Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Category: Numbered Lists

9 Ways that Expectations Destroy Our Lives

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I am done with expectations.  Expectations are premeditated resentments.  So many times in my life I have been trapped into my expectations only to find myself frustrated, angry, disillusioned, hurt and resentful.  I want to be free from all of this.

1. Expectations keep us from living in the present moment

Expectations keep me from living in the present moment of each day.  Expectations pull me into the past and plunge me into anxiety about the future.  This keeps me from embracing the wonder, the sacredness and the freedom of Christ living within me in everyday life.  Is it possible to live in a way where I no longer have any expectations towards anything in life?

2. Expectations make us crazy with resentments

Expectations in community, in relationships, with my family, with God, in life, within myself and with the church are making me crazy with resentments.  I expect too much and often others are not what I want them to be.  Often the church offers me almost nothing and keeps me from authentically following Christ, the one who they are supposed to be loving and honoring.  So I am done with it all.

3. Expectations keep us from showing grace and love to others

My expectations will no longer keep me from living my life.  I want do something different from what I have known and has become so familiar to me.  Expectations keep me from rooting my life in a way of love and compassion.  Expectations keep me from showing grace to others.  Expectations keep me in a disillusioned state of craziness, meanness and arrogance.

I wonder if Jesus lived with expectations.  Probably not.  His main concern was love not expectations.  So I want Christ to free me from my expectations and show me how to love.

4. Expectations cause us to dwell in our hurt and pain

Can expectations and love exist at the same time.  I don’t think so.  Being free of the resentments of the past requires that I release my expectations within  me.  I am hurting because of my expectations.

5. Expectations trap us in our ideals

Expectations cause me to develop ideals that leave me attached to something that doesn’t exist while I evade what is in my life.  This is unhealthy, damaging and causes resentment.  I live in a perpetual state of unforgiveness lacking grace, love and compassion when I get stuck here.

6. Expectations refuse the mystery of paradox

There is a paradox in this because I still do things in the world with the hope that something good, beautiful and authentic will come of what I do, but I do it without an attachment to any expectations whatsoever.  To live without expectations is miraculous and seems impossible.  It is a beautiful way to live because it makes us more gentle, compassionate and connected with the wonder, sacredness and beauty of life in the present moment.

7. Expectations put an unnatural box around the present moment

We cannot put expectations on the present moment.  The present moment will not be bound, boxed up or held tightly in our hands.  This is not reality because the present moment is to be lived not held onto tightly.  It refuses all our attempts.

8. Expectations reject forgiveness

Flora Slosson Wuellner writes, “The best definition I have heard of forgiveness is ‘to release the other from our expectations’…”

9. Expectations define slavery not freedom

Whether the other is God, life, a friend, what I think the church should be or how I think Christians should act in the world; I need to live in forgiveness with no expectations.  This is hard to do –  to say I no longer have any expectations from Christians, the body of Christ, community or God.  I want to be free to live my own life in my own unique way without being frustrated by others around me.  This is a new beginning indeed!

Do you have a consciousness of your expectations?

Top 10 Things I am Grateful for this Past Year


Gratitude is something that I have to be intentional about or I will fall into cynicism, bitterness and despair constantly.  This has been a major struggle for me over the course of my life.  I can easily turn melancholy and withdraw from the world.  But I am learning to practice a better way of gratitude the best I can in the midst of life’s difficulties.

So as I have been thinking about this a lot, here are 10 simple things that I am grateful for as someone who is created in the image of God and called to live in my true self.

1. I am grateful that I can breathe.  Breathing is a gift of life.  I take this for granted sometimes and do not recognize what I have in this gift.  I would have no life without it.

2. I am grateful that I can walk and run.  My legs are a gift that carry me where I want to go.  I am grateful that I do not have to use a wheelchair or crutches to get around.  The ability to run and walk has been such a blessing in my life.

3. I am grateful for the local community I live in.  The neighborhood I have lived in for the past decade is such a gift to me.  This place where I get to seek God on the earth has shaped me tremendously.  I would not be the person I am today without it.

4. I am grateful for the ability to read books.  I see books as friends who teach me about life.  So I am grateful to be able to party with friends as I spend lots of time in silence, solitude, reflection and rest.  This brings me joy and peace among the stress of life.

5. I am grateful that I can move.  Life is about movement in whatever way we can.  I am grateful that I can move my body and experience life through all of my senses.  As I move my body, I am seeing how much wonder there is in this.

6. I am grateful for the many people who make me feel loved.  Authentic Relationships bring me life.  All of life is relational.  I am grateful for all the people I know who love me as I am.

7. I am grateful for laughter.  Laughter does not come easy to me.  But I am grateful on the days and moments that I can experience laughter.  This is something that is necessary so I do not become angry, cynical or frustrated in life.

8. I am grateful for sleep.  Sleep is so necessary and needed to function.  I am grateful that I can sleep through the night without being terrified.  Sleep helps me to get the rest I need so I can seek God the next day in new ways.

9. I am grateful for food and shelter.  I am not very happy when I am cold and hungry.  I am grateful for a bed to sleep in and a room that is warm.  Having food to eat is something that is a gift in life.

10. I am grateful for clothes.  Having clothes to wear is such a gift.  I get cold very easily so a warm coat, some long johns, a shirt, hat, scarf and gloves is essential in the winter months.  I think I would die a miserable death without the gift of clothes to stay warm.

What are you grateful for?

10 Ways to Reimagine Life in 2015


1. Listen to God through the world of our everyday experience. 

The way of bringing dignity to others in their humanity is about listening.  Listening is the opposite of arrogance.  Listening provides us with an openness, awareness and receptivity to life.

God is living, moving and working in our everyday context in life.  God is present in the world.  We need to become aware of this learning how to listen, becoming more gentle and graceful.

2. Watch less TV and movies and learn to enjoy reading. 

Awhile back, I noticed how much time I was spending watching TV and movies.  This provoked laziness, apathy and frustration in me.  I started to find a way to give some of this up so that I could find the time to read more.  Reading has been so helpful for me to reimagine life as I seek to be my true self in the midst of it all.

When we become lifelong learners and learn to read good books that shape the imagination, there is a freedom that is nurtured within us.  We become more peaceful, more restful and more graceful.

3. See the sacredness of all of life through silence and solitude.

Silence and solitude is very vulnerable.  We cannot control it, but only enter into it with humility and openness.  As we do this, we will start to see and experience life beyond the duality of the sacred/secular.  All of life will become sacred.

When we loss the sense of the sacredness of life, we slowly die a miserable death.  Life losses meaning.  We are blinded to God’s presence within us and around us in the world we live in.  We were not meant to live in this way without any connection to authenticity.

4. Stop defining the church as a building and learn to be the church with others in the place you live.

Redefining the church as a compassionate community rooted in a particular place is what we are called to.  Becoming a rooted community of grace, love and humility in the midst of everyday life together is so important today.  The church needs to practice proximity to one another so we can become an expression of love as a collective body in the world.

This will shape us more than anything else.  The place we live becomes the medium of transformation in everyday life.  God has given us the world to live in with bodies to practice love toward others.  Place is important because it allows the church to practice the ways of love, grace and humility in the world.

5. Practice hospitality and open your home, life and mind to the poor. 

We can reimagine our lives by learning to see Christ in the poor among us.  Hospitality opens our lives to the other.  Hospitality teaches us of love.  Hospitality makes us more like Jesus in the world of exclusion and violence.

When we open our homes to the poor, our lives become about love, solidarity and hope.  When we open our minds to the poor we become less judgmental and more compassionate.  When we open our lives to the poor, we feel more human inside as we are discovering our true self.

6. Learn from someone who you think is very different from you.

The tendency is to think that we are so different from everyone else, but this is not true.  Find the similarities with others, not the differences.  We have so much in common that we could value and learn from.  We all are a part of the human family together.

Learning from others is a great posture of peace and hope in the world.  We need to have the humility to see that others have a lot to offer us.  We are incomplete without each other.  God made us for community, learning, listening and love.

7. Put all of our focus into being an expression of love.

Nothing mattes in life except love.  Love makes the world works.  Without love all we have is hatred and war among us.  Jesus came to teach us a better way of love.

Becoming an expression of love is all that matters.  Love is authentic.  Love is compassionate.  Love is the fulfillment of God’s desire for the world.

8. Stop talking about the gospel and start to embody it through your life.

Embodiment requires so much more than anything words can communicate.  Our whole lives can become an embodiment of love, compassion and humility.  This is what God’s Spirit is leading us to every day.

Embodiment cannot be argued with.  It is the most powerful thing we can do.  It is authentic and cultivates our true self in the world.  And the greatest gift we can give to the world is our embodied true self fully alive.

9. Value community more than American individualism.

We were created for community, for connection, for compassion and love.  This is the purpose of our lives.  Without this nothing matters and all we have is the American narrative of individualism, bitterness, competition and hostility.

This is no way to live as God has provided for us a better way of peace, compassion and love.  Jesus taught us to live caring for one another.  Jesus taught us a good way of life that would bring connection through reconciliation with each other.

10. Value simplicity over consumerism.

Jesus practiced simplicity throughout his life.  He did not care about money.  We are called to follow him in this.

Simplicity brings us freedom.  Simplicity frees us to love.  Simplicity is redemptive and brings us a way of sharing life together with others more freely.

Which of these ways of reimagining life do you resonate with?

Developing Particular Practices and Disciplines

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“When the nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that God is dead, he was not making an ontological point.  He was making an existential point.  He was not announcing that God had died, but that our experience of God had died.  This was due, in part, to the way in which Western Christianity had focused its attention not on spiritual practice but on spiritual belief.  It had confused faith with a set of propositional truths about the Divine, rather than a personal experience of the Divine that could be undergirded and sustained by particular practices and disciplines.”  John Phillip Newell The Rebirth of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings

It seems we have lost a sense of an experience of the Divine through particular practices and disciplines.   The ultimate discipline of love, humility and compassion was what Jesus taught as a way of life.  In everyday life, this teaching has been lost to consumeristic approaches to life.  How can we build our lives on particular practices and disciplines that foster life-giving ways of living that reflect the compassion, humility and love of Jesus?

Here are 4 particular practices and disciplines that will help us in this:

1. The practice and discipline of rooting ourselves in a local community over time.  Without a sense of rootedness in a particular place, there will be no context for community to flourish in our everyday lives.  There will be no context for the body of Christ to become an expression of love in our culture.  There will be no context for humility or compassion to be expressed together in everyday life.

When we are rooted, we are known and become known be others.  This brings a sense of stability to our lives where practicing love, compassion and humility become qualities in us that form our identity in life.  We become human as things like empathy, listening, collaboration and honesty become more of a need as we are in relationship with others in our local community.

2. The practice and discipline of silence and solitude.  Silence and solitude are subversive practices in our time.  We need to have spaces to reimage what life can be without individualistic agendas that are directed by our egos.  What could this look like if we took on a deeper experience of listening in all of life?

This could give us a greater sense of perspective on the importance of love in the world.  Without love, our lives become meaningless and fragmented.  Silence and solitude keep us grounded in a practice and discipline of love.  This is how we can live into a deeper experience of the Spirit living within us.

3. The practice and discipline of forgiveness.  We desperately need deeper roots of grace, forgiveness and compassion living within us.  This is a great need in our time to become human by being kind, respectful to all people and showing the vulnerability of forgiveness.  Many of us struggle to forgive ourselves and others in everyday life.

We need to learn to love ourselves in holistic ways so that we can love and forgive others in life.  Forgiveness is something that lives within us.  God is leading us to become an expression of forgiveness in the most difficult of circumstances in life.  This takes courage, discipline and a new imagination for grace and love within us.

4. The practice and discipline of gratitude.  Gratitude will reorient our entire lives to be kinder, gentler and more patient.  Gratitude is healing and our bodies long for this in so many ways.  If we embrace a way of gratitude, this will change all our perception of life.  We will experience our humanity differently.

Gratitude is simple, but powerful.  It takes practice and courage to let this live within us.  Can we find a discipline of gratitude in the midst of our own pain, disorientation and discouragement?  I think we need to experiment more with risking gratitude over bitterness in life.

What practices and disciplines have you embraced?  What resonates with you?

15 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

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“Many of us were taught that loving ourselves or saying no to others’ requests was a sin of self-centeredness.  In reality, it is foundational to loving our neighbors properly.  Because so many of us have grown up in our faith feeling insecure, unworthy, and unlovable in God’s eyes, we love our neighbor from that broken place instead of a secure, free one.  It’s also why a lot of us are horrible at taking care of ourselves.  We’ve been led to believe that everything in our lives should be about God and others.  We’ve sadly missed the point that our ability to love God and others comes from how we love ourselves.”  Kathy Escobar Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

1. Read a good book.  Reading can be so nourishing to your soul.  Every time I read it seems my imagination comes alive.  This is so important to get some perspective while finding rest when we are weary, confused, frustrated and disillusioned in life.

2. Get some exercise.  We have neglected the wisdom of the body for too long.  Exercising helps us to connect to our body.  This can help us with stress, anxiety and feeling better about ourselves overall.  A good workout is so healthy for our bodies and brings sanity in everyday life.

3. Journal.  Writing helps us to work through our struggles.  We become more honest and vulnerable on the paper gaining insight to the state of our being.  Journaling is the process of finding clarity in the midst of different seasons of life.

4. Spend some time in silence and solitude.  Sometimes we just need to step back from life so that we can receive, listen and be still.  We are bombarded in life with so many individualistic narratives through the media or we experience so much suffering in life that we need spaces just to lament, find our true self and be honest about our limitations.  Silence and solitude can help us to heal finding some rest in the midst of life.

5. Take a walk in your neighborhood.  Walking always helps me to become more aware of the place I live in the world.  This helps me to engage my senses in my surrounding neighborhood.  I see the world around me with new eyes and begin to listen deeply as I engage my body with the simple task of walking.

6. Get 8 hours of sleep.  Sometimes our bodies are so tired.  Getting a goodnights sleep is so nourishing for us when we are overworked, stressed and discouraged.  Our bodies need rest and sleep sometimes more than we realize.

7. Spend time with a good friend.  Connecting with a good friend always brings encouragement.  God made us for community and we need people we can laugh, cry and connect authentically with.  We need those people who can draw out of us our gifts, qualities and passions.

8. Eat a good meal.  Eating can be nourishing to our bodies.  It is so nice to have a good meal where we feel nourishment, pleasure and satisfaction.  This is one of life’s great gifts to us.

9. Be kind and compassionate toward yourself.  We are mean to ourselves a lot of the time.  We need to learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves.  We need to learn the importance of loving ourselves.

10. Do what is enjoyable to you.  Give yourself permission to find joy, pleasure and happiness in whatever it is that connects to you.  Rejoice in your uniqueness.  Do things that help you to enjoy life without feeling bad about it.

11. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions and welcome what you experience.  Become honest about negative emotions.  Take a welcoming posture without pushing them away.  Listen to these emotions and let them reveal to you something that is hard to face about yourself.

12. Explore creativity and art.  Engage in creativity.  This is healing for our souls.  We are all artists in our own way.  Learn to explore this part of who you are.

13. Listen to your favorite musicians.  Listening to music that connects to you is fun, important and soothing.  There are so many styles of music, so many tones, so many rhythms, so many melodies, so much variety.  Music reminds us of the rhythm of our lives and the melody of our existence.

14. Go see a good movie.  Movies can be relaxing and fun.  Try going to a movie for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Sometimes the narrative in movies can bring a new insight to us through a creative story or can help us to connect with others socially which is also so good for us.

15. Allow yourself to dream again.  It is hard to dream when they have been crushed over and over.  But doing nothing but dreaming is such a subversive practice in our time.  Dreaming can be difficult and thought impractical by those who get along in the “real world,” but is so essential to the flourishing of life within us.

How have you taken care of yourself today?

Top 10 Ways to Practice Humility in Your Life


Humility seems to be one of the most difficult paths to embody as we live out our spirituality in the twenty-first century.  It seems Jesus lived with a deep sense of humility.  Humility is very mysterious and often neglected.  Without humility, we cannot show love or compassion to others in everyday life.

I want my life to be an embodiment of the humility of Jesus.  Is this even possible in a world of noise, consumerism and objectification?  I don’t know, but it is worth the risk to value this way of embodiment.  The religiosity of Western life seems to know very little of what Jesus taught about humility.

Here are 10 ways that I think we can learn to practice an embodiment of humility in our time:

1. Practice Honesty.  Honesty with ourselves, others and God is foundational for living life.  When we become honest and live truthfully, we cultivate a sense of humility within ourselves.  It is something that happens naturally as we equate truth with honesty.  We are always being led by God to become more honest in our lives.

2. Practice Vulnerability.  Vulnerability is such a neglected value in our time especially among men.  But vulnerability is essential in our communion with God and one another in everyday life.  Without vulnerability, we will go around judging everyone in our arrogance and miss the ways of humility.

3. Become a Local Practitioner in the Place You Live.  It takes humility to become rooted in a place over time.  Our humility will help us to make the ongoing decision to not follow the narrative of upward mobility so common in our society.  We will pursue community in the place we live and this will guide our lives instead.

4. Practice Gratitude.  Humility and gratitude are intertwined in so many ways.  Without humility, we cannot practice gratitude.  Gratitude is a redemptive practice that allows us to find some sense of peace in our lives.

5. Practice Silence and Solitude.  Silence and solitude bear the values of humility in our lives.  We learn to talk less, impose our ways less and take care of ourselves better.  Silence and solitude teaches us the ways of seeking God in humility.

6. Practice Listening.  Listening is at the core of humility.  Listening is the way of the spirit.  Listening helps us to live in community with others.

7. Practice Gentleness.  Humility is gentle.  Jesus practiced gentleness in the world.  Our gentleness is the way of humility.

8. Practice Neighborliness.  Humility teaches us neighborliness.  This is following in the path of what Jesus taught about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.  This could revolutionize our lives.

9. Practice Compassion.  Compassion is to bear with the suffering of another and be present to them.  Compassion leads us into humility in everyday life.  We learn to see the commonalities with another not our differences.

10. Practice Living in the Questions.  When we live in our questions, we live in humility.  Our humility is cultivated because all the easy answers are gone.  Our questions push us to live more authentically.

How can we live our way into humility as a core of our identity?

Top 10 Ways to Cultivate a Parish Imagination in the Place You Live


Over the last ten years I have been cultivating relational connection in the place I live in Downtown Tacoma, Washington.  This place has shaped me tremendously.  I dream of a parish imagination where neighbors have a passion for collaboration, living locally and investing their lives to care for the place they live.  Here are 10 ways I think we can cultivate a parish imagination in our context:

1. Become rooted and live in a particular neighborhood for decades.  Rootedness is so difficult in a world where many of us are affluent in the West and have many options to move to a better neighborhood where we have more economic opportunity, a better living environment or feel safer.  Upward mobility is one of the greatest sins of the church.  We can only love our neighbors if we stay rooted in a place long enough to know them.  This is essential to create a parish imagination in the particular place we live in the world.

Wendell Berry states in his book Imagination in Place, “By means of the imagined place, over the last fifty years, I have learned to see my native landscape and neighborhood as a place unique in the world, a work of God, possessed of an inherent sanctity that mocks any human valuation that can be put upon it…”

2. Build a sense of social capital with neighbors.  We need collaboration not competition.  Collaboration builds trust or social capital with others where we live.  Collaboration builds a more peaceful world for the common good.

3. Find and celebrate the assets that exists in your local community.  Let’s stop focusing on all the problems in our neighborhoods and start looking for the assets.  What are the beautiful things happening in this place where we can build some collaboration around and learn to work for the common good together.  Every local community has its own particular assets.  We need to discover them and celebrate them.

4. Learn to listen to others.  Listening is so important when we think about collaboration with others.  We need to live with a learning posture that listens deeply to others.  Let’s stop imposing our views on others and start to embody some humility, vulnerability and compassion through listening.

5. Experiment with ways to eat together in everyday life.  Eating together is so subversive.  It centers our lives around a table that brings us together through our commonality of hunger.  Whether we are rich, poor or middle class the act of eating together makes us all equal and binds us together as neighbors in the world.

6. Practice hospitality.  Hospitality is the work of authentic social justice in the place we live.  We need to share our lives, tables and homes with the less fortunate.  Jesus was the master of creating environments of hospitality for others with his openness to love, compassion and empathy with his neighbors.

7. Value others as created in the image of God.  Everyone needs love, value and respect no matter who they are.  Let’s stop looking at others as “sinners” and start looking at others as created in the image of God.  This would change how we treat others in our lives.

8. Participate and contribute to the local economy.  Contributing to the local economy is so essential to create a parish imagination among us.  Whether we are starting a local business or just supporting the local economy by trying to keep our money in the community, this does a lot to build social capital and faithful presence.  We need to think local when it comes to how we are spending our money.

9. Access the sidewalks and walk more.  Cars have become a luxury that we possess because we do not see the need to live locally anymore.  Walking is so unique to our time in a world of hypermobility.  But walking is so healthy and helps us to get in touch with our bodies in the place we live.

10. Share stories about your neighborhood.  We have a story, our place has a story and God has a story.  These need to be intertwined into a narrative braid where we share stories of assets working together, characters who are contributing to the common good and the work of the spirit within us.  Storytelling could help us to have an imagination for community in the place we live.

What is a way you’re cultivating a parish imagination in the place you live?

Top 10 Paradoxes that Can Help Our Lives Flourish


The idea of paradox is a mystery that is hard to pin down.  Paradox does not make sense to our rational minds a lot of times.  It is two things being true at the same time with balance, grace and gentleness.  Paradox is mystery and brings us out of our either/or dualistic thinking.

Jesus was the master of paradox.  It seems that life is to be lived in paradox if we are to flourish in a world that wants to disregard it.  Embracing paradox could be our healing.  Living by its questions and tensions is essential for us to follow in the ways of the spirit.

My own journey has been about working through paradox after paradox to find what is authentic in life.  I am loving the mystery of paradox that I am finding in my own embodiment of love in the world.  God cannot be boxed up no matter how hard I try.  Paradox keeps me from putting God into a box of my own making.

Here are 2 quotes and 10 paradoxes that I think are essentail for us to embrace if we are to see our lives flourish in this world together:

Kathy Escobar says in her wonderful book Faith Shift, “…our desire for freedom, diversity, and mystery in our relationship with God will guide us into uncharted territories.  We will try things we’ve never tried before…  We will love in ways we never did before.  We will become freer.”

Parker J. Palmer writes in his book The Promise of Paradox, “Our first need is not to release the tension, but to live the contradictions, fully and painfully aware of the poles between which our lives are stretched.  As we do so, we will be plunged into paradox, at the center of which we will find transcendence and new life.  Our lives will be changed.  Both our beliefs and our actions will become more responsive to God’s spirit.  But this will happen only as we allow ourselves to be engulfed by contradictions which God alone can resolve.”

1. The paradox between contemplation and action.  This paradox of contemplation and action balances our lives.  We need both of these aspects of our lives to live in our limitations and responsibilities.  The reflective inwardness of contemplation is a great compliment to the outward movement of engagement in the world.

2. The paradox between the body of Christ global and local.  To be both rooted locally and linked globally to others through networking is so important to our flourishing.  We cannot be just local or we will become too insular.  We cannot be just networked globally or will we never be known in our local community.

3. The paradox between listening and speaking.  We need to listen just as much as we speak.  Speaking comes much easier and we need to hold it lightly.  Speaking needs to be rooted in a deep listening before we say anything.

4. The paradox between compassionate love and boundaries.  Compassionate love is what brings our lives meaning.  This is how we live in the spirit.  Boundaries are contextual to that love and help us with discernment toward what the shape of this love will look like.  They will teach us when we will need to act, rest, or say no at times so we can care for ourselves.

5. The paradox between solitude and community.  Community needs solitude and solitude needs community.  This is not either/or but both/and.  If we cannot be alone in solitude we will destroy community with others.  If we cannot be with others in community we will live in isolation.

6. The paradox between work and rest.  Work needs rest.  Rest needs work.  The balanced rhythm of both work and rest is very healthy in caring for ourselves and finding a peaceful way of life in the world.

7. The paradox between the dark times and light times.  Life will be difficult at times.  This is necessary in the process of living through pain, confusion, loss and loneliness.  It causes us to experience life differently.  Our lives are also full of pleasure, laughter and fun where life is light and less weighed down by burdens.

8. The paradox between the first half of life and the second half of life.  We experience life when we are younger as more active where we want to achieve our goals and find who we are through that.  In the later part of life we need to slow down and become more reflective in all we do.  As we grow in years, we become more interior and our identity is shaped from within.  Being, resting and finding the wonder and sacredness of life becomes our longing.

9. The paradox between the old and the new.  We hold onto ancient disciplines and the good things that older generations have taught us, but we do not become bound by them.  We look at our context in this time and move forward into what is alive in us now.  The balance of holding the old and the new puts us into a place of experimentation and living into our questions.

10. The paradox between the mind and the body.  We value the mind and the body equally.  Moving into an embodied way of life where love, compassion, empathy and grace fill our days is good for our world.  Learning new things through thinking, reading and discerning is important too for our flourishing.

What paradox has most shaped you in life?

Top 10 Best Practices for Building Community


1. Practice Listening.  Listening is one of the most life-giving practices with so much potential, possibility and power.  When we take listening seriously this will put us into a whole new paradigm of seeing life differently.  We will be much more respectful and gentle toward others and ourselves.

2. Practice Humility.  Humility is what characterized the life of Jesus.  If we are to value Christ in our lives then humility needs to be a core aspect of our identity as we live out our lives.  Humility is truly beautiful and puts us into a posture where we can embody the teachings of Jesus.

3. Practice Forgiveness.  Community will be much harder to embody if we do not forgive others constantly.  Our forgiveness needs to be something we live out for community to thrive in a world of fragmentation, individualism and loneliness.  Forgiveness can heal the world like nothing else and is essential for us to follow along its path.

4. Practice Compassion.  Compassion is at the heart of Jesus.  Our compassion is intertwined with our listening, humility and forgiveness.  Compassion builds a bridge between others in our culture and allows collaboration to happen in everyday life.

5. Value the Ordinary.  In the ordinary is where God works and lives.  In the ordinary is where we live also.  We need a realization that in the ordinary, small things is where our spirituality is most authentic.

6. Value Proximity.  We need to live physically, geographically close to one another in everyday life.  This requires us to take the idea of place seriously.  What would happen if the body of Christ saw itself as a network of relationships in a particular place and not as a building or meeting?

7. Practice Contemplative Spirituality.  Contemplative spirituality could shape us in such practices as silence and solitude.  A deep reflective way of life could help us to better embody a way of listening, love and compassion.  Contemplative spirituality moves us into a communion with God that is beyond clichés, words and hype.

8. Practice Gratitude.  Gratitude connects us to others profoundly because we can always find something good, beautiful and true about our context when we live with this attitude.  This practice helps us to be balanced.  It helps us to appreciate the small things of life that a lot of people do not see or value.

9. Value Vulnerability.  Vulnerability is the heart of the gospel.  Without vulnerability we will not develop very healthy relationships with others.  Vulnerability requires us to live into the truth of our situation with love admitting when we have done something to hurt someone else.

10. Value Honesty.  Honesty is so crucial to live in the truth of life.  Honesty is truth.  It is so important to stop lying to ourselves, others and God.  This will create community like nothing else.

What is one practice you can start working on today to build community in the world?

Leading Us Deeper into the World: 7 Great Quotes from Kathy Escobar’s New Book: Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart


This is such a unique book by Kathy Escobar.  This book goes beyond clichés and easy answers and takes the reader through a faith shift of deep emotional pain and loss.  Not knowing what to do after Shifting and Unraveling, Kathy gives us options to learn to dream again through the difficult years of Rebuilding something more authentic.  Highly recommended!  Here are 7 quotes from this wonderful book:

  • Leading us deeper into the world

1. “As a spiritual director who has worked with numerous men and women over the years, I’m quite convinced that many of us have been duped into believing our faith life stops with Fusing.  Much of the focus includes an us-versus-them mentality.  Sometimes we subtly elevate church activities and beliefs over the value of people’s souls and deep spiritual development.  During the Fusing years, we are often taught to separate ourselves from nonbelievers and ‘nonspiritual activities.’  By contrast, I love author Henri Nouwen’s wise observation: ‘The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it.’”

  • Unraveling involves loss

2. “Unraveling involves loss.  It’s not a place where we rebuild or find what works or try to make peace with the past – that comes later.  It’s where we experience and respect the realities of losing beliefs, practices, relationships, structures, identity, and purpose.”

  • Opening a space to learn how to be human

3. “I am not saying it’s for everyone, but if you are a spiritual-abuse survivor, sometimes it’s the best hope for healing.  Trying to build a bridge to something new is too anguishing.  A better alternative is to bomb the bridge completely and trust that eventually you’ll either learn to swim or find the materials and tools you need to build something new.  Severing for a while will open a space to learn how to be human apart from toxic religious systems.  You may need time to focus internally and to feel things that were prohibited before…”

  • Providing room for healing

4. “I often tell people in major faith shifts that if the Bible… is too toxic, take a break from it.  A healthy separation (just as when a marriage is in trouble) can provide room for healing.  Many fear that a separation will lead to divorce, but… I’ve often seen it’s just the opposite.  Time and intentional space away can prepare the way for restoration in the end.”

  • Listen more intently to our souls

5. “As part of our Shifting process, we need a time of rest and disconnection from serving and giving.  Yet, at some point, we have to face our fears and come out of hibernation.  We have to try again even though it’s scary.  This time, though, we can pace ourselves and listen more intently to our souls and bodies along the way.”

  • Trust the path ahead

6. “Trust the path ahead, even though you aren’t sure exactly where it will take you.  You’re not lost.  In fact, you’re on a road toward a bigger, better relationship with God, others, and yourself that will continue to develop.”

  • Cautious about giving away our power

7. “Most of us need to be cautious about giving our power away to systems again.  If you reengage and see warning signs, heed them.  If you see leadership structures that cause you to feel squeamish, run for the hills.  If you start to enter a group and discover gender inequality that concerns you, listen to your heart.  You can find communities with healthy balanced power structures.  You may just need to give yourself time.”

Which quote do you like the best?