Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: grace

8 Ways to Show Grace in Relationships

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Grace is hard.  Why is that?  Maybe it is because it breaks down our narcissistic tendencies.  Grace calls out for the kingdom of God within us.  Grace calls out to our true selves.

Grace seems to be a foreign, disembodied idea in the church today.  It is why there is almost no formation of healthy communities in local places.  Grace opens up the imagination within us to reconciliation with those who we think are “different” from us in all kinds of ways.

Grace has to do with gentleness and patience.  Things that take work to practice in a fast paced, violent world.  It seems that when we embody grace is when we are living most fully in the present moment beyond our anxieties and frustrations.

We become empathetic and live a life of humility.  A life of humility, gentleness, vulnerability and patience is a life well lived.  It encapsulates deep wisdom and will help instead of hinder the relational embodiment of community among us.

Here are 8 ways to show grace in relationships in everyday life together with others.

1. Do not become attached to ideals

The body of Christ is called to live into its place without being attached to seemingly “good” ideals that can become dangerous and damaging to our relationships.  Our ideals can keep us from the grace that must be a part of our lives together in the particulars of everyday life.

We all have to go through the filtering of our ideals to come into the reality of real relationship.  Our ideals cannot blind us any longer in the parish.  The communal imagination is too important for us to allow our ideals to destroy it.

2. Embrace the call to become expressions of grace in the place we inhabit

We are all called to become an expression of grace in the place we inhabit together.  We will not function properly without grace.  Grace is healing to our relationships.  Grace is what will make it possible to share life together in the particulars of everyday life.

3. Become aware of our “wish dreams”

Illusions, ideals, and “wish dreams” will not take us very far together.  We need not get caught up in all of this.  The reality of our relationships is often very different than what we may have envisioned them to be at the outset.

4. Allow our relationships to teach us

Relationships are unpredictable.  They are messy.  They teach us constantly to show grace and love.  We cannot escape the grace of relationship.

5. Be proactive in facing one another with love

If we do, we become isolated and extremely lonely.  There is nothing to do and nowhere to go except to face one another with grace.  This will help us to learn to be the body of Christ.

“Many times we are driven by an illusion,” Annemarie S. Kidder says, “of what true Christian community should look like, chasing after a dream and being disappointed by the realities …”

Grace stems from our love for others.

“Be patient, bearing with one another in love …” (Ephesians 4:2).

6. Be patient with one another

We need to have patience and grace for one another as expressions of our love for one another.  Without this our ideals will take over and ruin us.  Our relationships will not be sustainable.  And we will soon forget about one another and our local context.

7. Hold the tension

In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker J. Palmer writes, “In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge …”

We have to understand the balancing act of the reality and the potential of everyday life together in the parish.  The reality is sometimes hard to face. The potential gives us great hope.

8. Practice connecting in relationship

So we need to live inside of this tension.  This is one of the ways we learn to lay down our lives as the body of Christ and allow God to enlighten us.  This is a mystery that only God can teach us through practicing relationship.

I have struggled so much with this tension between the real and the possible. Sometimes I become depressed and want it all to go away.  But this is the process of life that I must face as I journey with the body of Christ in everyday life.  I cannot make it go away, but that is okay.  I am learning to not get caught up in all the illusions.

I realize that at times our grace will be challenged.  Sometimes it all seems impossible.  But God has been forming a communal imagination in my neighborhood that is full of possibilities and potential.

My friends and I want to continue to be an expression of grace together as we learn how to be in relationship with each other.  The Spirit is working every day to manifest relational revelations through us all.  I am continually learning that grace is a miracle we can all become a part of through relationship.

How can we be moved to thinking about the grace of relationship?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427898189&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

What Keeps Us From Listening to the Mysteries of Life?

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It has been so difficult to find myself apart from the dominant narratives of the entertainment culture and consumerism of North America.  I have been learning to live with more simplicity and hope.  I am learning to see Jesus in the poor and marginalized around me.  Sometimes this is too much for me and I do not have an openness to the mysteries of life.

Listening is becoming sacred to me as I practice slowing down to consciously breathe in and out through each day.  Centering myself on discovery, wisdom, love, grace, humility and kindness has become a path of life for me.  Allowing my desires to shape what I love is leading me to be my true self in many ways.  I am learning to love and not fear the difficulties of life.

Whatever God may be to me today, I hope I can have the strength to listen and not be afraid of the revelations that will push me to have courage in the midst of a culture of fear.  My sense of awareness is forming in me a deeper way of love for the world.  My compassion is something that I hold onto in everyday life.

  •  Cluttered with fragmentation, distractions and disembodied practice

We need the mystical imagination to see with a sense of clarity.  Our seeing is sometimes so cluttered with fragmentation, distractions, disembodied practice and default ways of knowing.  We have often times become focused on things that don’t matter and our seeing has turned to blindness.  Most of the time we don’t even know what is happening and this goes on unconsciously within us.

  •  Becoming more mindful and aware

The mystical imagination calls to us from the hills to wake up and run toward something more holistic and life-giving.  The mystical imagination teaches us to see with the eyes of a mystic.  We become more mindful and aware.  We become more loving and full of grace.

  •  Putting us into a posture of listening

We develop more of a longing for the God of mystery.  We become filled with wonder.  We become passionate about the parish.  Seeing with a sense of clarity puts us into a posture of listening.

  •  Living with an openness to revelation and discovery

Seeing with a sense of clarity gives us imagination for the body of Christ in everyday life.  As we practice more and more, God slowly reveals more to us of the mysterious nature of life.  But these revelations do not come so fast, they come very slow.  We cannot force them, but we must live with an openness in a way that we can listen when we discover something of their nature.

  •  Longing to discover relational revelations within us and around us

This is the purpose of the body of Christ in the parish.  We should always be longing to discover the relational revelations within us and around us all of the time.  There is nothing like an intuitive discovery of relational wisdom in the place we care about and inhabit.

How can we live with an openness to revelation and discovery in everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403966386&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Why Do We Get Caught Up Trying to Change the World?

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Today I want to be faithfully present to what is right in front of me.  I am done with trying to change the world.  Losing myself to a way of relational love, doing the small things that are simple, letting go of control, this is where I am being shaped within.  These things have been difficult because sometimes I am left misunderstood, unacknowledged and frustrated.

But I am coming to understand that there is power in community, there is power in small acts of love, there is power in humility, there is power in vulnerability.  I am afraid to give my life to these things sometimes.  After many years of struggling to be myself, I am learning to have serenity, compassion, grace and gratitude.  I am learning to be my true self.

As I breathe today the common air we all share, I want to live face-to-face with real life people in real life contexts in the place I live.  This neighborhood where I have rooted my life this past decade has become a place of practice of love, grace and humility.  I have the opportunity to love someone today who I may see tomorrow, next week, a month from now.  My compassion to listen will keep me from harming the world I live in.

These are the things I want to focus on today as I have a good 24 hours to live into who I am in the present moment.  These 168 hours that have been given to me this week will be hours of learning to love.  I am drawn out of my pride and into vulnerability.  I am drawn out of my confusion and into compassion.

This world will not discourage me, even though I cannot change it.  I will let it be and just love it.  I will love others and find some power in that.

  •  Stop trying to change or fix others

We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love.  We will have to let go of some control.

  •  Getting down to what is right in front of us

We will have to let go of the cliché that we can “change the world.”  This vision is too big, too abstract.  Let’s get down to what is right in front of us: real people in real life contexts who live in our neighborhood.  These are the people we are called to love and become faithfully present to relationally.

  •  Faithful presence is slow, organic, face-to-face

Faithful presence takes time.  It is slow.  It is organic.  It is not a project or program.  It is real face-to-face relationship in the context of everyday life together.  This is such a challenge and this relational presence will test our faith as the body of Christ.

How can we stop trying to change the world and become faithfully present to what is right in front of us?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403621065&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Our Powerful Vocation of Faithful Presence in the Parish

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I have sometimes denied any expression of power within myself because of a fear of manipulating, controlling or dominating others.  A good use of power is something I have rarely seen in life.  I am coming to trust the powerful vocation of faithful presence within myself as an expression of love, grace, listening and relational care in the place I live.  It has taken me a long time to understand that the power within me can be used for the good of the world.

  •  How do we express and respond to power?

How do we express and respond to power in everyday life together?  The parish imagination is fascinated with this question.  There is a good use of power and bad use of power.  A lot of the models we have seen of power have been the negative, violent and colonial type.

  •  Power that is based on love, care, relational connection

Power that is violent and colonial is damaging to all.  It is destructive.  Power that is based on love, care, relational connection, humility, powerlessness, listening, grace and solidarity is truly beautiful and good for the human race.

  •  Expressing power authentically in a good way

We need discernment to express power authentically in a good way.  We need to learn to respond to colonial power structures with a spirit of nonviolence and love as the body of Christ in everyday life.  The body of Christ can be a countercultural presence to colonial power structures in our culture.

  •  Power needs to be realigned as something larger than domination or force

Richard Rohr writes, “Power cannot, in itself, be bad.  It simply needs to be realigned and redefined as something larger than domination or force.  Rather than saying that power is bad, the Bible reveals the paradox of power.  If the Holy Spirit is power, then power has to be good, not something that is always the result of ambition or greed.  In fact, a truly spiritual women, a truly whole man, is a very powerful person…  If we do not name the good meaning of power, we will invariably be content with the bad, or we will avoid our powerful vocation.”

  •  Called into a powerful vocation of faithful presence in the parish

Christians are called into power, but not the colonial, violent type of power we so often see all around us.  Christians are called into a “powerful vocation” of faithful presence in the parish together.  Christians are called into the parish imagination.

  •  Expressing power through Christ living in us

The parish imagination is powerful.  The parish imagination is countercultural.  Good power comes from within us.  We begin to express power correctly when we allow Christ to live within us as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

  • Good power is of the nature of love and grace extended to others

Good power does not impose anything by force.  Good power is of the nature of love and grace extended to others.  This is the most powerful thing the world will ever see.

How can we express power through love and grace?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400938533&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

“This book covers essential territory for building healthy communities of Jesus for the long haul.”  Kelly Bean, co-founder Convergence, author of How to be a Christian Without Going to Church

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  • Valuing the small things in the particulars of everyday life

“A relational call to love as the body of Christ in the parish seems small, but it’s not…  The small things are hard to value in a culture that craves anything but the small.  We think the small will make us seem nonexistent and invisible.  We want so much to be noticed that we have taken our life into our own hands and forgotten the small acts of love in the neighborhood.  When will we realize that love is the only thing that miracles are made of?  The communal imagination loves the small things in the particulars of everyday life…”

  • Becoming disillusioned with loving our ideals of community

“We always face a great tension between the ideal of what we want life to be like and the reality of life as it is.  The communal imagination is not built on a ‘wish dream’ or an illusion, but on reality.  We will struggle sometimes to figure things out relationally in the parish.  It is not always easy and we might often fail.  But we need to keep trying to learn to live with grace towards one another.  Without grace, we will build our lives on a lofty illusion of how things ought to be with little contact with reality.  What we are building will not last very long without grace.  When we love our ideals of community more than the reality of the community, we will become disillusioned and bring an oppressive agenda into it that will quickly poison everything around us.”

  • Getting down to what is right in front of us

“We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love.  We will have to let go of some control.  We will have to let go of the cliché that we can ‘change the world.’  This vision is too big, too abstract.  Let’s get down to what is right in front of us: real people in real life contexts who live in our neighborhood.  These are the people we are called to love and become faithfully present to relationally.”

  • Bringing grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles

“We cannot share life together in the parish without this gift of forgiveness and grace infusing our relationships.  We like to talk about God’s grace in terms of our own forgiveness, but when will we shift to a new paradigm of translating that grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles to love one another?  This would be a miracle indeed.”

How can we do the small things and live relationally as the body of Christ in everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399035843&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The World Needs Forgiveness

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I think I have understood for most of my life that Christ desires to forgive me when I do hurtful things in the world.  But I have often not understood how essential it is to manifest love into the world by my own acts of forgiveness to those I am in relationship with.  I am coming to see that this is the very function of the body of Christ, to show forgiveness and love in a world that is often times violent and hostile in our relationships.  If we cannot forgive we cannot love.

  • Christ has always lived in grace

Christ was a forgiver.  Christ still is a forgiver.  Christ lived in grace.  Christ still lives in grace.

  • Learning to forgive one another

The body of Christ needs to learn of him in this way.  We need to learn to forgive.  We need to learn to become an expression of his grace to one another in our relationships in the parish.  This is the only sustainable way to live out our lives together.

  • Living in proximity is impossible without grace

Forgiveness is the only way we can sustain our relational connections to one another.  Living in proximity is impossible without forgiveness.  It is just too hard and we will not have the strength to get along without grace and forgiveness.  Our relationships will fall apart and become an illusion without forgiveness.

  • Christ is manifested through us by forgiveness

We need to open ourselves up to Christ through forgiveness toward one another.  Christ is manifested to us through our forgiveness.  If we don’t get this, the communal imagination will not have a chance to live in and among us.  Could embracing a holistic spirituality among us be wrapped up in the way we forgive one another?

  • Manifesting the love of Jesus

Trappist mystic Thomas Merton states, “It is our forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus for us manifest in our lives, for in forgiving one another we act towards one another as He acted towards us.”

  • Translating grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles

We cannot share life together in the parish without this gift of forgiveness and grace infusing our relationships.  We like to talk about God’s grace in terms of our own forgiveness, but when will we shift to a new paradigm of translating that grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles to love one another?  This would be a miracle indeed.

  • Having the courage to be in relationship with one another

Sometimes the last thing we want to do is forgive each other, live together, share some life together.  Running away from one another makes forgiveness impossible and damages the body of Christ.  We need to have the courage to be in relationship with one another and to forgive over and over again.  This would lighten our egocentric agendas and cause us to lose control of our lives.

How can we find the courage to be in relationship with one another and show forgiveness?

Facing One Another

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Not very many people have showed me that my grace and reconciliation toward others is how I can learn to practice the things that Jesus taught.  This is something that I am learning deep within myself.  I must open myself to an interior journey of wisdom.

•  The difficulty of facing one another

Why is it so hard to face one another in life?  We like to hide.  We do not like to be in relationship a lot of the time.  Yet the communal imagination is calling us to be in relationship with one another learning how to face one another without the many fears that plague us.

•  Running away is easier than running towards

We like to run from one another because it is easier than running towards one another.  But this is not what the body of Christ is called to in our local context.  We will need to learn how to face those we live with and not back away from grace.  Grace will show us how to do this.

•  The imagination for something more creative

We need to have the imagination for something more creative than relationships that are ego-centered and dysfunctional.  This is the context for belonging.  God has given us so much more that has still to be discovered in the parish.  We need one another to teach us grace.

•  Living in a constant state of reconciliation

We are called to live in a state of constant reconciliation with others in everyday life.  This is so important if we are to become an expression of grace together.  Grace and reconciliation are intertwined into a constant living reality through the difficult work of living together in the parish.  We have to see the need and the provision that God has given to us by his own grace.

•  Our grace could bring healing to our relationships

The body of Christ will become the living expression of grace and reconciliation as we live into the communal imagination.  When we can live in grace, then we can face one another in life.  This will bring healing to our relationships.  This healing in turn will help cultivate our sustainability in the place we live.

•  Embodying reconciliation and grace

“And he has committed us to the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us …”  (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). We need reconciliation and grace to be able to face one another without fear.

•  Christ living through us

This is how we become Christ’s ambassadors.  This is how we represent the communal imagination among us.  This is how Christ lives through us in the parish.

•  Drenching our relationships with grace

Our spirituality has everything to do with facing one another through relationship.  All our relationships should become drenched with grace.  Grace is the way we are to be in relationship with one another.  How can we face one another in any other way?

How have you practiced grace toward others?

Being Broken Open to Reconciliation

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Sometimes I think that my pain is too great and there is no hope for reconciliation with others. But God constantly proves me wrong revealing to me how I can live differently with others in peace and grace.  This is a countercultural posture that could bring profound healing to our relationships.

•  Our biggest tragedies can be our greatest moments of reconciliation

When we go through sorrow and pain we can manifest Christ to one another through reconciliation and grace.  Our biggest tragedies in life can be our greatest moments of reconciliation.  Pain can become the medium that draws us together as the body of Christ in the parish.  Pain and sorrow can keep us grounded in our presence one to another.

•  We cannot run from or escape our pain

We cannot run from our pain.  We cannot escape it.  Some pain is a part of every relationship.

•  Pain can become our teacher if we are broken open by it

We will experience pain as the body of Christ.  But our pain can become our teacher if we are open to it.  Pain can bring us closer if our wounds, pain and sorrow are embraced as a sacred part of life that is necessary to our own human process.  Pain can foster maturity and depth if we are broken open by it.

•  Becoming authentic with our pain

The body of Christ cannot afford to mask the pain of everyday life in the parish.  We must become authentic with our pain.  Jesus has not completed us.  As much as we would like to believe it so, this is not the case.

•  Living into the ordinary miracle of reconciliation

Our lives are filled with brokenness and pain.  Most of the time we don’t know how to show grace and love.  But reconciliation can become a living, ordinary miracle among us.  Christ longs to reconcile us together so that we can live at peace with one another.  Macrina Wiederkehr, who has lived a monastic life for over forty years, says:

“We are absent from life far too much.  Sorrow makes it impossible for us to be absent, and so, bless us with real presence.  In the midst of sorrows, distractions fall away, and we are there, raw and open, often confused, always vulnerable, little and great.  In sorrow we are nudged to our depths.  I do not claim to understand the mystery of suffering, but I often meet people who have walked through great sorrow; they seem to wear the face of God.  These are the people at whose feet I yearn to sit.”

How can we be honest about our pain and brokenness to pursue reconciliation with others?