Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: The Communal Imagination

All That We Possess Is A Gift – 10 quotes from my books – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life and The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

41+jgDX732L1. Small acts of love

“A relational call to love as the body of Christ in the parish seems small, but it’s not. Activist Shane Claiborne writes in his book, The Irresistible Revolution, that ‘we live in a world that has lost its appreciation for small things.’ The small things are hard to value in a culture that craves anything but the small. We think the small will make us seem nonexistent and invisible. We want so much to be noticed that we have taken our life into our own hands and forgotten the small acts of love in the neighborhood. When will we realize that love is the only thing that miracles are made of? The communal imagination loves the small things in the particulars of everyday life…” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

2. Pushed out of our comfort zones

“We need to learn how to risk our lives in the parish. Our everyday lives need to embrace the practice of living on the ground in humility towards one another. Nothing is scarier than the practice of humility, because in humility we lose all our techniques of control and escapism. We are pushed out of our comfort zones. Our relationships become fashioned by a new paradigm of valuing one another’s humanity. We can no longer walk past someone without regard for their wellbeing. This calls us to a new and disturbing degree of risk that will shake us to the core of who we are. This calls for new experiments around local ways of living relationally. Risk is about stepping into the unknown and being shaped by what we experience there. It is more mysterious than anything we have ever known and shatters all our propositions of preconceived ideas. The communal imagination lives by this kind of risk. It takes humility to live into authentic risk as a way of life. Is this not the call of Christ in the gospels?” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

3. Expectations are premeditated resentments

“We need to see the danger of holding God hostage to any of our expectations. Expectations are premeditated resentments, as one of my friends always says. A lot of our expectations will never come to fruition. When that happens we can become resentful and angry. When we live contrary to our contemplative spirituality we tend to hurt a lot of people in our relational context. Jesuit Anthony De Mello says, ‘Do not approach contemplation with any preconceived notions at all. Approach it with a readiness to discover new experiences (that initially may not even seem like “experience” at all) and to acquire brand-new tastes.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

4. Becoming more honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another

“Our souls will eventually heal, but not without some struggle through our desert seasons. As we work out our salvation through silence and solitude, we will feel our pain through all of the things we would prefer would stay hidden. We will become more honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another. We will be open to our brokenness in the place we inhabit. The mystical imagination is always connected to the condition of our souls. We may think that measuring up is all about morality, ethics, and doing all the preconceived right things; but maybe it is more about our authenticity.”  The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

5. All that we possess is a gift

“Our reflection and rest help us to remember. We remember one another. We remember our place. We remember the divine mysteries within us and all around us. We remember who we are as the body of Christ in everyday life together. We remember all that we have is not of our own making and is gift. We remember all the wisdom that God has imparted to us. We remember the Scriptures and all that they speak to our lives together. We remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. We remember where we have come from. We remember how we have changed and been shaped over the years. Anthony Bloom says, ‘We must remember that all we possess is a gift.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

6. Our eye is always on the next thing51DJfJVBpBL (1)

“The pursuit of ambition and success always pulls us to somewhere we ought not to be. We live in a kind of disembodied state within our local context. We can never be truly present to others because we have our mind on getting somewhere else. We become totally utilitarian in the way we approach everyone and everything. We really don’t care that much about our place. As long as things are going good, we really don’t think of others that much. This is such an unhealthy way to live our lives. We need to find a better way. As long as we live in a paradigm of upward mobility, there will be very little hope for the body of Christ to share life together. The body of Christ will be fragmented because our eye is always on the next thing.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

7. The natural process of spiritual growth

“Silence and solitude will guide us to be more vulnerable, leading us at times to desert experiences, to dark nights of the soul. In this darkness all our preconceived paradigms will be questioned. We will think that God has abandoned us. But this is the natural process of spiritual growth.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

8. Doing nothing is both powerful and subversive

“We cultivate our spirituality when we do nothing through our reflection and rest. Doing nothing can help us to embrace the mystical imagination while detaching us from the cultural patterns of escapism. Doing nothing creates a revolution within us. It is dangerous and needs to be practiced with a lot of courage. Doing nothing is both powerful and subversive.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

9. Relational ways of knowing and being known

“Relational ways of knowing and being known are necessary to our humanity as the body of Christ in local everyday life context. There is so much noise and distraction that keep us from becoming known and relationally whole. How can we rediscover our humanity together in the place that we inhabit? What will bring us into a ‘genuine dialogue’ with one another to know and be known?” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

10. Rhythms help us to listen

“Rhythms help us to listen. The mystical imagination cultivates listening. Listening helps us to become more aware of others in our parish. Listening helps us to honor the place that we live. 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 with which to honor its creation…” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

Do you see that all that you have is a gift?

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

Practicing Relationship – 5 quotes from my books – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life and The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

51DJfJVBpBL (1)1. To love with understanding and without understanding

“Loving others by seeing the value and mystery in and through them is about having the imagination to see Christ in others. This is a radical thought! Does Christ really live in each and every one of us even if we have not ‘accepted Christ’ into our lives? I think he does in some mysterious way that we cannot always understand. I believe there are dimensions of Christ that live in all of us. How could they not? We are created in his image. Not some people but all people. Dorothy Day encourages us ‘To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them.’ This is what the body of Christ is called to in the parish.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

2. Our Creator transcends all our boxes

“There is nowhere we can be but in the presence of God. We cannot be outside of this reality. We just need to cultivate an awareness of this reality. Our Creator transcends all our boxes. We may prefer to confine God’s presence to certain ‘religious’ occasions. But God lives, plays, works, and speaks within the particulars of our local context in everyday life all the time.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

41+jgDX732L3. Becoming fully and consciously who we already are

“We will not be able to live authentically in the parish without a connection to our true self. Living locally in community will not work if the true self is denied. Richard Rohr says in his book Falling Upward, ‘Life is a matter of becoming fully and consciously who we already are, but it is a self we largely do not know.’ We need to have a familiar connection to our true self if we are to become who we already are. The mystical imagination leads us to be who we are as fully alive and fully human.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

4. To live awakened lives

“When will we awaken to love one another? When will we awaken to humility? When will we awaken to compassion? Catherine Whitmire says, ‘The opportunity before us in every moment is to choose to live awakened lives.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

5. Grace stems from our love for others

“Grace stems from our love for others. ‘Be patient, bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2). We need to have patience and grace for one another as expressions of our love for one another. Without this our ideals will take over and ruin us. Our relationships will not be sustainable. And we will soon forget about one another and our local context. In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker J. Palmer writes, ‘In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge.’ We have to understand the balancing act of the reality and the potential of everyday life together in the parish. The reality is sometimes hard to face. The potential gives us great hope. So we need to live inside of this tension. This is one of the ways we learn to lay down our lives as the body of Christ and allow God to enlighten us. This is a mystery that only God can teach us through practicing relationship.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

How are you practicing relationship 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

Reality Has Its Own Nakedness – 10 quotes from my books – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life and The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

51DJfJVBpBL (1)1. Contemplation is about listening deeply

“God is calling us to awareness as the body of Christ in the parish. We are being drawn into an awareness of place, conviviality, mystery, integration, neighborliness, love, humility, and beauty. Awareness is subversive. Awareness has an intuitive sense of imagination. The practice of contemplation cultivates the mystical imagination of awareness. Contemplation is about listening deeply without words, with a keen sense of mystery that cultivates awareness.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

2. As something beautiful, as something sacred

“’Humility is necessary,’ writes Martin Laird, ‘if we are to see into our wounds.’ Through humility we can start to understand our afflictions as something beautiful, as something sacred. They are shaping us into who we are becoming. We cannot see what we need to see in our wounds without humility, without brokenness. We cannot close our eyes to our wounds. It is important to embrace the pain of brokenness and just let it be.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

3. What did Jesus do in the desert for 40 days?

“What did Jesus do in the desert for 40 days? He probably found different ways to listen as he spent lots of time alone. It was something like just under 6 weeks that Jesus spent in the desert. That’s a long time for most of us! Maybe the desert was a combination of many things for him such as longing, dreaming, reflecting, crying, walking, resting, and sleeping. He probably was bored, lonely, tired, and hungry at times. But he kept going because this was the process of disciplining himself to listen deeply and face his temptations. This was essential to his whole life.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

4. Reality has its own naked existence

“Silence and solitude reveal reality. Our lives are based on too many illusions and idolatries. Our eyes are opened when reality is revealed and we listen. We need to be honest in our relationship with reality. We cannot make up or distort reality. Reality has its own naked existence.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

5. To live compassionately is to become human

“To live compassionately is to become human. To live as an expression of love is to become human. To work out our salvation together is to become human. To live in the freedom of the Spirit of reconciliation and grace toward others is to become human. Our reflection and rest help us to become human. The mystical imagination is calling us to become human by showing us that our humanity is beautiful. We need to honor and cultivate this beauty within us at all times. It is a subversive practice to become an expression of love, grace, and humility as we live restful lives. Brene Brown states, ‘Making the choice to rest… is at best, counterculture.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

6. Show proper respect to everyone41+jgDX732L

“’Show proper respect to everyone’ (1 Peter 2:17). We all have the tendency to judge others. But to judge others is to deny them proper respect. When we judge one another we discriminate against ourselves and lose our hold on love. Judging others hinders us from loving others. ‘Above all, love each other deeply’ (1 Peter 4:8). We need to love as the body of Christ, not judge. Judging others tends to be the religious thing to do nowadays. We don’t want to get caught up in all this religious stuff. Instead, we want to love others in a contextual way within the particulars of everyday life in the parish.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

7. Become expressions of grace and compassion

“Our humanity is honored when we become expressions of grace and compassion toward others in the parish. The Spirit is working within us to help us become this kind of expression in our everyday lives. There is nothing more beautiful than a life given over to expressions of grace and compassion in concrete, on-the-ground relationships. Our world takes notice one neighborhood at a time. ‘Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires’ (Romans 8:5). The communal imagination has a mind for the things of the Spirit. As we have seen, the mind of the Spirit is set on the local place we inhabit together. This is where relationships happen. This is where grace and compassion happen in everyday life. This is where relational revelations and ordinary miracles happen among us. James Finley, a former Trappist monk who studied under Thomas Merton, writes,’ You begin to appreciate that every time you compassionately engage with another person, your reason for being on this world is honored and expressed.’” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

8. Our bodies identify intuitively with the ecology of life

“The lived body is meant to embody our redemption throughout our days. Our bodies are a gift from God, and it is a mistake to take them for granted. Our bodies identify intuitively with the ecology of life. They have an intuitive power beyond what we can sometimes understand. They are relational and interdependent. We need a mystical sense of discipline to live in our bodies in everyday life. This is such a subversive, countercultural practice for our time. Henri J. M. Nouwen writes, ‘A new spirituality is being born in you. Not body denying or body indulging but truly incarnational. You have to trust that this spirituality can find shape within you, and that it can find articulation through you.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

9. For many of us, listening is hard

“For many of us, listening is hard. Listening to others, listening to God, listening to our lives, listening to the true self, listening to our environment, listening to our local community, listening to mystery; these become problematic if we are not attuned to being silent together. There is always so much noise all around us. It’s like we are addicted to noise and hurried activity. And yet God is calling us into the mystical imagination of silence and solitude as the body of Christ in the parish. We will not be able to embrace these without listening to life’s mystery and beauty. They liberate us from our noise-addicted world. Paula Huston writes, ‘…we can take some practical steps to increase our capacity for listening.’” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

10. A desire for listening

“There is so much talk today within the body of Christ. There is an overemphasis on preaching and converting others through words and information. When will we ever learn how to listen instead of preaching so much? Listening is much harder than talking all the time. What would happen if we had an experimental approach to listening in the particulars of everyday life together in the parish? I think we would see amazing things happen. Love is intertwined with listening. Without listening, does love even exist within us? The communal imagination has a desire for listening. Listening is the foundation of all relational love in the parish.”  The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

Do you have a desire to listen deeply?

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

Extreme Individualism is Not Healthy – 10 quotes from my books – The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life and The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

41+jgDX732L1. The gift of our lives together

“This self-awareness of being the body of Christ in our local community creates the potential for us to see relational revelations through our seeds of contemplation. The mystical imagination cultivates a oneness with the mystery of our locality. Our awareness is a gift from God. We live in the mystery of God, the mystery of place. God shapes us through our awareness. It is through this listening awareness that we come to understand the gift of our lives together. We cannot possess this ourselves with our own agendas. It is only possessed by God in mystery. We need to participate in this mystery as the body of Christ. Just when we think we possess it, we’ve lost everything that is a gift to us.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

2. A listening spirit in everyday life

“Silence and solitude are oftentimes considered ‘weird’ today, but they have a rich history behind them. Christ practiced silence and solitude as a means to listen deeply. Through this, he learned to embrace the mystery and beauty in life contextually. This was crucial for the life Jesus lived. Most of the followers of Christ throughout history have found a way to practice silence and solitude. This is so important to understand! Silence and solitude help us to cultivate a listening spirit in everyday life.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

3. Not run from one another

“We need to recover our humanity and embrace one another face to face. We are more connected to one another than we sometimes realize. We need to live into that connection through grace and not run from one another. The relationships that we share together will shape us as we take a posture of grace toward one another. ‘We have no real being “until we have faces” to receive the other, to offer ourselves, and then to pass on our very selves in the same way,’ says Richard Rohr. ‘It will be experienced as depth, acceptance and forgiveness for being who we are, a quality of being that is shared, compassionate and totally gift.’” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

4. When the sacred/secular division disappears

“To experience an abundant life as the body of Christ is to discover our way out of this sacred/secular divide. It is to see all of life as a miracle or gift of God. These categories of sacred/secular cannot exist when the incarnation and a theology of place live within us as the body of Christ. We enter into a holistic spirituality when the sacred/secular division disappears and is forgotten. It seems that all great people of faith experienced a conversion to seeing all of life as sacred. They refused to believe in the notion of the secular. It had no relevance for them. Likewise, we cannot let our lives be lived within the confines of the sacred/secular divide. We want out. We will protest against the idea of the secular. We live in Christ in the sacred, in the material, in our locality, in the abundance of our spirituality. There is no turning back. We forget the illusion of the secular and embrace all of life as sacred.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

51DJfJVBpBL (1)5. Our pursuit of ambition and success

“Our pursuit of ambition and success is defining the imagination of who we are becoming and it is leaving us pursuing our individualistic lifestyles disconnected from one another in everyday life. We end up not caring that much about neither place nor our relationships in the place that we live. Who has time for anyone else when we are chasing the pursuit of wealth?” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

6. Listening is intertwined with learning

“We cannot embrace a humility in which we are continually learning from others without a listening spirit. There can be no learning from others without listening to one another. Listening is intertwined with learning. We have to really believe that we have much to learn from others with all our commonality and diversity. We need to approach others with this learning process of discovery. God will always surprise us through our friends when we learn to see them as our teachers and listen to them attentively. ‘Humility is an essential part of listening,’ writes Hugh Feiss who has been a Benedictine for over thirty-five years. ‘Only someone who believes he has something to learn is an attentive listener.’ Listening to the women, men and children in our local context will manifest some relational revelations that can be found in no other way. The communal imagination listens and learns from others.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

7. A distortion of our identity

“There is so much mystery to the mystical nature of gospel. Mystery is what lives within the imagination. This mystery is lived out by the body of Christ in the parish. ‘…God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27). The mystical imagination is alive among us in the mystery that lives within our relationships in the place we inhabit together in everyday life. To become blinded to the reality of the mysteries so close to us, that are trying to speak to us, trying to pull us out of the status quo is a distortion of our identity. We have become less than human without a sense of mystery. The mystical nature of Christianity puts the mystery back into our lives together as the body of Christ in the place we live.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

8. Extreme individualism is not healthy

“We have been raised in a culture that prizes independence, and most of us are unconsciously trained as children to think of it as the good, Christian, American way. But this individualistic way of life has been taken to the far extreme, and it is killing our imaginations. We are biologically constituted for interdependence and shared life. We do not make our own lives, but we allow others to influence and be influenced by us. Extreme individualism is not healthy for a person, let alone an entire culture…” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

9. Love has to be learned through much practice

“Dorothy Day, the legendary Catholic social activist, says, ‘It is an easy thing to talk about love, but it is something to be proven, to be suffered, to be learned.’ To be intentional about love is all good in theory to many of us, but in practice it is not so desirable. Love has to be learned through much practice. We are not so good at it as the body of Christ. We have to be intentional, willing to go through the suffering that love will bring our way. We have to prove our love through building trust and sacrificing for others. That is why listening is so important to an intentional love in and for the parish. Intentionality will call us to a harsh and dreadful love for others. There is no running from this kind of intentionality if we want to live in the real world.” The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

10. Living by faith is uncertain

“Living by faith is uncertain. We do not always know exactly how God is leading us. The mystical imagination is very intuitive. Living by faith is a way of life that needs to be practiced with diligence and perseverance. This is our freedom and our liberation. Sometimes we will not understand God’s leading and guidance, but trusting in the process is what living by faith is about. We have to do the best we can even when we do not understand. The mystical imagination within will help us.” The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life

Which quote stands out to you and resonates deeply?

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

Humility and Vulnerability – Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

51DJfJVBpBL (1)

  • Having the imagination to see Christ in others

“Loving others by seeing the value and mystery in and through them is about having the imagination to see Christ in others.  This is a radical thought!  Does Christ really live in each and every one of us even if we have not ‘accepted’ Christ in our lives?  I think he does in some mysterious way that we cannot understand.  I believe there are dimensions of Christ that live in all of us.  How could they not?  We are created in his image.  Not some people but all people…”

  • The different faces of God

“The different faces of God are manifested through our relationships.  Our understanding of God is a constant evolving process throughout our entire lives.  We learn of God relationally through others in the context of everyday life together.  The face-to-face interaction between us manifest relational revelations in the parish.  What a wonderful thought that is!  I can find Christ in you just as you can find Christ in me.  Without being in relationship it is hard to understand Christ in the particulars of everyday life.  So we need to make space for one another and be generous with our time.  Being with others as a way to demonstrate love could unleash relational miracles just waiting to happen among us.”

  • We need to unlearn so many things

“We need to unlearn so many things that we have practiced for so many years that have left us disillusioned.  We need to unlearn the practice of being in a relationship with others that is void of risk and humility.”

  • A powerlessness of humility and vulnerability

“The communal imagination takes on a powerlessness of humility and vulnerability in the place it inhabits.  It listens to its place in holistic ways.  It respects the value of the people who live there…”

  • To have respect for one another

“Humility and honesty are core to our spiritual development as the body of Christ in everyday life.  They help us to get along in life, to have respect for one another.  We need to embrace them by our own choosing before life crushes us and we are left limping and bleeding from the wounds of our own making.”

  • A spirit of gratitude

“Listening is intertwined with a spirit of gratitude.  We cannot embrace life as a gift if we cannot listen to all the subsidiaries of life in and around us.  We learn to notice things that would be unnoticeable when we practice gratitude together…”

  • A life of simplicity

“What will people think if we live a life of simplicity?  We might stand out too much and become something other than the status quo.  But it is worth the risk.  When we embrace simplicity, it will shape us in ways we cannot understand.  Simplicity redefines everyday life and all our relationships.  It helps us to become integrated with the communal imagination…”

  • Financial wealth, affluence, and power

“We prefer to focus on all the things that promote financial wealth, affluence, and power, while focusing much less on what promotes true life together…”

  • Individualism, fragmentation, and loneliness

“How can we be the body of Christ together in the day-to-day of life despite the individualism, fragmentation, and loneliness we all experience at times?”

Which quote stands out to you?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425650383&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Putting Off Dreams of Ambition and Success – Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

51DJfJVBpBL

  • Our faithfulness together in the ordinary

“The ordinary is where life is lived in a real place with real people.  God works through ordinary life, ordinary people, and in ordinary neighborhoods.  There is no hype here, only reality.  Our shared life together in the place that we live in is only as good as our faithfulness together in the ordinary…” 

  • We need to stop trying to change or fix others

“We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love…”

  • Engage with grace

“We never know what will surface as we interact with one another in our neighborhood, but we must be willing to engage with grace the life we find there.  ‘Glories’ and ‘tragedies’ will manifest themselves all around us all the time.  So we must find a posture of grace in our relationships that does not get overly focused on the glorious ‘wish dreams’ to the exclusion of the unpredictable tragedies in life…”

  • Expressions of grace, compassion and love

“We will become broken.  No question about that.  This is part of life.  If we break apart, we will find bitterness and anger.  If we break open, we will become expressions of grace, compassion and love.  This is the kind of life that one who is broken open will manifest to others in the parish.  The pain and destruction we do to our lives when we choose to be broken apart is frightening.  We destroy our humanity in the process.”

  • The beauty of each other’s humanity

“What a shame that people forget the beauty of each other’s humanity…”

  • Humility and risk

“In order to risk all that we are to follow Christ, we have to live in humility and risk being in relationship with others.  There is no way of being in relationship with Christ without being in relationship with one another.  The humility that is required to live this way is intense and needs to be constantly cultivated in our everyday lives together…”

  • When we are weak and vulnerable

“When we demonstrate some humility and practice vulnerability with one another, that is when we are most fully walking in the Spirit of Christ.  When we are weak and vulnerable, that is when we experience God’s power within us.  A theology of place can only be lived into through vulnerability…”

  •  Honesty and truth

“We need to become people of honesty toward one another in the parish.  Honesty is a manifestation of truthfulness with one another.  Honesty is authentic.  Honesty is vulnerable.  Honesty embraces powerlessness.  Honesty is about learning to face one another.  Honesty is hard.  We can learn to have the humility to be honest with one another in our relationships.  But we must have the willingness to live into truth with one another.  Truth is honest.  Truth is about authenticity.  Truth is relational.”

  • Gratitude is healing

“This has been one of the most difficult things in my life for me to understand.  Gratitude is healing for my body.  Having lived relationally in my locality for many years now, I have discovered that practicing gratitude is essential if I am to sustain my relationship with others, with God, and with myself.  Gratitude brings about a mystical sanity that helps us to walk in humility with one another.”

  • A communal imagination of relational humility and collaboration

“It is so easy to forget the more holistic identity of becoming great through becoming the servant of all.  We are not called to be ‘critics.’  We are not called to be ‘cynics.’  We are not called to be ‘escapists.’  We are not called to be ‘controllers.’  We are not called to be ‘isolationists.’  What we are called to as the body of Christ together in everyday life is a communal imagination of relational humility and collaboration…” 

  • Consumed with dreams of ambition and success

“Our personalities are consumed mostly with dreams of ambition and success.  We so easily become addicted to what money gives us: the power of autonomy, the ability to create our own lives apart from the community we live in…” 

  • A culture that prizes independence

“We have been raised in a culture that prizes independence, and most of us are unconsciously trained as children to think of it as the good, Christian, American way.  But this individualistic way of life has been taken to the far extreme, and it is killing our imaginations.  We are biologically constituted for interdependence and shared life.  We do not make our own lives, but we allow others to influence and be influenced by us.  Extreme individualism is not healthy for a person, let alone an entire culture…”

  • We need to get reconnected with a place

“Each person’s journey back into place will be different.  But we need to get reconnected with a place, a local context to inhabit as the body of Christ in our day…”

What is your favorite quote?  Have you read The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together?  What stood out to you in the book?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425227933&sr=1-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Without Love We Have Nothing – Excerpt from my book – The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

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

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

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

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

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

I love this passage of Scripture because it is the major theme of all of the New Testament.  Love is the story that we are to enter into.  It is everything.  We are to inhabit our local context as the body of Christ living into this posture toward all of life.  This is what will shape us relationally.  I want to become an expression of 1 Corinthians 13 together with my friends in our neighborhood.  Thomas Merton states:

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

Such things as tongues, prophesy, knowledge, giving my body to die in the flames, a faith that can move mountains, giving to the poor, and fathoming mysteries all amount to little without love.  I would say that without love everything we do amounts to nothing.  Boasting and pride are not a part of love.  Being rude and self-seeking is not a part of love.  Anger and bitterness is not a part of love.  These things are unhealthy for the social capital of our neighborhood.  Love is hospitable to patience and kindness.  Love is hospitable to celebration and protection.  Love is hospitable to trust and hope in others.  Love is hospitable toward the strength of perseverance.  Faith and hope always stem from love.  And love is the greatest quality of our faith as the body of Christ together in the parish.

Without love nothing makes sense in the place that we live.  Everything gets really weird really fast without love. How many of us have known people who get really weird by becoming controlling, judgmental, and manipulative around “spiritual” themes or “ministries”?  I think this happens because we are not rooting our faith in love.  It is rooted in something much more appealing to us. There are a million things to root our faith in besides love and we are being pulled to do just that.  But David G. Benner says, “No account of Christian spirituality is complete if it fails to give a central place to love …”  Love is what makes the communal imagination holistic.  Love makes the body of Christ live. Love is what brings healing to our lives.  Love builds community in our neighborhood.  Love is what will shape the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life.  Love keeps us sane.  Love makes us human in so many ways.

John M. Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizes that, “Loving each other… might just be the greatest thing we can do …”  Our love could be the thing that brings liberation to us all in the parish. Our love is to be a part of our salvation, redemption and sanctification as the body of Christ.  As we live together in the proximity of a neighborhood, we will all be shaped through relationship.  We can become great through love.  We cannot become great in any other way!  Our love as the body of Christ together in the particulars of everyday life will do miracles among us.

How we show that we are spiritually attuned to reality is by our love.  Love is the way of a relational life in the parish.  Love guides and teaches us how to discern what is real.  Love is the only relevant factor in our relationships within the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life.  “There is one thing we must understand, however,” writes William A. Meninger, “and that is that our love must dominate our action and give it direction …”  If love is not present within us, we literally have nothing to build our faith on together.  If love dies within us, we soon become less than human.  We become objects to the systems of our culture and cease to be a “peculiar people” in our local context.  Love must possess and dominate all that we do.  Love must shape us and change us constantly.  Love must capture our imaginations and become communal in the place where we live.  Everything we do must stem from this love that Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13.

We need to see our lives as the expression of this 1 Corinthians 13 love as the body of Christ in the particulars of everyday life together in the parish.  This is God’s will for us.  We cannot escape the call.  Our local context will teach us how to love, being kind to one another and showing patience.  This begins in the particulars of life now.  The relational context we find ourselves in will constantly manifest love all around us.  Catherine Doherty says, “The kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of love, begins here and now.”

God is already working in the neighborhood all around us in our locality if we would only become aware of what is going on.  The neighborhood is the medium where we learn to love relationally.  The communal imagination will be cultivated through this 1 Corinthians 13 way of life in the particulars of each situation we find ourselves in.  Love is calling out to us relationally in all of life.  Every relationship brings opportunities to love.  This is what should define us over the course of our lives.

Love has been a hard reality for me to face as I have tried to reduce following Christ to something else.  My local context always calls me back to the reality of relational love toward others when I tend to do this.  God is constantly teaching me through the relational context of the neighborhood that love is all that matters.  Anything less will not do.  So many times I have lost the focus of this 1 Corinthians 13 love.  But I am coming to understand that this is what I need to base my life on.  Jesus is calling to me through the seasons of life, through the wind I feel on my face as I walk outside in my neighborhood, to love.  I cannot ignore this call to love.  I cannot ignore this call to the parish.  I cannot ignore this call to live relationally.

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421601262&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Embracing Our Wounds As Sacred – Excerpt from my book – The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together – Last Day to pick up your FREE copy on Kindle!

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  • Our everyday lives will be wasted without grace

When we are angry, we cannot live into the gospel and become expressions of God’s grace as the body of Christ together in the parish.  Our everyday lives will be wasted without grace for one another.

  •  Does not bring about the life God desires

“… for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires…” (James 1:20).

  •  You will hurt each other

New Monastics Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove put it this way, “… if you get involved with God’s people, you will get hurt. The Holy Spirit makes it possible – compels us, even – to share lives with one another, live together, do each other’s dirty work, offer hospitality, make peace, share money, raise kids together, start co-opts and serve our neighbors.  But if you do all those things with broken people (and broken people are the only kind available), you will hurt each other. You will be betrayed in one way or another…”

  •  The body of Christ will wound us

These are tough words from two practitioners who know the cost of the communal imagination.  We will become wounded and hurt in the process of being in relationship with others in our neighborhood.  The body of Christ will wound us as we share life together in the parish.

  •  Reacting to our wounds in anger is not walking in the Spirit

Reacting to our wounds in anger is not walking in the Spirit.  Responding in grace is.  God’s grace is so much bigger than all our wounds.  Christ showed immeasurable grace despite facing crucifixion.

  •  Our anger and bitterness can’t have the final say

We have wounded and hurt Jesus over and over again in our lives and he always shows grace.  We need to imitate his ways and show grace to one another as the body of Christ in everyday life.  Our anger and bitterness can’t have the final say.  Grace must face our anger and overcome it.

  •  Becoming sustainable in all we do relationally

If we can imbue our wounds with the sacred, we will cultivate the communal imagination.  We will become sustainable in all we do relationally.  We will see relational revelations all around us in everyday life.  If there is no sense of the sacred in our wounded state, we will soon become so angry and bitter that grace will not be found.

  •  Embracing our wounds as something sacred

Without grace, we will carry around in our veins nothing but poison.  We will die a miserable death in isolation thanks to our tight grip on anger and bitterness. We have to find a way to embrace our wounds as something sacred and learn to express something beautiful through grace each time despite our hurts.  It is an ordinary miracle of everyday life when we embrace the sacredness of our wounds together in the parish.

  •  Finding a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds

Franciscan Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes, “If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter …”

How can we find a way to embrace our wounds as sacred?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413552702&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination+finding+a+way+to

Humility, Learning, Listening – Excerpt from my book – The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together – Offered for FREE this week on Kindle!

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  •  Submitting to one another

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). 

  •  Honoring both genders equally

We need to submit to and learn from one another in the parish.  We should honor both genders equally and take a posture of reverence and learning from both the women and the men in our lives.  Oftentimes women are better practitioners of relational care in a local context than men are.

  •  Making the mistake of saying we can only learn from men

So we must not make the mistake of saying we can only learn from men.  We also need to take a posture of reverence and learning from both the elderly and the children among us.  The women, men, and children in our lives all influence our response to life through the difficult and not-so-difficult moments of everyday life.

  •  Embracing a humility that learns from others

There is so much these relationships can teach us.  We need to embrace a humility that learns from others.  Learning from others cultivates our responsibility of agency, our ownership to take meaningful action, as human beings in the parish.  Learning from others constantly cultivates the communal imagination.

  •  Others have something important to call out of me, to support in me

As Benedictine Joan Chittister says, “Humility is simply a basic awareness of my relationship to the world and my connectedness to all its circumstances.  It is the acceptance of relationships with others, not only for who they are but also for who I am.  I do not interact with others to get something out of it; I make my way with all the others in my life because each of them has something important to call out of me, to support in me, to bring to fruit a vision of God in my life.

  • Holding our relationships with a posture of learning

Without a humility that is constantly learning from the gifts of others, we are dysfunctional.  There is so much that can be teased out of us as a result of our relationships in the parish.  Our relationships become so much more important in shaping us when we hold them with a posture of learning.  When we see our relationships through the lens of humility we begin to learn from one another in so many ways.

  •  Our relationships help us learn about God

Our relationships help us to learn about God.  God is most clearly communicated to our senses in ways we can understand through one another. We will all be better off.  When men, women and children learn to see themselves as created equally in God’s image and start to learn from one another, we will live out a more holistic spirituality together.

  •  Listening is intertwined with learning

We cannot embrace a humility in which we are continually learning from others without a listening spirit.  There can be no learning from others without listening to one another.  Listening is intertwined with learning.  We have to really believe that we have much to learn from others with all our commonality and diversity.

What are some of the ways you are learning from others in your life?

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Being Guided by the Ordinary – Excerpt from my book – The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together – Offered for FREE this week on Kindle!

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  •  Relational, slow, steady

As I have lived in my neighborhood for ten years now, I have seen God work in the ordinary.  It is relational.  It is slow.  It is steady.

  •  Not religious, not what we define as “spiritual,” not a ministry

It is beautiful.  It is not religious.  It is not what we define as “spiritual.”  It is not a ministry.

  •  Not a program, not a project

It is not a program.  It is not a project.  It is hard to communicate.

  •  Life together in the ordinary

But, this is what the body of Christ is called to: life together in the ordinary particulars of a neighborhood.  The body of Christ is called to seek God within the ordinary relationships of a place.  This is how we can live in communion with our Creator, with one another, and with the created world around us.

  •  The ordinary will guide us

The ordinary will open up our lives to be the body of Christ together in everyday life.  The ordinary will heal, nurture, and care for the body in beautiful ways.  The ordinary will be our prophetic witness.  The ordinary will guide us.

  •  The ordinary will teach us to love and show compassion

The ordinary will teach us to love and show compassion.  The ordinary will invite “the real.”  The ordinary will speak to us.  The ordinary will not be manipulated.

  •  The ordinary holds wisdom

The ordinary holds wisdom.  The ordinary is for the body of Christ what blood is to a human body: Blood fills our human bodies the way the ordinary is to fill the body of Christ.  The Holy Spirit is intertwined with the ordinary.  If we disregard the ordinary we disregard the church.

  •  Disillusionment and deconstruction

I am hesitant to tell my story because it is one of disillusionment and deconstruction.  Those terms are not always easy to absorb.  But, I am going to tell it anyway, the best I can.  I have always felt a strong disconnection in my experience with the church.

  •  What would people think?

I have tried and tried but it just seems strange and irrelevant to me, for many of the reasons I have already talked about.  I remember when our church first moved to the neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma to try to live out our faith together.  I was scared and timid.  I didn’t know anyone there.  What would people think?

  •  Moving into the Downtown Tacoma in the spring of 2004

What would my parents say about me dropping individual opportunities for “success?”  But, I wanted to do something that would be both counter-cultural and sustain me as a follower of Christ.  So when I moved into Downtown Tacoma in the spring of 2004 it was a risk I took that very few really understood. Our parish was not a very popular place to live.

  •  God gave me an imagination for the place

It had lots of abandoned buildings and empty streets.  The nights and the weekends were pretty dead and not too many people liked to hang out there. The built environment needed work and there was a lot of poverty.  But I believe God gave me an imagination for the place.

  •  Questioning myself

I remember walking the streets and questioning myself many times about my decision to move there.  One day I woke up with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t understand why I was so emotional.  Looking back I think I was just weary and lonely.

  •  The body of Christ was hard to find in everyday life

But, as I began to settle there, God planted hopeful possibilities in my imagination.  I began asking, “What could this place become?”  There were many church buildings and Sunday meeting spaces in Downtown Tacoma, but the body of Christ was hard to find in everyday life.  I had to slowly work through my fears, insecurities, loneliness, and pain.

  •  Learning and listening to the ordinary has not been easy

I wanted to share life with others in Downtown Tacoma, but it was more difficult than I had thought.  My journey into the ordinary of this place has started to lead me through my pain and disconnection toward love and compassion.  Learning and listening to the ordinary has not been easy.

  •  All the stories remain unfinished

I experience a lot of loneliness and pain still, but my imagination is alive and growing and cannot be captivated.  Downtown Tacoma is an open book waiting to be written still today.  All the stories remain unfinished.  The ordinary of this neighborhood is becoming a part of my redemption, salvation and discipleship.

How can we learn to listen to the ordinary moments of life?  What have you discovered about God through the ordinary?

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