Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: silence

Silence is Essential – 8 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

download (17)1. Silence is essential

“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.”

2. Colored by perception

“To let go implies to let go of something. The something that we’re holding on to may simply be a creation of our mind, an illusory perception of something, and not the reality of the thing itself. Everything is an object of our mind and is colored by our perception. You get an idea, and before you realize it, you’ve become stuck in that idea. You may get scared because of that idea you’re believing in. You might even get sick because of it. Perhaps that idea brings you a lot of unhappiness and worries, and you would like to be free. But it’s not enough that you want to be free. You have to give yourself enough space and quiet to become free.”

3. Time is life

“Many people cannot allow themselves the time to sit and do nothing but breathe. They consider it to be uneconomical or a luxury. People say ‘time is money.’ But time is much more than money. Time is life. The simple practice of sitting quietly on a regular basis can be profoundly healing. Stopping and sitting is a good way to focus on mindful breathing and nothing else.”

4. Developing understanding and compassion

“If we never suffer, there is no basis or impetus for developing understanding and compassion. Suffering is very important. We have to learn to recognize and even embrace suffering, as our awareness of it helps us grow.”

5. Sincerity and mindfulness

“With sincerity and mindfulness, we can express our desire to begin anew.”

6. Protect our peace

“But we can always make the choice to protect our peace. That doesn’t mean shutting all our windows all of the time, for there are many miracles in the world we call ‘outside.’ Open your windows to these miracles. But look at any one of them with the light of awareness. Even while sitting beside a clear, flowing stream, listening to beautiful music, or watching an excellent movie, don’t entrust yourself entirely to the stream, the music, or the film. Continue to be aware of yourself and your breathing. With the sun of awareness shining in you, you can avoid most dangers – and you will experience the stream of being purer, the music more harmonious, and the soul of the artist completely visible in the film.”

7. If we listen from the mind of silence

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

8. The eyes of compassion

“Waking up this morning I smile. Twenty-four brand-new hours are before me. I vow to live them deeply and learn to look at everything around me with the eyes of compassion.”

Do you believe silence is essential to life?

Purchase Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

Come Home To Yourself – 10 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

download (17)1. Deep listening leads to understanding

“If we want to be more connected to others, we don’t need to text them more; we need to listen to them more. Deep listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to greater connection. The way to listen more deeply is not simply to try harder. Rather, it is to take time in practice that starts with silence – that is, with quieting our internal Radio Non-Stop Thinking.”

2. Breathing mindfully

“Breathing mindfully and becoming aware of your responses to people and events around you is a deep practice. Instead of reacting, instead of even thinking, you allow yourself just to be. You practice mindfulness to be with your breath, your steps, the trees, the flowers, the blue sky, and the sunshine.”

3. A wonderful lightness and freedom

“Not talking, by itself, already can bring a significant degree of peace. If we can also offer ourselves the deeper silence of not thinking, we can find, in that quiet, a wonderful lightness and freedom.”

4. Listen deeply to yourself

“You can spend your whole life listening to internal and external messages without ever hearing the voice of your deepest desire… If you have the space and silence to listen deeply to yourself, you may find within you a strong desire to help other people, to bring love and compassion to others, to create positive transformation in the world…”

5. Beauty and silence

“All the sounds around us and all the thoughts that we’re constantly replaying in our minds can be thought of as a kind of food. We’re familiar with edible food, the kind of food we physically chew and swallow. But that’s not the only kind of food we humans consume; it’s just one kind. What we read, our conversations, the shows we watch, the online games we play, and our worries, thoughts, and anxieties are all food. No wonder we often don’t have space in our consciousness for beauty and silence: we are constantly filling up on so many other kinds of food.”

6. When you ask the question, “Who am I?”

“When you ask the question, ‘Who am I?’ – if you have enough time and concentration – you may find some surprising answers…”

7. Most of us don’t feel settled or quiet

“Even if we are not talking with others, reading, listening to the radio, watching television, or interacting online, most of us don’t feel settled or quiet. This is because we’re still tuned to an internal radio station, Radio NST (Non-Stop-Thinking).”

8. Hurrying, noise, or confusion

“If your daily life is full of hurrying, noise, or confusion, it’s easy to forget to be aware of the wholesome and supportive elements that are all around you, such as the fresh air, the sun, and the trees.”

9. If we listen from the mind of silence

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

10. Come home to yourself

“With the act of breathing in mindfully, you go inside. Your body is breathing; and your body is your home. In each breath, you can come home to yourself.”

Have you practiced coming home to yourself?

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

Nothing Is Missing

Doria_010H-90X60-copy_670It has been about one month since I did a retreat with Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, in which we spent 40 hours in silence over the course of a weekend. During the retreat it was communicated that the fruits and gifts of the silence will not be seen in the midst of the practice, but will be reveled in your active life in the world. It is through the ordinary moments of everyday life that we will have epiphanies that move our souls to deeper levels of our true self. This is beautiful and painful, but necessary.

  • Deeper levels of paradox, mystery, listening, and compassion

So over the past month, I am having an awakening that is so good for me. It is moving me into deeper levels of paradox, mystery, listening, and compassion. I have always looked at life through what is missing. It is the filter and the lie that I have protected myself with for so long.

  • A different question

When I am constantly looking at what is missing in life this causes me suffering, misery, melancholy, hopelessness, and leaves me unaware of my true self. I lose a sense that the deepest ground of my being is love. So I recently started to wonder about a different question because living through what is missing is so exhausting and depleting to who I am. Why have I believed in this illusion for so long?

  • What if nothing is missing?

I don’t know for sure, but I am understanding that it is so easy, comfortable, and what I have done most of my life. But recently I started to wonder, what if nothing is missing? What if nothing is missing in my relationships, in myself, in the world, in community? My intellect cannot understand this and shouts at me it is not true, don’t believe in it, there is too much pain in yourself and the world for it to be true.

  • Resonating so deeply

My thoughts and feelings are always trying to tell me that there is too much pain in me to believe, embody, and embrace the mystery that nothing is missing. How can I believe nothing is missing, it is ridiculous, unfamiliar, and backwards? I don’t know what that means. But my body is resonating so deeply with this deeper truth.

  • Peaceful, restful, and calming

It is peaceful, restful, and calming to hold within my body the truth that nothing is missing. This is a paradox that I cannot understand, but desire to embody. This is the mystery I am being called into in my everyday life in the present moment.

  • Nothing is missing in my pain

Nothing is missing in my pain. Nothing is missing is my loneliness. Nothing is missing in my context where I live.

  • Nothing is missing in my tears

Nothing is missing in my tears. Nothing is missing in my loss and grief. Nothing is missing in myself. Nothing is missing in the world.

  • Letting go of my false self

If I believe that nothing is missing how will my life be transformed? Do I really want to let go of my false self that says to me constantly everything is missing? But I am starting to feel some sense of joy and happiness in my body when I hold the mantra that nothing is missing. I am starting to love myself and others more deeply through this new paradigm of my true self that is telling me nothing is missing.

  • Want to openly embrace

This is so liberating because I am able to have space for gratitude instead of complaining. I am able to have space in myself to see the beauty around me and within me. I am able to make space for cultivating happiness instead of misery. I am able to start on my path of making sense of finding joy in the darkness which I am so unfamiliar with, but want to openly embrace.

How can we embody nothing is missing in life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

The Peace of Silence – Celebrating My 600th Blog Post!

  • So beautiful

images (37)Silence, you are so beautiful. You nourish my body. You help me to live from a place of love and compassion. I have never known anything so beautiful.

  • Longing for you

Longing for you makes me happy. Peace lives with me at the remembrance of you. Never leave me. I need you so much.

  • Gifts of wisdom

Without you my true self cannot live. I cry out for you in the day and throughout the night. You bring to me your gifts of wisdom. You are the light in my eyes.

  • Changing myself

The great sufi mystic Rumi writes, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

  • No more changing the world

art-projects-for-kids-2No more changing the world. No more changing others. No more frustration and angst at the thought of you. I want to dream of you.

  • Mindful and aware

I want to be mindful and aware of you throughout my days. May I live and die in silence. May your truth lead me to care for myself.

  • Done with being clever

I am done with being clever. I am done with trying to figure things out. Being lost is okay with you. There are no more words to be addicted to. I want to rest in you in everyday life.

  • Living with courage

I search for your wisdom, to live in my true self. The false self is fading away at your sight. You are authentic and kind. May I carry you with me as I live my life with courage.

  • Don’t abandon me to my false self

Don’t abandon me to my false self. I need your beauty to light my eyes. You are subversive and shatter the status quo. How I miss your touch when I ignore you by my fast paced life.

  • Not much of anything in the noise

Everything is so fast and busy. I am done with all of that. I desire your peace and comfort. There is not much of anything in all the noise.

  • Authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, and humility

Teach me of authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, and humility. You are a friend. You are the most beautiful nourishment I have found. There is peace in you.

  • Dry my tears

Dry my tears and help me to cope with my pain. I trust in you. There is no one else. I am running to you with grace and hospitality.

  • You live within me

You always seem to be kind to me. In all kinds of ways you are near, you are present. You live within me all the time. I am truly grateful for all your wisdom and gifts.3816206-Bamboo-leaves-over-abstract-blurred-background-Stock-Photo-buddhism-bamboo

  • Worth more than money

You are worth more than money. I happy to know something of you. You show me gifts of compassion within myself. I will never forget you.

  • No efficiency or productivity

You are beautiful to me. I am pausing to embrace you. Just doing nothing is so good for me. Because there is no efficiency, productivity, and accumulation of money, many think you are a waste of time, but I don’t care about all of that.

  • The revealer of my true self

You are worth more than money to me. I long for you with my whole self. You are the revealer of my true self. For that I am grateful all my days!

Have you embraced silence today?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life 

170495-bigthumbnailAt the 2016 Spring Deepening Retreat with Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, I experienced profound joy. It was so incredible, so simple, and so peaceful. As Phileena Heuertz shared, the gifts of the silence will not happen in the silence itself, but will be revealed in our active lives.

  • Silence is the language of God

Some of the mystics say that silence is the language of God. On this retreat, I really experienced living in the present moment, learning to love myself, and discovering deeper dimensions of my true self. The silence was a gift from God.

  • Gratitude and hospitality

So today, I am holding the silence with gratitude and hospitality within myself. I long for more silence, solitude, and stillness. This nourishes my soul and gives me the courage to know that the deepest ground of my being is love.

  • See the gifts in my active, everyday life

I am remembering the joy of Schuyler, Nebraska that I experienced on this retreat. My life has sometimes become too lonely, sad, and melancholy for me to see the gifts of what God has placed in me and around me. So I cry for the freedom to live out of my true self and see the gifts in my everyday, active life in the world, in the context where I live.

  • Learning to love myself and others

My false self has had too much manifestation in me and I want to escape the traps of the status quo. Learning to love myself and others is what the silence is leading me to. I am happy as I learn to seek God in contemplation, in mystery, in silence. A contemplative spirituality is my happiness and liberation.

  • I hope you had the time of your life

Sometimes, I like to listen to music so I turned on the radio this morning and I heard an old Greenday song that I haven’t heard in a long time. The chorus stated: “I hope you had the time of your life.” When I think about my time in Nebraska, it felt like the time of my life. I always want to remember the joy I experienced there and integrate that into who I am in the world.

  • Silence, solitude, and stillness

Who would’ve thought that someone could have the time of their life connecting with others through silence, solitude, and stillness, but it happened. Does a contemplative spirituality create in us the time of our lives right here in the present moment? Did Jesus really mean that the kingdom of God is within you, not outside of you, so I don’t have to go around looking for it? Is the deepest ground of our being really love?

  • Consent, gentleness, and letting go

Small Smooth StonesConsent, gentleness, and letting go were themes that really stood out to me. As I discovered that I need to be more gentle with myself and others in everyday life. Gentleness is big in learning to love myself so that I can love others as I live out of my true self.

  • The opinions of others threatening to define me

I discovered that the heart centers need solitude to learn who they are without getting their identity by what others think of them. I always want to be unique, stand out, and push the edges of what I perceive is not authentic. So solitude mellows me out and leads me to find who I am alone without the opinions of others threatening to define me.

  • The seeds of community

Thank You Gravity for the gift you are to the world! We need to be more grounded on the earth that we live on, be more aware of our true self, and deepen our practice of seeing all of life as sacred. This is where the Spirit of love is leading. Contemplative spirituality are the seeds of community within the world we live in.

  • Making choices based on love

Chris Heuertz states in his book Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community, “What I’ve learned is that making choices based on love – love of people – is always the safest way to nurture friendships and community.”

Have we learned to love ourselves and others in everyday life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Songs of the Birds

I went on a deepening retreat through Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, this past weekend in Schuyler, Nebraska. It was one of the best experiences of my life! I was so happy to be there as we spent 40 hours in silence, solitude, and stillness together.15

  • Deepening my awareness of my true self

On the retreat, I felt like I deepened my awareness of my true self. I was wanting to read the book Coming Home To Your True Self: Leaving the Emptiness of False Attractions by Albert Haase before I came on the retreat and when I got there the book was in the gift bag in my room. That was amazing! So I was able to read the book throughout the retreat and on the way back to Tacoma, Washington where I live.

  • The sacrament of the present moment

Here is a great quote from the book that I really love, “…there is nothing to ‘get’ in the spiritual life because we already have it! We simply need to become aware of the Presence who dwells within and in whom we dwell. We need to be attentive to the sacrament of the present moment,” states Albert Haase.

  • I have been wondering about

I love that wisdom of being present to the sacrament of the present moment. This is something that I have been wondering about for a long time now. How do we embody this sacrament of the present moment? It is a mystery that I long to live into throughout my life.

  • Songs of the birds

On the retreat, I was thinking a lot about the themes of vulnerability, cultivating happiness in myself, humility, compassion, my true self, listening, awareness, and courage. I loved hearing the Nebraska birds sing in the mornings as we sat in silence together and as I write this I hear the songs of the birds outside of my window in my little Catholic Worker room in Tacoma, Washington. The songs of the birds seem to speak to me of the unity of God, our solidarity together, and the connectedness of our world.

  • Cultivating happiness

01Before coming on the retreat, I was reflecting a lot about cultivating happiness in myself. I was learning that happiness is not something outside of me, but is something I have to cultivate within myself. And only I can do this. No person or circumstance in life will give it to me. I must find it by myself alone.

  • An integration of happiness

I must learn to value cultivating my own happiness or I will live my life in misery. It is up to me, no one will do it for me. Going on this retreat was an integration of this theme for me. In being at the retreat, I was cultivating my own happiness.

  • Learning to value our own happiness

This quote speaks deeply to me, “…learning to value our own happiness,” writes Joan Chittister, “may be one of the most important lessons we ever learn – both for our sake and for the happiness of others around us, as well.”

  • Contemplative expression

The happiness that I experienced in Nebraska was based on my need to connect to a deeper contemplative life in myself. I believe this is what my true self is crying out for. This retreat met a need in me for that connection to the cry of my true self and a contemplative expression.

  • So mysterious and beautiful

How beautiful that was for me! I have been reading about contemplative experience from Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr, Dorothy Day, and Simone Weil for years, but now I was in the midst of some twenty-first century contemplatives: Phileena and Chis Heuertz. The work they are doing is so needed and amazing! Thank you for everyone who was a part of this retreat! I will never forget the silence we shared together. It was so mysterious and beautiful!

  • Contemplative spirituality for the active life

Back in the fall of 2010, I remember reading Phileena’s book after it first came out. I was so intrigued about the theme of a contemplative spirituality for the active life. Then I read Chris’s books on Simple Spirituality, Friendship at the Margins, and recently Unexpected Gifts about discovering the way of community. Such powerful books for me as I read them.

  • Gravity, a center for contemplative activism

They are two of my favorite writers. So it was an honor to learn from them over the weekend on this amazing retreat. It was exciting for me when I learned a few years ago that they were starting a center for contemplative activism in Nebraska called Gravity and some of their mentors are Richard Rohr and Thomas Keating (some of the deepest contemplatives in the United States).

  • Connect in solidarity and unity

Lastly, I got to do a spiritual direction session with Phileena Heuertz on the retreat where I talked a lot about longing. She told me about her experience of how the contemplative life is lonely. I so appreciated that because that has been my experience too, but I am hoping that more of us who long for a contemplative life can find ways to connect in solidarity and unity.

  • It’s difficult in the ache of longing

Phileena Heuertz says in her book Pilgrimage of a Soul, “Longing signifies a desire for more. It stands in stark contrast to the complacent life. Complacency is a stalemate to the journey. Longing propels us forward. It’s difficult to sit in the ache of longing, so sometimes we avoid it. But when we embrace that gut-level discontent, we are moving and growing.”

Have you longed to become a contemplative activist in the world?

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

Healing Silence – 7 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise 

download (17)1. Learn more about yourself

“So each of us has a choice. You have a choice. Your thoughts can make you and the world around you suffer more or suffer less. If you want to create a more collegial, harmonious atmosphere in your… community, don’t start by trying to change other people. Your first priority should be to find your own quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself. This includes getting to know and understand your own suffering. When your practice is solid and you’ve already harvested some of the sweet fruits of getting to know yourself, you can consider ways you can make more room to bring silence, deep looking, understanding, and compassion into your… community.”

2. The practice of mindfulness

“The surest way to give ourselves something really new – a feeling of being refreshed, of being happy, of being at ease – is by opening up the space within us for the practice of mindfulness.”

3. Having the space to listen with compassion

“Having the space to listen with compassion is essential to being a true friend…”

4. To manifest our true nature

“To manifest our true nature, we need to bring a stop to the constant internal conversation that takes up all the space in us…”

5. The suffering we have been hiding from

“The more often we’re able to practice coming home to ourselves, and the more time we spend in mindfulness, the more we are going to become aware of our own suffering. Even though mindful breathing and quiet do put us in touch with joy, they are also likely to bring us in contact with pain (especially at first) as we become more conscious of the suffering we have been hiding from.”

6. Healing silence

“We can’t find the peace of silence without stopping. Running faster and faster, pushing ourselves harder, will never bring it within our reach. We won’t find it anywhere but here. The moment we’re able to really stop, both the movement and the internal noise, we begin to find a healing silence. Silence is not a deprivation, an empty void. The more space we make for stillness and silence, the more we have to give both to ourselves and to others.”

7. Deep listening and mindful response

“Most of the time, our head is so full of thoughts that we have no space to listen to ourselves or anyone else. We have learned from our parents or in school that we have to remember lots of things, we have to retain a lot of words, notions, and concepts; and we think that this mental stockpile is useful for our life. But then when we try to have a genuine conversation with someone, we find it difficult to hear and understand the other person. Silence allows for deep listening and mindful response…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Always Remaining Open

IMG_0578_crSometimes my life is closed off to openness.  I want to be locked into who I think God is to me as I have experienced God in the past.  Thinking I understand God has not served me well.  God cannot be captured in what I can say to describe what I think God is.

But I am learning that silence and solitude leads me to deeper mysteries that I cannot always explain in myself.  I am becoming the change I want to see in the world.  I am taking responsibility for my feelings.  I am starting to sense life in me.

This week I have had to just slow down and reflect on my own happiness.  I had to spend some time in silence and solitude while saying to myself within, “I am okay, I am content, just rest in that reality, breathe slowly and feel your feelings.”

When I get in touch with myself in this way it always makes my life a little better.  I am more at peace.  Compassion and love come more naturally.  I start to understand the life of Jesus more.

Solidarity with others seems to make sense.  Forgiveness is always easier.  I seem to be lighter in my mood.  I become more empathetic and sleep better at night.

  •  Christ practiced silence and solitude

Christ practiced silence and solitude because he needed to embody a relational reality to those in his local context.

  •  A mountainside

Scripture says, “…he went up on a mountainside by himself…” (Matthew 14:23). 

  •  An integration with the real

Christ often practiced silence and solitude to embrace reality within the human context he lived in.  Christ lived within the real in his humanity.  On mountainsides, in gardens, in the desert, on long walks, in lonely places, and in homes; Christ practiced silence and solitude to find an integration with the real.  Reality was constantly being revealed through his embodiment of truthfulness in the way he treated others.

  •  Embodying the kingdom of God

Christ was embodying the kingdom of God in his locality through his love for his neighbors.  This was how he lived.  This is how he died.  This is how he grew up.

  •  Expressing love and compassion

His humanity would not be separated from embodying the essence of the kingdom of God in his local context.  All he had was his local context to experience reality.  All he had were the people around him to express his love and compassion.

  •  Following Christ in our local context

Christ’s silence and solitude opened him up to this reality.  He was one with the real in his humanity and we are called to follow him in our local context.  We are called to be his hands and feet in everyday life in the parish.  The mystical imagination is constantly revealing reality to us in the place we inhabit together.

  •  God is always more than our present concept of God

Mary Jo Meadow writes, “God is always more than our present concept of God.  We must always remain open to receive God’s further self.”

How can we practice silence and solitude?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432902984&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The Rhythm of Silence and Solitude

10323779-zombie-horror-Stock-Vector-grunge-zombie-graffitiI love silence and solitude.  This practice is so good for me.  My world is so noisy sometimes that it makes me crazy.

Silence and solitude is so mysterious because it brings me into an awareness of my interior life.  The interior life is real, but unseen.  It defines who I am and reveals my true self to me constantly.

Sometimes I do not know who I am.  What I have, what I do and what people say about me often times create an identity in me that is of the false self.  This is not who I am.  There is something more to me than this.

My practice of seeking God through silence and solitude helps me to grow in the wisdom and truth about who I am.  I come to see my body as a reservoir of wisdom, compassion and love.  The duality of the sacred and secular is broken apart and I start to learn that all of life is sacred.  This sacredness of life paradigm shapes everything I do.

I become more alive than ever before.  I become a lot more free to be myself.  I embrace the serenity of life to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

  •  Jesus went to a mountainside

“Jesus went out to a mountainside… and spent the night…”  (Luke 6:12). 

  •  Silence and solitude was normal for Christ

Christ spent the night on a mountainside.  A night probably consists of at least six to eight hours.  This kind of silence and solitude was normal for Christ.  He saw it as essential for his context.

  •  Part of Christ’s rhythm in life

This was a part of his rhythm in life.  He found the depth of his humanity more as he practiced this kind of silence and solitude.  Have we ever given God our complete attention in silence and solitude like this?

  •  The wonder that the authentic life contains

Marcia Ford says, “Silence inspires awe when it diverts my attention away from the chatter in my head and toward the wonder that the rest of life – the authentic life – contains.”

  •  Developing a practice of seeking God

This is the call of the mystical imagination in the place we live.  We need to develop a practice of seeking God in silence and solitude.

  •  Taking time to be silent

Mother Teresa writes, “We all must take the time to be silent…” 

  •  Saving us from dysfunction in everyday day life

We will never experience the depth of our humanity if we do not give this kind of attention to our communion with God.  We might think this is asking too much, but I would say that this is the radical nature of following Christ in our local community.  Our practice of silence and solitude will save us from dysfunction in everyday life.  Christ is calling us into the depth of our humanity through silence and solitude.

What is your experience with silence and solitude?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432489577&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

To Live Among People

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I remember one time running and walking in the neighborhood to discover the freedom of the sky, the freedom of the sun, the freedom of the wind and the freedom of the sidewalks.  I sensed God using this creation to speak to me about the livability of this place I was standing on.  God was reminding me of the many days the sun has shown on this land.

For countless years, this place has had the sun.  The wind has blown here.  The sky has watched over it with faithfulness.

So many people decade after decade have walked these sidewalks.  People of different races, socio-economic status, genders, lifestyles and opinions have lived here.  The rich and the poor alike have lived here.

God was reminding me to listen to the stories of the many beautiful Japanese people in the neighborhood who were forced into prison camps in the 1940’s.  God was reminding me of the pictures I had seen on the walls in a local coffee shop of what Downtown Tacoma looked like in the year 1910.  I think to myself, “What a beautiful place this is.”

It was very integrated before the mall was built in the 1970’s.  Now Downtown Tacoma struggles with its local economy.  It has been exploited and abused at times, but it still contains a lot of mystery and beauty.

As I was running another mile through the streets of Downtown Tacoma on a Saturday morning, God was teaching my soul to listen to everything around me.  God was teaching me to listen to everything within me.

I am reminded of the beauty and mystery in my struggles to embody love in this place with others.  Our listening becomes better and more seasoned with each day we practice silence and solitude in some form.  Whether it is alone in a room, running or walking in the neighborhood, doing an artistic expression or just thinking and learning of some kind; our listening is showing us a lot of beauty and mystery that is hard to see otherwise.

Henri J.M. Nouwen says, “It seems more important than ever to stress that solitude is one of the human capacities that can exist, be maintained and developed in the center of a big city, in the middle of a large crowd and in the context of a very active and productive life.  A man or woman who has developed this solitude of heart is no longer pulled apart by the most divergent stimuli of the surrounding world but is able to perceive and understand this world from a quiet inner center.”

Silence and solitude can exist anywhere.  This posture can be practiced within our relational context as the body of Christ in the parish.  Everyday life is filled with moments where listening is required and demanded of us to see the mystery and beauty all around us.  We need to live into this through the mystical imagination.

No context should separate us from silence and solitude.  It is a way of life in all things.  All our relational encounters are to be practiced in silence and solitude with a deep listening intentionality.

Jesus is our example of this way of life.  We should not be slow to have some receptivity to listening to mystery and receiving beauty in the place we inhabit together.

I love this expression by Karen Wilk of her longing for God to move her to embody a compassionate listening where she lives, “Give me your eyes to see this community and its people as you do.  Give me your ears to listen to their hearts as you hear them.  Give me an open and attentive spirit to recognize where you are already at work.  Fill me with courage that I might ask the right questions, accept the true answers, and follow your leading.  Equip and empower me to engage in this place, to live among people just as you did…”

How can we live among people and care?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432336187&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination