Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: place

How Our Gifts Can Flourish

images (39)

I used to think that I had no gifts to offer anyone.  I was depressed, isolated and beaten down by life.  My confidence was gone and my self-esteem suffered.  I became detached and unaware of my true self.  The self that was authentic, full of love, wisdom, kindness, grace and serenity.

After many years I began to think about community more.  What could this look like?  How could I root myself in a place seeing this place as my parish, the place where I share life with others and practice a spirituality of love in everyday life.  The church as I had known it offered very little to me as far as encouraging me on an authentic, vulnerable path.

So I do not believe in the systems that we call “church” anymore that do not support a person’s life of authenticity.  I have become so disillusioned about everything.  The love of God is so beautiful to me, but the church systems that we have created do not manifest that love very much.  Often times our church systems create a rigid life of conformity, judgment and oppressive hierarchies which make almost no room for community among us.

How can anyone find their giftedness in all of this?  How can we manifest community in all of this?  How can we find a rootedness in all of this?  How can we find some peace in all of this?

It seems my various gifts as I live rooted in my local community have not been seen and valued by what we call the “church” as we know it.  This has made me angry in the past, but I am over it.  I don’t care what others think anymore.  I am learning to take responsibility for my own feelings.

What we have labeled as “church” in North America no longer makes sense to me.  It seems not to recognize the gifts we all bring to each other’s lives as neighbors.  When the church has more focus on mobility, wealth and buildings it becomes lame in my opinion and losses all meaning to me.  I want to have a rooted faith in my local community where I can live in simplicity, love and humility as I share life together with others in everyday life.

I don’t want to “go to church” in a building that boxes me up and secludes me from society.  I want to be the church in a place together with others where I experience community, love, grace, compassion, honesty, vulnerability, friendship and hospitality.  This is where our gifts can flourish!

  •  All of us have gifts to contribute

All of us have gifts to contribute to our locality.  There are many ways to contribute our lives to the lives of others in the place that we inhabit together.  All of us have relational gifts that contribute to the local fabric of social care in the parish.

  •  Using our gifts for the common good

Brian D. McLaren says, “We should use our gifts for the common good…” 

  •  Our gifts live within us all

Our gifts are manifested in our humanity naturally through relational integration.  Our gifts live within us all.  We have gifts of love, gifts of grace, gifts of humility, gifts of authenticity, gifts of listening, gifts of compassion, gifts of presence, gifts of honesty, gifts of vulnerability, gifts of empathy, gifts of friendship, gifts of reconciliation, gifts of forgiveness, gifts of nonviolence, gifts of sensuousness, gifts of celebration, gifts of joy, gifts of seeing beauty, gifts of kindness, gifts of gentleness, gifts of peace, gifts of patience, gifts of learning from others and gifts of passion.

  •  Relational engagement with others in everyday life

Gifts don’t necessarily have to do with skills that we do; but are more about the things we manifest within us through relational engagement with others in everyday life.  We have a multitude of gifts living within us all; but they cannot develop without an integration of taking ownership, investing and responsibility in a place.  These gifts are place-based and flourish within the parish imagination for the common good.

What gifts do you have that sometimes go ignored?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431116224&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Top 12 Ways to Embrace the Wisdom of Stability

Weidner - 00557 - Graphical Abstract sm

After eleven years of being rooted in the place that I live in Downtown Tacoma, I am coming to see that stability is important to my humanity.  The biggest thing about stability is that it teaches me to love my neighbors.  It is not always easy to be rooted in a place when almost everything in our society is about moving on and consuming new experiences in new places.  A lot of us move from place to place every couple of years for various reasons and never give ourselves enough time staying somewhere long enough to find a sense of belonging and community.

1. Slow down

Gerald W. Schlabach writes, “In an obsessively mobile society, one wonders whether Christians can be the body of Christ together at all if we will not slow down and stay longer… and practice something like a vow of stability.  Slow down: because there is no way to discern God’s will together without commitment to sit long with one another in the first place.  A vow of stability: because it is no use discerning appropriate ways to be Christian disciples in our age if we do not embody those ways through time, testing, and the patience with one another that transform good ideas and intentions into communal practices…” 

2. Value the years together

We need years together of practicing stability in the parish to embody love, compassion and grace.  We need a shared history together throughout time to practice our discipleship with others.  We need to be put to the test by the stability we practice together as the body of Christ in everyday life.  The parish imagination will test our commitment.

3. Allow our authenticity, love and humanity to be shaped in us

The parish imagination will test our authenticity.  The parish imagination will test our love.  The parish imagination will test our humanity.  Stability will either shape us to become disciples or we will give up on our faith altogether and lead individualistic lives.

4. Do the hard work

Stability is hard work and does not come easy in a culture that has forgotten this virtue.  But the parish imagination is calling out to us for a rootedness in the place we live.

5. Become accountable to the place we live

As we practice the value of stability, we cannot live individualistically anymore.  We are encountered with a shared life with others.  We cannot escape this possibility anymore.  It is our place that we are accountable to.

6. Resist colonialism

We cannot misuse the parish if we care for it.  We cannot practice colonialism if we care for the good of others.  We cannot ignore our local context when we have a parish imagination of rootedness.

7. Have an openness to life with other people

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove says in his insightful book The Wisdom Of Stability, “Stability demands that we do the long, hard work of life with other people in the place where we are.” 

8. Count the cost

Stability will requires everything from us.  Stability will require a strength of perseverance.  Stability has deep wisdom to reveal to us in everyday life.

9. Life, identity and purpose become reimagined in us   

Stability teaches us of life with others.  Stability teaches us compassion.  Stability teaches us humility.  Stability teaches us how to love.

10. Learn relational connection

Stability teaches us relational connection.  Stability teaches us grace.  Stability teaches us simplicity.  Stability teaches us proximity.

11. Become the body of Christ together

We abandon stability at our own peril.  If the body of Christ will not practice stability it ceases to exist.  There is no body of Christ in everyday life without stability.

12. Take a relational wisdom seriously

We cannot even understand the scriptures anymore without a practice of stability.  Stability reveals a relational wisdom that cannot be found anywhere else.  We need to take the practice of stability in the place we live seriously as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

What do you think about the wisdom of stability in a mobile culture?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430570915&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 Ways the Parish Imagination Will Lead You

images (31)

I love the idea of the parish as being a place where you live and become connected in everyday life in community with others.  This has been so healing for me as I have now lived in the place I am at for almost eleven years now.  Time has gone by fast and I am getting older, but this experience for me over the last decade has shaped me tremendously.

I no longer go to church because the parish to me is not a building or a meeting, but a place I am becoming faithfully present to.  The parish is the neighborhood that is becoming a part of my salvation, my identity, my history, my true self, my vocation, my passion, my hope.  A lot of times I feel like a marginalized exile, but I am coming to terms with losing all expectations of where my life will take me.  I am trying not to fear and just live into the authenticity I know right now.

After more than a decade of exploring this new paradigm of what I think the church is, I am becoming more free, creative and alive.  I am discovering my true self that is beautiful, authentic and beloved by God.  Vulnerability is not so frightening.  Fear is not so overwhelming.

Jesus is teaching me to love.  I am leaning to be less like a Pharisee and more compassionate.  I am learning that all that matters is love in everyday life with others in community.  This is what my imagination is drawn to.  This is my hope and dream for the world I live in.

Here are 10 ways the parish imagination has led me and can lead you too:

1. To love our neighbors together in everyday life

The parish imagination has been ignored for too long.  We need the parish imagination if we want any kind of legitimacy before our neighbors in our changing culture.  We need the parish imagination to love our neighbors in everyday life together.

Wendell Berry states, “…you must reach for a reality that is inaccessible merely to observation or perception but that also requires imagination, for imagination knows more than the eye sees…” 

2. To create an embodied expression

The parish imagination may seem like an impossibility, but if we lived more in tune with our imaginations God could do ordinary miracles among us.  We need to reach for the parish imagination at all times.  We are not the body of Christ together without an embodied expression of the parish imagination in the place we inhabit.

3. To follow the leading of the Holy Spirit of love, compassion and humility

The parish imagination is where the Holy Spirit is leading us.  The Holy Spirit is teaching us the importance of the parish imagination in the place we inhabit.  The parish imagination can embody things that we have never experienced before.  We can be faithfully present to the parish imagination in our everyday lives together in beautiful ways.

4. To become creative and innovative

God has created us with powerful imaginations that are extremely creative and innovative if we practice cultivating them.  God has not abandoned our imaginations, but resides within them.  God manifests love to the world through the parish imagination in the place we inhabit.

Richard J. Foster writes, “God created us with an imagination…” 

We are created with a parish imagination to be the body of Christ together in everyday life.  The parish imagination is intertwined with the local community we find ourselves in.  The parish imagination calls out to us in everyday life.

5. To embrace beauty

The parish imagination is beautiful.  The parish imagination is rooted in our ways of life together.  A holistic counterculture is absent when we are not passionate about the parish imagination.

6. To listen deeply

The parish imagination teaches us to listen deeply.  The parish imagination teaches us to give up our colonial ways and care for our neighbors.  The parish imagination inspires us to be human.  The parish imagination embraces us as the body of Christ in our local community as we share life together.

7. To embrace something deeper than words

The parish imagination is a powerful voice in the world.  It says more about the gospel than any words ever could.  The parish imagination speaks to our creativity and potential in all kinds of ways.  The parish imagination lives within us, we just don’t understand this yet.

The parish imagination cannot be oppressed by institutional Christianity anymore.  The parish imagination is tired of being ignored and not valued.  The parish imagination wants to have the freedom to celebrate and dance in us as the body of Christ in the place we inhabit.

Dorothy Day says, “The imagination is part of our lives – part of reality…” 

8. To welcome authenticity

The parish imagination is authentic.  The parish imagination lives within us.  The parish imagination is about embodying the life of Christ in the place we inhabit together.

9. To live in freedom

We cannot truly be alive without the parish imagination.  We cannot see without the parish imagination.  We cannot live in freedom without the parish imagination.

10. To become the hands and feet of Christ

Our spirituality will become anything but authentic without the parish imagination.  The parish imagination is where we become the hands and feet of Christ in our local context.  The parish imagination is where we find true peace and beauty.

Have you taken the risk to embrace the parish imagination within yourself?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423338348&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

9 Ways to Preserve what is Beautiful in the World

Beauty-Candle-Wallpapers

It is so easy to be cynical about life.  All the injustice, poverty, greed, suffering, pain, loneliness and oppression makes me sad.  There has to be more to life than this.  I find myself frustrated, angry and alone in a world that has sometimes beaten me down.

But I am finding that there is a way to search for the beauty in life amidst of all this.  It is there, but I have to practice an awareness to it every moment.  The wonder of life will escape me if I do not become intentional about receiving it as sacrament in everyday life.  There is a way of beauty within me and around me if I have eyes to long for its reality.

I recently saw this wonderful movie called Wild.  It is about a troubled young women who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for three months to search for life within herself.  Through the death of her mother, an abusive upbringing by her alcoholic father, a divorce from her husband after she spiraled into drug use and several affairs, she is left with nothing.

One scene she falls into tears on the trail screaming in pain over what has happened to her.  The hike is bringing up everything she wishes to forget.  But after three months of struggle on the trail, she is determined not to give up.  As she makes it to the end of the trail it is a major accomplishment for her.

She starts to preserve the beauty within herself and the world around her by realizing all these things that have happen to her have led her to the path of beauty.  She found that her life is sacred on this path of beauty.  She found that beauty holds the world together even in the midst of the hardships, pain and struggle of it all.

Here are 9 ways to hold onto what is beautiful in the world we live in.

1. Preserve what is beautiful, good and authentic

We have lost a sense of the parish imagination that could preserve what will bring cultural renewal in the place we live.  Being rooted and linked could help our cultural situation.  Being rooted and linked could save the beauty in our culture.  We could preserve what is beautiful, good and authentic in our culture.  Being rooted and linked could save our parish imaginations from being lost forever in the midst of our postmodern culture.

Shane Claiborne writes, “Our world is desperately in need of imagination…” 

2. Show desperation to care about the place you inhabit

If we lose our parish imagination to the status quo, we have lost everything that is valuable in life, everything that is beautiful in life, everything that is mysterious in life.  We are in desperate need of the parish imagination in the place we inhabit.  The parish imagination could preserve what will bring cultural renewal to our world of individualism and give some relevance to our spirituality again.

3. Practice and experiment

There is an alternative waiting to happen all throughout our country and beyond that will preserve what will bring us to holistic cultural renewal.  There is a parish imagination waiting to be birthed that is rooted and linked.  This alternative will take much practice and experimentation and will not come to us easily.  But it will be worth the struggle over time!

4. Create an alternative framing narrative

We need an alternative framing narrative that will shape our lives in holistic ways together.  An alternative framing narrative will preserve what will bring us cultural renewal in the parish as the body of Christ in everyday life.  We need an alternative framing story to carry us into the future.  Without an alternative; we are left with an individualistic imagination, not a parish imagination.  And Christ warns us against the dangers of the individualistic imagination.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence…” (Mathew 23:25). 

Brian D. McLaren in his book Everything Must Change says, “So we must realize this: the suicidal framing story that dominates our world today has no power except the power we give it by believing it.  Similarly, believing an alternative and transforming framing story may turn out to be the most radical thing any of us can ever do…” 

5. See the importance of being rooted and linked

Embodying an alternative framing story is countercultural and radical.  It threatens the status quo.  I want to propose that the alternative framing story we need to put our trust in is one of being rooted and linked in everyday life together.  We need to have a parish imagination for life together in the place we live.  The parish imagination could be the new alternative framing story that will shape our lives as the body of Christ into the future of our changing times.

6. Develop, celebrate and recognize assets

There are so many assets that need to be preserved in our neighborhoods.  Assets live in our culture through particular places, localities and neighborhoods.  The parish imagination seeks to preserve, develop, celebrate and recognize the beauty of these assets.

7. Value the beauty that is already there

And the world will be saved through beauty.  It is the beautiful that will cause human flourishing in all of life.  Being rooted and linked will help preserve these assets and celebrate their beauty in the parish.

Miroslav Volf says, “Christian engagement touches all dimensions of a culture and yet doesn’t aim to transform any of them totally.  Instead, in all of them it also seeks and finds goods to be preserved and strengthened…” 

8. Stop trying to change our culture

We do not seek to change our culture, that will be a failing experiment, but we seek to preserve what is beautiful.  We seek to find what is already there and invest our energies in partnering with the good, authentic and beautiful.  Once we do that, we may not have a lot of need to solve all the problems of the world.

9. Take responsibility

They just might start resolving themselves.  This is living in the mystery of our spirituality.  We need to stop trying to “change the world,” but take more responsibility for the assets that are already present in our neighborhoods.

What is one thing we can do to preserve the beauty in our world?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420909247&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination+finding+a+way+to+share+life+together

13 Ways to Utilize Your Gifts in Everyday Life

abstract-art-good-morning-contemporary-modern-artwork-giclee-fine-art-prints-life-cycle-swirls-water-baslee-troutman-fine-art-prints-gifts

It seems that the idea of “gifts” is boxed up today into special talents for only a select few.  But gifts are in us all as we are created in the image of God.  God does not create humans without gifting us with the ability to love, live relationally and become compassionate in everyday life.

On my journey of life, the only thing I believe in anymore is what brings about love and compassion in the world.  Without this, all religious structures are meaningless and damaging to our humanity.  I am coming to see that love and compassion are the relational gifts we all can partake in to create a local fabric of care in the place we live.  This is indeed a miracle of grace in the twenty-first century when it starts to manifest among us.

So as I have been thinking about how can we redefine our gifts in a new light that is more inclusive.  Here are 13 ways to start on this path of utilizing our gifts as we seek to create a sense of relational connection in our world.

1. Take ownership and responsibility

We need to take ownership of our place.  We need to invest in our place.  We need to take some responsibility for our place.  This is what the parish imagination is about.

2. Become anti-colonial

We need to do these things in an anti-colonial way.  Colonialism will damage the parish.  But taking ownership, investing and responsibility with a listening posture will bring about the collective good of the place we inhabit together.  Colonialism does not exist within the parish imagination.

Wendell Berry says, “We cannot intend our good, in the long run, without intending the good of our place – which means, ultimately, the good of the world…” 

3. Pursue the collective good of the place you inhabit

All goodness exists within participating citizens who care about place.  In this is the preservation of the world that we live in.  We cannot pursue authenticity without pursuing the collective good of the place we inhabit.

4. Get out of an individualistic mindset

We all want the best for our lives, but we get mixed up if we pursue this individualistically.  We get mixed up when this is not integrated with our commitment to place.  A dualism is created within us when we do this.

5. Be intentional about a conversion of place

When we do not have an integration of self with place, we do not understand life holistically.  The self needs to be converted to the importance of place.  This will bring out life within us all, as we live together taking some ownership of the place we inhabit.  We must be intentional about pursuing the good of our place.

6. Embrace place as a gift

We must be intentional about our responsibility to the parish.  We must be intentional about our investment in our place together with our lives.  This is all gift.  It is a gift to create a local fabric of care through the parish imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life.

7. Contribute your gifts to the local fabric of care

All of us have gifts to contribute to our local community.  There are many ways to invest ourselves in the lives of others in the place that we inhabit together.  All of us have relational gifts that contribute to the local fabric of care in the parish.

Brian D. McLaren states, “We should use our gifts for the common good…” 

8. Realize that everyone has gifts

Our gifts are manifested in our humanity naturally through relational integration.  Our gifts live within us all.  We have gifts of love, gifts of grace, gifts of humility, gifts of authenticity, gifts of listening, gifts of compassion, gifts of presence, gifts of honesty, gifts of vulnerability, gifts of empathy, gifts of friendship, gifts of reconciliation, gifts of forgiveness, gifts of nonviolence, gifts of sensuousness, gifts of celebration, gifts of joy, gifts of seeing beauty, gifts of kindness, gifts of gentleness, gifts of peace, gifts of patience, gifts of learning from others and gifts of passion.

9. Be open to relational engagement with others in everyday life

Gifts don’t necessarily have to do with skills that we do, but are more about the things we manifest within us through relational engagement with others in everyday life.  We have a multitude of gifts living within us all, but they cannot develop without an integration of taking ownership, investing and responsibility in a place.  These gifts are place-based and flourish within the parish imagination for the common good.

10. Resist nonparticipation, irresponsibility and apathy

We have been reduced to nonparticipation, irresponsibility and apathy.  We have allowed modernity to dictate who we are and how we live.  We have been too influenced by rationalistic, individualistic ways of American life.

11. Cultivate awareness in your imagination

The parish imagination does not follow the thoughts of modernity.  The parish imagination takes ownership of our lives together in the place we inhabit.  The parish imagination participates with life in our local community.  The parish imagination is aware of being reduced to something that we are not.

Charlene Spretnak notes in her book The Resurgence of the Real, “The only way we can recover a full sense of being is to develop awareness of the modern reduction and to cultivate a deeper participation in life…” 

12. Become liberated from the ways of the empire

We will not be reduced to following the ways of the empire.  We will not be reduced in our humanity.  We will not be reduced to nothing, but become liberated to take ownership in our place.  We will not be reduced to the oppression of the status quo, but become liberated to invest in our place.

13. Become passionate

We will not be reduced to the labels that seek to identify us, but become liberated to practice responsibility in our place.  The parish imagination will not be reduced to traditional molds, but liberated to use our gifts for the common good of our place.  The participation of taking ownership, investing and responsibility in the place we inhabit together will bring us to a passionate state of engagement.  This will lead us to a holistic counterculture among us.

In what ways can you utilize your gifts to contribute to a local fabric of care?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420576843&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Top 10 Ways to Cultivate a Parish Imagination in the Place You Live

pink-hd-abstract-spring-place-599222

Over the last ten years I have been cultivating relational connection in the place I live in Downtown Tacoma, Washington.  This place has shaped me tremendously.  I dream of a parish imagination where neighbors have a passion for collaboration, living locally and investing their lives to care for the place they live.  Here are 10 ways I think we can cultivate a parish imagination in our context:

1. Become rooted and live in a particular neighborhood for decades.  Rootedness is so difficult in a world where many of us are affluent in the West and have many options to move to a better neighborhood where we have more economic opportunity, a better living environment or feel safer.  Upward mobility is one of the greatest sins of the church.  We can only love our neighbors if we stay rooted in a place long enough to know them.  This is essential to create a parish imagination in the particular place we live in the world.

Wendell Berry states in his book Imagination in Place, “By means of the imagined place, over the last fifty years, I have learned to see my native landscape and neighborhood as a place unique in the world, a work of God, possessed of an inherent sanctity that mocks any human valuation that can be put upon it…”

2. Build a sense of social capital with neighbors.  We need collaboration not competition.  Collaboration builds trust or social capital with others where we live.  Collaboration builds a more peaceful world for the common good.

3. Find and celebrate the assets that exists in your local community.  Let’s stop focusing on all the problems in our neighborhoods and start looking for the assets.  What are the beautiful things happening in this place where we can build some collaboration around and learn to work for the common good together.  Every local community has its own particular assets.  We need to discover them and celebrate them.

4. Learn to listen to others.  Listening is so important when we think about collaboration with others.  We need to live with a learning posture that listens deeply to others.  Let’s stop imposing our views on others and start to embody some humility, vulnerability and compassion through listening.

5. Experiment with ways to eat together in everyday life.  Eating together is so subversive.  It centers our lives around a table that brings us together through our commonality of hunger.  Whether we are rich, poor or middle class the act of eating together makes us all equal and binds us together as neighbors in the world.

6. Practice hospitality.  Hospitality is the work of authentic social justice in the place we live.  We need to share our lives, tables and homes with the less fortunate.  Jesus was the master of creating environments of hospitality for others with his openness to love, compassion and empathy with his neighbors.

7. Value others as created in the image of God.  Everyone needs love, value and respect no matter who they are.  Let’s stop looking at others as “sinners” and start looking at others as created in the image of God.  This would change how we treat others in our lives.

8. Participate and contribute to the local economy.  Contributing to the local economy is so essential to create a parish imagination among us.  Whether we are starting a local business or just supporting the local economy by trying to keep our money in the community, this does a lot to build social capital and faithful presence.  We need to think local when it comes to how we are spending our money.

9. Access the sidewalks and walk more.  Cars have become a luxury that we possess because we do not see the need to live locally anymore.  Walking is so unique to our time in a world of hypermobility.  But walking is so healthy and helps us to get in touch with our bodies in the place we live.

10. Share stories about your neighborhood.  We have a story, our place has a story and God has a story.  These need to be intertwined into a narrative braid where we share stories of assets working together, characters who are contributing to the common good and the work of the spirit within us.  Storytelling could help us to have an imagination for community in the place we live.

What is a way you’re cultivating a parish imagination in the place you live?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415889331&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Where is the Body of Christ in Everyday Life?

everyday-life-photography-in-black-and-white-part2-18_large

So many years have gone by where I haven’t experienced the body of Christ in everyday life.  I have almost given up on my spirituality.  I have often wondered, Where is a sense of community in everyday life?  What is the body of Christ doing together besides just gathering in a meeting or a building?  Why do we define church apart from an everyday expression in the place we live?

I don’t understand these things most of the time.  They are confusing to me and do not support my own growth, development and formation in the world.  I have always wanted to be a part of a radical movement that subverts the status quo, but what I have found is my Christianity being reduced to going to church.  This has bored me and has not supported my faith.

Why is it that this dualistic way of church is hindering us from experiencing life?  The church should not keep us from following what is authentic, but I am afraid many times it does.  This must frustrate God.  Why is this not more of a frustration to us too?

God is probably sad over the colonial, individualistic spirituality in North America that we have created through our lack of faithful presence.  As I have found that my spirituality is experienced as an embodied practice in the place I live in everyday life together with others.  It all comes down to listening, love, grace and humility.

I want to love the church and hope for its life in the world.  I want to be a part of a community in the parish in everyday life that can give inspiration to others.  So I am facing the temptation to stop loving the world, but God is calling me to love the place I live, to be a neighbor, to be a friend.

  •  Being cocreators of the future

We are to be cocreators of the future of the place we inhabit together.  It is our local responsibility, our local investment and local ownership that will develop the parish imagination among us.  Tom Sine says, “Incredibly, God invites us to be cocreators in giving imaginative expression to God’s new creation in the here and now…”

  •  Creating the parish imagination in everyday life

We are called to be “imaginative expressions” of the body of Christ in everyday life together in the parish.  There is no franchise approach to this.  When we cocreate with God through the parish imagination; our expressions will be organic, grassroots, creative, contextual, relational and based on our gifts together.  All our assets will come together to create the parish imagination in everyday life.

  •  The cocreation of beauty in our world

This is the cocreation of beauty in our world together in everyday life.  Our expressions of local responsibility could subvert the empire.  Our expressions of local investment could subvert the status quo.  Our expressions of local ownership could subvert the systems that are creating fragmentation, loneliness and isolation.

How can we be cocreators of the future of our world together?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403883910&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The Trap of Security

images (15)

I have grown up into an environment that taught me to reach for security through my country, my family, my schooling and the dominant narratives of the entertainment media.  But I am beginning to question this whole notion of security.  I have been growing in my longing for freedom instead.

Can my freedom and the notion of security co-exist?  I don’t think so anymore.  Losing my idolatry to security has been so good for me.  I am learning to be free from anxiety and coming to rest in a peaceful way of life where losing security is not so guarded, defended and stressed over within me.

I am learning to embrace joy even though there is so much suffering, poverty and injustice in the world.  So many years have passed where I have lost my joy, my true self, because of the things around me that are pushing me to depression, sadness or loss as I focus on what is missing in life.  But I am coming to understand the necessity to live in the paradox of freedom in the midst of pain, sadness, loss.

  • Security is bought at the cost of freedom

Jacques Ellul says, “What people want when they talk about freedom is not being subject to others, being able to have their own dreams or go where they want to go.  Hardly more.  They definitely do not want to have to take charge of their own lives and be responsible for what they do.  This means that they do not really want freedom…  In effect freedom can give us everything except security by demanding that we be.  Security is always inevitably bought at the cost of freedom…”

  • Freedom and security do not mix well

Freedom and security do not mix well.  Security is slavery to the empire around us.  Security is most often too comfortable and status quo.  We need to long for freedom, liberation from this kind of security that makes us numb and machine-like.

  • A freedom related to love, humility, communion, connection, integration into place  

Freedom promotes the shattering into pieces all status quo obstacles in our pursuit of creating a holistic counterculture as the body of Christ in the parish.  Do we really want this kind of freedom?  Freedom in our country is often times related to bloodshed and war, but what I want to propose is a freedom related to love, humility, communion, connection, integration into place.

  • When we have security we do not have freedom

This kind of freedom lives within the mystical imagination.  Freedom represents a responsibility to place.  When we have security we do not have freedom, we do not live by faith.

  • We cannot sacrifice our freedom any longer in order to be secure

Security is what makes us abusive, exploitive and unloving often times.  We cannot sacrifice our freedom any longer in order to be secure.  The body of Christ needs to live in freedom, we need to live by faith, we need to live in our bodies in everyday life in the place we inhabit together.

How can we experience freedom from security in our everyday lives together?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403182317&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Practicing Living In My Body

abstract-art-original-landscape-painting-bold-colorful-design-shimmer-in-the-sky-by-madart-megan-duncanson

Living in a place and living in the body are so interrelated that we cannot elevate one over the other.  They need to be practiced together through the mystical imagination.  North Americans seem to live outside of their bodies.  We are sometimes fragmented and scrambling for peace and sanity in the midst of this.

  • Recovering the lived body

A lot of times we create any kind of life we want at the expense of other people.  We become subtly, unconsciously violent through our individualism.  We need to learn how to recover the lived body in our postmodern culture as the body of Christ in the parish.

  •  Getting back into a body, live in a place

It is not very easy and will take some work on our part.  But it is definitely possible through the mystical imagination.  Walker Percy says, “The time is coming when the American… will wonder how to get back into a body, live in a place…”

  •  Seeking God in our locality

Do we understand what it means to live in the parish?  Do we understand how to become an expression of love in the place that we live?  Do we understand how to seek God in our locality with passion and intelligence?

  •  Have we forgotten how to listen?

Have we forgotten how to listen to the mystical imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life?  We cannot dismiss these questions anymore.

  •  Things I have done to practice living in my body

Some things that I have done to practice living in my body are: exercising, eating meals with others, slowing down, listening to others, reading, reflecting, walking in the neighborhood, gardening, cooking, hospitality, writing, meditation, silence, solitude, resting, art, working locally, living locally, shopping locally, partnering, collaborating, meaningful conversation, relaxing, laughing, contemplation, being present in the neighborhood, listening to and creating music.

  •  Taking a local songwriting class

I once took a local song writing class in which I had to write songs and play them publicly in front of others in the class.  I was so intimidated and afraid because I didn’t think I had a good voice.  I was new at playing the guitar.  I didn’t want to write songs about the typical romantic themes we all hear a lot.

  •  Haunted by the progress ideology of needing more

So I wrote a song about the disturbing draw of progress in our culture.  It was about how we are haunted by the progress ideology of needing more at the expense of everything else important in life.  I was not sure how this would go down.  I hadn’t played many songs before, but this experience cause me to become aware of living in my body.

  • My entire body being connected and whole

After I sang the song, I felt as though my entire body was connected and whole.  My voice was connected with my mind, with my hands, with my arms, with my legs, with my eyes, with my emotions, with my friends, with my place.  The time I took writing the words, creating the music and playing the song connected me with people in my neighborhood in a very mystical way.

How have we lost connection with our bodies in the midst of everyday life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401891525&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Seeking God Through Healthy Discipline and Rhythms

images (14)

I used to think that I was separate from God, the land, the environment; but I am coming to see how I live connected and in union with all of them.  As I have learned from writers such as Wendell Berry that to see myself as separate from the environment is an illusion.  The environment is a part of who I am so I must not exploit it or objectify it.

This has led me to explore healthy rhythms and discipline to honor the place I live.  I have been listening to my particular place I live in for over ten years now and am coming to find much wisdom in developing rhythms of deep listening.  Finding ways to show love in the world is becoming a major personal discipline that is shaping me tremendously.  I have found that without rhythms I slowly become lost.

  • Rhythms help us to listen

Rhythms help us to listen.  Listening helps us to become more aware of others.  The mystical imagination cultivates listening.  Listening helps us to honor the place that we live.

  • The earth, land and place

The earth, land and place becomes sacred to us as we cultivate a rhythm of finding ways to listen.  God is the Creator of the earth and we need rhythms to honor its creation.  Macrina Weiderkehr says, “Indigenous peoples often have an innate awareness of the need to honor the natural place and rhythm of their inner beings.  They seem able to pick up signals drawing them into a stance of obedient listening…”

  •  Learning from native, indigenous people

I propose that we need to learn from native, indigenous people such as the Native Americans who are highly in touch with the earth, their land and the place that they live.  They listen more than we do.  They live more simply and experience life less dualistically.  They seem to understand the ecology of life, how all of life is connected and they live more holistically.

  • Rhythms that are relational and contextual

They have rhythms that are relational and contextual to the good of the place they inhabit.  You might think that there is nothing to learn from these people, but that will be our greatest mistake.  We need some rhythms that will help us to develop an honoring way of life toward our place.

  •     Seeking God in everyday life

Rhythms are ways of seeking God in a specific locality in everyday life.  There is such a need for creative ways to seek God in our postmodern culture.  It is hard to seek God apart from a commitment to a particular place.  It is hard to seek God and be disconnected from culture and others.

  •  Finding freedom through healthy discipline

“We need to find freedom,” writes Lynne M. Baab, “by embracing healthy discipline.”  There is a liberation and reconciliation that happens with holistic discipline.  We live more holistically when we become rooted in a particular place over time.

How can we create practices of healthy discipline and local rhythms?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401633671&sr=8-1&keywords=The+communal+imagination