Listening In Our Local Community – 4 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life
by Mark Votava
1. A liberation of the individualistic status quo
“We can come to a place of seeing with a sense of clarity, with a sense of wisdom through a lot of practice and experimentation. When we are disciplined within ourselves, we are constantly being shaped because discipline fosters listening. God is always shaping us. Our life is about constantly allowing God to shape us and define our meaning in the here-and-now. The mystical imagination is always working to shape us and cause us to listen to its revelations. Practicing discipline within the mystical imagination is one of our greatest hopes for the body of Christ in everyday life. We will become people of greater clarity when this kind of a lifestyle has been cultivated. We will experience our salvation together in everyday life through a liberation of the individualistic status quo.”
2. The true self embraces the life of God within
“Our contemplation brings awareness of our union with God as the true self lives fully in all of its potential. The true self embraces the life of God within. It does not live outside of this reality. The mystical imagination lives in union with God in the parish. ‘James Martin says in his book Becoming Who You Are, ‘Everyone’s true self is a unique creation of God’s, and the way to sanctity is to become the unique self that God wishes us to be.’”
3. Courage and practice
“Jesus is healing this wound in us as the body of Christ in the parish. Our soul cries out for liberation from the cage of the secular, from the illusion of the secular, from the religion of the secular. This stamp of the secular is so commonplace we will have to unlearn almost everything we know about ourselves, the body of Christ, and God. Unlearning the illusion of the secular and practicing all of life as sacred will reorient our entire lives to the radical nature of the gospel. Our souls will call us away from our woundedness and into an integration of life which experiences everything as sacred. We become the body of Christ that experiences our salvation together through the sacredness of everyday life in all things. Healing this wound of the sacred/secular divide takes courage and practice. A contemplative spirituality is important to cultivate the mystical imagination that gives us the courage to live without this division. We come to experience all of life as sacred through the mystical imagination. Anne D. LeClaire writes, ‘Paying attention. Being in the moment of life. Honoring its sacred nature. In fact, realizing the ineffable, sacred nature of everything. Having reverence. If this is not the center of spirituality, then what is?’”
4. Listening in our local community
“Mystery and beauty are oftentimes found through relationships in the place we inhabit together. It is always contextual and changing. Just when we think we have figured it out, we are surprised by a new expression of it. This happens all the time. We can’t understand such things unless we are listening for them. Listening will make us better at being the body of Christ in everyday life. We need to embrace listening in our local community in order to create a holistic counterculture. Without listening, we are just insensitive talking heads with very little understanding and practice of loving our neighbors. The mystical imagination connects us to the mystery and beauty in life we will need if we are to love our neighbors day in and day out.”
Do you feel like you listening in your local community?
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