Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: longing

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

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  • 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

Lead Us on the Path of Love

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We long for something more authentic than this North American box we’ve been put into.  Help us to dance the dance of freedom.  May we be kind, gentle, compassionate and honest.  We are wounded, lonely and afraid.

We dream of you all throughout our days.  You are like the wind on our face on a hot summer day.  You bring us life, peace and a sense of meaning.  Allow us to understand our interconnectedness.

Be to us our life.  Show us the way of love, humility, vulnerability and grace.  We are disillusioned with the church that is supposed to represent you.  This breaks our hearts.  This makes us cry.

Why is everything so messed up.  We lament the violence done in your name.  We lament the colonialism that Christianity has brought into the world.  We repent of what we have done in the name of God that is not representative of love.

Love is all that matters, but we have loved money way too much in our individualistic culture.  Progress has caused us to live the cut throat life of competition.  We are sad and want to resist this in whatever way we can.  Help us to live a sense of sanity in the midst of our violence.

May we learn to be more aware, attentive and responsive toward love.  May we be compassionate and truthful.  May we allow Christ to live within us.  The ego has drowned us into propositional statements of doctrine, creeds, formulas and ideas based on you.

God save us from God.  We have boxed you up into our intellectual minds and have not allowed the body to experience you.  We have forsaken love and compassion turning toward our individualistic ways of subtle violence.  This all seems so normal and acceptable where we have lost a consciousness to anything beyond the status quo.

We are content in our boxes of fear, anger and violence.  We have separated ourselves from our neighbors.  We lament over our hatred, bitterness and prejudice.  We have lost our path to love.

We care more about our houses, cars, family and money than recreating our identity in a compassionate way of love.  We want to be free from what is of the false self.  We want to be our true self and learn to see the sacredness of all of life.  We are made for community, compassion, grace, humility and love.

Our consumerism has choked us to death.  Our individualistic ways have buried our imaginations within us.  Authenticity has become foreign to us.  The church has made us sick in its unhealthy ways of power and wealth.

We have abandoned the poor, oppressed and marginalized among us.  We have rejected you as we ignore the poor.  Help us to understand that what we do to them is what we do to you.  We lament over the disrespect we show others.

Our souls have not been valuable to us.  We struggle to care for our own growth.  Serenity has been trampled under our feet.  We have destroyed our expression of love and have given in to making money as our first priority.

Lead us on the path of love.  Love is what will heal our world.  Love is what is of the true self.  Love will help us to overcome our individualistic violence.

What resonates with you?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418495981&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

What is Your Deepest Longing?

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Over the years, I have developed a longing for God at great expense.  My family has not understood my passion.  They have wanted me to pursue an upward mobility of money, career, prestige and possessions.  I have not wanted these things for myself.

  •  Distracting me from all I want in life

I have not wanted these things because I know what they would do to my soul, to my growth, to my formation.  They would kill my imagination.  They would kill my longing for God.  They would distract me from all I want in life.

  •  Wanting an authentic spirituality

What I want is an authentic spirituality in which I can seek God holistically being a part of the body of Christ in everyday life in the place I live.  Nothing else matters to me that much.  I don’t seem to care too much for money, prestige or possessions.

  •  Wanting to live with the poor

I want to live with the poor.  I want to practice a contemplative spirituality.  I want to share life with others in my neighborhood.  These are the things I most want.

  •  Taken some bumps and bruises along the way

My longings lead me to such things.  But our culture does not want to see its counterculture it seems.  So I have taken some bumps and bruises along the way.

  •  My longings will not allow me to quit

It has not been easy all of the time.  It has taken a life of discipline to create.  It has taken a mystical imagination to sustain.  Sometimes I think I want to quit, but my longings will not allow me to.

  •  I cannot ignore my longing for God

They are too developed within me over the years to ever forget about their leadings.  I cannot ignore my longing for God.  I cannot ignore my neighbors who need love.  I cannot ignore the place I inhabit.

  •  A boundary I will have to live with

I cannot ignore my imagination.  My parents are probably still upset with such an “irresponsible” son who has renounced many things in life, but that is a boundary I will have to live with.  I need to live the life God has called me to in my own authentic way.

  •  Growing up as a Catholic

I remember growing up as a Catholic.  My parents took us to church almost every Sunday.  I did not like church that much and never thought about God really.  But I remember having a distinct thought one Sunday morning which I had never thought before.

  •  I could not imagine anyone ever giving their life to God

A thought crossed my mind, “What if some ordinary person had given their entire life to God?  What would that look like?”  Then I had a second thought quickly after that, “That would never happen.”  I could not imagine anyone ever giving their life to God.  Why would anyone want to do that?

  •  God has been cultivating my longing and imagination

But as time has went on, I am coming to see that I am becoming that person in my thoughts who has given his entire life to God.  God has been cultivating my longing and imagination for a long time.  I still don’t really like institutional structures that much, but God has been cultivating a longing for a holistic counterculture within me.  I want to influence the body of Christ today in our postmodern culture to do something different in the world.

How has God been cultivating your longing throughout life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413989323&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Responding to a Longing Within

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Growing up as a Catholic, I always thought that Christianity was about being a good moral person.  I had a hard time with embracing an embodiment of communing with God as a lifestyle in everyday life as a part of the body of Christ in the place I lived.  I didn’t understand longing for God.  I didn’t understand the purpose of the body of Christ.  If I could be good on my own, why did I need the church?

  • Being a nice boy

I was the model moral kid if ever there was one most of the time in my life.  I did not drink or smoke or swear.  I treated others with kindness and respect.  I was very quiet and shy, but I was a nice boy.

  • Not responding to life out of my longing for God

One time someone at a movie theatre that I worked at asked me if I was a Christian.  I told them that I was, but I really only thought being a Christian meant being a moral person where you didn’t harm anyone and were kind to others.  Now this is important in life, but I was not responding to life out of my longing for God.  It was only out of the way I chose to live because it made sense to me for some reason in a rational kind of way.

  • Being a good moral individualist

I wasn’t much interested in the body of Christ or reflection and rest.  I was an individualist, but a good moral individualist.  I didn’t see anything wrong with this.  I called the moral shots in my life and that’s how it was.

  • Letting life respond to a longing within   

I would try to read scripture out of a moral obligation to God, not out of my longing for God.  There was very little longing for God within me, just a rational morality that seemed to make sense.  After experiencing some depression and a loss of identity on the things I was building my life on, I came to realize that Christianity is not about a morality that I could construct.  It is about cultivating a longing for my Creator and letting my life respond to that.

  • For the common good of our neighbors

Morality can become a box we become trapped in if the priority is on being good over longing for God through reflection and rest.  All of our life should be a response to our reflection and rest as the body of Christ in the parish.  Our lack of reflection and rest will affect not just us personally, but will ultimately affect the world around us.  Our reflection and rest is not to be pursued as an individual self help technique, but is for the common good of our neighbors who we live with in our locality.

How can we live out of our longing for God?