Ordinary, Down-To-Earth Ways – 8 quotes from Carl McColman’s book – Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality

by Mark Votava

51cXLXJj9yL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_1. Paying attention to God

“Inside ourselves, we often ride the waves of distracting thoughts, passionate feelings, or chaotic impulses that can divert our attention from simply paying attention to God in watchful silence…”

2. Listening for God in the silence

“…the ability to listen to others is an essential skill for anyone living in a communal setting… In a larger sense, obedience ultimately means listening to Christ… Because a truly humble person is authentic, down-to-earth, and not self-obsessed, such a person often makes a good listener; part of true compassion and hospitality is the ability to listen well to others, and contemplation is, at its root, a prayer of listening for God in the silence.”

3. The gift of stability

“The gift of stability is meant to inspire and encourage us to get to know our habitat, whatever it may be, so that our knowledge, familiarity, and sense of connection with it grows, so our love for it may grow as well. That love is a sign of our external stability, which can support the internal stability of seeking to love God, not in some abstract, idealized way but in a real-world way that makes a difference in the here-and-now circumstances where we live.”

4. A lifetime to blossom

“…we want to continue to grow even if we are in our eighties or nineties. Our physical bodies may do most of their growing in the first twenty or thirty years of life, but spiritually speaking we can keep growing throughout a long lifespan. But such spiritual growth is the fruit of perseverance, the result of a lifelong commitment. The choices we make for today – to love God, to be faithful to God’s call, and to make choices in light of the Gospel – require a lifetime to blossom.”

5. The school of love

“To enroll in the school of love, to embrace the life lessons that come through community, means stepping outside our comfort zones, our self-drawn boxes of safety, and embracing the adventures that God has in store for us; where God is in control, love and mercy are the purpose and the healing of the entire world is the goal.”

6. Ordinary, down-to-earth ways

“So even if we have ambition to give ourselves as fully to God as possible, it starts in very ordinary, down-to-earth ways. This includes plain old hard work, a willingness to listen, and a commitment to the ordinary demands of a mature, virtuous life. We must learn to practice humility, compassion, self-discipline, forgiveness, and mercy, especially toward others but even toward ourselves.”

7. Create or celebrate a bond

“Part of what is lovely about a gift, any gift, is that it can create or celebrate a bond, a connection between the recipient and the giver…”

8. We want everything now

“We have forgotten how to be patient. We want results now. We want pleasure now. We want everything now…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Communities are shaped though rhythms and rhythms are formed through practices. The values and culture of a community emerge from these rhythms and practices. In The Mystical Imagination, Mark Votava, explores how practices such as listening, questioning, silence, and communal dreaming form a mystical imagination which in turn forms us individually as well as communally. I highly recommend The Mystical Imagination to anyone who is seeking to grow a beloved community that is deeply rooted in a place, yet mindful of a reality beyond what we can see or touch. I believe our capacity to cultivate a mystical imagination determines our ability to become transforming and healing agents in our communities and our world.” Wendy McCaig, author of From the Sanctuary to the Streets, Executive Director of Embrace Richmond