Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: March, 2016

The Wilderness of Compassion – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

Learning-to-Love1. The symptoms of both life and death

“If the dying man should attend consciously to the symptoms of death in himself, the living man should attend to the symptoms both of life and death in himself…” September 16, 1968 The Oher Side of the Mountain

2. The total loneliness of Christ

“The total loneliness of Christ. I don’t claim that my loneliness is His. Still less that I understand anything about His…” June 21, 1966 Learning to Love

3. With great love

“Enough about seasons, which mean more than I ever admitted before, to me, but I have followed them all my life with great love, and their rhythm should be the basis of all decent cultures…” October 7, 1941 Run to the Mountain

4. My greatest failures

“But I must be careful to distinguish where I am ‘not poor.’ My greatest failures are perhaps in poverty.” September 6, 1962 Turning Toward the World

5. A man I never even heard of

“In any case every day is the same for me because I have become very different from what I used to be. The man who began this journal is dead, just as the man who finished The Seven Story Mountain when this journal began was also dead, and what is more the man who was the central figure in The Seven Story Mountain was dead over and over. And now that all these men are dead, it is sufficient for me to say on paper and I think I will have ended up by forgetting them… Consequently, The Seven Story Mountain is the work of a man I never even heard of…” June 13, 1951 Entering the Silence

6. No greater pain

“At times I feel fear that all the life is going to be inexorably squeezed out of me by this pious system… I am really beginning to understand the psalms, about the temptation to despair that beset the poor and the oppressed. To see what is evidently wrong or less good, triumph without difficulty while ideals of truth are crushed. There is no greater pain…” December 5, 1959 A Search for Solitude

download (13)7. Greed for money and power

“The great sin, the source of all other sins, is idolatry. And never has it been greater, more prevalent than now. It is almost completely unrecognized – precisely because it is so overwhelmingly total. It takes in everything. There is nothing else left. Fetishism of power, machines, possessions, medicine, sports, clothes, etc. all kept going by greed for money and power: the bomb is only one accidental aspect of the cult. Indeed, the bomb is not the worst. We should be thankful for it as a sign, a revelation of what all the rest of our civilization points to: the self-immolation of man to his greed and his own despair…” April 17, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

8. The wilderness of compassion

“What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like the lily. It shall become a pool, it shall bud forth and blossom and rejoice with joy. It is the desert of compassion that the thirsty land turns into springs of water, that the poor possess all things…” November 19, 951 Entering the Silence

Have you entered into the wilderness of compassion?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Give Up All Things – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

51SwzeYappL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_1. Liberate myself from the common delusions

“The best thing I can give to others is to liberate myself from the common delusions and be, for myself and for them, free. Then grace can work in and through me for everyone.” January 29, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

2. Give up all things

“I desire beyond everything that I may be really poor, give up all things, sell all I have and give to the poor and follow Christ…” November 4, 1941 Run to the Mountain

3. An unusual and eccentric pattern

“One thing that disturbs me unreasonably is that my life has what might appear to be an unusual and eccentric pattern…” June 27, 1949 Entering the Silence

4. We hide from ourselves

“It is that our indebtedness to God is so immense that no effort we make to acquit ourselves of it can be anything but foolish. And it is this indebtedness that shocked me. It is infinite. It is this we do not want to see. It is this, also, that we hide from ourselves by our very piety. For our worship is often a way of deluding ourselves that we are paying our debts.” February 9, 1959 A Search for Solitude

5. Plenty of solitude

“And there is no question, once again, that I am only fully ‘normal’ and human when I have plenty of solitude. Not that I ‘think’ but that I ‘live’ according to a different and more real tempo, live with the tempo of the sun and of the day, in harmony with what is around me. It would be infidelity to deny or evade the obvious truth that such a life is fully and completely right, and I cannot doubt it is the life I was meant for. Most of my troubles have come from tendencies to half believe those who may doubt it…”  September 22, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

51KguyFvx7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)6. Incapable of “hearing” anything

“The whole question of ‘hearing God’ has become extremely ambiguous. So ambiguous that the very way it is talked of makes some people incapable of ‘hearing’ anything. Their defense reflex is basically healthy and perhaps more radically religious in some cases than the ‘faith’ of those who ‘hear.’” November 11, 1966 Learning to Love

7. So few who are able to stand on their own feet

“This is a very significant observation. It ought to be obvious, but it is not, because there are so few Christians who are really able to stand on their own feet, and not propped up by reactionaries of the right on one side or those of the left on the other… But who is there who can stand in the middle and go his own way as a Christian? Probably there are some, but not as many as claim to be.” November 20 1962 Turning Toward the World

Have you given up all things?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Moments of Great Loneliness – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A preparation in gentleness

“There is one thing I must do here (and may I one day live here and do it all day long) and that is to prepare for my death. But that means a preparation in gentleness. A gentleness, a silence, a humility I have never had before…” January 14, 1953 A Search for Solitude

2. Not simply accepting an established routine

“It is clear that some kind of painful change needs to be made. A break through, a new start, and honest struggle. Above all a clear grasp of what I am trying to do. Not simply accepting an established routine and going along passively with it.” August 19, 1960 Turning Toward the World

3. Moments of great loneliness

“There are moments of great loneliness and lostness in this solitude, but often then come other deeper moments of hope and understanding, and I realize that these would not be possible, in their purity, their simple secret directions, anywhere but in solitude. I hope to be worthy of them!” February 17, 1966 Learning to Love

Learning-to-Love4. Only more love

“If I live for love, I will ask no reward, only more love…” April 3, 1942 Entering the Silence

5. True community

“How can the idea of ‘Church’ make any sense without this trust in man as capable of grace, capable of cooperation? Here’s the real beginning of the idea of community… True community: hope in man…” October 28, 1963 Dancing in the Water of Life

6. Strong social tradition

“The Pharisees had built up a strong social tradition saying it was ‘Divine’ and as a result, they not only refused to believe in Christ when He ignored that tradition, but definitely expected a Messiah who would come to fulfill all their expectations in a social sense: deliver them from their enemies, and make their nation prosperous and secure for ever.” October 18, 1941 Run to the Mountain

7. Love and humility

“No rules make a man perfect: only love and humility.” October 18, 1941 Run to the Mountain

8. Attached to appearances

“If you are attached to appearances, you cannot meditate.” November 7, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

9. How little we think of beauty

“How little we think of the beauty of the Divine Light – and how drab life is in consequence. We do not let the beauty of earth remind us where we are to go. As a consequence, not even the earth is beautiful to us, or as beautiful as it might be.” October 14, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

51CCO4H7KmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_10. The real limitations of one’s own existence

“The bitter and lucid joys of solitude. The real desert is this: to face the real limitations of one’s own existence and knowledge and not try to manipulate them or disguise them. Not to embellish them with possibilities. To simply set aside all possibilities other than those that are actually present and real, here and now. And then to choose or not, as one wishes, knowing that no choice is a solution to anything but merely a step further into a slightly changed context of other, very few, very limited, very meaningless concrete possibilities. To realize that one’s whole life, everybody’s life, is really like that. In a society the possibilities seem infinitely extended…” June 18, 1966 Learning to Love

Do you have moments of great loneliness in life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Accept What Vulnerability I Have – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

Learning-to-Love1. Real seriousness about meditative discipline

“I see the importance of real seriousness about meditative discipline – not just quiet and privacy (which I don’t always have anyway), and deepening. Have really reached the point in my life where one thing only is important: call it ‘liberation’ or whatever you like…” June 7, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

2. Fully and eternally alive

“This is our contemplation: the realization and ‘experience’ of the lifegiving Spirit in Whom the Father is present to us through the Son, our way, truth, and life. The realization that we are on our way, that because we are on our way we are in that Truth which is the end and by which we are already fully and eternally alive. Contemplation is the loving sense of this life and this presence and this eternity.” December 22, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

3. Grounded in solitude

“I am just beginning to really get grounded in solitude.” March 23, 1966 Learning to Love

4. Presentation of alternatives and deeper views

“There are times when it seems that fidelity to God is not compatible with mere obedience to an external norm, where fidelity to God requires something else: certainly not revolt or disobedience, but a presentation of alternatives and deeper views.” January 17 1963 Turning Toward the World

download (13)5. Allowed myself to be enslaved

“…by seeking happiness I have allowed myself to be enslaved…” June 1, 1959 A Search for Solitude

6. We have to very careful

“We have to be very careful about asking God questions and then answering them ourselves and saying: ‘God answered.’” November 4, 1941 Run to the Mountain

7. Discovering Christ in new and unexpected places

“…the contemplative life – is a continual discovery of Christ in new and unexpected places…” March 3, 1950 Entering the Silence

8. Give all we have to the poor

“If we renounce our wills (deny ourselves) and desire nothing but to do God’s will (take up our crosses), we will love our neighbors as God loves us… We will give all we have to the poor,… renounce all care what we will eat, where we will sleep, how we will be clothed., but feed, shelter and clothe others… We will be pure in heart and merciful, and there will be no pride or selfishness left n us. And when this is done truly, in true charity, we ourselves will disappear in our good actions, and no one will see us, or praise us, because they see only God’s love in us… Naturally, if we do something so that we are praised, and not God, for it, the action has that much of imperfection, and we will lament and sorrow it was not perfect!” September 30, 1941 Run to the Mountain

9. Accept what vulnerability I have

“Yet I think I can dare to accept what vulnerability I have (largely my own fault perhaps) as that of an exile, an alien, and feel it also as that which is normal for all the poor. Should it not be normal for me? Then why do I resent it? Because that is part of the wound!” January 6, 1963 Dancing in the Water of Life

Do you have real seriousness around a meditative discipline in life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Does God Care If We “Go to Church” or Not?

images (42)As Easter is here this week, I get sick of hearing about “going to church.” I am more interested in being the church together with others in everyday life. Community has been hijacked by the concept of “going to church.” In my opinion, church makes us dead, zombie-like bystanders who worship the status quo.

  • Do something that will help us to discover our true self

I have no interest in becoming a person who can’t evolve, think for themselves, and live into the mysterious paradoxes of life. For the sake of authenticity, please don’t go to church. Maybe Jesus is calling us to stop “going to church” and instead do something that will help us to discover our true self, our authentic self. The idea of “going to church” has become something we use to keep us from focusing on our responsibility to engage the world with justice, community, love, solidarity, compassion, risk, forgiveness, vulnerability, and honesty.

  • Be the church together

What can you do to be the church and stop going to church? Community, sharing life together in a particular place in everyday life, is one of the most overlooked things in the twenty-first century. It is so simply yet almost impossible in our hyper-mobile culture. Our intentionality is gone so we are left with the idea of “going to church.”

  • Very little local culture today

There is very little local culture today. Almost everything is taken over by corporations who franchise everything for our consumption. Let’s stop consuming religion and start loving our neighbors together as we love ourselves. Do we even love ourselves anymore? Maybe that is why we have a hard time loving our neighbors.

  • Missing the point of life

I don’t think that God cares if we “go to church” or not. What God cares about is if we live into our true selves and embody a lifestyle of love and compassion in the world. Nothing else matters. Without love, you can “go to church” all you want and completely miss the point of life.

  • Totally neglect the interior life

So many people “go to church” and totally neglect their interior life, their true self, their authenticity, a way of love in the world. But instead become arrogant, judgmental, and mean in the name of their God who is supposed to be love. It is all weird to me. Without love, everything will be weird (there is no shock there).

  • Church in North America is a joke

Embodiment1To me, the systems of what we have created as the church in North America is a joke. I can’t take it seriously. There is almost no contemplative dimension to help us to listen deeper and discover our true selves as well as community together because proximity is something very few people like to talk about or practice. But how can we love our neighbors as ourselves when we do not live in proximity in everyday life?

  • Take care of yourself

So this Easter, do yourself a favor and don’t “go to church.” Do something more worthwhile for your soul, to take care of yourself. Maybe that is what God is leading you to. What a heretical thought!

But maybe we need more heretics who aren’t afraid to give up the status quo and “stop going to church” to discover something more authentic.

How can you take care of yourself?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

I Do Not Know the Meaning of Love – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

51SwzeYappL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_1. God in us

“Above all, importance of knowing and following the voice of one’s own heart, one’s own secret: God in us.” October 31, 1966 Learning to Love

2. A totalitarian society

“…this is a totalitarian society in which freedom is pure illusion.” May 28, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

3. I want to give God everything

“’I want to give God everything.’ Until now I really have not, I think. Or perhaps in a way I have tried to. Certainly not too hard!” October 31, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

download (13)4. If we try hard enough

“In society, in the middle of other people, one can always imagine he will break through into other liberties and other frames of reference. Other worlds. But today everyone realizes that this is illusory to a great extent. The solitude of the other is like my own: there is no real way of deciphering it. Except to get down to the same radical desert perspective: what are our possibilities here and now, what do they mean, where do they lead? Nowhere except into another small, slight pattern of other very limited possibilities. But we have trained ourselves to think that we live at every moment amid unlimited hopes. There is nothing we cannot have if we try hard enough, or look in the right place for it.” June 18, 1966 Learning to Love

5. Apparent conflict with certain standards

“There must be no doubt, no compromise in my efforts to avoid falsifying this work of truth by considering too much what others approve of and regard as ‘holy.’ In a word, it may happen (or it may not) that what God demands of me may make me look less perfect to others, and that it may rob me of their support, their affection, their respect. To become a saint therefore may mean the anguish of looking like and in a real sense ‘being’ a sinner, an outcast. It may mean apparent conflict with certain standards which may be wrongly understood by me or by others or by all of us.” January 25, 1962 Turning Toward the World

6. I do not know the meaning of love

“Love is the only answer… What does love mean today? What is its place in the enormous dimensions of the modern world? We have to love in a new way and with a new attitude and I suppose perhaps the first thing to do is to admit I do not know the meaning of love in any context – ancient or new.” December 27, 1957 A Search for Solitude

7. Christ suffers most

“…the saints will come from the poorest of the laity, from the depths of the slums, from the concentration camps and the prisons, from the places where people are starving, bombed, machinegunned and beaten to death. Because in all these places Christ suffers most.” May 26, 1940 Run to the Mountain

8. When I am with people I am lonely

“…it is when I am with people that I am lonely and when I am alone I am no longer lonely…” June 27, 1949 Entering the Silence

Do you get lonely around people?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Nothing Counts Except Love – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals


download (13)1. Nothing counts except love

“One thing has suddenly hit me – that nothing counts except love and that a solitude that is not simply the wide-openness of love and freedom is nothing. Love and solitude are the one ground of true maturity and freedom. Solitude that is just solitude and nothing else (i.e. excludes everything else but solitude) is worthless. True solitude embraces everything, for it is the fullness of love that rejects nothing and no one, is open to All in All.” April 14, 1966 Learning to Love

2. The resurrection is secret

“No one saw the Resurrection. Everyone saw the Crucifixion. Everyone does see the crucifixion. The cross is everywhere. But the resurrection is secret. The saints, who have understood it, in all its reality, cannot explain. The crucifixion can be explained to everybody.” December 14, 1940 Run to the Mountain

3. Practice contemplation simply in order to follow Christ

“My intention is, in fact, simply to ‘die’ to the past somehow. To take my fiftieth birthday as a turning point, and to live more abandoned to God’s will, less concerned with projects and initiatives… More detached from work and events, more solitary. To be one of those who entirely practice contemplation simply in order to follow Christ. And who am I anyway?” January 25, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

51491Th7C7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Entangled in our own mind

“What is important is not liberation from the body but liberation from the mind. We are not entangled in our own body but entangled in our own mind.” November 3, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

5. A day of grace

“This was a day of grace.” May 5, 1947 Entering the Silence

6. I am only another member of the human race

“Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are – as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth.” March 19, 1958 A Search for Solitude

7. I must stop complaining

“I must stop complaining. Until I do, I won’t see all I need to see, but only what I have to see, under some compulsion or another.” August 9, 1962 Turning Toward the World

8. Effort, deepening, change and transformation

“There is a need of effort, deepening, change and transformation.” May 30, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

9. More visibly human51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“Christianity should make us ‘more visibly human’ – passionately concerned with all the good, that is, that wants to grow in the world and that cannot grow without our concern.” August 26, 1960

10. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time

“It is not complicated to lead the spiritual life. But it is difficult. We are blind, and subject to a thousand illusions. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time. We must be content to fail repeatedly and to begin again…” October 7, 1949 Entering the Silence

Has your spirituality made you more visibly human?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

To Love And Be Loved – 6 quotes from Dorothy Day’s Writings – Dorothy Day: Selected Writings edited by Robert Ellsberg  

51DMVYF1ZQL1. To love and be loved

“Whenever I grown within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may, at any moment, become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself: What else is the world interested in? What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family, but to look upon all our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanely that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering of course, but joy too…”

2. Let us work together for solidarity

“We are all members, one of another, in the Mystical Body of Christ, so let us work together for… solidarity.”

3. Love is not killing

“Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing, it is the laying down of one’s life for one’s friends.”

4. Love and compassion

“The bridge – it seems to me – is love and the compassion (the suffering together) which goes with all love. Which means the folly of the Cross, since Christ loved men even to that folly of failure.”

5. An unjudging and forgiving community

“I still think that the only solution is the land, and community, a community in which is unjudging and which forgives ‘seventy times seven,’ as Jesus Christ said. We who think in terms of community at least have the assurance, the conviction that we are on the right path, going in the right direction, taking the right means to achieve the goal of increased love of God through an increased and proven love of our brothers. So many in these days have taken violent steps to gain the things of this world – war to achieve peace; coercion to achieve freedom; striving to gain what slips through the fingers. We might as well give up our great desires, at least our hopes of doing great things toward achieving them, right at the beginning. In a way it is like the paradox of the Gospel, of giving up one’s life in order to save it.”

6. The one action of the present momentContribution

“Young people say, ‘What can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we can only lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform these actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.”

Do we embody love in our lives together?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

A Longing of My Soul

114701740204911777tsNbL8fcWhy is everything so empty and boring? Am I falling apart with my ideas of success and life and happiness? I feel alive and broken at the same time. Where is my true passion?

How come people and systems and institutions bother me so much? I cannot escape my cynicism. It is too much. Maybe I don’t care anymore. Maybe this is all there is or ever will be.

The ideas I been taught have disillusioned me. I am lonely, sad, and miserable. Where is the honesty I need within me and around me? Is my true self gone never to return?

Who am I? Why am I so arrogant with ungrateful attitudes and deep cynicism? What will this day bring? Will it bring misery or dishonesty or pain?

Maybe at the point when you lose everything you thought life was to you is the stage of growth where you start to understand something about yourself, about life, about honesty. Somedays how I love my dishonesty, how I hide my own truth of what is happening in me, of what is alive or not alive in me in the present moment. Sometimes I want to scream in rage. Am I crazy or just getting more honest with myself in the depths of who I am?

I want to run and dance and smile and live, but it seems confusing how to connect with what life is. I am confused and beaten down by life. These hardships are too much sometimes. Alone with nowhere to go but deeper into my own intensity of despair.

This melancholy is my friend, my companion, my hope. I long for what will never be and it is tearing me apart. No one understands me! I live rejected and hidden by my own shame.

Unmet needs live within me and I don’t know what to do? I am tired of all of this and need some silence. The emptiness inside is too much for me to handle. My pain leaves me on the ground.

01Is there any way to find meaning anymore? All the clichés of God have played out. Leave me to my misery and pain and cynicism. Maybe that is what I want. I feel sad at the state of life I am in.

The tears are never ending. The questions are everywhere. I will not accept the status quo anymore. My life is ruined in what I cannot see.

There is nothing for me here in this life I live. I find more pain and emptiness with each passing day. I am afraid of tomorrow. Is there even a God to help?

May I know love and compassion if it is real in the here and now. I am longing and dreaming for some gratitude that will blossom like a flower in me. Is that even possible? I truly hope so.

Is hope an illusion I have believed in for far too long? Maybe there is no hope in life. I don’t know what hope is? Can someone teach me along the way?

What is the longing of your soul today?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Seeking the Deepest Unity: 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Letters 

51DC5NQGMAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Seeking the deepest unity

“I believe that this gift is hidden in all of us, and that we should be aware of it, allowing it to awaken in our hearts. To me the Buddhist discipline of meditation and asceticism are very interesting because of the very sure psychological realism they display. I believe that the wisdom of these techniques is not sufficiently appreciated. It is a pity that Christian scholars tend to approach Buddhism with many illusions, believing it to be in some sense a ‘rival religion.’ To think this is, in many ways, a complete misunderstanding. The very essence of Buddhism is that it is ‘non-competitive’ because it does not set up barriers and divisions, but rather destroys them, seeking the deepest unity, beyond all oppositions…” February 1962 The Road to Joy

2. A constant struggle

“…our life is a constant struggle with unreality, and the thing that complicates it is that the unreality in us is what seems to itself quite sincerely to be struggling for the truth….” January 2, 1964 The School of Charity

4004384-M3. Your faith must grow always

“In the beginning, perhaps, this faith will not be too difficult. Later on, under trial, it may become hard at times. A faith that is not tested is not worth much. Your faith must grow always, without ceasing. This is why trial is necessary.” May 29, 1962 Witness to Freedom

4. The poor man who can be himself

“But the general lack of understanding, the incapacity to break away from obsession with technics and with results, the madness of space flights and shooting at the moon, shows that the human spirit is being overwhelmed by the riot of its own richness, which in the end is the worst kind of poverty. The poor man who can be himself is at least a man and a person and is richer than the rich man who is carried away by the force to which he has sold himself. This elementary truth no one bothers to recognize. It may ruin us…” August 1, 1963 The Courage for Truth

5. Accept gradually the idea of war512NQR36S9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“One of our great problems is to see clearly what we have to resist… The great danger is that under the pressure of anxiety and fear, the alternation of crisis and relaxation and new crisis, the people of the world will come to accept gradually the idea of war, the idea of submission to total power, and the abdication of reason, spirit and individual conscience…” January 1962 The Hidden Ground of Love

51CCCAHK6ML._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_6. A brother of other creators

“Man, image of God, should be a creator, but not only as an individual person, but as a brother of other creators. Let us continue creating and struggling for the truth and the kingdom of God. We have a tremendous and marvelous vocation, the vocation of being Americans, that is to say, of being and forming the true America that is the Christ of the Americas: the Christ that was born among the Indians already many centuries ago, who manifested himself in the Indian culture, before the coming of official Christianity: the Christ that has been crucified for centuries on this great cross of our double continent: the Christ that is agonizing on this same cross: when will the hour of the Resurrection of our Christ of the Americas come?, the Christ of the united, free America, (the America) emancipated from the ‘liturgy of the lie and of the pontificate of the infallible ignorance’ which is modern politics; many years will pass, and we will not see the true America that still has not been born. We can and should be prophets of its advent…” December 4, 1958 The Courage for Truth

Do you have a spirituality that is constantly growing and evolving in you?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist