Practicing Relationship – 5 quotes from my books – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life and The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together
by Mark Votava
1. To love with understanding and without understanding
“Loving others by seeing the value and mystery in and through them is about having the imagination to see Christ in others. This is a radical thought! Does Christ really live in each and every one of us even if we have not ‘accepted Christ’ into our lives? I think he does in some mysterious way that we cannot always understand. I believe there are dimensions of Christ that live in all of us. How could they not? We are created in his image. Not some people but all people. Dorothy Day encourages us ‘To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them.’ This is what the body of Christ is called to in the parish.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together
2. Our Creator transcends all our boxes
“There is nowhere we can be but in the presence of God. We cannot be outside of this reality. We just need to cultivate an awareness of this reality. Our Creator transcends all our boxes. We may prefer to confine God’s presence to certain ‘religious’ occasions. But God lives, plays, works, and speaks within the particulars of our local context in everyday life all the time.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
3. Becoming fully and consciously who we already are
“We will not be able to live authentically in the parish without a connection to our true self. Living locally in community will not work if the true self is denied. Richard Rohr says in his book Falling Upward, ‘Life is a matter of becoming fully and consciously who we already are, but it is a self we largely do not know.’ We need to have a familiar connection to our true self if we are to become who we already are. The mystical imagination leads us to be who we are as fully alive and fully human.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
4. To live awakened lives
“When will we awaken to love one another? When will we awaken to humility? When will we awaken to compassion? Catherine Whitmire says, ‘The opportunity before us in every moment is to choose to live awakened lives.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
5. Grace stems from our love for others
“Grace stems from our love for others. ‘Be patient, bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2). We need to have patience and grace for one another as expressions of our love for one another. Without this our ideals will take over and ruin us. Our relationships will not be sustainable. And we will soon forget about one another and our local context. In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker J. Palmer writes, ‘In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge.’ We have to understand the balancing act of the reality and the potential of everyday life together in the parish. The reality is sometimes hard to face. The potential gives us great hope. So we need to live inside of this tension. This is one of the ways we learn to lay down our lives as the body of Christ and allow God to enlighten us. This is a mystery that only God can teach us through practicing relationship.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together
How are you practicing relationship in everyday 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