Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Kathy Escobar

Mending Our Souls – 7 quotes from Kathy Escobar’s book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

97816014254301. A natural part of spiritual growth

“All things considered, you have to wonder why it can be so hard to find communities of faith shifters. After all, faith shifting is not a new phenomenon. The Christian mystics and desert mothers and fathers knew that seeking something deeper was a natural part of spiritual growth. They weren’t afraid of questions and doubts. In fact, they embraced them…”

2. The thread that links

“The thread that links affiliation and conformity is certainty…”

3. Can’t handle our changes

“Because our church structures are built so fervently on right belief, our… friends frequently can’t handle our changes. Relationships we felt were based on intimate connection and deep love for each other actually were based upon function, conformity, and the comforts of shared beliefs. When we stop playing by the same rules, we end up not just on the sidelines but out of the game completely.”

4. Mending our souls

“This is a time when we need to take care of our tender hearts. Severing can be like a spiritual cleanse, a chance to empty out all of the toxins that have built up over the years. When we’ve been through a war, our souls can be beat up and broken. Many have experienced spiritually abusive systems and been crushed under oppression, legalism, and religious control. Recovering from spiritual abuse is possible, but we may need a specific period where we disengage completely in order to heal. In other words, Severing can be a healthy protection mechanism that isn’t about bitterness or anger, but actually about mending our souls. God is big enough for all the ways that we sever. And instead of fearing the process, we can respect that sometimes it’s our best hope.” 

5. A dark night of the soul

“For some, Severing can look and feel like a dark night of the soul, where after shedding all our formerly held beliefs, we are quite certain that we’ve either been completely abandoned by God or that maybe there is no God at all…”

6. Whatever works

“Finding ‘whatever works’ for a Rebuilder means discovering anything that will help us open up our hearts to God again.”

7. A time to embrace my voice

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity… A time for quiet strength to be born, and a time for insecurity to die. A time to plant courage, and a time to harvest peace. A time to kill self-hatred, and a time to heal from fear of abandonment. A time to tear down walls that protect me, and a time to build up hearts that love me. A time to cry about how hard it’s been, and a time to laugh about how hard it’s been. A time to grieve over the loss of my once-certain faith, and a time to dance because my soul is coming back to life. A time to scatter people who can’t handle me being me, and a time to gather people who can. A time to embrace my voice, and a time to turn away from worrying about what other people think. A time to search for balance, and a time to quit searching for the finish line. A time to keep what’s important, and a time to throw away all the rest. A time to tear apart ‘right doctrine,’ and a time to mend what I deeply believe. A time to be quiet about what isn’t, and a time to speak about what is. A time to love slow and steady transformation in myself and others, and a time to hate impatience. A time for war against resistance, and a time for peace in the chaos.”

How have you been mending your soul in this season of life?

Purchase Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

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

Live My Way Into A New Life – 5 quotes from Kathy Escobar’s book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

97816014254301. Any kind of passion still feels buried pretty deep

“Passions fall into categories other than love, justice, and beauty, but these are great places to start. As we ignite our passions, our tender faith strengthens. Some of us have already found ways to live out what we love… Others may feel too scared to step out without the support and encouragement of the systems they used to be part of (or maybe still are). And some are unsure yet – any kind of passion still feels buried pretty deep. Regardless of where we find ourselves, part of rebuilding faith is igniting our passions – ones lying underneath a lot of rubble or ones recently discovered.”  

2. We have to make ourselves vulnerable

“…many people are completely shut down about anything churchy. But when we’re trying to come back to life, we will have to engage with people and our faith somehow, or we’ll never get to a new place. There’s no way around it. We have to make ourselves vulnerable.”

3. Despite the costs

“Some people might have given up on us, but God hasn’t. There is so much hope! A huge sign of life is that we are actually still in, trying to talk about this hard stuff and willing to engage with difficult questions and painful realities. People may criticize us and call us lost, angry, or a host of other adjectives, but the most enduring thing is that we’re still trying to find our way toward God… It’s glorious that you are wrestling with cultivating a freer faith despite the costs.”

4. A significant part of our unfolding story

“As we continue to move toward greater hope and freedom in our faith as part of Rebuilding, it’s important not to reject or remain bitter about the past. Healing can come as we find ways to celebrate what was as a way to move toward the future. Some things about our past experiences are worthy of respect and honor. There are ideas, events, and/or people we can celebrate for forming who we are today. Celebrating what was isn’t about looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, creating false memories to feel better, or forcing ourselves to go where we can’t emotionally go. Rather, it’s about remembering that what we left behind is a significant part of our unfolding story.”

5. Live my way into a new life

“I keep discovering that I can’t think or study my way into a new life. No book, retreat, or conference will make it all better. Trust me, if it existed, I would have found it already. My only hope moving forward is to live my way into a new life. Renewed living requires investigating our passions and finding ways to act on them. We all have dreams – things we’d like to do, build, try, or be part of. These can be big or small, exciting or simple… Regardless of the size or type, part of Rebuilding is acknowledging our desires to pursue some of these things…”

How can we live our way into a new 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

Extending Love, Compassion, and Mercy

images (43)Earlier in November, the Tacoma Catholic Worker hosted our friend Kathy Escobar for a number of roundtables discussions over a couple of days.  This experience for me was so enlightening as Kathy brought so much wisdom from her context in Denver, Colorado.  I respect her work a lot as she started a community called The Refuge about a decade ago and she has written several wonderful books – Down We Go and Faith Shift – that I just love.  There are not too many people out there who are talking about the damaging effects of religious systems and how to rebuild into something more healthy, sustainable, and beautiful.

So here is a rundown of a little piece of each roundtable we engaged in.

  • Welcoming Pain and Vulnerability

The first roundtable was on welcoming pain and vulnerability as a way of connecting through our shared weaknesses. This is a foundational practice of Jean Vanier who started the L’Arche communities.  It is also important to AA environments.

Sharing our stories in vulnerability and welcoming our pain is so countercultural.  Most of society is based on pretending we are stronger than we actually are and lying to one another.  We want to look good, present a certain put together image, and show our achievements so we will be accepted among others.  But when this breaks down, what do we have left to connect around?

It was interesting as we shared about what we were taught about welcoming pain in our families, most of us were raised in an environment where we learned not to show any vulnerability.  This makes it extremely hard to connect in a healthy way with the people closest to us as we grow up.  We talked about how to become safer people (and communities) for each other in the present.

This was such a powerful conversation for me as it seems I rarely have the space to talk about my pain, my struggles, my fears, my anger, my shame.  I connect best with others in vulnerability, not in my pride about all the great things that I do.  If I want to connect deeper with others I have to enter into my own pain and vulnerability while finding commonality there instead of somewhere else. This is where authentic community is created and sustained.

  • Cultivating Empathy through the Enneagram and Nonviolent Communication

There is such a need for greater empathy in our world today.  A few years ago, I was introduced to the Enneagram and Nonviolent Communication as a way to cultivate empathy in everyday life.  I absolutely love these tools of conviviality, empathy, and compassion.  These tools help us to enter into our own vulnerability around our personality and the way we communicate with others.

  • The Enneagram

I have discovered that I am a 4 with a 5 wing on the Enneagram (called the Individualist).  This self-awareness has been so helpful to me as I have learned that I have a basic fear of having no identity or significance.  My basic desire is to be myself.  I am in search of identity.  My healthy sense of self is as an intuitive, sensitive person.  A hidden complaint is that I don’t really fit in – I am different from others. The virtue to move toward is equinamity, emotional balance.  My deadly sin is envy.  My fixation is melancholy (fantasizing).  The main temptation is to overuse my imagination in search of self.  My saving grace is self-awareness.  I have to notice when I am making negative comparisons.  The unconscious childhood message was it’s not okay to be too functional or too happy.  My red flag fear is that I am ruining my life and wasting my opportunities.  The wake up call is holding onto and intensifying feelings through the imagination.  My recognition for growth is toward authentic positive qualities in myself.  The lost childhood message was you are seen for who you are.  I have an overcompensation for self-indulgence.  Under stress (disintegration) I go to overinvolved and clinging at 2.  Toward greater health (integration) I need to move to 1, The Reformer.  My invitation to abundance is to let go of the past and be renewed by my experiences – remembering to be forgiving, to use everything in my life for growth and renewal.

These are my main struggles and gifts I bring to the world.  I have a deep longing for authenticity that can turn to melancholy quickly because I easily see what is missing instead of engaging the world with what is beautiful.  Having this self-awareness is so healthy for me in my path toward community, connection, and compassion in everyday life.  The Enneagram calls me into deeper vulnerability in my personality and this is scary, but I have to practice an authentic courage in all of its aspects.

Understanding all the Enneagram types helps us to cultivate empathy toward one another.  If you do not understand my Enneagram type, which most people don’t, you will write me off as a depressed, unhappy, envious person instead of understanding what I care about and who I am in my true self.  If I do not understand the Enneagram types of others, I will do very similar things to them as they do to me.  This brings violence toward our relationships and how we interact with the world around us.

We are invited to practice love over violence within ourselves.  This will lead us to our deepest vulnerability, peace, and compassion.  Community cannot happen among us without some tools that help us to embody being an expression of love in our truest self as the deepest ground of our being is love.

  • Nonviolent Communication

We also talked about the second piece to empathy that can be extremely helpful – Nonviolent Communication.  Nonviolent Communication was created by Marshall Rosenberg and he has constructed a Language of Life for us who want to embody a deeper level of empathy, love, and compassion in the world we find ourselves in.  It is a whole new paradigm shift to take responsibility for our own feelings and not allow ourselves to go to a place of blame and judgment when difficult things come up for us in life.  Nobody makes me feel anything, I feel what I feel and this leads me to what my needs are.

The whole process is about observing without judgement or blame, becoming conscious of what I am feeling and needing while making a positive, concrete request toward someone without demanding anything.  The purpose is not to get what you want, but to connect within your own vulnerability which makes everything less violent on our part.  This takes practice as it was not taught to us growing up so we have to unlearn so much.  I think this is revolutionary stuff that could show us the practical path to greater connection to the deepest ground of our being which is love.  We usually are not literate of our feelings and needs and walk through life judging others when our needs are not being met in a satisfactory way.

Some descriptive words for feelings are: affectionate, afraid, angry, annoyed, aversion, confident, confused, disconnected, disquiet, embarrassed, engaged, excited, exhilarated, fatigue, grateful, hopeful, insecure, inspired, joyful, pain, peaceful, refreshed, sad, tense, and yearning (and under each of these categories there are multiple descriptions that describe that word).

Some descriptive words for needs are: physical well being, connection, honesty, play, meaning, autonomy, and peace (and under each of these categories there are multiple descriptions that describe that word).

  • Extending Love, Mercy, and Compassion: Restoring Dignity to Others

This one we looked at how we are hesitant to say the good qualities about ourselves that are who we are in our authentic selves.  We looked at the difficult things we feel about ourselves and the beautiful things we sense about ourselves too.  Holding some clay and a candle, we lit the candle that represents our dignity.  We placed the clay at the base of the candle to represent how the difficult and beautiful parts of ourselves exist together in a paradox of authenticity and peace.

This is one of the things Kathy is passionate about.  Restoring dignity to others is how we show love in the world.  In many of our lives dignity has been lost and we feel it.  We need to restore this dignity which can never go out, but is buried and undiscovered for a lot of us.

  • Diffusing Power: Becoming More Inclusive

This roundtable led us to talk about what comes to mind when we think of power.  How can we let go of the power we have and encourage others to step into their power?  This was the crucial theme.  Some of us have to let go of power and others of us have to step into our power, especially the voiceless.

Practicing equally where everyone comes to the table and no one is voiceless is how our communities are supposed to operate in life.  We want to be restorers of dignity and give voice to those who have very little while allowing everyone to shape our expression of love, community, and compassion.

  • Pursuing Justice through Listening Deeper

We opened up this one by asking the question, “If you could create a superhero, what superhero would you be and what would be your power?”  This led to thinking about how superheroes are usually into doing justice in the world, but also have a major weakness about them too.  Holding that paradox is important.

We shared stories about how listening to others allows us to connect on a deeper level.  Usually, we do not find that solidarity until we listen without trying to judge, fix or give advice.  When we do not listen, we usually do not experience that connection and resort to judgement and all the things that come with that.  Listening deeper can restore the dignity that is often times lost among us and brings about a tangible expression of justice to our lives.

I absolutely loved all the roundtables and am so enlightened by all that was shared.  This will be an experience I will hold onto for a very long time and I am sure it will be hard to forget.  One of the most memorable experience of 2015 for me!  Thank you Kathy Escobar for your passion around becoming an expression of love, compassion, and mercy in the world!

“…if we have God in a tiny box, limited by small definitions of who God is and how God works, we will not be open to creative imagination or allow our lives to be fueled by a more expansive view of what’s possible…” Kathy Escobar Down We Go

What roundtable discussion resonates with you the most?

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Foreword from Kathy Escobar on my new upcoming book – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

65extremely-creative-photoI have been working on my new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life for the last year or so.  It is almost reaching the point of being finished and published. This is exciting for me as it is my second book!

I have had the honor of working with Kathy Escobar as I asked her to do the foreword for the book. She is one of my favorite writers on spirituality in the twenty-first century.  I was thrilled to have her write this foreword!  It is so good!

So here it is.

When I think of the words “mystical” and “imagination”, I smile because despite their lack of use in much of the language of contemporary Christianity, they are the exact right words to describe the best hope for the Body of Christ’s future. The “kingdom of God” that Jesus talks about throughout the gospels is filled with mysticism and imagination.  With radical trust that comes from a deeper knowing that is beyond knowledge and certainty.  With creativity in ways that people experience transformation and deeper connection with God.  With relationships that don’t make sense in the world’s eyes but are the truest reflection of God’s heart for people.

The Kingdom of God is so full of imagination! But often, we as followers of Jesus have lost what was originally intended. Our search for knowledge, certainty and a cookie cutter system of church has robbed us of creativity and choked out many aspects of what “faith” really means. 

The future of the church does not depend on more knowledge. What it desperately needs is more imagination!

Some other words for imagination include: creativity, resourcefulness, awareness, inventiveness, vision, imagery, originality.  These words are embedded into this book and are a reflection of what I believe we are called to participate in as followers of Jesus.   

When I think of the words “mystical” and “imagination” I think of Mark Votava.  He is not only a wonderful mix of theologian, spiritual guide, advocate, and friend, but he also has a prophetic voice into the future of Christianity.  He sees what could be.  He experiences Jesus in unlikely places.  He calls people to be open to God in new ways that will stretch not only their hearts and minds but their hands and feet as well.

He is also an ordinary mystic, and I love what he says in this book about them. He offers, “Ordinary mystics are not weird, strange people who have lost 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.”  This material is a wonderful call for us to be ordinary mystics as well, “a collective…as the body of Christ in everyday life who seek God by cultivating the native passion of the soul.”

This kind of soul work is not easy. 

It cannot be spoon fed to us. 

It cannot be imparted through just words.

We will have to participate, experience, and become learners.

The Mystical Imagination helps us learn.  By challenging us to become lifelong learners “as a practice of following Christ”, Mark asks us to reconsider some important rhythms and spiritual practices in our lives.  Contemplative spirituality, hospitality, and incarnational, relationship-centered living are a few of the components that you will be challenged with as you read this book.  

I know I was.

Mark reminded me, yet again, how living into the kingdom of God here and now requires an interesting and creative mix of intention and letting go. Of nurturing and cultivating systems but also releasing control and trusting their organic development. Of developing spiritual practices that quiet our hearts and minds at the same time we are actively engaged with our neighbors through tangible relationship. Of forgetting the status quo and leaning into deep stirrings in our soul no matter the cost. Of engaging deeply in community while also making room for solitude and silence. 

In a world always looking for simple solutions, formulas and easy fixes, Mark is a different kind of voice that calls us to deep transformation and trust in the long story. This isn’t popular in many circles, however, as many of us know people are leaving church in droves right now. Many are “done” with the system but far from done with being a follower of Jesus. Many may be either dissatisfied with church or left all together but still have a burning desire for authentic community. Many sitting in the pews are much less certain about what they believe but even more passionate about justice and mercy and living that out not in words but in action. We need guides for a spiritual journey that will look so much different than it did before.

That’s why this book is important. 

We need confirmation in our souls that our desire for less certainty, conformity, and affiliation and greater freedom, mystery, and diversity in our faith is a good thing. That ultimately we will draw closer to God and God’s dreams for people, not further away. That our desire for a deeper spirituality that is centered on incarnational living is not crazy or heretical but a reflection of Jesus. 

I’m grateful for Mark’s voice, passion, and challenge to dream not just individually but collectively as well.

May we keep cultivating our mystical imagination together. 

We need it.

The “church” needs it.

The world needs it.

Kathy Escobar, is co-pastor of the Refuge, spiritual director, blogger at kathyescobar.com, author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus.

Here are a couple of posts I have done on her books Faith Shift and Down We Go:

Thoughts from Kathy Escobar in her books Down We Go and Faith Shift. One of My Favorite Writers on Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century!

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“You may feel hesitant when Rebuilding because you fear being led back to conformity or blind affiliation.  You buck under anything that might feel like an attempt to control you.  For many, talking about a revived faith can feel like pressure to ‘come back to the Christian system’ instead of a way to find a renewed spirituality…”  Faith Shift

“Sadly, a lot of work Christ-followers have done throughout history to care for the poor and marginalized around the world often hasn’t translated into the overall perception of Christians.  We can blame all kinds of people and circumstances for our bad press, but I don’t think we can escape that Christians have gained a bad reputation.  We tend to be known for our politics instead of our love, mercy and compassion.  Why?  Because many have become entangled in contemporary culture that tends to focus on the self, independence, survival of the fittest, and ‘let’s not get our hands too dirty’ attitude.”  Down We Go

“I strongly believe that our faith is revealed when we put our butts on the line in real, active, scary, tangible relationship with God and other people in small ways…”  Down We Go

“An important part of this step of discovering what remains is to remember that it’s okay to still believe a lot of the things that others have released.  And, at the same time, it’s also okay to let go of the things others still believe passionately.  If we start creating rules like ‘After Unraveling, we should be left with A, B, and C… or else,’ we are doing the same thing we are adamantly against.  Each person’s journey is unique…  While some people may have five or more things they still firmly believe, others may have only one.”  Faith Shift

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

“The alluring alternatives to interdependence, which include independence and codependence, are far easier to embrace.  But they don’t produce life.  We need healthy relationship to survive.”  Down We Go

“We will mess things up.  We will make mistakes.  We will feel afraid.  But in the end, the best we can offer is modeling our own authentic faith.”  Faith Shift

“The path for spiritual refugees like us rarely leads us back where we were.  Usually it takes us around the next corner, and the next, further and further into the unknown, into diversity, mystery, and freedom.”  Faith Shift

“Humility creates the space for God and our friends to speak into our lives.  It requires admitting our weaknesses instead of pretending we have it all together, embracing the doubts of soft and open hearts, and letting go of being know-it-alls.  It requires remembering we are no better than the person next to us, acknowledging our human tendency to control and aspire for power, and respecting and honoring our spiritual poverty and need for God.  These characteristics are necessary for downward living but will also be counter-intuitive for many of us who don’t like feeling needy.”  Down We Go

Have you read any of Kathy Escobar’s stuff?

http://www.amazon.com/Down-We-Go-Living-Jesus/dp/0615467903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413723&sr=8-1&keywords=down+we+go

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413841&sr=8-1&keywords=faith+shift

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432413894&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Unraveling and Rebuilding with Kathy Escobar

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I got a chance to meet up with one of my favorite writers yesterday Kathy Escobar.  She was hosting a faith shift processing party in Seattle.  I learned so much from her wisdom, humility, vulnerability, honesty, love and grace.  What a blessing it was for me to meet her and hear about all the things she cares about!

In a culture that says that women can’t have a voice, it makes me sad because it is people like Kathy who will help bring so much beauty back into our experience of spirituality.  When so many are disillusioned with the church, we should consider having equality between men and women because men are not doing so well at being an expression of love in the world.  And they are the primary leaders most of the time.  The one characteristic I admire in Kathy Escobar is that she is a person of love and is trying to help others rebuild their faith after a complete unraveling of it.

One thing she talked about in the processing party was the losses a person experiences through unraveling: beliefs, identity, structures and relationships.  This is difficult and will take you through a lot of grief, anger and pain.  But it brings a lot of us to the place of rebuilding something more authentic for ourselves rather than severing.

Rebuilding consist of:

  • Honoring the process of loss
  • Discover what remains… what’s left, what do you still know to be true?
  • Find what works… spiritual practices that bring life
  • Celebrate what was… what was good about your past faith experiences? (and maybe there was nothing good if you come from an abusive, manipulative situation)
  • Ignite passion… what are your dreams and hopes and what do you love to do?
  • Explore possibilities… what kinds of community are you drawn to try?

Here are a few quotes from her book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

  • God’s image is best reflected in men and women fully alive

“Many of us have been told that passions, hopes, and dreams are selfish unless they directly benefit the church.  We’ve heard we aren’t supposed to enjoy what we are doing but rather serve for the sake of God.  Another message is that because of our gender or abilities, we aren’t allowed or qualified to do certain things.  Hear me on this: these are lies!  God’s image is best reflected in men and women fully alive…”

  • Listen more intently

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

  • More expansive definitions of community

“We’ve got to create more expansive definitions of what community can be.”

  • Into diversity, mystery, and freedom

“The path for spiritual refugees like us rarely leads back to where we were.  Usually it takes us around the next corner, and the next, further and further into the unknown, into diversity, mystery, and freedom.”

Have you been through a faith shift that has led to unraveling and rebuilding?

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423241081&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423240831&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

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

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

  • Leading us deeper into the world

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

  • Unraveling involves loss

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

  • Opening a space to learn how to be human

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

  • Providing room for healing

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

  • Listen more intently to our souls

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

  • Trust the path ahead

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

  • Cautious about giving away our power

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

Which quote do you like the best?

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415450156&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415450240&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Community and Connection: 8 Challenging Quotes from Kathy Escobar’s New Book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

9781601425430

This book by Kathy Escobar is a piece of quality writing.  She engages us in a critical time when there are a lot of people disillusioned, frustrated, hurt and angry at the systems of what we call “church” in North America.  Kathy is a trusted guide of deep wisdom and guidance through what some have called the dark night of the soul when it seems everything is lost.  Here are 8 challenging quotes from the book:

  • Where we’ve been and where we might need to go

1. “Shifting can go on for years while we consider where we’ve been and where we might need to go.  For some, there will be no turning back.  Our only option is to give ourselves over to the even more terrifying and tumultuous stage of Unraveling, where we shed much of what we built in the early stages of our faith.  But for others, giving ourselves over to these shifts is too risky.  The best way to shortcut these painful feelings is to return to where we feel more comfortable – back to traditional systems and confines of a more defined and clear faith (Fusing).”

  • Feeling untethered and on shaky ground

2. “Regardless of how we get there, we start feeling untethered and on shaky ground after once feeling secure.”

  • Leaving behind the unstated and unwritten rules

3. “Affiliation, conformity, and certainty are intrinsically part of Fusing and help form what I call ‘My 10 Commandments of a Fused Faith,’ the unstated and unwritten rules of behavior and belief that guide our thoughts, feelings, and actions as believers.  These commandments summarize what directed us during the Fusing process and illustrate what we begin to leave behind as our faith shifts.  Each of us has different ones that come from our own unique experience…”

  • Don’t let what doesn’t work trip you up

4. “Don’t let what doesn’t work trip you up and instead focus on what does or what might.”

  • Celebrating or honoring

5. “This idea of celebrating or honoring is often missing from conversations during deconstructing and Unraveling.  We can share so much anger, angst, and harshness about what was wrong with our faith and church experiences that we forget that some things – many, actually – were right about them too.  Some of us have more good memories or substance than others to celebrate, but this practice can be incredibly restorative as we move beyond Unraveling and further into Rebuilding.”

  • Addressing the subtle or direct negative messages that block our movement

6. “…it’s impossible to ignite our passions without addressing the subtle or direct negative messages that block our movement.  We may have to accept that some of our friends and family may never understand, and we have to do what we need to do anyway…”

  • Exploring possibilities for community and connection

7. “Often, even the thought of risking, trusting, trying, engaging again in any organized context feels too overwhelming.  But part of moving forward as we rebuild our faith is exploring possibilities for community and connection.”

  • Cultivating a freer faith despite the costs

8. “Some people might have given up on us, but God hasn’t.  There is so much hope!  A huge sign of life is that we are actually still in, trying to talk about this hard stuff and willing to engage with difficult questions and painful realities.  People may criticize us and call us lost, angry, or a host of other adjectives, but the most enduring thing is that we’re still trying to find our way toward God…  It’s glorious that you are wrestling with cultivating a freer faith despite the costs.”

Where have you found signs of life after Unraveling?

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415369295&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415369366&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Living With the Unknown: 6 Fabulous Quotes from Kathy Escobar’s New Book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart  

9781601425430

This writing by Kathy Escobar is one of my favorite books I have ever read!  It will awaken your soul to the beautiful ways that God works after we have lost everything.  If you only read one book this year make this one your choice.  It will take you through the depths of despair, pain and confusion to a place of greater honesty, vulnerability and freedom.  Here are 6 quotes from the book:

  • It’s always best not to judge someone else’s story

1. “Part of the struggle is sometimes feeling guilty.  We may worry that others who are still Unraveling or haven’t rebuilt anything will think we’re stupid, playing it too safe, or selling out.  This can be extra tricky if we live with or are very close to someone who is still Unraveling.  Some deconstructors wear a badge of honor that says, ‘We picked it all apart, and we’re a lot smarter than everyone else.’  I realize now how unfair that is.  We each have our own experiences, and it’s always best not to judge someone else’s story.”

  • Reengage with greater wisdom, maturity, and authenticity

2. “Hope still exists when all appears lost.  A shifter’s overarching desire here is not to leave faith altogether but to rebuild something.  This time, we can reengage with greater wisdom, maturity, and authenticity.  We can color outside the lines and create something more fluid, creative, and artful.  We can rediscover old spiritual practices and bravely develop new ones.  We can begin to rebuild an active, passionate, simpler faith with fewer pieces but more depth.”

  • The process of Unraveling (and eventually Rebuilding)

3. “Some have likened the process of Unraveling (and eventually Rebuilding) to giving birth.  As a mom of five children, I did learn a thing or two through my birthing experiences that seem to parallel faith shifting.  Midwives coached me through three of the deliveries.  If I compare my midwife births to the one with a doctor (when I had my only daughter), there is no comparison in terms of the love, care, nurturing, and support that I received.  My midwives were gentle, strong, challenging, present, wise, compassionate, and patient in a time of extreme pain.”

  • Ignoring our real feelings for the sake of belonging

4. “When we are honest, most of us realize we experience uncomfortable feelings about God and church at some point, or at many points, in our faith journey.  Unfortunately, because there are few safe places to talk about the churning inside our souls, we squash it or pretend it doesn’t matter.  Worse, we believe – or are told – these feelings are somehow sinful, something we need to repent of.  We wonder if we prayed more, believed better, or tried harder, these doubts and questions would dissipate.  The powerful forces of affiliation, conformity, and certainty in Fusing can cause us to stop listening to our souls.  Our natural instinct is to ignore our real feelings for the sake of belonging.”

  • Sticking with the crowd

5. “It’s easier to go back, tuck away these new ideas, and stick with the crowd than to move into the land of even more disturbing questions…”

  • We have to live with the unknown

6. “We can’t know the ending once we’ve started.  In childbirth, we know a baby will be the end.  There’s no promise how long our labor will be.  In Unraveling, we aren’t quite sure what will emerge or how long it will take, and we have to live with the unknown.  If we think, Once I get through this, I’ll get my old passions back, we will be sorely disappointed.  The old is definitely gone, new is coming, but we don’t yet know what it looks like.  This is a tough point to embrace – that our faith experience as we knew it will never be the same.  The past is indeed gone and a new future is before us.  The good news?  Over time our faith can become much stronger and freer than we ever even hoped.”

Which is your favorite quote 1-6?

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Shift-Finding-Forward-Everything/dp/1601425430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415278103&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+escobar

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415278331&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Appreciating Our Uniqueness: 9 Wonderful Quotes from Kathy Escobar’s New Book – Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart.

9781601425430

This is such a great book, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart!  I appreciate the honesty, vulnerability and wisdom that Kathy Escobar brings to the table.  She is a guide to help others through shifting, unraveling and rebuilding.  This is difficult stuff to talk about and many of us do not know what to do when it comes to understanding our own formation process.  Here are 9 quotes from the book that are helpful:

1. There are no hard and fast rules

“There are no hard and fast rules for knowing you are ready for Rebuilding your faith after Unraveling…”

2. Humility, willingness, desire, and openness

“One of the hardest things about my shift has been interacting with other believers who maintain a list of what is necessary to believe and do in order to fit their narrow definition of a Christian.  It’s also a primary reason so many people shed the description of ‘Christian’ when they deconstruct and reconstruct.  I decided to hold on to the word in my effort to be part of redeeming it, but when people ask me if I am one, I usually say, ‘It depends on what you mean by Christian.’  When I look at the Gospels, I don’t see a long list of beliefs the first followers needed to sign off on.  Rather, I see Jesus calling the disciples to recognize their spiritual poverty and to move toward God with humility, willingness, desire, and openness.  These attitudes are incredibly important to the season of Rebuilding.  What we call ourselves isn’t.”

 3. Appreciating our uniqueness and embracing the freedom to be who we are

“Part of Rebuilding is appreciating our uniqueness (maybe for the first time) and embracing the freedom to be who we are (and to let others be who they are too).  Most church systems are built on a central path; people inside the system receive a message that ‘This is the way’ to connect with God.  When we aren’t wired the same way or we’ve shifted, such rules can really mess with our heads.”

4. It’s important not to reject or remain bitter about the past

“As we continue to move toward greater hope and freedom in our faith as part of Rebuilding, it’s important not to reject or remain bitter about the past…”

5. Looking for signs of life

“As we keep traveling forward on this bumpy, beautiful road looking for signs of life, we turn our attention to the passions we have inside of us to love, serve, create, advocate, and cultivate some of our dreams…”

6. Too jaded to dream

“Sometimes when I talk to groups of men and women about pursuing their dreams, I can actually feel people begin to shut down.  They are extremely wary of believing that dreams are possible.  Thoughts of pursuing passions beyond stable employment seem too much.  Often the unraveled are too jaded to dream.”

7. More expansive definitions of what community can be

“We’ve got to create more expansive definitions of what community can be.”

8. Greater freedom to reframe with new models

“A lot of us might be more open to church if we felt greater freedom to reframe it with new models…”

9. Into diversity, mystery, and freedom

“The path for spiritual refugees like us rarely leads back to where we were.  Usually it takes us around the next corner, and the next, further and further into the unknown, into diversity, mystery, and freedom.”

How have you lived into diversity, mystery, and freedom?

 

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 out 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