Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: contemplation

The Movement of Longing – 5 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life


  • The movement of longing

“The movement of longing makes us vulnerable…”

  • The darkness of night

“During the darkness of night, there was a restorative work taking place in the dark and hidden places of the body – a sign of the genius of God’s creation… The secret work of God was transforming me.”

  • Death is the culmination of darkness

“We want the fruit, the new life, but we resist the dying. Death is the culmination of darkness. During a season of darkness, I wrestled with God, trying to hold on to that which needed to die – my preconceived notions of who God is and who I am. Much of what my identity had been based in was being shattered and I fought to hold onto the crumbling pieces – having no guarantee of who I’d be without my false-self security blanket. The burning away (purgation) of my false self was a horrible experience. At times, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was sad and disorientated, and all seemed dark. I was losing grasp on who I was. I questioned all my life’s decisions, wondering which of them had been connected to my true self and which had been motivated by my false self. I was just trying to keep my head above water in the sea of darkness when everything about my identity seemed to be fading away.”  

  • The one who neglects contemplation

“…the one who neglects contemplation is at risk of being motivated and driven by false-self compulsions. When one neglects giving attention to his interior life, he is not master of his house. His ‘programs for happiness’ control him, and he goes through life unaware that his ‘service’ is more truly frenetic activity. He is not only blind to the real needs of those he serves but to his own needs as well. True acts of service do not build up our egos but bring us into deeper solidarity with the poor, marginalized and victims of injustice…”

  • Allows for space within to be carved for intimacy

“The spiritual journey allows for space within us to be carved for intimacy. Intimacy is about knowing and being known. But sadly there are a lot of obstacles that keep us from achieving this most necessary of human needs. ‘Programs for happiness’ that our false selves cling to threaten to prevent us from reaching our hearts’ desires for intimacy. We seek power and control, affection and esteem or security and survival, and none of these pursuits leave us fulfilled. At the end of life’s journey, it doesn’t matter what we have, what we do or what others say about us. What will matter is whether or not we are known and loved for who we are, and whether or not we have known and loved our family and friends well. This is why family and old friends are the dearest. They know us – the good, the bad and the ugly – and they still love us. We want to be known, and we want to know and love others well – this is the truest success in life…”

What is the movement of longing leading you to?

Phileena Heuertz is the founding partner of Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, and author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active 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

A Longing of My Soul

114701740204911777tsNbL8fcWhy is everything so empty and boring? Am I falling apart with my ideas of success and life and happiness? I feel alive and broken at the same time. Where is my true passion?

How come people and systems and institutions bother me so much? I cannot escape my cynicism. It is too much. Maybe I don’t care anymore. Maybe this is all there is or ever will be.

The ideas I been taught have disillusioned me. I am lonely, sad, and miserable. Where is the honesty I need within me and around me? Is my true self gone never to return?

Who am I? Why am I so arrogant with ungrateful attitudes and deep cynicism? What will this day bring? Will it bring misery or dishonesty or pain?

Maybe at the point when you lose everything you thought life was to you is the stage of growth where you start to understand something about yourself, about life, about honesty. Somedays how I love my dishonesty, how I hide my own truth of what is happening in me, of what is alive or not alive in me in the present moment. Sometimes I want to scream in rage. Am I crazy or just getting more honest with myself in the depths of who I am?

I want to run and dance and smile and live, but it seems confusing how to connect with what life is. I am confused and beaten down by life. These hardships are too much sometimes. Alone with nowhere to go but deeper into my own intensity of despair.

This melancholy is my friend, my companion, my hope. I long for what will never be and it is tearing me apart. No one understands me! I live rejected and hidden by my own shame.

Unmet needs live within me and I don’t know what to do? I am tired of all of this and need some silence. The emptiness inside is too much for me to handle. My pain leaves me on the ground.

01Is there any way to find meaning anymore? All the clichés of God have played out. Leave me to my misery and pain and cynicism. Maybe that is what I want. I feel sad at the state of life I am in.

The tears are never ending. The questions are everywhere. I will not accept the status quo anymore. My life is ruined in what I cannot see.

There is nothing for me here in this life I live. I find more pain and emptiness with each passing day. I am afraid of tomorrow. Is there even a God to help?

May I know love and compassion if it is real in the here and now. I am longing and dreaming for some gratitude that will blossom like a flower in me. Is that even possible? I truly hope so.

Is hope an illusion I have believed in for far too long? Maybe there is no hope in life. I don’t know what hope is? Can someone teach me along the way?

What is the longing of your soul today?

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

Book Review – Reflections on the Unknowable by Thomas Keating


After practicing a monastic life for over seventy years, Thomas Keating has written a wonderful book about his wisdom on what it means to seek God.  A strong theme that really stood out to me was that God lives within us through the process of our lives.  The incarnation has always been a mysterious sign of God’s understanding and care within the world.  How can Jesus actually become human at one point in history and now manifest love in humanity through our ordinary lives?

Thomas Keating places this mystery before us as we wrestle with what this paradox means today.  I loved the theme that God is looking for experiencers not theorists.  So much of theology is based on the intellect (ideas about God) and not on experiential knowing.  We are called to be contemplatives who seek God through the evolution of our consciousness, enlightenment and interior growth.

This constitutes a way of life where we value silence, solitude, listening and rest.  Christ lives through us in every moment of our existence through our ordinary daily lives.  As we imitate Christ, we become the other.  We start to incarnate compassion and love.  We open up to a process of deep listening.

Reflections on the Unknowable brings to light that we need to embrace the humility of God where God gives up being God.  We embrace powerlessness in order to find enlightenment toward humility, love and compassion.  As we explore what is means to have divine life within us, we discover our true self over our false self.  This is a revolutionary idea that is not taught very much.

I highly recommend this book if one is wanting to experience and seek God in deeper ways.  From one of the wisest people alive today, Thomas Keating is a prophetic voice in the role of the contemplative life of silence and solitude in the twenty-first century.  This is essential to cultivate as we need to find a balance between contemplation and action in our world today.  It is too easy to just focus on doing and forget our being.

  • One with us in the events and experiences of ordinary daily life

“Jesus Christ in his teaching seems less interested in raising us to enlightened states of consciousness than in becoming one with us in the events and experiences of ordinary daily life.  To relive the sacred mysteries of his earthly life in each of us is his plan and desire; to share every moment of our lives with him is the practical living out of divine union.  His presence in us is our deepest self manifesting in every action, however trivial from our point of view.  We are invited to have no movement of body, mind, and heart except from the Spirit, who wishes to inspire all our thoughts, words, and actions.”

  • To become the other

“To become the other is to imitate Christ…”

  • The attitude of listening

“There remains the attitude of listening: alertness without effort.  This kind of contemplation is completely receptive.  But it is not just passive.  It is an affective kind of receptivity, a peaceful and sometimes delightful being with the silence, presence, or stillness… There are no words, no thoughts, just pure awareness with perhaps the sense of loving or being loved, and longing for oneness.”

  • Our true nature is God manifesting God-self in us

“The false self creates our own personalized hell…  The true self, who we really are, is created in the image and likeness of God.  Our true nature is God manifesting God-self in us.”

  • Resting and listening

“Resting and listening feed into each other.  Resting, means above all, rest from compulsive activity, mixed motives, and emotional excesses.”

  • Silence is the greatest teacher

“Silence is the greatest teacher there is…”

  • The authenticity of our spiritual journey

“Daily life tests the sincerity and authenticity of our spiritual journey…”

  • God’s willingness not to be God

“Each human person manifests God’s infinite humility, God’s willingness not to be God…”

  • Moments of awareness can become every moment

“Moments of awareness of the divine goodness can become every moment.  God is always present: always at rest and always active at the same time.”

  • Evolving into a state of permanent freedom

“We are to become truly free, or rather Freedom itself.  To evolve into that state as permanent is our destiny…”

  • Letting God act through us at every moment

“Unity consciousness is to let God act through us at every moment without resistance.”

  • The human consciousness in each of us

“God is manifesting in each moment as the human consciousness in each of us…”

  • God looks for experiencers more than theorists

“God looks for experiencers more than theorists.  In our culture we tend to want to be the latter and to avoid the former, especially when life is painful.  Thinking is normally a lot easier than being.  It is our predominant cultural conditioning in a time of rapidly developing technological skills and massive scientific information.  The cybernetic age is primarily about information, not experience, understanding, and love.  These spiritual values need to be infused into it.”

  • God incarnating in our humanity with all its circumstances

“For Christ to be ‘us’ – to take over every aspect of our life in space and time and to experience our human existence in this present moment – that’s what the latter days of life are aimed at.  The goal is not just union, or even unity with God, but God incarnating in our humanity with all its circumstances.  Christ renewing the sacred mysteries of his human life in our humanity is one way of describing his incarnation in each of us.”

  • The mother of everyone in the human family

“Compassion is to be, and even feel ourselves to be, the mother of everyone in the human family.”

  • May feel like losing one’s mind

“On the human level, this process of death and resurrection may feel like losing one’s mind…  The dying may be sheer terror, powerlessness, and apparent annihilation of the individual self, without any possible escape or place to hide.  One feels at times ripped apart, squashed, paralyzed, indifferent to living or dying.”

  • The common bond of love

“The Spirit is the common bond of love…”

  • Powerlessness is our greatest treasure

“Powerlessness is our greatest treasure.  Don’t try to get rid of it.  Everything in us wants to get rid of it…”

  • Who we really are

“Enlightenment is the inward realization and consciousness of being identified with who we really are.  We are not our false selves or egos…”

In what ways have you learned to seek God in your life?

Book Review – Contemplation in a World of Action by Thomas Merton


Thomas Merton writes about the renewal of contemplative life in this book Contemplation in a World of Action.  This is one of Thomas Merton’s best books!  The problem of identity that we face is crucial if we are to live authentic lives.  This is a big theme in the book.

It seems that Merton is speaking to the twenty-first century church, but this was written in the 1960’s.  So profound and prophetic for Merton’s time fifty years ago as well as ours today.  I am always captivated by the eloquence and grace in which Thomas Merton writes.

After studying over 80 books written by or about this great mystic of the twentieth century, I am moved to a deeper contemplative life myself as I live out my active life in the world.  No writer has shaped me like Thomas Merton.  I am so grateful we have his writings today to help us with understanding a contemplative spirituality.

This book will open our eyes to the importance of cultivating a mystical imagination in our active lives.  There is no future for the church without this.  If we want to engage the world with compassion instead of judgment, this is an essential book to teach us new ways of authenticity, honesty and courage.

Thomas Merton leaves behind a legacy that we should all cherish.  He was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century.  His writing constantly subverted the narratives of modernity.  And this book particularly, Contemplation in a World of Action, could bring renewal to our interior lives as we struggle with the embedded dualities in the Western world.

  • A great deal of variety and originality

“Authentic renewal is going to demand a great deal of variety and originality in experimentation…  But renewal must be bought at the price of risk…  The winds are blowing and a lot of dead wood is going to fall…”

  • Evading the identity problem

“One of the most characteristic American ways of evading the identity problem is conformism, running with the herd, the refusal of solitude, the flight from loneliness…”

  • Our life does not consist in magic answers

“Our life does not consist in magic answers to impossible questions but in the acceptance of ordinary realities which are, for the most part, beyond analysis and therefore do not need to be analyzed.”

  • Honesty, humility and courage

“There are some problems in life which are not to be solved except by being lived with all honesty, humility and courage that grace and nature can provide for us.”

  • A courageous commitment in the face of anguish and risk

“To have identity is not merely to have a face and a name, a recognizable physical presence.  Identity in this deep sense is something that one must create for oneself by choices that are significant and that require a courageous commitment in the face of anguish and risk.  This means much more than just having an address and a name in the telephone book.  It means having a belief one stands by; it means having certain definite ways of responding to life, of meeting its demands, of loving other people and, in the last analysis, of serving God.  In this sense, identity is one’s witness to truth in one’s life.”  

  • A more authentic and honest way

“The question remains: can we adjust our life and our view of life in such a way that it will be capable of being lived in a more authentic and honest way…”

  • Lack of identity is a disaster

“In the contemplative life above all, lack of identity is a disaster…”

  • The inner transformation of consciousness

“A merely external practice of silence and enclosure will never do anything by itself to guarantee the inner transformation of consciousness which the contemplative life requires.  We have to reexamine all our practices with a serious willingness to admit that our present conceptions may simply be inadequate.  They need to be made much deeper and much more alive – and perhaps given an entirely new perspective.  In this way we will show ourselves truly alert to the new needs of a new generation, aware that in this alertness we are being open to grace, obedient to the love of the Holy Spirit…”

  • True discipline

“True discipline is interior and personal…”

  • The crisis of real growth in the contemplative life

“The purpose of discipline is, however, to make us critically aware of the limitations of the very language of the spiritual life and of ideas about that life.  If on an elementary level of discipline makes us critical of sham values in social life (for example, it makes us realize experientially that happiness is not to be found in the usual rituals of consumption in an affluent society), on a higher level it reveals to us the limitations of formalistic and crude spiritual ideas.  Discipline develops our critical insights and shows us the inadequacy of what we had previously accepted as valid…  It enables us to abandon and to discard as irrelevant certain kinds of experiences which, in the past, meant a great deal to us.  It makes us see that what previously served as a real ‘inspiration’ has now become a worn-out routine and that we must go on to something else.  It gives us the courage to face the risk and anguish of the break with our previous levels of experience.  It enables us, in the language of St. John of the Cross, to face the Dark Night in full awareness of our need to be stripped of what formerly gratified and helped us.  To adjust to a new level of experience is at first painful and even frightening, and we must face the fact that the crisis of real growth in the contemplative life can bring one perilously close to mental breakdown…”

  • The ordinary authentic real experiences of everyday life

“…it is very important in the contemplative life not to overemphasize the contemplation.  If we constantly overemphasize those things to which access is unavoidably quite rare, we overlook the ordinary authentic real experiences of everyday life as real things to enjoy, things to be happy about…  But the ordinary realities of everyday life, the faith and love with which we live our normal human lives, provide the foundation on which we build those higher things.  If there is no foundation, then we have nothing at all!  How can we relish the higher things of God if we cannot enjoy some simple little thing that comes along as a gift…  We should enjoy these things and then we will be able to go on to more rare experiences…”

Which quote stands out to you most?

Have We Forgotten the Practice of Awareness?


My own understanding of awareness has been difficult in many ways.  I used to think that I am separated from God in everyday life, God has little or no connection to the place I live, to the relationships I have or to the things I do.  Church seemed to be about a building and less about a community.  But I soon discovered that maybe I had it all wrong.

  •  Opening my soul to a different way of awareness

I discovered that maybe there was more to understand within me that would open up my soul to a different way of awareness.  I didn’t yet discover the longings living within me that would cultivate an awareness of God’s presence within me in the parish.  I didn’t have a steady practice of contemplation (a deep listening within life).  But the lonelier I became, the more I pursued God through a practice of contemplation.

  •  All alone on my own

Other than Sunday, I was usually on my own with my spirituality.  I had to figure out personal growth on my own, spiritual formation on my own, discipleship on my own.  There was no one there to help me or mentor me.  I was all alone living by myself in an apartment, working a professional job as a teacher.  I was frustrated and didn’t know what to do so I started to read books for mentorship.

  •  Dreaming about things I couldn’t see in everyday life

I started practicing contemplation (I really didn’t know what I was doing I just followed the longings of my soul) to develop some sense of growth in my life.  I would lay in my bed and cry sometimes because of all of this.  I would think about things that mattered to me.  I would dream of things that I couldn’t see in everyday life.

  •  Beyond words and language

This was all beyond words and language that I could express to anyone.  I didn’t understand what was going on and how God was forming me for the future.  Through many years of practice, and soon becoming a part of the Downtown Neighborhood Fellowship, I received some guidance and developed a lot of awareness understanding the mystical imagination more.

  •  An awareness for new paradigms

I started to have an awareness for new paradigms of communion with God, spiritual formation, the body of Christ and the importance of a theology of place.  Now after many years, I believe awareness of God presence in the parish is so important to experience the body of Christ in everyday life.  I believe a practice of contemplation beyond language and words is essential to this.

  •  Our awareness to the presence of God

Thomas Keating says in his book Open Heart Open Mind, “We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time.  In similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us.  Our awareness, unfortunately, is not awake to that dimension of reality…”

How can we cultivate an awareness to the presence of God in everyday life?

Calling the True Self to Come Alive


I have grown up in a family where I really struggled to be my true self.  Not caring too much about money, wealth, possessions or power; I had to figure out who I was going to be in the world.  As a shy, introvert I started to practice a deep contemplative listening as a way to express myself to God beyond words. And because of this interior exploration it seems my true self has been flourishing more and more over time.

  • The true self displays the beauty of our humanity

Our practice of contemplation will show us our true self as the body of Christ in the parish.  The true self is who we are.  It displays the beauty of our humanity.  The true self integrates our personality, body, soul and spirit together within a relational network in the place we inhabit.

  • The true self longs for authenticity

The true self is what the gospel is calling us to live into.  Our true self can see beyond the status quo.  Our true self longs for authenticity.  Contemplation calls the true self to come alive in us.

  • The courage to be ourselves

John Main says, “One of the countless benefits that we have to gain from meditation is that we are empowered to transcend the cultural context in which we have been brought up.  All of us are, to some extent, prisoners of the received ideas of our time and as a result we are distressed to find so little creativity in our thinking.  People are almost afraid to think their own thoughts.  Everyone merely shuffles with the pack of ideas that we have had presented to us, not even, I’m afraid, by the true thinkers of our time, but often just by the prepackagers of secondhand, convenience-concepts.  In the silence of meditation we are put in touch with our own uniqueness and we are given the courage to be ourself, to know ourself and the world we inhabit, to think and respond to a real world first-hand…”

  • Explore, question, experiment, practice, embody

Through our contemplation we are empowered to be our true self in the parish.  We no longer become prisoners of the status quo.  The mystical imagination brings liberation to our bodies.  Our true self is enabled to think, explore, question, experiment, live, practice and embody our spirituality in our local cultural context.

  • Not afraid to be honest and vulnerable

We are not afraid to live out the radical nature of the gospel anymore.  We are not afraid to love.  We are not afraid to be known by others.  We are not afraid to be honest and vulnerable.  We are not afraid to be human.

  • Our true selves will teach us wisdom

Our true self requires us to look inside and explore who we think we are.  Our true self will teach us wisdom.  Our true self will teach us to abide, trust and hope in the divine.

Why do we fear the true self in everyday life together?

Book Review – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz


This is a great book by Phileena Heuertz who explores the themes of awakening, longing, darkness, death, transformation, intimacy and union.  She talks about her journey from being a protestant to becoming a catholic, her decision not to have children, her struggles with patriarchy and her challenges of walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.  Fascinating book!  Pilgrimage of a Soul was written after many years of working with poor and marginalized people around the world.  Phileena came to a point of needing to get more connected with a contemplative practice of spirituality after seeing so much poverty and suffering in the world to continue on as an activist.

  • The life-shattering experience of a dark night of the soul

“A dark night of the soul is not an intellectual exercise but a life-shattering experience.  This kind of experience cannot be crafted or sought after – it can only be submitted to.  Darkness of the soul, though terrifying, is a profound grace…”

  • Embracing our pain and letting it transform us

“In life we sometimes wish our pain would not linger so long.  But for our benefit there is a necessary season of sitting, walking, living in our pain.  When we embrace our pain, own it, we let it transform us.”

  • Limitations and restrictions can be a grace for us

“In our modern world, it is much too easy to overextend our limits toward activity and productivity.  Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today like they may have been for our ancestors whose days were filled with these qualities simply by the nature of their life’s labor and limitations.  We tend to see restrictions to activity and engagement as something to be avoided.  But limitations and restrictions can be a grace for us.  Within the context of our limitations, God can do for us what we cannot…”

  • The risk of neglecting contemplation

“…the one who neglects contemplation is at risk of being motivated and driven by false-self compulsions…”

  • Disciplines of embodiment

“Because we in the overdeveloped West have become so accustomed to privileging the mind over the body, disciplines of embodiment can be intimidating and even perplexing…”

  • Living into our true self

“Living into our true self, being free of our ego and rooted in love allows for true acts of peace and justice.  Without attention to our internal motivations and attachments, we are at risk of imposing our will on the world – deceived into thinking we are doing a virtuous thing – only to find out we need forgiveness for our action… The ways we interact with the world can be connected so deeply to our false self that we cause more harm than good.  In our misapprehension we do not realize that what we are doing may actually be reaping destruction cloaked in virtue.  The greater our leadership and influence, the greater the potential domination and devastation…”

How can we live into a contemplative spirituality?

The Practice of Mindfulness


Almost every time that I have heard of the idea of mindfulness I would think of Buddhism instead of Christianity.  Buddhism is often times thought of as a way of life while Christianity is often thought of as a set of beliefs.  I am coming to understand Christianity as referring to the practice of following Christ as a way of life.  This is so rare and unusual that a lot of people cannot relate to the practice of love and mindfulness as it relates to Christianity.

  • Jesus was the most mindful person who ever lived

Jesus seemed to practice a mindfulness in all that he did.  I would say that Jesus was probably the most mindful person who ever lived.  Mindfulness is a fruit of contemplation that helps us to listen, cultivating awareness and compassion for those around us.  Mindfulness is about a wisdom that Jesus teaches us as the body of Christ in the parish.

  • Becoming a mindful community

In order to be sane we need to practice mindfulness.  Without mindfulness we become selfish, individualistic people who do not care about much in life.  This is not what the body of Christ is called to in everyday life together.  We need to be a mindful community that practices contemplation.

  • Being in touch with reality

This is what the mystical imagination is made up of.  Mindfulness is about being in touch with reality, experiencing reality and letting this reality shape us.  All truth is mindful of reality.

  • Mindfulness leads to compassion and care

Mindfulness helps us to experience the truth of who we are.  Mindfulness helps us to experience our place in a proper context.  We learn to care, show compassion and gratitude.  Mindfulness guides us into all relational revelations in the place we inhabit.

  • The teacher of mindfulness

There is no greater teacher than Jesus on the practice of mindfulness.  He was an expression of mindfulness during his life in his local context.  Jesus had a mystical imagination that cultivated mindfulness.

  • The gift of mindfulness

There is a gift in mindfulness.  This gift of mindfulness 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.

  • Cultivation and potential

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…”  We can give our lives in mindfulness to things that really matter to our local context.  This gift can be cultivated our whole lives.

How can we cultivate mindfulness in our lives?

All of Life is Sacred


I was taught that the world is bad and that I am a sinner.  Is this all there is to life where I am destined to misery and self-rejection?  Is there any beauty in the world if it is created by a loving God?  Is life sacred at all?  Can I live into any sense of authenticity in this life?

  • The Pharisees promoted a sacred/secular divide

I don’t understand a sacred/secular divide in life that our Western world seems to promote.  It seem Jesus didn’t live in this sacred/secular divide.  This was more what the Pharisees were about.  Jesus did not judge life to be secular in any way.

  • Living into the sacredness of life

Our lives together cannot be divided by sacred/secular categories anymore.  I want to propose that all of life is sacred.  The body of Christ needs to live into this sacredness of life in the parish.  There is a sacredness to a theology of place.

  • Dualistic thinking is not healthy

We will subvert the sacred/secular divide if we understand this.  Our practice of contemplation cultivates this subversion within us.  We become more aware of what this division is doing to our lives together.  Dualistic thinking and living is not healthy.

  • Annihilation of the dualistic category of sacred and secular

The only way to sanity is through embracing the sacredness of life.  I think that’s what Jesus did.  He saw everything as sacred.  Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch state, “One of the outcomes of a truly monotheistic view of the world is the annihilation of the dualistic category of secular and sacred.  If one God is the source of reality and the reference point for life, how can life be fragmented?…”

  • Moving out of fragmentations

Embracing the sacredness of life dissolves all dualisms in the midst of the parish.  God is the reference point of all reality so there can be no fragmentations anymore.  The mystical imagination subverts the sacred/secular divide.  The sacred/secular divide is destroying the body of Christ in everyday life.

  • The costs of awareness

Our awareness of this needs to be practiced.  We cannot go along anymore living individualistic lives apart from the body of Christ in everyday life in the parish.  Why don’t we want to subvert this sacred/secular divide?  Maybe it costs too much.

  • Christ’s love compels us to the sacredness of all of life

“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5: 13-15).

What keeps us from embracing all of life as sacred?

Cultivating an Inner Posture in Life


When I first started to become conscience of my spirituality, some twenty years ago, I had no idea what an inner posture toward life was.  I lived my life from the outside never really taking the time to become connected to what was within myself.  In fact, thinking about this way of life really scarred me a bit.  But now I am learning a different path that is much more authentic and far less scary than what I thought.

•  Looking for an attitude or outlook

Thomas Merton says, “…in meditation we should not look for a ‘method’ or ‘system,’ but cultivate an ‘attitude,’ an ‘outlook’…”  Contemplation will always develop an inner posture of listening, openness, receptivity and patience.  This is the “attitude” or “outlook” that we abide in.

•  Getting out of the box to embrace life holistically

Contemplation cannot be boxed up into a program, activity or method.  It embraces all of life holistically in every dimension.  It is a part of our sleeping, working, playing, solitude, socializing, celebrating, eating, exercising, relating, communion, learning, walking, breathing, moving, dancing, living, thinking, caring, loving and forgiving.  Our very lives become an expression of contemplation in everything we are.

•  Becoming our contemplation 

We actually become our contemplation in the place that we live.  Our lives become a moving, living, working, loving experiment in contemplation.  This is our identity as the body of Christ in everyday life.

•  Holding onto our humanity

We can never reduce this to something less.  If we do, we will lose a sense of our humanity in this life.  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).  Christ will never go along with our expectations.

•  Shattering our illusions

Our contemplation will shatter our illusions of expectations and control.  The mystical imagination will not have anything to do with expectations and control.  Our lives will not be lived by expectations and control in the parish.  If we attempt this way of life, we will destroy ourselves unconsciously.

•  Embracing life within us

Christ’s power working within us seeks to destroy our expectations and control.  This must be deeply rooted in us to be the body of Christ in everyday life.  Our contemplation allows Christ to work within us beyond our understanding.  The mystical imagination embraces Christ’s life within us at all times.

How have you done the work of cultivating an inner posture within you?