Seeing Our Neighbors – 6 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
by Mark Votava
1. An illusion of our own making
“But maybe we need to move from the freedom of escape to the liberation in being alive. We use our freedom as Americans to escape many things that do not suit our agendas. We think of free will as the freedom to live individualistic lives disconnected from a local community, to live individualistically, to pursue a private spirituality that is rootless. But our freedom to pursue all kinds of escapism is really no freedom at all. It is an illusion of our own making.”
2. Books become our friends
“We have indeed a lot to gain. We gain wisdom, understanding, imagination, intelligence, humility, strength, sight, and passion. We live in union with the mystical imagination. The world of books becomes our delight. Books become our friends that help us on the journey of life. The books we read become one of the mediums we use to experience God in our everyday lives together. The texts may have a mystery to them that is hard to understand, but they empower and create our imaginations in mysterious, ordinary ways.”
3. Deeper levels of experiencing life
“Becoming honest through the desert experiences is never easy. They may be one of the most difficult things that the body of Christ must face together. It takes deeper levels of experiencing life if we are to practice silence and solitude and embody the mystical imagination within us. The desert is essential to our ongoing sustainability, growth, and maturity. Desert experiences are the way God shapes us.”
4. Dreams on behalf of the common good of the world around us
“The mystical imagination is a powerful strength within us that dreams on behalf of the common good of the world around us. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch say, ‘We need to dream again, and to do this we must cultivate a love for imagination.’ We must love the imagination. We must cultivate the dreams of the mystical imagination within us. This is how Christ lives within us.”
5. Responds to life in our context
“The mystical imagination responds to life in our context. The reflective and restful life puts us into a posture of listening and cultivates a responsiveness to life. The body of Christ is called to respond to its locality in loving ways. Ken Gire says, ‘The reflective life is a life that is attentive, receptive, and responsive to what God is doing in us and around us.’ We become aware of what God is doing in us and around us through our reflection and rest.”
6. Seeing our neighbors
“Seeing our neighbors rather than exploiting them isn’t easy. We have to unlearn so much. To see our neighbors is to become human in the process. We must see them with the eyes of love. To see God through their faces is important to become human. This is crucial to being an expression of love in the place we inhabit. Seeing God in the beauty of our neighbors is a new paradigm we all need to explore. Through our practice of reflection and rest, we can learn to see our neighbors differently. We must become human and see our neighbors as the mystical imagination sees them. As we become human, may we never close our eyes to our neighbors.”
Are you learning to see your neighbors with the eyes of love?
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