Ordinary Mystics – 5 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
by Mark Votava
1. Ordinary mystics
“Ordinary mystics are not weird, strange people who have no contact with reality. On the contrary, they are people who live with awareness, mindfulness, love, and humility toward others, God, and the place they inhabit. We are called to be a collective of ordinary mystics as the body of Christ in everyday life who seek God by cultivating the native passion of our soul. Our native passion within our bodies is a longing for God, for the beautiful, for reconciled relationships. We are called to be a church of ordinary mystics who embody the gospel in mystery and wonder within the parish. Without the mystical nature of Christianity none of this is possible. We will be doing Christianity without following Christ. And the results will be sad and tragic for the culture around us.”
2. The true self longs for authenticity
“Our practice of contemplation will show us our true self, who we really are in the beauty of our humanity. The true self integrates our body, soul, and spirit together within a relational context in the place we inhabit. The true self is what the gospel is calling us to embody. It can see beyond the status quo lifestyle. It longs for authenticity. Contemplation calls the true self to come alive in us. The mystical imagination is an expression of our true self.”
3. Our addiction to noise
“Words have their limits. Language has its imperfections. Words and language can be used outside the context of relational care in a neighborhood. Silence and solitude free us from the potential abuse of words and language. They take away our addiction to noise. Silence and solitude destroy any controlling technique we might use. Silence and solitude cultivate our powerlessness in the parish which in turn reveals to us our interdependence.”
4. Silence and solitude
“Living in constant noise is easy, comfortable, and culturally acceptable. We fear silence and solitude because they force us to honestly face ourselves, our relational context, and our communion with God. Gunilla Norris says, ‘In our present culture silence is something like an endangered species.’ Our silence and solitude do not want to become an endangered species. The body of Christ cannot live without them in the parish. They are essential to our survival, sustainability, and sanity. Yet we’re afraid because we don’t understand that the way we change the world is by changing ourselves within through the mystical imagination. The mystical imagination doesn’t fear silence and solitude. It embraces silence and solitude.”
5. Discipline is liberation
“Discipline is liberation! What a different paradigm to live by. Sometimes we might not like discipline because it takes away time from other things we like more. The mystical imagination links discipleship, discipline, and liberation. We could have the freedom and liberation to follow Christ in the parish together. Our everyday lives could become an ongoing discovery of liberation through the mystical imagination.”
Do you believe discipline is liberation? Do you embrace silence and solitude? Are you addicted to noise? Have you discovered your true self? Do you think we are all ordinary mystics?
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