel like they have no voice have some prophetic things to say to us.  I am coming to see that there is no salvation outside the poor.  It is the poor who save us from the illusion of the affluent life of meaninglessness that it seem many of us pursue on a path of upward mobility.  Why are we so afraid to listen to the cries of the poor?

This night I broke out of my fear to open myself up to really listen to those who Jesus said what you do for one of the least of these you are doing to me.  We need to listen more to Jesus through the poor.  This could change everything about how we experience life, care for others and live in community.

Here are 28 ways that were expressed in our conversation about how we can become more compassionate toward those who feel marginalized.

1. Focus on what we have in common with one another

2. Show love and respect

3. Share some food together

4. Don’t be so judgmental

5. Take a posture of understanding

6. Listen and hear others

7. Have more availability for others to take showers in our homes

8. Engage in action that comes from the heart

9. Become open to the wisdom they bring to us

10. Be compassionate toward yourself first

11. Live for the benefit of others

12. Find ways to be together

13. Share our assets

14. Daily acts of kindness and reflection

15. Cultivate patience

16. Have a true motive of genuine care

17. Come out of your own box

18. Respond to suffering

19. Get to know each other

20. Share our thoughts and stories

21. Share our lives together

22. Engage in the process and conversion of compassion

23. Walk with others

24. Take it slow

25. Stop to pause before we immediately respond to someone

26. Realize that we all want the same thing, not to be dehumanized

27. Help someone out while feeling with emotion

28. Refuse to be bitter and hateful

What has touched you through this story?