Putting Off Dreams of Ambition and Success – Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

by Mark Votava


  • Our faithfulness together in the ordinary

“The ordinary is where life is lived in a real place with real people.  God works through ordinary life, ordinary people, and in ordinary neighborhoods.  There is no hype here, only reality.  Our shared life together in the place that we live in is only as good as our faithfulness together in the ordinary…” 

  • We need to stop trying to change or fix others

“We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love…”

  • Engage with grace

“We never know what will surface as we interact with one another in our neighborhood, but we must be willing to engage with grace the life we find there.  ‘Glories’ and ‘tragedies’ will manifest themselves all around us all the time.  So we must find a posture of grace in our relationships that does not get overly focused on the glorious ‘wish dreams’ to the exclusion of the unpredictable tragedies in life…”

  • Expressions of grace, compassion and love

“We will become broken.  No question about that.  This is part of life.  If we break apart, we will find bitterness and anger.  If we break open, we will become expressions of grace, compassion and love.  This is the kind of life that one who is broken open will manifest to others in the parish.  The pain and destruction we do to our lives when we choose to be broken apart is frightening.  We destroy our humanity in the process.”

  • The beauty of each other’s humanity

“What a shame that people forget the beauty of each other’s humanity…”

  • Humility and risk

“In order to risk all that we are to follow Christ, we have to live in humility and risk being in relationship with others.  There is no way of being in relationship with Christ without being in relationship with one another.  The humility that is required to live this way is intense and needs to be constantly cultivated in our everyday lives together…”

  • When we are weak and vulnerable

“When we demonstrate some humility and practice vulnerability with one another, that is when we are most fully walking in the Spirit of Christ.  When we are weak and vulnerable, that is when we experience God’s power within us.  A theology of place can only be lived into through vulnerability…”

  •  Honesty and truth

“We need to become people of honesty toward one another in the parish.  Honesty is a manifestation of truthfulness with one another.  Honesty is authentic.  Honesty is vulnerable.  Honesty embraces powerlessness.  Honesty is about learning to face one another.  Honesty is hard.  We can learn to have the humility to be honest with one another in our relationships.  But we must have the willingness to live into truth with one another.  Truth is honest.  Truth is about authenticity.  Truth is relational.”

  • Gratitude is healing

“This has been one of the most difficult things in my life for me to understand.  Gratitude is healing for my body.  Having lived relationally in my locality for many years now, I have discovered that practicing gratitude is essential if I am to sustain my relationship with others, with God, and with myself.  Gratitude brings about a mystical sanity that helps us to walk in humility with one another.”

  • A communal imagination of relational humility and collaboration

“It is so easy to forget the more holistic identity of becoming great through becoming the servant of all.  We are not called to be ‘critics.’  We are not called to be ‘cynics.’  We are not called to be ‘escapists.’  We are not called to be ‘controllers.’  We are not called to be ‘isolationists.’  What we are called to as the body of Christ together in everyday life is a communal imagination of relational humility and collaboration…” 

  • Consumed with dreams of ambition and success

“Our personalities are consumed mostly with dreams of ambition and success.  We so easily become addicted to what money gives us: the power of autonomy, the ability to create our own lives apart from the community we live in…” 

  • A culture that prizes independence

“We have been raised in a culture that prizes independence, and most of us are unconsciously trained as children to think of it as the good, Christian, American way.  But this individualistic way of life has been taken to the far extreme, and it is killing our imaginations.  We are biologically constituted for interdependence and shared life.  We do not make our own lives, but we allow others to influence and be influenced by us.  Extreme individualism is not healthy for a person, let alone an entire culture…”

  • We need to get reconnected with a place

“Each person’s journey back into place will be different.  But we need to get reconnected with a place, a local context to inhabit as the body of Christ in our day…”

What is your favorite quote?  Have you read The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together?  What stood out to you in the book?