All That We Possess Is A Gift – 10 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

41+jgDX732L1. Small acts of love

“A relational call to love as the body of Christ in the parish seems small, but it’s not. Activist Shane Claiborne writes in his book, The Irresistible Revolution, that ‘we live in a world that has lost its appreciation for small things.’ The small things are hard to value in a culture that craves anything but the small. We think the small will make us seem nonexistent and invisible. We want so much to be noticed that we have taken our life into our own hands and forgotten the small acts of love in the neighborhood. When will we realize that love is the only thing that miracles are made of? The communal imagination loves the small things in the particulars of everyday life…” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

2. Pushed out of our comfort zones

“We need to learn how to risk our lives in the parish. Our everyday lives need to embrace the practice of living on the ground in humility towards one another. Nothing is scarier than the practice of humility, because in humility we lose all our techniques of control and escapism. We are pushed out of our comfort zones. Our relationships become fashioned by a new paradigm of valuing one another’s humanity. We can no longer walk past someone without regard for their wellbeing. This calls us to a new and disturbing degree of risk that will shake us to the core of who we are. This calls for new experiments around local ways of living relationally. Risk is about stepping into the unknown and being shaped by what we experience there. It is more mysterious than anything we have ever known and shatters all our propositions of preconceived ideas. The communal imagination lives by this kind of risk. It takes humility to live into authentic risk as a way of life. Is this not the call of Christ in the gospels?” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

3. Expectations are premeditated resentments

“We need to see the danger of holding God hostage to any of our expectations. Expectations are premeditated resentments, as one of my friends always says. A lot of our expectations will never come to fruition. When that happens we can become resentful and angry. When we live contrary to our contemplative spirituality we tend to hurt a lot of people in our relational context. 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.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

4. Becoming more honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another

“Our souls will eventually heal, but not without some struggle through our desert seasons. As we work out our salvation through silence and solitude, we will feel our pain through all of the things we would prefer would stay hidden. We will become more honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another. We will be open to our brokenness in the place we inhabit. The mystical imagination is always connected to the condition of our souls. We may think that measuring up is all about morality, ethics, and doing all the preconceived right things; but maybe it is more about our authenticity.”  The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

5. All that we possess is a gift

“Our reflection and rest help us to remember. We remember one another. We remember our place. We remember the divine mysteries within us and all around us. We remember who we are as the body of Christ in everyday life together. We remember all that we have is not of our own making and is gift. We remember all the wisdom that God has imparted to us. We remember the Scriptures and all that they speak to our lives together. We remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. We remember where we have come from. We remember how we have changed and been shaped over the years. Anthony Bloom says, ‘We must remember that all we possess is a gift.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

6. Our eye is always on the next thing51DJfJVBpBL (1)

“The pursuit of ambition and success always pulls us to somewhere we ought not to be. We live in a kind of disembodied state within our local context. We can never be truly present to others because we have our mind on getting somewhere else. We become totally utilitarian in the way we approach everyone and everything. We really don’t care that much about our place. As long as things are going good, we really don’t think of others that much. This is such an unhealthy way to live our lives. We need to find a better way. As long as we live in a paradigm of upward mobility, there will be very little hope for the body of Christ to share life together. The body of Christ will be fragmented because our eye is always on the next thing.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

7. The natural process of spiritual growth

“Silence and solitude will guide us to be more vulnerable, leading us at times to desert experiences, to dark nights of the soul. In this darkness all our preconceived paradigms will be questioned. We will think that God has abandoned us. But this is the natural process of spiritual growth.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

8. Doing nothing is both powerful and subversive

“We cultivate our spirituality when we do nothing through our reflection and rest. Doing nothing can help us to embrace the mystical imagination while detaching us from the cultural patterns of escapism. Doing nothing creates a revolution within us. It is dangerous and needs to be practiced with a lot of courage. Doing nothing is both powerful and subversive.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

9. Relational ways of knowing and being known

“Relational ways of knowing and being known are necessary to our humanity as the body of Christ in local everyday life context. There is so much noise and distraction that keep us from becoming known and relationally whole. How can we rediscover our humanity together in the place that we inhabit? What will bring us into a ‘genuine dialogue’ with one another to know and be known?” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

10. Rhythms help us to listen

“Rhythms help us to listen. The mystical imagination cultivates listening. Listening helps us to become more aware of others in our parish. Listening helps us to honor the place that we live. The earth, land, and place becomes sacred to us as we cultivate a rhythm of finding ways to listen. God is the Creator of the earth and we need rhythms with which to honor its creation…” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

Do you see that all that you have is a gift?

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