Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: books

8 Wonderful Books By Thomas Merton You Don’t Want To Miss  

1. The Sign of Jonas41sdg2pPluL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“And so I live alone… in the midst of the holy beauty of all created things, knowing that nothing I can see or hear or touch will ever belong to me, ashamed of my absurd need to give myself away to any one of them or to all of them. The silly, hopeless passion to give myself away to any beauty eats out my heart. It is an unworthy desire, but I cannot avoid it. It is in the hearts of us all, and we have to bear with it, suffer its demands with patience…”

41WXKyiIpJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_2. Mystics and Zen Masters

“…my ‘identity’ is to be sought not in that separation from all that is, but in oneness (indeed, ‘convergence’?) with all that is. This identity is not the denial of my own personal reality but its highest affirmation…”

3. The New Man41yINHj74-L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

“The ‘image’ of God is found in the soul’s structure – awareness, thought, love…”

download (10)4. Raids on the Unspeakable

“Let us obey life, and the Spirit of Life that calls us to be poets, and we shall harvest many new fruits for which the world hungers – fruits of hope that have never been seen before. With these fruits we shall calm the resentments and the rage of man.”

5. Spiritual Direction and Meditation510UChsojLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“We are afraid to make this spontaneous gift, afraid of spontaneity itself because we have been so warped by the idea that everything spontaneous is ‘merely natural’ and that for a work to be supernatural it has to go against the grain, it has to frustrate and disgust us. The truth is, of course, quite different. It is necessary for us to frustrate and overcome our… selfish and exterior self, the compulsive and automatic self that is really incapable of true love. But when we do this we set free our interior, simple self, our godlike self, the image of God, ‘Christ in us,’ and we become able to love God with spiritual liberty…”

41xnf5CAkxL._SX369_BO1,204,203,200_6. Bread in the Wilderness

“We are transformed in the midst of a discovery…”

7. Thoughts in Solitude41e9ou6sQ0L

“There is not much use talking to men about God and love if they are not able to listen. The ears with which one hears the message of the Gospel are hidden in man’s heart, and these ears do not hear anything unless they are favored with a certain interior solitude and silence.”

41krGsmoSWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_8. The Silent Life

“Compunction is a spiritual grace, an insight into our own depths which, in one glance, sees through our illusions about ourselves, sweeps aside our self-deceptions and daydreams, and shows us ourselves exactly as we are. But at the same time it is a movement of love and freedom, a liberation from falsity, a glad and grateful acceptance of the truth, with the resolution to live in contact with the deep spiritual reality which has been opened up to our vision: the reality of God’s will in our lives.”

Have you read any of these wonderful books by Thomas Merton? 

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

Cultivating the Mystic Within – 4 quotes from Mark Scandrette’s books – Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love and Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus

51LGrvlHGSL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_1. Learn to handle the challenges of our relationships in new ways

“Jesus dares us to imagine that we can learn to handle the challenges of our relationships in new ways. Though I’ll admit, it’s much easier to embrace ‘love your neighbor’ as a lofty platitude than as a practical mandate. The situations we actually face are often confusing… Real community happens with people who know us too well, who, despite all they know and the ways we disappoint them, still see our dignity and keep believing that we are being transformed by love.”  Mark Scandrette Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love

2. An embodied way that challenges our Western notions

“Jesus taught his disciples in an embodied way that challenges our Western notions about didactic classroom learning. You can’t learn karate just by watching, and we can’t learn to follow Jesus without practicing to do what he did and taught…” Mark Scandrette Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love

3. Sensitivity, compassion, and imagination

“Some would say that the highest form of creative expression is the capacity to live artfully. Through the freedom of his being, Jesus shows us the generative path of an artist, as one who approached life with sensitivity, compassion, and imagination. An artist, in the broad sense used here, is someone who, with acute skill and ingenuity, uses the tools of language and symbol to express and explore meaning and identity within a community. Employing the raw materials of Earth, humanity, and culture, Jesus collaborated with the creative and redemptive energy of the reign of God. We can learn to follow the path of an artist by adopting practices inspired by his example.” Mark Scandrette Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus

51uJ3zC0qcL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Cultivating the mystic within

“We live in a time of great attraction and suspicion about the mystical or unseen dimensions of reality. The prevailing influence of scientific rationality has led to great skepticism about supernatural experiences, and simultaneously created an intense hunger for divine encounters and guidance. We tend to approach the unseen world with great caution and ambivalence, as something powerful but yet dangerous. Weary of the overuse of phrases such as ‘God told me’ or ‘I had a vision,’ we prefer to stick with the unambiguous facts. We’re well acquainted with caricatures of the overly ‘spiritual’ person, obsessed with their personal psychology, esoteric knowledge, or narcissistic navel gazing. So we are cautious about delving too deeply into the ‘inner life’ or ‘inner voice.’ And yet, the profound challenges we face in society, the demands on our time, resources and relationships, the prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression suggest the need for practices that give us access to wisdom, guidance, and power beyond ourselves. You balance the rationality of the mind with the activity of the body by cultivating the mystic within.”  Mark Scandrette Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus

Have you cultivated the mystic within?

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

Tend to the Wounds in God’s Heart – 7 quotes from Christopher L. Heuertz’s books – Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community and Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

51-6b52lH4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Restless, discontented lives

“Although we should know better, many of us are surprised when we encounter boredom in our communities, relationships, and vocations. We are surprised when we find ourselves living restless, discontented lives. We want more. We want meaning. We want to be part of things that are significant and vocations that make a difference.” Christopher L. Heuertz Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

2. Humility opens our eyes

“It’s humility that opens our eyes to the discovery of God…” Christopher L. Heuertz Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

3. Leaning to love each other well

“Discovering new kinds of friendships – that dismantle our unfair expectations and take the focus off of ourselves – helps ground our other relationships. And learning to love each other well, accepting the best and worst of each other, focusing on our relationships as they are rather than what we think they should be, helps us stay faithful to our friendships, relationships, and communities.” Christopher L. Heuertz Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

4. When we fail to be present

“When we are selfish or unresponsive to God, we have less to give to our community. When we fail to give or be present to our community, we not only hurt ourselves, we hurt those around us…” Christopher L. Heuertz Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

5. Tend to the wounds in God’s heart

“We live in a world that cries for mercy, for justice. The brokenness of the world has been an invitation not only to face but also to tend to the wounds in God’s heart. In the face of suffering, injustice, and oppression, we have found a fight to break up – the fight between the integrity of God’s character and the powers that try to discredit that integrity. The courageous energy that breaks up the fight is our collective commitment to embodying the goodness of God’s nature, which seems to be absent in so many parts of the world.” Christopher L. Heuertz Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

41U6YM8zeiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_6. Our deformed perceptions of power

“When we don’t submit our lives to God and our possessions to people in need, when we mistake our financial and material blessings as personal provision rather than as resources with potential for kingdom development – have we perpetuated an unjust imbalance between us and our neighbors? Could it be that our deformed perceptions of power, our selfish tendencies to accumulate and hoard, cause many of the world’s poor to go without their basic needs?”  Christopher L. Heuertz Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

7. Faith and doubt can coexist

“Community is an incubator in which faith and doubt can coexist. In tension and in safety, community is a place where we are free to ask tough questions. And when we don’t have good answers or the doubts start to take us to dark places, community is there to remind us of God’s faithfulness…” Christopher L. Heuertz Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

Do you have a collective commitment to embody the goodness of God’s nature in the world?

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

Deeper Intuition – 5 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. Opportunities for awakening

“God’s love, goodness, beauty, grace, and kindness are for our awakening. This movement starts within us as we listen deeply through reflection and rest in everyday life. God is always leading us to awakening in the parish. Everything we go through in life calls for our awakening. It is important for us to remain open to this all throughout our journey of life. God is constantly showing us more wisdom through the mystical imagination as our everyday lives are opportunities for awakening. Diana Butler Bass states, ‘…awakening is marked by insistence on connection, networks, relationship, imagination, and story instead of dualism, individualism, autonomy, techniques, and rules.’”

2. The art of letting life reveal itself

“We need to practice ‘the art of letting life reveal itself’ to us as we listen. It has everything to do with the mystical imagination within us. When we do nothing and allow life to reveal itself to us as the body of Christ in the parish, we will be satisfied with just being. That will be enough for us.”

3. Examining our lives together

“Reflection and rest enlighten us from within, and give us the ability to re-imagine our everyday lives. New Monastic activist Shane Claiborne writes, ‘I think that’s a good sign – the ability to change and rethink things.’ We need to be always evolving our human consciousness through the examining of our lives together.”

4. Deeper intuition

“Physical solitude can be the source of the strength that brings us to together. This practice can reconnect us again and again. God uses our silence and solitude to speak to our imaginations, to our passions, to our creativity, and to our love for others. But this isn’t in the form of spoken words, but through an awareness of a deeper intuition that goes beyond words. Silence and solitude facilitate this mysterious listening and intuitive way of knowing one another as we live in community.”

5. A mystery to participate in

“God cannot be figured out. God cannot be boxed into a concept, a proposition or an agenda. God is mysterious and calls for our participation in all of life as the body of Christ in the neighborhood. God is the destroyer of all our illusions and the Creator of the mystical imagination. Irish philosopher Peter Rollins states in his book The Fidelity of Betrayal, ‘God is not a problem to be solved but rather a mystery to participate in.’ God speaks to us through participation, collaboration, and embodiment. If we are not listening ordinary mystics who live into God’s mysteries, we will never know true wisdom within us. God’s nature is mystery and cannot be reduced to anything else.”

Do you think God is a problem to be solved or a mystery to participate in?

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

Mysterious Solidarity – 6 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. Worship happens anywhere and everywhere

“A radical obedience as a lifestyle of worship opens us up to awareness, mindfulness, love, compassion, humility, listening, contemplation, empathy, and grace. This is the kind of spirit that the mystical imagination longs for. My dear friend Eileen Baura Suico says, ‘Worship happens anywhere and everywhere… Worship draws our attention to God, and at the same time, enables God to be encountered in the world.’”

2. Developing into lifelong learners

“’Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’ (Matthew 11:29). We can learn from Christ through the Scriptures, but we can also learn from Christ through reading the wisdom of all kinds of authors. Christ speaks to us in all kinds of ways in the world through the diverse books we read as we develop into lifelong learners. He speaks to us through books on theology, spirituality, psychology, sociology, technology, anthropology, agriculture, economics, leadership, art, culture, biography, philosophy, mysticism, fiction, poetry, and history. He speaks to us through all kinds of people of diverse race, nationality, age, and socio-economic status. He speaks to us in long books and shorter books. He speaks to us through female authors and male authors.”

3. We receive life as a gift through our mindfulness

“Mindfulness is a training of sorts that pushes us beyond the status quo. It helps us to live deeply. It will shape us in mysterious ways as it works to form us as the body of Christ in the parish. We receive life as a gift through our mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to embrace the mystical imagination within when we are shaken up and experience losses in life.”

4. Listening to the true self

“The false self destroys the body of Christ. It wants us to go to church instead of be the church together in a particular place. The way of discipleship and of discipline is to discover our true self. Our sanity depends on us discovering our true self as the body of Christ in everyday life. The true self is the essence of authenticity. It is how we become expressions of love in the world, and how we live in our bodies in the parish. Alice Fryling notes, ‘Listening to the true self may be a countercultural experience.’”

5. Mysterious solidarity

“Silence and solitude always draw us into a mysterious solidarity with others in our neighborhood. There do not need to be a lot of words and speech for this to happen. We just need to have a practice of silence and solitude in the midst of everyday life in the place we inhabit. This will cultivate miraculous relational revelations as we find ourselves more connected with each passing day. Through this practice, we will become constantly reconnected to those we are called to love in our local community. Our presence to this practice makes all the difference.”

6. Normal processes of growth

“The desert experiences are normal processes of growth. They are not because we have necessarily done anything wrong or turned away from God. On the contrary, they are actually signs of a mature and serious follower of Christ.”

Have you listened to your true self lately?

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

The Core of Our Emptiness – 4 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

  1. 41+jgDX732LMoving beyond words

“When we ‘move beyond words,’ that is where we start to be in touch with our longing for God. Our attention goes beyond words to longing. We begin to listen. We begin to explore our interior life with more intentionality and intensity. We desperately need an intensity to our seeking after God today. Why are we so slow in seeking, listening, longing after God? We need to become the body of Christ in everyday life together that seeks, listens, and longs after God in this way. We can do this best through the local community we inhabit together.”

2. In the core of our emptiness

“It is hard facing our emptiness. But our spirituality is birthed in the core of our emptiness. Our emptiness shows us how to live, trust, and listen out of desperation. It opens up our relational context. It shows us how to desperately dream with a mystical imagination. Our communion with God becomes our very survival. We have to ‘join fully the silence’ and remain open to how God is shaping us as the body of Christ in the place where we share life together. When we participate in our silence and solitude, we embrace the mystical imagination.”

3. Daily bodily acts

“Living in a place and living in our body are so interrelated that we cannot elevate one over the other. They need to be practiced together through an incarnational embodiment of the mystical imagination. North Americans seem to live outside of their bodies a lot of the time. We are fragmented and scrambling for some peace and sanity in the midst of rejecting the proper use of the lived body. We are used to creating any kind of life we want at the expense of other people. We become subtly, unconsciously violent through our individualism. We need to learn how to recover the lived body in our postmodern culture as the body of Christ in the parish. It is not very easy and will take some work on our part. But it is definitely possible. Stephanie Paulsell states, ‘It is through our bodies that we participate in God’s activity in the world. And it is through daily bodily acts… that we live more fully into the sacredness of our bodies and the bodies of others.’”

4. Freedom and security do not mix well

“Freedom and security do not mix well. Security is slavery to the empire around us. Security is most often too comfortable in the status quo. We need to long for freedom, liberation from this kind of security that makes us numb and machinelike. Freedom promotes the shattering into pieces of all status quo obstacles in our pursuit of creating a holistic counterculture as the body of Christ in the parish. Do we really want this kind of freedom? Freedom in our country is oftentimes related to independence, bloodshed, and war. What I want to propose is a freedom related to love, humility, communion, connection, interdependence, and integration. This kind of freedom lives within the mystical imagination.”

Do you think freedom and security mix well?

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

Longing For Something More – 5 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. Practicing mindfulness

“We have the ability and the capacity to practice a robust form of mindfulness as an expression of the gospel in our everyday context. We are not intended to be mindless creatures doing only what benefits us at the expense of others. The gospel calls out for more from us. The gospel calls us to a mindfulness as the body of Christ in the parish. We must water the seeds of mindfulness within us all. We must cultivate the wonders of the mystical imagination. We must cultivate the wonders of a life of mindfulness. These wonders are calling out to us from the heart of the gospel to give us all life in the place we inhabit. It is the call to share life together through practicing mindfulness.”

2. Longing for something more

“Our eyes our full of light, possibility, and beauty when we see with a longing for something more than what we have known. We need to cultivate countercultural eyes that long for what is beautiful and relational as the body of Christ in the parish. It is hard to see ourselves, others, and God clearly; we need to have a discipline that longs for such particular eyes. The holistic counterculture of the mystical imagination longs for eyes to see with a sense of clarity. Everything else is secondary to this pursuit of the mystical imagination. Susan Cain writes in her book Quiet, ‘Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it.’”

3. The many possibilities before us

“There is a gift in mindfulness that allows us to see the many possibilities before us as the body of Christ in the parish. The possibilities of love, compassion, grace, and humility live in little seeds within us. They need to be cultivated through the mystical imagination. We can dedicate ourselves in ways we never thought possible to the practice of mindfulness through contemplation. Macrina Weiderkehr says, ‘We all have the potential to give ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever it is we must do. This is the gift of mindfulness.’”

4. Carried away with the systems of the status quo

“Just as Christ practiced silence and solitude, we too need this practice. Without it, we will get carried away with the systems of the status quo. If we’re not careful, the status quo will destroy the mystical imagination within us. It will destroy our being and our becoming, both of which can only be found through silence and solitude.”

5. A far clearer picture of ourselves

“Silence and solitude bring clarity and healing to distorted ways of experiencing ourselves. They help us to have empathy for ourselves and open up the mystical imagination within us. Paula Huston writes, ‘The natural result of solitude and silence is a far clearer picture of ourselves, whether or not we really want to see it… The longer we look into the mirror of silence and solitude, the more we see.’”

Do you long for something more in life than the status quo?

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

Listening In Our Local Community – 4 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. 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

Ordinary Mystics – 5 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. 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

Hungry For Experience – 5 quotes from my book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L1. The wisest, most imaginative visionaries of our time

“Saints are the ones who live with a sense of clarity through their practice of discipline and discipleship. Saints are ordinary radicals who live into a mystical imagination. Shane Claiborne says, ‘Some of God’s most precious saints are quiet people, gentle prophets, secret saints that live in the shadows.’ Saints usually go unnoticed and unrecognized; but the world is a better place because of the beauty and love they bring into the world. They usually act like they don’t know much or have little imagination or don’t know what to say, but this is not true. They are some of the wisest, most imaginative visionaries of our time.”

2. Love, compassion, honesty, and vulnerability

“When we realize that Christ is living in us, we can honor the image of God within others. The Christ in me connects with the Christ in you in some mysterious way. This opens up all kinds of pathways to love, compassion, honesty, and vulnerability in everyday life as we seek to be human together in community. We start to understand that love is all that matters as we learn to see and celebrate the image of God in others.”

3. Will our imaginations die in these times?

“Will we abandon God when we feel the darkness of being alone, rejected, misunderstood, and powerless? Will we live by faith in these times? Will we run away and hide from others and from God? Or will we show love and humility through our pain? Will we allow ourselves to be insecure and afraid for a while waiting for a better season of recognized beauty? When we are cold and it is raining, when we are wet and shivering, will we turn away from living by faith? Will our imaginations die in these times?”  

4. A more sustainable shared life together

“We need strength from God to persevere through all things. We will not give up on love, humility, grace, and each other. All the systems in life, including the church, are trying to pull us apart, trying to tell us we do not need each other that much. ‘Forget about interdependence,’ they say, ‘and embrace the individualistic, independent life.’ For them this is all there is or ever will be. But our contemplation communicates to us something different. We are open to a more sustainable shared life together.”

5. A postmodern world open to revelation and hungry for experience

“All of our lives need to embody an evolving awakening in everyday life. It must become part of our shared life together in community. Awakening does not hold back life within us. It is mysterious and uncontrollable. It shatters all the perceptions we might hold onto tightly to out of fear. It can be frightful and unkind to our illusions. But awakening will cultivate the mystical imagination in all of life as we practice reflection and rest. Leonard Sweet writes, ‘Western Christianity went to sleep in the modern world by the gods of reason and observation. It is awakening to a postmodern world open to revelation and hungry for experience.’”

Are you open to revelation and hungry for experience? Do you desire a more sustainable shared life? Has your imagination died or is it alive within you? Do you see love, compassion, honesty, and vulnerability as important in life? Do you think you have the potential to become a saint in everyday life?

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