Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: wisdom

Offering Our Awareness, Participation and Willingness


When I was in my 20’s, life was very lonely and difficult at times.  I tried to find a sense of connection with others, but it just didn’t happen that much.  As churches I attended promised community, in everyday life I could not find anyone around to mentor or encourage me.  I felt God was real to me, but the church was not capable to provide for my needs around friendship, community or spiritual formation in everyday life.

  •  Being present to others out of love

We never know what will happen as we are faithfully present.  Jesus is teaching that the way to be present to him is to be present to others out of love.  We will miss out on all kind of wisdom and relational revelations in the parish if we are not present to others.

  •  Wisdom is the freedom to be present

Richard Rohr states in one of my favorite books The Naked Now, “Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth.  Wisdom is precisely a different way of seeing and knowing those ten thousand things. I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be present.  Wise people always know how to be present, but it is much more then that.  Presence is wisdom!  People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightfully, and truthfully.  Presence is the one thing necessary, and in many ways, the hardest thing of all.  Just try to keep your heart open, your mind without division or resistance, and your body not somewhere else.  Presence is the practical, daily task of all mature religion and all spiritual disciplines.”

  •  Giving and receiving right now

Rohr says elsewhere, “Let me describe the effect of presence in this way.  The mystery of presence is that encounter wherein the self-disclosure of one evokes a deeper life in the other.  There is nothing you need to ‘think’ or understand to be present; it is all about giving and receiving right now, and it is not done in the mind.  It is actually a transference and sharing of Being …”

  •  Faithful presence can be a harsh and dreadful love

Presence has been a hard lesson for me to learn even though I have lived in the same place, locality and neighborhood for a number of years now.  The love that is demanded in order to be faithfully present to others in everyday life can be harsh and dreadful.  It requires a sharing of my very being with someone.

  • This is how we love and are shaped 

But this is how we love.  And this is how we are shaped.  This is how we experience the gospel in everyday life.  We cannot love without being present.

  •  Being attentive to what is happening here and now

“True presence,” states Gunilla Norris, “requires that we be attentive to what is happening here and now.  It is an offering of our awareness, our participation, and our willingness.

How can we cultivate a faithful presence in every life together?

Stewarding Our Presence

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I have found myself so fragmented in my life.  Coming to a breaking point of needing some peace through the chaos of running in all directions constantly, I have stopped and thought about how present I am.  It seems I am everywhere and nowhere at the same time because I am always thinking about the next place I am going and can’t be present right where I am at.

  • A whole life stewardship of faithful presence

Stewarding our presence as the body of Christ in everyday life is so important to the parish imagination.  When we talk about stewardship a lot of time we think about finances, but what I am talking about here is a whole life stewardship of our faithful presence in everyday life.  There is no body of Christ in everyday life together without our presence and participation in our locality.

  • Our lives centered in the parish

The body of Christ needs people of faithful presence.  This stewarding our presence is not based on dualistic patterns, but embraces our whole lives centered within the parish.  When will others be able to see the body of Christ in everyday life in ordinary contexts of living life in a place?

  •  Goodness, love, beauty, humility, simplicity, grace

This will never happen until we learn to steward our presence faithfully.  A faithful stewarding of our presence together could have huge ramification of goodness, love, beauty, humility, simplicity and grace in the place we inhabit.  This could change everything about how we live as the church together in the parish.  Stewarding our presence in awareness, love, mindfulness and grace will help us to cultivate the parish imagination.

  •  Very relational

Stewarding our presence is always very relational.  We tend to lose our faithful presence without intentionality.  We tend to lose our faithful presence without love, grace and humility.  The parish imagination does not want us to lose our faithful presence in everyday life.

  • Connecting and Collaborating in everyday life

Stewarding our presence is how we connect and collaborate with others in our locality together.  If we do not have a faithful stewarding of our presence in the parish, we will never learn to love our neighbors as Christ has called us to.  Stewarding our presence is a practical way of teaching us to love our neighbors in everyday life.  Stewarding our presence is all about a love for the other.

  •  An influential practice of wisdom over time

Dwight J. Friesen says, “If it’s true that seemingly simple, little things can have big effects, then it’s wise to ponder how we steward our presence…  Who we are and how we steward our presence with others will impact others in ways we simply can’t imagine…”  Stewarding our presence is mysterious and powerful.  It seems small to our rational minds, but is an influencial practice of wisdom over time.

How can we learn to be faithfully present in the place we live?

Book Review- The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart by Cynthia Bourgeault


Cynthia Bourgeault has written a wonderful book!  The Wisdom Way of Knowing demonstrates how the Western world has lost the experiential life of Wisdom through becoming too rationalistic, intellectual and based on creeds.  She states how this has caused us to lose focus on the Wisdom in our spirituality.  There has been a transfer of practice-based embodied Wisdom to an overemphasis of the intellectual beliefs of the mind which Cynthia draws us back to some balance in our being.

  • Midwives of the Spirit

“Working within the raw materials of the physical world, we are to give ‘birthing’ and ‘body’ to the names of God so that the invisible becomes visible.  We are midwives of the Spirit.”

  • A loss of memory about our Wisdom heritage

“One of the greatest losses in our Christian West has been the loss of memory (in fact, almost a collective amnesia) about our own Wisdom heritage…”

  • The intimacy of knowing and being known

“…the questions of the world have to hurt you before anything real can begin.  That is the other precondition of a Wisdom way of knowing: it requires the whole of one’s being and is ultimately attained only through the yielding of one’s whole being into the intimacy of knowing and being known… It doesn’t happen apart from complete vulnerability and self-giving…”

  • Wisdom goes beyond our rational understanding

Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body…”

  • A state of presence

“…real Wisdom can be given and received only in a state of presence…”

  • The quality of our aliveness

“Each one of us, and every action we make, has a quality of aliveness to it, a fragrance or vibrancy uniquely its own.  If the outer form of who we are in this life is conveyed by our physical bodies, the inner form – our real beauty and authenticity – is conveyed in the quality of our aliveness.  This is where the secret of our being lies.  Quality is the innermost, energetic essence of our life…”

  • Becoming a powerful servant of humanity

“When the attitude of prompt surrender has become permanently engrained in a person while still in bodily life, that person becomes a powerful servant of humanity…”

  • The embodiment of freedom

“Rather than something to be defended, freedom would simply be something to be lived…”

  • The awakening of conscience

“When conscience awakens in a person, it brings not only the obligation but also a mysterious ability to be present in exactly the right way.”

  • Allowing our outer lives to break up

“We need to experience our own personal aliveness as part of that great cosmic aliveness.  Above all, however, we need to allow our outer lives to break up, if necessary, in order to release the divine aliveness within and to understand once again the meaning and beauty of this gesture.”

How can we learn to embody Wisdom in everyday life?

Book Review- An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor


This is a wonderful book!  The thing I love about this book is how Barbara Brown Taylor emphasizes experiencing our spirituality through what are the ordinary physical activities of life in the real world.  Waking up, paying attention, encountering others, feeling pain, being present, saying no, incarnation, groundedness and getting lost are some of the important themes in the book.  Highly recommended!

  • Wisdom is gained by practice

“…it is wisdom we need to live together in this world.  Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right.  Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails.  Wise people do not have to be certain what they believe before they act.  They are free to act, trusting that the practice itself will teach them what they need to know…”

  • The practice of paying attention

“The practice of paying attention really does take time.  Most of us move so quickly that our surroundings become no more than the blurred scenery we fly past on our way to somewhere else.  We pay attention to the speedometer, the wristwatch, the cell phone, the list of things to do, all of which feed our illusion that life is manageable.  Meanwhile, none of them meets the first criterion for reverence, which is to remind us that we are not gods.  If anything, these devices sustain the illusion that we might yet be gods – if only we could find some way to do more faster.”

  • Encountering another human being

“The wisdom of the Desert Fathers includes the wisdom that the hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self – to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.  All you have to do is recognize another ‘you out there’ – your other self in the world – for whom you may care as instinctively as you care for yourself.  To become that person, even for a moment, is to understand what it means to die to yourself.  This can be as frightening as it is liberating.  It may be the only real spiritual discipline there is.”

  • Engaging the most ordinary physical activities

“What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from bodily experiences of human life on earth.  My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them.  My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul.  What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”

How can I encounter another human being as someone who I do not try to use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control?


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


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

  • Experiences are stepping stones to wisdom

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

  • The realm of beauty and potential growth within us

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

  • Nothing is left out from divine revelation

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

  • The freedom of becoming our true selves

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

  • Befriending what is within us and learning from it

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

  • The greater the contribution of our presence in the world

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

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

The Wisdom of Vulnerability


As a man, I have not really understood the role of a masculine vulnerability most of my life.  I have thought that vulnerability is too feminine and uncomfortable.  There is too much risk involved to be open with my weaknesses and struggles with others.  How can I be a “man” in this North American culture while showing others that I am not always strong and secure in myself?

•  Vulnerability connects us together

We limit ourselves when we choose not to be vulnerable.  We can only go so far in life without it.  Vulnerability reveals the pain that connects us all as human and alive, while it stimulates the imagination to new heights.

•  Following in the way of vulnerability

“Without vulnerability,” Paul R. Decker writes, “the experience of God, life, and others will be very limited …”  If all we want or think we need is a limited experience of God, then we disengage ourselves from any sort of vulnerability.  The body of Christ needs to be vulnerable if it is to follow in the way of truth.

•  The truth of vulnerability

There is no truth to our lives without vulnerability.  There is no truth to our relationships without vulnerability.  There is no truth to our relationship with God without vulnerability.  Vulnerability needs to live deep within our faith in the parish.

•  Complete vulnerability is the message of the gospel

Without vulnerability we should not speak another word.  “St. Francis of Assisi,” Paula Huston notes, “probably the most beloved saint who ever lived… believed that this experience of complete vulnerability was the central message of the Gospels …”  Many of us have been taught that certainty is a more powerful witness to the gospel than vulnerability, but St. Francis thought otherwise.

•  An authentic vulnerability

Can you imagine what would happen to our relationships if we lived into an authentic and humble mutual vulnerability?  It would revolutionize our relationships in everyday life together in all kinds of ways.  It would cultivate the communal imagination.

•  Men need to learn from women about vulnerability

Women are usually good at living into vulnerability in their relationships.  But men are usually not so good at it.  Men usually express less humility than women do.  Women usually thrive on relationships of vulnerability.

•  Embracing a more feminine-type wisdom

Men usually thrive on what they’ve accomplished than they do their relationships.  Maybe God is calling us to a more feminine-type wisdom in the parish with vulnerability in our relationships being the central message.  Isn’t it interesting how the Book of Proverbs refers to wisdom in the feminine?

•  Wisdom is calling out to us

“Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?  On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand …” (Proverbs 8:1-2).  We need to embrace a spirituality of vulnerability that has a more feminine-type wisdom underlying it.

Why is vulnerability so difficult for us to embody in everyday life together?