Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: May, 2015

An Organic Unfolding – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

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1. Something nice, proper, and culturally accommodated

“My personal belief is that mainline, organized Christianity has too often missed out on the freedom and joy of the Gospel and often settled for something nice, proper, and culturally accommodated.  It was organized into a formal religion that did indeed become a living spirituality for many people.  But the common variety of church life in most denominations could be called ‘fast-food’ religion instead of deeply nutritious meals that feed and change people at deep, unconscious levels…  Christianity has largely reflected current cultural values, and even bourgeois values, during most of its history…”

2. An entirely different philosophy

“Yes, we formally believed that Jesus was both human and divine at the same time ‘somehow,’ but with our largely dualistic thinking, we ended up being only human – and Jesus for all practical purposes ended up being only divine.  We missed the major point – which was to put the two together in him – and then dare to discover the same in ourselves!  We made our inclusive Savior, that we could imitate and participate with, into a Redeemer that we were told to worship as a quite exclusionary God.  Jesus, who was always and overwhelmingly inclusive in his lifetime, seemed to create a religion that had an entirely different philosophy.”

3. Circle of connection

“The entire universe is about connection and relationship – from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between.  Sin and evil emerge when we try to stand outside of that circle of connection.”

4. Confirms in the soul a kind of emotional sobriety

“…we must move to the laboratory where all such radical change can occur – inside of our very mind, heart, and the cells of our body.  I call it the laboratory of contemplative practice, which rewires our inner life and actually confirms in the soul a kind of ‘emotional sobriety’ plus an inner sense of divine union so we can do the needed works of justice with both peace and enduring passion.”

5. Integration of the negative

“I suppose there is no more counterintuitive spiritual idea than the possibility that God might actually use what we fear, avoid, deny, and deem unworthy.  This is what I mean by the ‘integration of the negative.’  Yet I believe this the core of Jesus’ revolutionary Good News, Paul’s deep experience, and the central insight that Francis and Clare lived out with such simple elegance…  Such surrendering of superiority, or even a need for such superiority, is central to any authentic enlightenment.  Without it, we are blind to ourselves… and blind guides for others.”

6. Still trapped in dualisms

“Gender seems to be a very deep archetype in the soul, and thus any gender identity confusion is indeed quite confusing as long as the mind is still trapped in dualisms, or as long as we still try to read reality in a non-contemplative or egoic way.”

7. An alternative consciousness

“There are very few teachers of the true contemplative mind even to this day.  Most still think of ‘contemplative’ as being introverted and taking some quiet time, but seldom as knowing how to develop an alternative consciousness that is ready for God.  The older tradition of contemplation is only being rediscovered in our time, after Thomas Merton and others pulled back the veil and revealed that we had lost it – for centuries now.”

8. An organic unfolding

”Salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect, but much more it is an organic unfolding, a becoming who you already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for, the very One who created you.  Each is both a part that is like the Whole and also contributes to the Whole…”

Which quote do you like the best?

http://www.amazon.com/Eager-Love-Alternative-Francis-Assisi/dp/1616367016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433080844&sr=8-1&keywords=eager+to+love

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433080932&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Condemning the True Self and Becoming a Pharisee

Black-and-white-mask

I am learning to take responsibility for my own feelings in life.  Most of the time negative emotions are shunned and looked at like they are bad, but I don’t buy it anymore.  The church wants people to be happy, put a smile on your face and pretend everything is okay when maybe it isn’t.  Maybe I feel unhappy about the lack of authenticity, honesty, vulnerability and truthfulness I sense around me sometimes.

We seem to use God for our own agendas.  I feel sad.  My sadness is revealing to me how I have a need of connecting with others authentically which is not always being met.  So my lamentation is teaching me to reimagine a way to connect with others that is healthy, life-giving and inspiring.

  • Taking responsibility for myself

I have not been taught how to take responsibility for myself.  I have not been taught to feel my feelings, especially if they are of the negative sort.  Sometimes I feel so much anger, depression, insecurity, irritability and sadness that I don’t know what to do.

“We may have been taught to be responsible for other people,” says Melody Beattie, “but not responsible for ourselves…”

  • Sad, difficult and frustrating

Being responsible for myself is hard.  I want to control others so much sometimes that I don’t know how to be responsible for myself.  I get lost many times as I do this kind of stuff in everyday life.  It is sad and difficult and frustrating.

  • I struggle to believe in a God who is love

I want to accept myself so I can be happier in life.  Loving myself is so important for me as I didn’t received a lot of love when I was younger.  I struggle to believe in a God who is love.  But I know there is some reality to love in the world.  This is one thing I can hold onto in the midst of my confusion and struggle.

  • Accepting ourselves

Amy Hollingsworth writes, “…if we accept ourselves we are better equipped to accept our neighbor.  So accepting ourselves is always the starting point to something greater – a deeper maturity,… and ultimately, a greater acceptance and understanding of our neighbor…  How we see ourselves affects how we see others.”

  • Allowing my life to be broken open to compassion, love and grace

In the midst of it all I am allowing my life to break me open to compassion, love and grace.  I do not want to respond to my life with hatred, apathy, fear, cynicism, hopelessness and isolation toward the world I find myself in.  This is bull shit and pulls me away from my true self – which is authentic, honest, compassionate, embodies humility and love instead of arrogance.

  • Each of us has a choice

Erin S. Lane states, “Each of us has a choice in how we will respond to our heartbreak.  We can either let it take us out of the action in favor of a simpler life where we belong without question or question without belonging, or we can let it lead us into more of a vibrant life in which the contradictions of our faith open us to the death of illusions, the suffering of community and the resurrection of our real selves…” 

  • The death of illusions

These death of illusions in me are difficult and most of the time I don’t think I can take it anymore.  But they are necessary in me.  My true self cannot come to life without this death of what is made up of illusions.  The resurrection of my true self, the real self that I am is powerful and mysterious.

  • The true self made up of what is authentic

This is God’s gift to humanity, the true self made up of what is authentic within us.  The true self is the greatest hope for the twenty-first century world we live in.  The church tries to keep it down, condemn it as a heretic, bury it, conceal it, deny it, but God is leading us into the unknown authenticity of the true self.

  • The true self is the foundation of community

Any form of community can only be cultivated by those connected with the true self within us.  The true self is the foundation of community and all authentic expressions of love.  Without it we become Pharisees – the religious ones who Jesus constantly confronted because of their lack of love in the name of God.

Have we experienced our true self in life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433015858&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Always Remaining Open

IMG_0578_crSometimes my life is closed off to openness.  I want to be locked into who I think God is to me as I have experienced God in the past.  Thinking I understand God has not served me well.  God cannot be captured in what I can say to describe what I think God is.

But I am learning that silence and solitude leads me to deeper mysteries that I cannot always explain in myself.  I am becoming the change I want to see in the world.  I am taking responsibility for my feelings.  I am starting to sense life in me.

This week I have had to just slow down and reflect on my own happiness.  I had to spend some time in silence and solitude while saying to myself within, “I am okay, I am content, just rest in that reality, breathe slowly and feel your feelings.”

When I get in touch with myself in this way it always makes my life a little better.  I am more at peace.  Compassion and love come more naturally.  I start to understand the life of Jesus more.

Solidarity with others seems to make sense.  Forgiveness is always easier.  I seem to be lighter in my mood.  I become more empathetic and sleep better at night.

  •  Christ practiced silence and solitude

Christ practiced silence and solitude because he needed to embody a relational reality to those in his local context.

  •  A mountainside

Scripture says, “…he went up on a mountainside by himself…” (Matthew 14:23). 

  •  An integration with the real

Christ often practiced silence and solitude to embrace reality within the human context he lived in.  Christ lived within the real in his humanity.  On mountainsides, in gardens, in the desert, on long walks, in lonely places, and in homes; Christ practiced silence and solitude to find an integration with the real.  Reality was constantly being revealed through his embodiment of truthfulness in the way he treated others.

  •  Embodying the kingdom of God

Christ was embodying the kingdom of God in his locality through his love for his neighbors.  This was how he lived.  This is how he died.  This is how he grew up.

  •  Expressing love and compassion

His humanity would not be separated from embodying the essence of the kingdom of God in his local context.  All he had was his local context to experience reality.  All he had were the people around him to express his love and compassion.

  •  Following Christ in our local context

Christ’s silence and solitude opened him up to this reality.  He was one with the real in his humanity and we are called to follow him in our local context.  We are called to be his hands and feet in everyday life in the parish.  The mystical imagination is constantly revealing reality to us in the place we inhabit together.

  •  God is always more than our present concept of God

Mary Jo Meadow writes, “God is always more than our present concept of God.  We must always remain open to receive God’s further self.”

How can we practice silence and solitude?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432902984&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Becoming Fully Alive and Deeply Human

15Is our humanity really evil, bad, sinful?  I think there is some reality to sin in the world and in ourselves, but is there anything wonderful, beautiful, compassionate and loving too?  I am tired of seeing myself and the world as bad or “sinful.”  There is so much potential and beauty missing when I do this.

This seems to be the major paradigm that is taught by the church.  We are “sinners” and there is no capacity for beauty, goodness, community, authenticity, truthfulness, relational connection or exploring a deep contemplative life where we embody our true selves in the place we live.  Being fully alive and deeply human is a different experience than just being locked into the box of “I am just a sinner.”

Why all this hyper-focus on sin?  I think it is a play on manipulation by the church.  If the church can scare people into fear by talking a lot about punishment, guilt, shame this is to their advantage because it stimulates control.  People become locked into an unhealthy system we call “church” because they do not want to be punished in some way.

But what about love and community?  Has the church forgotten about the teachings of Jesus on love, humility, compassion, honesty, vulnerability, peace, gentleness, goodness, beauty and kindness?  Maybe the church doesn’t relate to Jesus anymore and has just become a system of subtle control and violence using religious language to scare people into submission.

Who wants to be a part of this?  I certainly don’t.  If you want to be a part of this than maybe you don’t want to be deeply human.  God is calling us to a new way of life where the church is embodied in community through love, humility, and compassion.

Maybe we need courage to shut the whole system of “church” down to start over and find something more authentic in the twenty-first century.  There is a way to live deeply human and fully alive, but it will not come through the systems of what we know as “church” in North America.  We need to move away from being Pharisees so that we can embrace a life of love and compassion.

  •  Becoming fully human through our love

Our spirituality cannot be holistic without becoming fully human through our love.  Our spirituality needs to be lived through reflection and rest.  Our spirituality needs to be embodied in our humanity.

  •  A lived, holistic spirituality

David G. Benner writes, “For only a lived, holistic spirituality can be transformational, integrative, and capable of helping us become fully alive and deeply human.”   

  •  Without our humanity

Without our humanity, we cannot be the body of Christ together in everyday life.  Without our humanity, there is no possibility of life.  Without our humanity, there is no humility or compassion.

  •  No relational connection in our local community

Without our humanity, there is no relational connection in our local community.  Without our humanity, there is no faithful presence.

  •  Shells of individualistic illusions

Without our humanity, we have pretty much nothing.  We are shells of individualistic illusions.  We bring colonialism and destruction to the land.

  •  Practicing reflection and rest

We need our humanity more than we realize.  We need to practice reflection and rest to become human as we cultivate the mystical imagination in the parish.

  •  Experiencing an everyday conversion

In reflection and rest, we experience the mystery of the gospel within ourselves.  We experience an everyday conversion where we are constantly being shaped as we change the world through allowing this change to happen in us.

  •  Constantly convert ourselves to a relational way of life

The gospel is for us more than it is for others as we live it out without words to define it.  We need to experience the good news in us, in our local community, to become human.  We need to constantly convert ourselves to a relational way of life in the place we inhabit together.

  •  Every aspect of existence and human experience

My friend Tony Kriz says, “…the gospel has something to say about every aspect of existence and particularly every part of the human experience…”

What keeps us from living fully alive and deeply human?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432736209&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Being Still and Doing Nothing

images (42)My world is so busy sometimes that I cannot listen to my context.  Everything is loud and noisy.  Unless I am intentional about practicing silence, rest and stillness – I become lost in the game of accomplishment.  This makes me blind to the beauty of life.

Sometimes just stopping to care for myself is the hardest thing to do.  I am told that this is of no value.  I need to be constantly doing for the sake of looking busy and making money so I can be somebody in the world.  But how much money do I actually need in the world?

I find myself constantly thinking about the word simplicity.  I like this word because it seems to be freeing me to focus on my being, on who I am in my true self, on my interior growth, on being human.  This is what I long for in life.

  •  Be still

“Be still and know that I am God…”  (Psalm 46:10). 

  •  An active world of accomplishment

It is so hard to be still within ourselves and do nothing.  This is so difficult that most of us give up after awhile in an active world of accomplishment.  Most of us do not value stillness within ourselves.

  •  Our being shapes us

We think being is not enough.  But it is.  Our being shapes us as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  Our reflection and rest

Our reflection and rest moves us to stillness within.  Our reflection and rest moves us to being.  We are doing something profound when we do nothing and rest in our stillness within ourselves.

  •  Becoming a holistic counterculture in our local community

Our stillness could shape the body of Christ to become a holistic counterculture in our local community.  Our reflection and rest needs this stillness within ourselves.  The mystical imagination needs this stillness within ourselves to help us to reimagine life.

  •  God is in the stillness, silence and rest

God is in the stillness.  God is in the silence.  God is in the rest.  God lives within our being.

  •  To do nothing

To be is to allow God to live within us freely and subversively.  To be is to allow God’s wisdom to come alive in our embodiment of love.  To do nothing is to do everything within us that cultivates life.

  •  Holding the mystical imagination within ourselves freely and openly

To do nothing is to hold the mystical imagination within ourselves freely and openly.  We allow ourselves to be shaped by God through our relational context in the parish.

  •  To be still and do nothing

Beatrice Bruteau states, “We can’t bear simply to be still and do nothing…”

  •  Doing nothing leaves us with being

We do not know what to do when we do nothing.  Doing nothing leaves us with being.

  •  Colonialism, domination and activity

Being is uncomfortable in a noisy world of colonialism, domination and activity.  Being is discovered through refection and rest.  Being is the core of the mystical imagination.  Being is subversive.

  •  Being listens deeply to our lives together

Being is where we taste life within us as the body of Christ in the place we live.  Being listens deeply to our lives together.  Being reimagines.  Being embraces countercultural ways of life.

Do you practice being still and doing nothing sometimes?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432658215&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The Rhythm of Silence and Solitude

10323779-zombie-horror-Stock-Vector-grunge-zombie-graffitiI love silence and solitude.  This practice is so good for me.  My world is so noisy sometimes that it makes me crazy.

Silence and solitude is so mysterious because it brings me into an awareness of my interior life.  The interior life is real, but unseen.  It defines who I am and reveals my true self to me constantly.

Sometimes I do not know who I am.  What I have, what I do and what people say about me often times create an identity in me that is of the false self.  This is not who I am.  There is something more to me than this.

My practice of seeking God through silence and solitude helps me to grow in the wisdom and truth about who I am.  I come to see my body as a reservoir of wisdom, compassion and love.  The duality of the sacred and secular is broken apart and I start to learn that all of life is sacred.  This sacredness of life paradigm shapes everything I do.

I become more alive than ever before.  I become a lot more free to be myself.  I embrace the serenity of life to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

  •  Jesus went to a mountainside

“Jesus went out to a mountainside… and spent the night…”  (Luke 6:12). 

  •  Silence and solitude was normal for Christ

Christ spent the night on a mountainside.  A night probably consists of at least six to eight hours.  This kind of silence and solitude was normal for Christ.  He saw it as essential for his context.

  •  Part of Christ’s rhythm in life

This was a part of his rhythm in life.  He found the depth of his humanity more as he practiced this kind of silence and solitude.  Have we ever given God our complete attention in silence and solitude like this?

  •  The wonder that the authentic life contains

Marcia Ford says, “Silence inspires awe when it diverts my attention away from the chatter in my head and toward the wonder that the rest of life – the authentic life – contains.”

  •  Developing a practice of seeking God

This is the call of the mystical imagination in the place we live.  We need to develop a practice of seeking God in silence and solitude.

  •  Taking time to be silent

Mother Teresa writes, “We all must take the time to be silent…” 

  •  Saving us from dysfunction in everyday day life

We will never experience the depth of our humanity if we do not give this kind of attention to our communion with God.  We might think this is asking too much, but I would say that this is the radical nature of following Christ in our local community.  Our practice of silence and solitude will save us from dysfunction in everyday life.  Christ is calling us into the depth of our humanity through silence and solitude.

What is your experience with silence and solitude?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432489577&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Thoughts from Kathy Escobar in her books Down We Go and Faith Shift. One of My Favorite Writers on Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century!

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“You may feel hesitant when Rebuilding because you fear being led back to conformity or blind affiliation.  You buck under anything that might feel like an attempt to control you.  For many, talking about a revived faith can feel like pressure to ‘come back to the Christian system’ instead of a way to find a renewed spirituality…”  Faith Shift

“Sadly, a lot of work Christ-followers have done throughout history to care for the poor and marginalized around the world often hasn’t translated into the overall perception of Christians.  We can blame all kinds of people and circumstances for our bad press, but I don’t think we can escape that Christians have gained a bad reputation.  We tend to be known for our politics instead of our love, mercy and compassion.  Why?  Because many have become entangled in contemporary culture that tends to focus on the self, independence, survival of the fittest, and ‘let’s not get our hands too dirty’ attitude.”  Down We Go

“I strongly believe that our faith is revealed when we put our butts on the line in real, active, scary, tangible relationship with God and other people in small ways…”  Down We Go

“An important part of this step of discovering what remains is to remember that it’s okay to still believe a lot of the things that others have released.  And, at the same time, it’s also okay to let go of the things others still believe passionately.  If we start creating rules like ‘After Unraveling, we should be left with A, B, and C… or else,’ we are doing the same thing we are adamantly against.  Each person’s journey is unique…  While some people may have five or more things they still firmly believe, others may have only one.”  Faith Shift

“As part of the Shifting process, we need a time of rest and disconnection from serving and giving.  Yet, at some point, we have to face our fears and come out of hibernation.  We have to try again even though it’s scary.  This time, though, we can pace ourselves and listen more intently to our souls and bodies along the way.”  Faith Shift

“The alluring alternatives to interdependence, which include independence and codependence, are far easier to embrace.  But they don’t produce life.  We need healthy relationship to survive.”  Down We Go

“We will mess things up.  We will make mistakes.  We will feel afraid.  But in the end, the best we can offer is modeling our own authentic faith.”  Faith Shift

“The path for spiritual refugees like us rarely leads us back where we were.  Usually it takes us around the next corner, and the next, further and further into the unknown, into diversity, mystery, and freedom.”  Faith Shift

“Humility creates the space for God and our friends to speak into our lives.  It requires admitting our weaknesses instead of pretending we have it all together, embracing the doubts of soft and open hearts, and letting go of being know-it-alls.  It requires remembering we are no better than the person next to us, acknowledging our human tendency to control and aspire for power, and respecting and honoring our spiritual poverty and need for God.  These characteristics are necessary for downward living but will also be counter-intuitive for many of us who don’t like feeling needy.”  Down We Go

Have you read any of Kathy Escobar’s stuff?

http://www.amazon.com/Down-We-Go-Living-Jesus/dp/0615467903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413723&sr=8-1&keywords=down+we+go

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413841&sr=8-1&keywords=faith+shift

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413894&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

To Live Among People

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I remember one time running and walking in the neighborhood to discover the freedom of the sky, the freedom of the sun, the freedom of the wind and the freedom of the sidewalks.  I sensed God using this creation to speak to me about the livability of this place I was standing on.  God was reminding me of the many days the sun has shown on this land.

For countless years, this place has had the sun.  The wind has blown here.  The sky has watched over it with faithfulness.

So many people decade after decade have walked these sidewalks.  People of different races, socio-economic status, genders, lifestyles and opinions have lived here.  The rich and the poor alike have lived here.

God was reminding me to listen to the stories of the many beautiful Japanese people in the neighborhood who were forced into prison camps in the 1940’s.  God was reminding me of the pictures I had seen on the walls in a local coffee shop of what Downtown Tacoma looked like in the year 1910.  I think to myself, “What a beautiful place this is.”

It was very integrated before the mall was built in the 1970’s.  Now Downtown Tacoma struggles with its local economy.  It has been exploited and abused at times, but it still contains a lot of mystery and beauty.

As I was running another mile through the streets of Downtown Tacoma on a Saturday morning, God was teaching my soul to listen to everything around me.  God was teaching me to listen to everything within me.

I am reminded of the beauty and mystery in my struggles to embody love in this place with others.  Our listening becomes better and more seasoned with each day we practice silence and solitude in some form.  Whether it is alone in a room, running or walking in the neighborhood, doing an artistic expression or just thinking and learning of some kind; our listening is showing us a lot of beauty and mystery that is hard to see otherwise.

Henri J.M. Nouwen says, “It seems more important than ever to stress that solitude is one of the human capacities that can exist, be maintained and developed in the center of a big city, in the middle of a large crowd and in the context of a very active and productive life.  A man or woman who has developed this solitude of heart is no longer pulled apart by the most divergent stimuli of the surrounding world but is able to perceive and understand this world from a quiet inner center.”

Silence and solitude can exist anywhere.  This posture can be practiced within our relational context as the body of Christ in the parish.  Everyday life is filled with moments where listening is required and demanded of us to see the mystery and beauty all around us.  We need to live into this through the mystical imagination.

No context should separate us from silence and solitude.  It is a way of life in all things.  All our relational encounters are to be practiced in silence and solitude with a deep listening intentionality.

Jesus is our example of this way of life.  We should not be slow to have some receptivity to listening to mystery and receiving beauty in the place we inhabit together.

I love this expression by Karen Wilk of her longing for God to move her to embody a compassionate listening where she lives, “Give me your eyes to see this community and its people as you do.  Give me your ears to listen to their hearts as you hear them.  Give me an open and attentive spirit to recognize where you are already at work.  Fill me with courage that I might ask the right questions, accept the true answers, and follow your leading.  Equip and empower me to engage in this place, to live among people just as you did…”

How can we live among people and care?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432336187&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

4 Books I love on Community

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1. Down We Go: Living into the Wild Ways of Jesus by Kathy Escobar 

“If we can’t accept the paradoxes in ourselves, it is impossible to accept them in others.  This means we won’t be able to live in free and generous ‘with’ relationships because we will constantly be consciously or unconsciously working to squeeze the paradox out, instead of learning to live in its tension.”

Mercy and compassion are essential components of love…  The essence of downward living is embodied in a life of extending love, mercy and compassion to others.”

“Like pain, we need to accept doubt as part of our experience instead of resisting it.  This can be extremely difficult for those experiencing a deconstruction-reconstruction process when it comes to faith…” 

“A Life of descent invites us to give away power as much as possible… Genuine power diffusion means giving it away to people who aren’t typically influential.  The least.  The last.  The marginalized.  The oppressed.  The not quite as pretty, talented, educated, or socially accepted individuals.”

“Making room for equality sometimes means we have to let go of our tendency toward perfectionism…”

“…a central part of our role in relationship with each other is to become dignity-restorers.  We do this by helping people draw out and express their natural creativity.  To create, is to directly connect with the image of God within…  The creativity that is in each person is a natural reflection of God’s creative image inside of us…”

“Community gives us a different set of eyes…”

http://www.amazon.com/Down-We-Go-Living-Jesus/dp/0615467903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432139809&sr=8-1&keywords=down+we+go

 

2. Community and Growth by Jean Vanier 

“To live in community is to discover and love the secret of what is unique in ourselves.  This is how we become free.  Then we no longer live according to the desires of others, or by an image of ourselves; we become free, free to love others as they are and not as we would like them to be.”

“Some people flee from commitment because they are frightened that if they put down roots in one soil they will curtail their freedom and never be able to look elsewhere…  But freedom doesn’t grow in the abstract; it grows in a particular soil with particular people.  Inner growth is only possible when we commit ourselves with and to others.  We all have to pass through a certain death and time of grief when we make choices and become rooted.  We mourn what we have left behind.”

“No community grows without times of trial and difficulty; times of poverty, persecution, tensions, and internal and external struggles; times which destroy its balance and reveal its weakness; times of difficulty which are inevitable when a new step has to be taken.”

“A community must be a sign of the resurrection.  But a divided community, in which everyone goes their own way, preoccupied with their own sanctification and personal plans, and without tenderness for the other, is a counter-witness. All the resentment, bitterness, sadness, rivalries, divisions, refusals to hold out a hand to the ‘enemy’ and whispered criticisms, all the division and infidelity to the gift of the community, are profoundly wounding to its true growth in love.” 

http://www.amazon.com/Community-Growth-Jean-Vanier/dp/0809131358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432140075&sr=8-1&keywords=community+and+growth

 

3. Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us by Christine D. Pohl 

“Gratefulness to God and gratitude for life can strengthen persons for the long journey toward wholeness and justice.”

“A willingness to ‘stay with the process’ or to stay in connection with a community during difficult or uncertain times allows progress to be made in spite of the messiness.  Although giving things ‘time’ does not guarantee that we will move forward or find healing, slowing processes down often provides opportunities for giving attention to relational issues.” 

“Creating a community that lives truthfully necessarily involves individuals committed to the practice…”

“Hospitality was a central practice in the first fifteen hundred years of the church.  During the Late Middle Ages, however, its special features were undermined for a variety of reasons, and hospitality came to be identified with the lavish entertaining of the rich and powerful.  Its practice often served to reinforce power and influence.  The connection with poor people, with equality, and with crossing social and cultural boundaries was nearly lost.”

“Part of the challenge of recovering hospitality involves helping people to notice it and to tell stories about their experiences as guests, hosts, and strangers. Becoming more attentive to hospitality and story-telling allows us to recount the blessings of welcoming strangers and to learn from some of the challenges.”

http://www.amazon.com/Living-into-Community-Cultivating-Practices/dp/0802849857/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432141571&sr=8-1&keywords=living+into+community

 

4. Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community by Christopher L. Heuertz

“Grace in community brings us closer together, not in a way that creates unhealthy fusion but in one that validates the human struggle we all face.”

“I use my false center to label everyone around me.  The more differentiated someone is from me, especially based on her or his nationality, religion, or sexuality, the more I use descriptive terms to highlight our differences.”

“Understanding the humanity of Christ has helped me embrace my own humanity.  Seeing Jesus validate needs, behaviors, and passions that don’t seem divine is an invitation for me to grasp the implications of his incarnation. I’ve come to understand that spiritual doesn’t only mean divine but in some ways becomes the hinge between what is human and divine – and sometimes it’s expressed in very material things, including my humanity.”

“We’re learning that gratitude isn’t a throwaway at all.  It does indeed make and break community.”

“…the gifts of contemplative spirituality carry us into the most ordinary and restless parts of our lives.”

“Most of real life consists of living in the ordinary, in-between times, the space and pauses filled with monotony.  Most of real life is undramatic…”

“Although we should know better, many of us are surprised when we encounter boredom in our communities, relationships, and vocations.  We are surprised when we find ourselves living restless, discontented lives.  We want more.  We want meaning.  We want to be part of things that are significant and vocations that make a difference.”

“So now, as we strive toward faithfulness, may we throw ourselves on the mercy of community, allowing our lives to be woven together to create vibrant tapestries of hope.”

http://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Gifts-Discovering-Way-Community/dp/1451652267/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432141331&sr=8-1&keywords=christopher+heuertz

 

What stands out to you through these books and quotes?  Which book would you like to read the most?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432141743&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Embracing a Contemplative Attitude in All of Life

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I love contemplative spirituality!  It is sad to me that the church does not teach this way of life to others.  It is one of the foundational embodied practices that is neglected because it takes vulnerability, simplicity, openness, unknowing, curiosity, wonder and living in the present moment.  Without contemplative spirituality there is no future for the church in the twenty-first century.

It will become a destructive system that promotes judgment, division, exclusion, competition, colonialism, consumerism, individualism, wealth and mobility.  But there is a way to bring reformation to the church again if we reimagine a contemplative spirituality that is embodied in community.  Community and contemplative spirituality are the pieces that are missing in the church today and if you do not have these you do not have much of anything.

  •  A lot of patience, awareness and mindfulness

Contemplation is never instant.  It takes a lot of patience, awareness and mindfulness to understand how God works within us.  God always seems to work in us through our imaginations in ordinary ways.

Sometimes it is in a conversation with friends, sometimes on a walk in the neighborhood, sometimes when we are cooking a meal, sometimes in solitude, sometimes at work, sometimes in silence, sometimes in listening, sometimes in learning, sometimes in exercising, sometimes in watching a movie, sometimes in reflecting, sometimes in buying something locally, sometimes in gardening and sometimes in the making of art.

  •  Taking a contemplative attitude in all of life

There are numerous ways God communicates to us in the ordinary moments of our days within our imaginations.  God can communicate in many so called “secular” ways that we would not expect.  So we need to take a contemplative attitude in all of life to grow in wisdom as the body of Christ in our local community.

  •  Nothing flashy about contemplation

Michael Casey states, “There is certainly nothing flashy about contemplation: there is nothing in it that can be translated into marketable commodities and subsequently traded for some temporal advantage.  Contemplation is entirely gratuitous, pure grace.  On God’s part total gift, on ours total receptivity…”

  •  Too ordinary to be spiritual

Contemplation is so ordinary.  A lot of people think it is too ordinary to be spiritual.  Most of the time, our contemplation does not accompany deep feelings of closeness to God.   But it is a spiritual practice that is vital to our survival as the body of Christ in parish.

  •  Becoming listening contemplatives in everyday life

This practice is God’s gift to us and we need to have the receptivity to become listening contemplatives in everyday life.  Our practice of contemplation is to be pursued through grace.

  •  Cultivated, sustained, embodied and exists through grace

It is cultivated in grace.  It is sustained in grace.  It is embodied through grace. Contemplation exists through grace.

  •  Expectations are premeditated resentments

It exists through gift.  It is worked out through the place we inhabit.  There needs to be an openness and receptivity to this grace in our lives together without expectations or control.

We need to see the danger in holding any expectations toward God.  Expectations are always premeditated resentments, as one of my friends always says.  A lot of our expectations will never come about.

  •  Contemplative spirituality cannot live well through resentment and anger

When this happens we will become resentful and angry.  Our contemplative spirituality cannot live well through resentment and anger.  When we live in these, we tend to hurt a lot of people in our relational context.

  •  A readiness to discover new experiences and acquire brand-new tastes

Jesuit Anthony De Mello says, “Do not approach… contemplation with any preconceived notions at all.  Approach it with a readiness to discover new experiences (that initially may not even seem like ‘experience’ at all) and to acquire brand-new tastes.”

  •  Getting caught up less in our expectations

We need to do away with expectations and embrace an attitude of receptive discovery instead.  We also need to embrace new hungers, longings or tastes in our lives together rather than try to control everything.  This will put us in a much better posture toward God, others and our neighborhood.  When the posture of our lives becomes much more about “a readiness to discover new experiences” and “acquiring brand-new tastes,” we become more holistic in our practice getting caught up less in our expectations.

  •  All expectations and control are shattered

All expectations and control are shattered through this paradigm.  This paradigm will liberate our communion with God to a level without expectations and control, which we desperately need as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  Living life on our own terms

Ruth Burrows writes, “Instinctively we want to live life on our own terms, in our world, not God’s.  Even when we think we want God, it is as often as not with our own conditions, our own expectations…”

How have we developed expectations toward God that are premeditated?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432044798&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination