Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: love

Refusing To Be Discouraged 

IMG_7606As I have lived at Guadalupe House for the past six years, I am learning not to be discouraged in our work. When I allow myself to embrace the spirit of criticism or discouragement, I lose my sense of humility, vulnerability, and compassion. And that is the worst hell I can possibly create for myself as I live out my life as a Catholic Worker. It is a betrayal of my true self because the deepest ground of my being is love.

  • Learning through mistakes 

“We should not be discouraged at our own lapses… but continue.” Dorothy Day writes, “If we are discouraged, it shows vanity and pride. Trusting too much to ourselves. It takes a lifetime of endurance of patience, of learning through mistakes. We are all on the way.”

  • Embrace my own vulnerability 

Learning through my mistakes is difficult, but it helps me to embrace my own vulnerability and learn what it means to love.

  • Love is a mystery 

The word love is a mystery to me. Do I understand what it means? Do I even care to ask the question of this profound mystery?

  • Why am I so afraid of love?

Am I truly afraid to embody it? Why am I so afraid of love? Honestly, I don’t know.

  • We are afraid of the word love 

“We are afraid of the word love and yet love is stronger than death, stronger than hatred. If we do not emphasize the law of love, we betray our trust, our vocation. We must stand opposed to the use of force,” states Dorothy Day.

  • Live into the mystery of the unknown 

3d-abstract_other_the-mystery_61883It is hard to live up to these words of Dorothy Day, but my longing is to try the best I can. Maybe the fear of love will be too much, but maybe I might be surprised what happens if I continue to live into the mystery of the unknown.

  • Workers, guests, friends, and strangers 

I am always seeing God’s love through the people I encounter at the Catholic Worker in everyday life. It is truly a mystery that is hard to explain. Workers, guests, friends, and strangers all have something to give.

  • So much hospitality 

It all is amazing and never ending. I am so grateful to be a part of a community with so much hospitality. It makes me happy when I think about it. This gives me hope and meaning in my life.

  • God at work in people who don’t have the slightest interest in religion 

“The longer I live,” says Dorothy Day, “the more I see God at work in people who don’t have the slightest interest in religion…”

  • The most authentic expressions of God

Sometimes, the people who have the least interest in religion are the most authentic expressions of God to us. I was never taught this, but my life experience at age forty two is showing me how true this is in life. How weird! How backwards!

  • Refusing to be discouraged 

So I am refusing to be discouraged in this season of my life. Even though others may think my life is strange or unconventional, I am really grateful for what my life has become as a Catholic Worker. I am learning to see the sacredness of all of life and am finding God in all my relationships and experiences. And I am learning that I do not have to shy away from love as I do my best to embody it in our community in everyday life together.

Why is it so hard to refuse to be discouraged?

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

To Love And Be Loved – 6 quotes from Dorothy Day’s Writings – Dorothy Day: Selected Writings edited by Robert Ellsberg  

51DMVYF1ZQL1. To love and be loved

“Whenever I grown within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may, at any moment, become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself: What else is the world interested in? What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family, but to look upon all our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanely that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering of course, but joy too…”

2. Let us work together for solidarity

“We are all members, one of another, in the Mystical Body of Christ, so let us work together for… solidarity.”

3. Love is not killing

“Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing, it is the laying down of one’s life for one’s friends.”

4. Love and compassion

“The bridge – it seems to me – is love and the compassion (the suffering together) which goes with all love. Which means the folly of the Cross, since Christ loved men even to that folly of failure.”

5. An unjudging and forgiving community

“I still think that the only solution is the land, and community, a community in which is unjudging and which forgives ‘seventy times seven,’ as Jesus Christ said. We who think in terms of community at least have the assurance, the conviction that we are on the right path, going in the right direction, taking the right means to achieve the goal of increased love of God through an increased and proven love of our brothers. So many in these days have taken violent steps to gain the things of this world – war to achieve peace; coercion to achieve freedom; striving to gain what slips through the fingers. We might as well give up our great desires, at least our hopes of doing great things toward achieving them, right at the beginning. In a way it is like the paradox of the Gospel, of giving up one’s life in order to save it.”

6. The one action of the present momentContribution

“Young people say, ‘What can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we can only lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform these actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.”

Do we embody love in our lives together?

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

Let Us Love in Actions and in Truth

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It seems to me that sometimes our theology keeps us from loving others.  I am coming to see that any theology that does not lead me to love others is destructive.  God is love.  God is not judgement, condemnation and fear.

In my own life I am understanding more how God calls us beloved.  We are loved by God because we are unique and there is no one else is like us in the entire world.  I like that thought!  Our creator is abounding in loving kindness and leads us to make the space to be an expression of compassion into the world we live in.

  •  Let us love with actions and truth

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth …”  (1 John 3:18).

  •  Making space for others in our lives

The actions we need to love in truth have a lot to do with making space for others in our lives.  Without making space for others we cannot listen to them, be present with them, see the value and mystery within them, or sacrifice for them.  All of this takes time to develop, and we must put a priority on being in relationship like this in the parish.  Nothing else will do for the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life.

  •  Too busy

As Hugh Feiss states so clearly, “If we are too busy to make time for people who need us, whether they are strangers or neighbors, there is something wrong with our priorities …”

  •  Having no time to be relational in everyday life

We must not be too busy for others.  We must instead allow the communal imagination to set the priorities in our lives together.  How tragic when the body of Christ does not have time to be relational in everyday life.

  •  Love one another

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us …”  (1 John 4:11-12). 

  •  In our own uniqueness

Loving one another in the parish entails making space for each other in our own uniqueness.  This must become a priority to all in the body of Christ.

  •  Basic universal acts of love

“To merely welcome another, to provide for him or her, to make a place,” Dallas Willard writes, “is one of the most life-giving and life-receiving things a human being can do.  They are the basic universal acts of love.  Our lives were meant to be full of such acts …”

  •  The most meaningful thing we can do

The most meaningful thing we can do as the body of Christ is to make space in our lives for others out of love.  This is relational and this promotes love.  Our lives should be full of love for others as we become an expression of Christ’s life here on earth in the place that we share life with others.

How can we make space for others in our lives?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431439594&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Love and Judgment Do Not Go Together  

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What I think of most when I hear the word Christianity is judgment.  It seems I have seen more judgmental expressions of Christianity than anything else.  Words like love, humility, vulnerability, compassion, honesty, simplicity and unity are often times far removed from what I have seen of Christianity in North America.  This leaves Christians to become far removed from experiencing the church as a community of love and not judgment.

Judgment, marginalization, oppression and colonialism are often times what Christianity has produced in our coveted wealth, greed and power.  We have tried to cultivate a Christianity that wants almost nothing to do with those who live in poverty.  We condemn the poor and many others who we think are not like us in our “righteousness.”  But we have missed the vulnerable Jesus in the process.

We worship a God of our own making who is full of judgment, wrath and condemnation.  We like this God because it represents who we are as judgmental, wrathful and condemning toward others.  This is far from the love that God has called us to embody as we live our lives following the way of compassion, kindness and grace.

  •  Show proper respect

“Show proper respect to everyone …”  (1 Peter 2:17).

  •  Discriminating against ourselves

We all have the tendency to judge others.  But to judge others is to deny them proper respect.  When we judge one another we discriminate against ourselves and lose our hold on love.  Judging others hinders us from loving others.

  •  Love each other deeply

“Above all, love each other deeply …”  (1 Peter 4:8).

  •  We need to love, not judge

We need to love as the body of Christ, not judge.  Judging others tends to be the religious thing to do nowadays.  We don’t want to get caught up in all this religious stuff.  Instead, we want to love others in a contextual way within the particulars of everyday life in the parish.

  •  Judging others does more damage than we sometimes realize

Judging others does more damage than we sometimes realize.  The communal imagination doesn’t judge others but loves them compassionately.

  •  Do not judge

“Do not judge, or you too will judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”  (Matthew 7:1-5).

  •  Christ does not want us going around judging everyone

It is very clear that Christ does not want the members of his body going around judging everyone.

  •  A nonjudgmental spirituality

Bruxy Cavey states, “Jesus promoted a nonjudgmental spirituality… Those who follow Jesus are called to represent God’s love to others, but not his judgment …”  

  •  The common human experience

This “nonjudgmental spirituality” communicates love relationally.  Christ calls us to love, not to judge.  We all would rather be loved than judged.   This is a common human experience.

  •  Judging others keeps us from listening and being present

Judging others keeps us from listening and being present in relationship. Judging others keeps us from practicing compassion.  And compassion is at the heart of spirituality.  Christ’s love is what we want to express with our lives, not a judgmental attitude that robs us of anything authentic.

  •  Embodying love toward others

It is so easy to judge and much harder to embody love toward others.  If we are to learn to love we have to let go of our need to judge others.  Judging others is violent and cruel.  It is devaluing and not liberating.

  •  Judging demands nothing of us

It gives us control over those we judge.  It is safe and predictable.  It demands nothing of us.

  •  Love is more powerful than judgment

It is boring and uncreative.  But love is more powerful than judgment.  It overcomes its power to devalue and control, and helps us to become alive and free.

  •  Walking in the Spirit and practicing compassion

When we love we become nonjudgmental.  How freeing it is not to judge others and to demonstrate our love in our local context.  Christ is leading us to take on this nonjudgmental attitude and learn to love in the place we inhabit together.  It has a lot to do with walking in the Spirit and practicing compassion.

  •  We are chained to our ego when we judge

We are chained to our ego when we judge.  There is real liberation when we love together as the body of Christ in the parish.  It can liberate our imaginations and free us to be more communal.

Do you think judging others promotes love, peace and compassion?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429590179&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Do You Think That Love is Small and Insignificant?

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May we be the embodiment of love.  Let love live within our bodies.  Love is the most valuable thing in the entire world.  We desire to know what is it like to love with our entire lives.

Help us to long to be an expression of love in the place we live.  May we understand that love is the foundation of community among us.  Love is the greatest thing we can do in our lives.

Consume us with love.  May love motivate everything we do.  Without love, we cannot be our true selves.  Without love, we struggle to be compassionate and empathetic toward others.  We need love more than anything else in life.

Love is who you are.  Love will lead us to authenticity.  May our dreams be shaped by love for the world.  We refuse to live in a world without love.  Love will make us human again.

  •  Love is not “spiritual” enough for us

Loving others is all about what the world perceives as too small and too ordinary for it to possibly be of God.  Love is not “spiritual” enough for us. Love is not considered “religious” enough for us.  Love does not fit into our programs and services.

  •  Love cannot be boxed up

Love cannot be controlled because it is everywhere.  Love cannot be boxed up into propositional statements.  Love cannot be figured out.  Love is relational.

  •  Love is mysterious, subversive, countercultural and relational

Love is mysterious.  Love is subversive.  Love is countercultural.  Love is miraculous.

  •  The small hard-to-see things of life

We are to pay attention to the small, hard-to-see things of life in the parish.

  •  God is love

“God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…”  (I John 4:16).

  •  Having eyes for the small

The communal imagination needs eyes for the small.  It is through the small that we live our lives.  Christ always manifests himself to us through the small.

  •  Take one step at a time

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, says in her book Loaves and Fishes, “Young people say, What good can one person do?  What is the sense of our small effort?  They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus did the loaves and fishes.

  •  Our love could be multiplied again and again

Our love could be multiplied again and again as we do the small things that build relational care in the parish.  Are we on a path that will give our lives to explore the small things of love?  Jesus is waiting for us in the small particulars of life.  He is wanting some collaboration and partnership around the small things where he lives and dwells.

  •  Love comes from God

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…”  (1 John 4:7).

  •  Embodying the communal imagination

The body of Christ needs to love through the small things that confuse those who all the time want what is bigger and better.  We need to embody this communal imagination together in the parish through doing what is small.

  •  Small, insignificant things

Dwight J. Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, points out, “One of the most striking aspects of the good news is the way God seems to delight in using small, insignificant things … to bring about fantastic transformation …”

Do you live like God is love?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429309971&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Top 11 Reasons Why Love Matters

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Love seems to be so simple yet one of the most difficult things to practice.  I am coming to find that my true self is love.  When I love is when I have connected to that authentic part of me which is love.  I believe that I was made to be an expression of love.

When I don’t love I am living out of my false self.  The self that is masked in illusions, pretense and the fabrications of my own making.  The false self is a fiction that sometimes I want to believe in.  The true self is what I am called into which is love.

Love is always the best way to live.  No one wants violence against them, oppression and abuse.  And love is never oppressive, abusive or violent.  There is hope in that.

Here are my top 11 reasons why I think love matters above anything else in the world.

1. Without love nothing makes sense

Without love nothing makes sense in the place that we live.  Everything gets really weird really fast without love.  How many of us have known people who get really weird by becoming controlling, judgmental, and manipulative around “spiritual” themes or “ministries”?

2. Everything else is a distraction

I think this happens because we are not rooting our faith in love.  It is rooted in something much more appealing to us.  There are a million things to root our faith in besides love and we are being pulled to do just that.

3. Spirituality is rooted in love 

But David G. Benner says, “No account of Christian spirituality is complete if it fails to give a central place to love …”

4. Love builds community among us

Love is what makes the communal imagination holistic.  Love makes the body of Christ live.  Love is what brings healing to our lives.  Love builds community in our neighborhood.

5. Love makes us human

Love is what will shape the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life. Love keeps us sane.  Love makes us human in so many ways.

6. Love is the greatest thing we can do

John M. Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizes that, “Loving each other … might just be the greatest thing we can do …”

7. Love brings liberation

Our love could be the thing that brings liberation to us all in the parish.  Our love is to be a part of our salvation, redemption and sanctification as the body of Christ.  As we live together in the proximity of a neighborhood, we will all be shaped through relationship.

8. Love will do ordinary relational miracles of reconciliation between us

We can become great through love.  We cannot become great in any other way!  Our love as the body of Christ together in the particulars of everyday life will do miracles among us.

9. Loves guides and teaches us what is real

How we show that we are spiritually attuned to reality is by our love.  Love is the way of a relational life in the parish.  Love guides and teaches us how to discern what is real.  Love is the only relevant factor in our relationships within the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life.

“There is one thing we must understand, however,” writes William A. Meninger, “and that is that our love must dominate our action and give it direction …”

10. Loves makes us a “peculiar people”

If love is not present within us, we literally have nothing to build our faith on together.  If love dies within us, we soon become less than human.  We become objects to the systems of our culture and cease to be a “peculiar people” in our local context.

11. Love shapes us constantly

Love must possess and dominate all that we do.  Love must shape us and change us constantly.  Love must capture our imaginations and become communal in the place where we live.  Everything we do must stem from this love.

Why do you think love is important?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429137904&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Embracing an Embodied, Relational Way of Love

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The mystery of love is very compelling.  There is something about love that is longed for within us.  We all wanted to be valued, cared for and treated with respect rather than abused.  I think this means we all want to be loved.

And my experience is that God is love.  We are all created in the image of God so we have the capacity to love as God does.  I have seen too many people who believe in becoming an expression of judgment rather than love in the name of God.  And this is why so many people have dismissed the church and rightly so.

The church’s lack of love has contributed to too much atheism in the world.  I lament over this.  It is sad to see a God who is so beautiful become misrepresented so much by people who are addicted to power, wealth, greed and individualism.

Where are the people who want to become an expression of love, humility, simplicity, vulnerability, honesty and grace?  This would be a truly beautiful way to live if we could long for it.  But a lot of times we just don’t care that much and we settle for apathy.

  • Embodied, relational, communal imagination

This communal imagination to love in a place will liberate us all to become more human.  This has been my own experience.  I understand my own humanity better because of the embodied, relational, communal imagination that I am a part of in my neighborhood.

  • Love never fails

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away …

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love…  (1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13).

  • Love is the story we are to enter into

I love this passage of Scripture because it is the major theme of all of the New Testament.  Love is the story that we are to enter into.  It is everything.

  • Becoming an expression of 1 Corinthians 13

We are to inhabit our local context as the body of Christ living into this posture toward all of life.  This is what will shape us relationally.  I want to become an expression of 1 Corinthians 13 together with my friends in our neighborhood.

  • When we lose sight of love

Thomas Merton states, “When we lose sight of the central element in Christian holiness, which is love, and we forget that the way to fulfill the Christian commandment to love is not something remote and esoteric, but is on the contrary something immediately before us, then the Christian life becomes complicated and very confusing.  It loses the simplicity and the unity which Christ gave it in his gospel, and it becomes a labyrinth of unrelated precepts, counsels, ascetic principles, moral cases, and even of legal and ritual technicalities.  These things become difficult to understand in proportion as they lose their connection with charity which unites them all and gives them all an orientation to Christ.

How can we become an expression of love together in everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428433842&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 Ways Seeing Can Empower Our Lives

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What does blindness mean?  I often ask myself this question as I pursue what is authentic to me.  Have I become blind to my responsibility to be an expression of love in the world?  I believe that when we stop living with a posture of love we become blind.

Are the religious blind?  I think they are sometimes because a lot of people do not live valuing love in their lives.  And many people live this way as they proclaim a God of love.  But nobody is listening because they have stopped seeing clearly and have virtually no love for anyone.  This is a sad tragedy for sure.

I am coming to see that most of theology is meaningless without love.  Without love we cannot understand a mysterious God who is the creator of love.  Everyone wants to be loved and valued so why can’t we figure out how to be an expression of this love instead of an expression of judgement.  It seems that Jesus taught that love is the center of everything.

Here is a longing of my soul to be an expression of love:

Lead us to be an expression of love.  Let love guide everything we do.  We want this more than what money can buy, what entertainment can offer and what power can obtain.  Love is all that matters.

Without love we are destroying the beautiful world around us.  We are destroying one another.  We are trapped in our blindness.  We cannot see without love.

Take our blindness away.  We want to love more than anything else in life, but we don’t always know how.  Show us what this all means.  We want to be an authentic expression of love in the world.  Live in us and lead us into this way of love.

Love will heal our world.  Love is the center of all your teachings.  Love is the greatest expression of life in our humanity.  Love is a foreign concept to us many times, sad to say.

Here are 10 ways we can see clearer and become empowered in everyday life.

1. Recover wisdom

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

2. Become more mindful (loving) and aware (full of grace)

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 an ordinary mystic.  We become more mindful and aware.  We become more loving and full of grace.

3. Become passionate about faithful presence

We develop more of a longing for the God of mystery.  We become people of wonder and grace.  We become passionate about faithful presence in the place we live.

4. Read our world with a hermeneutic of love

Elaine A. Heath asks the question as she states, “…what would it mean to read our world with a hermeneutic of love?”      

5. Puts us in a posture of listening

Seeing with a sense of clarity puts us into a posture of receiving wisdom and listening.  Seeing with a sense of clarity gives us an imagination for the body of Christ in everyday life in the parish.  As we practice more and more, God slowly reveals to us the mysterious, beautiful ways of deep wisdom.  But these revelations do not come so fast, they come very slow.

6. Discover the relational revelations within us and around us

We cannot force them, but we must live with an openness where we can listen when we discover something of their nature.  This is the purpose of our lives here on earth in the place we live.  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.

7. Value and honor the body

“The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light…” (Mathew 6:22). 

8. Become aware of the beauty in the world around us

Seeing with a sense of clarity is the light to our bodies.  We will have greater clarity if we become aware of the beauty in the world around us.  Beauty, light, body, place, love, humility, grace, practice, simplicity, faithful presence all integrate into creating a sense of clarity within us as we follow Christ together through the mystical imagination.

9. Become expressions of love in the world

The mysterious God is revealed slowly in unpredictable ways through all of this process of cultivating clarity and direction within us.  Our eyes and bodies need to be open to an imaginative light within us.  There is so much potential and clarity that awaits to be discovered if we would only seek to find this wisdom and listen in our confusion.  This is a difficult discipline so we need to allow the mystical imagination to guide us into our discipleship to become expressions of love in the world.

10. Become disciplined in our practice

Henri J.M. Nouwen writes, “Discipleship, however, calls for discipline.  Indeed, discipleship and discipline share the same linguistic root (from discere, which means “to learn from”), and the two should never be separated.  Whereas discipline without discipleship leads to rigid formalism, discipleship without discipline ends in sentimental romanticism…”

Do you think love is more important than theology, creeds and rituals?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426262970&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination+finding+a+way+to+share+life+toget

7 Ways to Cultivate Christ Living Within You

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I am coming to see that all of life is about the love I express through Christ living in me.  This Christ consciousness is revealing to me my true self in all of its beauty.  I am finding liberation, beauty, creativity and a deeper way of being in the world.  All of this is becoming the center and identity of who I am more than how much money I have, what I do for work or what others think of me.

Even though I may be marginalized for the love I hold within me, I will continue to move forward in the spirit of gentleness, humility and compassion.  Jesus has taught me that life is about love and nothing else.  My true identity is found in being an expression of love.  This is the authentic life of interdependence, community and neighborliness.

Here are 8 way we can cultivate Christ living within us.

1. Uncover the buried treasures within you

When we practice a contemplation spirituality, we begin to have an ongoing epiphany of Christ within us.  This idea of Christ living within us is not just an abstract theological concept, but a living reality.  We begin to uncover the buried treasures within us that have gone untapped for many years.

We start to understand that there is much more within our bodies than blood, bones, arteries and organs.  We start to understand more that Christ lives within our very bodies in some mysterious way.  So much of scripture points to this.

I cannot imagine a true Christianity where followers of Christ do not embody this.  Christ in us is the greatest truth we hold onto.  Without this truth the mystical imagination cannot become fully alive within us.  The realization of Christ within us is our very strength in everyday life together.

2. Create a pathway through contemplation

Christ within us is how the Holy Spirit makes us fully alive and fully human.  Contemplation creates a pathway in our souls for us to see this more clearly.  We develop conviction around nurturing the life of Christ within us.

3. Speak a new language of love, grace and compassion through your body

We allow the life of Christ to live within us.  We allow our bodies to communicate the life of Christ beyond language, as an embodied practice in everyday life.  We speak a new language of love, grace and compassion.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).

Christ lives within our everyday lives together in the place we inhabit.  The mystical imagination reveals the truth of Christ living within us.

4. Embrace all of life as sacred

We cannot ignore this realization.  Our spirituality is not about morality per se, but about Christ living in us through contemplative awareness.  Christ living in us makes all of life sacred as the kingdom of God lives within us.

5. Honor the image of God in others

Christ living in us helps us to live in our bodies.  Christ living in us creates mindfulness and awareness in our lives together in the parish.  When we realize that Christ is living in us, we can honor the image of God within others.  There is so much of the image of God in others all around us.  Our contemplation shows us this reality constantly.

Our souls cry out for Christ to become alive within us.  Our souls want to experience the beauty, goodness, peace, love, grace and kindness of Christ within us.  Our bodies were created for nothing else.

6. Be an expression of Christ’s love here in this world

We are to be an expression of Christ’s life here in this world.  This is the kingdom of God within.  We cannot be an embodied expression of love if Christ is not living out the kingdom of God within us.  We are called to embody the kingdom of God as Christ lives in us.

Steven Chase says, “The Christian understanding that God is present and lives within, at the core of the soul, is suggested in numerous passages in Scripture…  It is the basis of how we live our lives and how we are in relation with others as we cherish the image of the living God within them…”

7. Cultivate a listening spirit

Our contemplation cultivates a listening spirit within us that brings us to a deeper consciousness of Christ living in us.  This consciousness of Christ living in us brings about an interior revolution that slowly liberates us from within.  Our Christ consciousness begins to cultivate the mystical imagination within and among us.  We can no longer objectify Christ when we realize that this life is not outside of ourselves, but within ourselves.

Christ is a part of our very existence and the core of who we are.  Christ is more than an object.  Christ is the creator of all that is beautiful and good within us.  Our entire lives are sacred and Christ lives within our sacredness.

Have you embraced the awareness of the life of Christ living within you?  Do you believe nothing good lives in you or do you believe in your beauty?  Have you embraced all of life as sacred or have you given up on the sacredness of life?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422991515&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

God is Love: Let’s Stop Stoning Others  

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What is the meaning of life?  I have asked myself this question for decades.  My understanding right now is that life is about being an expression of love in the world.  Nothing else matters in life.

If God is love – than why do we have a hard time with a kind, gentle, compassionate love that is based in humility?  This is the kind of person Jesus was as he walked the earth.  I want to follow this way of love.

  • The movie called Agora

I recently saw a movie called Agora that was completely sad and disturbing.  The movie was set in the Roman Egyptian time of the fourth century as Christians started to kill all the people who they perceived as worshiping other gods.  They killed them with swords or stoned people to death by throwing large amounts of rocks at them.

There was a respected woman philosopher named Hypatia of Alexandria, one of the main characters, who was trying to bring peace to the land.  But she eventually had to flee for her life as the Christians were taking over everything.  She could not conform to what the Christians wanted her to believe because she refused to live in certainty.  Hypatia lived in her questions as she constantly practiced deep reflection and a religious system that told her she could no longer embody this way of life would be too difficult for her.

The Christians eventually condemned her of ungodliness and witchcraft.  So they arrested her, stripped her naked and stoned her to death.  As I watched this movie, a deep sadness awoke in me of how characteristic this is of Christians today who condemn, judge, stigmatize and devalue others because we perceive them as worshipping a different God.

  • Do we believe God is love?

A friend of mine recently lamented that those who say that God is love don’t seem to believe in it.  They treat others who are struggling or in poverty as if they have no worth or dignity.  If we say we believe that God is love, but show nothing but apathy toward love, this is the worst kind of practice that brings destruction into our world.

  • We are good at stoning others, but not so good at love

This is the worst form of violence.  It is like we are picking up rocks and throwing them at people’s heads until they die because of the wounds being caused by the stones.  Christians are good at stoning others in judgment, but not so good at caring for others out of love.  Jesus never stoned anyone and told those condemning others that he who is without sin should throw the first stone.

What makes Christians think they can condemn people with stones and devalue their humanity in the process.  Doesn’t Jesus say that many will say to him, “Look at all the things we have done for you” and he will reply, “Depart from me because I never knew you?  It seemed you had no desire to show love in the world, but only wanted to throw rocks at others.”

  • Jesus weeps when we throw rocks at others in arrogance and judgment

Jesus weeps when we throw rocks at people in arrogance, judgment and apathy toward love.  But sadly this is what a lot of Christianity has become, a belief system with no practice of love.  This, I believe, is the major cause of atheism in the world.  The arrogant Christian with no love, grace and humility is the most manipulative individual on the face of the earth.

Why do we stone or judge others in everyday life?

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