Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: revelation

Is Revelation Possible Without Practice?

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I like to dream about what my life could be if I loved God and my neighbors around me in everyday life.  That would be wonderful!  As I have become rooted in a local community, I am living my way into this way of thinking.  It is slowly developing to become more and more of a reality to live my life based on love for God and neighbor.

My life in Downtown Tacoma is not always easy, but I am coming to value people whoever they may be.  I now live in a Catholic Worker community in our neighborhood where we live with the poor.  We offer transitional housing for those struggling with poverty.  It is a wonderful experience to develop relationships with so many people of different races, religions and cultures.

I am learning so much about life through those who are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Native American as well as others too.  It is good for me to learn from all kinds of different people in my local community.  My love comes alive as I work on developing an on-the-ground practice-based theology that I embody in everyday life.  This is where I believe all revelation comes from, through our on-the-ground practice-based theology in the parish.

  •  Living into new ways of thinking

An on-the-ground practice-based theology that is embodied in the local context of everyday life together is the only way that our lives will flourish.  This will shape the way we think about life, God, Christianity and the church.  Living into new ways of thinking will cultivate a faithful Culture of Imagination among us.

  •  Imagine if we loved God and loved neighbors

Our good friend Christine Sine, who is the Executive Director of Mustard Seed Associates in Seattle, poses this question to us, “Imagine what our lives would be like if we practiced the values of God’s kingdom.  Imagine what our Christian communities would be like if we lived by the law of love for God and love of neighbor.”

  •  Is church a building or a meeting you attend?

My own experience has been one of living into new ways of thinking.  I used to think a lot differently about life, God, Christianity and the church.  Church was a building or a meeting you went to on Sundays.  God was up in the sky.

  •  Is life just about being comfortable and happy?

Life was about being comfortable and happy.  And Christianity was about the forgiveness of sins after you die.  But over the course of time, I have come to see things differently.

  •  Transitioning to an on-the-ground practice-based expression

As our fellowship transitioned from being a large, regional service to an on-the-ground practice-based expression in daily life, it changed me.  It wasn’t just vast amounts of intellectual learning that changed my thinking, but entering into a practice-based expression, integrated with my studying that shaped me the most.

Is an on-the-ground practice-based theology in a particular neighborhood something you desire?  Why or why not?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410010571&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imaginati

What Keeps Us From Listening to the Mysteries of Life?

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

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

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

  •  Cluttered with fragmentation, distractions and disembodied practice

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

  •  Becoming more mindful and aware

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

  •  Putting us into a posture of listening

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

  •  Living with an openness to revelation and discovery

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

  •  Longing to discover relational revelations within us and around us

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

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

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

Book Review- Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self by Joyce Rupp

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Joyce Rupp has written a fantastic book!  This book is all about finding what is authentic within us.  Joyce encourages us on a journey of courage to embrace our true selves.  She uses the metaphor of opening the door to guide us deeper within ourselves to befriend what we find and learn from it.  It is emphasized that divine revelation is happening all the time, but we need to become more aware of its message of transformation within.

  • Experiences are stepping stones to wisdom

“We can find ourselves grumbling when life does not give us all we want or when the price of transformation costs us dearly.  Failures, defeats, and disillusionments temporarily wipe out our hope of reaching the promised land of our true self until we realize these very experiences are stepping stones to the wisdom we need…”

  • The realm of beauty and potential growth within us

“We have this realm of beauty and potential growth within us, but we do not always believe in it or know how to reach it.  When we do find our way to our true self, there is work to be done in order to resurrect or restore our innate goodness…”

  • Nothing is left out from divine revelation

“Not a person, place, or moment is left out from divine revelation.  Something of value for our growth is always being made known to us in the midst of our ordinary lives.  This revelation stretches far beyond and much deeper than how we usually perceive life.  Our spiritual development depends on our being alive and vigilant enough to hear the message of transformation that weaves through our daily existence.”

  • The freedom of becoming our true selves

“While Jesus opened physical eyes and ears, his deeper message centered on an interior releasing that led people to the freedom of becoming their true selves…”

  • Befriending what is within us and learning from it

“When we open the door to the true self, we uncover more of the sum of who we are.  Initially, this may lead to discomfort instead of peace, for not everything we find is what we want.  But if we befriend what is within us and are willing to learn from it, serenity will ultimately reign at the center of our being.”

  • The greater the contribution of our presence in the world

“The further we enter our authentic self, the greater the contribution of our presence in the world.  Within the confines of our inner sanctuary, fuller love arises and keener awareness grows of how intimately connected we are to all that exists.  We become a nonjudgmental, listening, caring presence.  Rather than engendering fear or animosity in us, the vast diversity of people with whom we engage enlarges our compassion and broadens our enthusiasm for the complex and mysterious nature of humanity.”

How can we have a greater contribution of presence to the world through living into our true self?

Learning Through On-The-Ground Practice

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I remember some of my friends really struggling to understand the importance of shared life in the parish.  I think this was primarily because they were not really ready to practice their way into a new way of thinking.  They were only searching for understanding with their minds, and consequently they never really experienced an integration.

•  Revelation is difficult without practice

As a result, many of them could not connect and never entered the neighborhood with us.  We soon lost contact with many of them as our on-the-ground lives together demanded attention. This has affected me for many years and I still feel a sense of sadness about it, but without practice, revelation is difficult.

•  Something is missing

I always felt there was something missing in my past experiences of church as a service, or a series of programs, but I didn’t really know what to do about it.  My friend and mentor Paul Sparks worked with several us to create different experimental environments where we could practice an alternative together.  As I participated in learning, reading, listening, and practicing, I slowly became more aware of the importance of things like proximity, locality, shared life, centering in a place, creating a new culture, and embodying life together.

•  Becoming present

I soon moved into the neighborhood reorienting my whole life in the neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma.  I have not stopped studying, reading, asking questions, and listening to the wisdom of experienced voices, but I have integrated those with an on-the-ground practice-based theology within the context of our parish.  Slowly, the more I practiced my faith, and the more I became present to my place, the more that wisdom began revealing itself to me, however mysteriously.  I can no longer think of being part of the church in any other way.

•  Practicing in a particular place

The impossibility and hopelessness we feel toward life could be subverted if the body of Christ were to practice together the things that Jesus taught in a particular place.  Our imaginations would come to life and we would be able to dance again.  As Brian McLaren says, “practice makes possible some things that would otherwise have been impossible.”

•  The wonderful and beautiful takes practice

Everything in life that is wonderful and beautiful takes practice.  Will we dare to practice and see the impossible shattered?  Will we practice and see the ordinary miracles of everyday life manifested through our relationships?

•  An on-the-ground practice-based theology

We need to approach our spirituality in the neighborhood we inhabit with an on-the-ground practice-based theology that is life-giving and filled with hope for all.  “Our spirituality needs to become earthy practice that engages with the scruffy and wonderful world of which we are part,” writes Ian Adams.  When the body of Christ does not practice together in a place, it will be invisible and nonexistent to those around it.

What do you think of an on-the-ground practice-based theology?