Transformation – 7 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

by Mark Votava

51T7TEZCf2L1. Living in our pain

“In life we sometimes wish our pain would not linger so long. But for our benefit there is a necessary season of sitting, walking, living in our pain. When we embrace our pain, own it, we let it transform us.”

2. Sitting with that dull pain for a while

“Much like yoga, there are times when we accept a position that hurts a little and stretches us in ways of which we didn’t know we were capable. It hurts, it challenges my limits and my patience, yet if I sit with that dull pain for a while it changes me. I may want to not experience that pain or I may want to cut it short, but then I would not reap its rewards.”

3. Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today

“In our modern world, it is much too easy to overextend our limits toward activity and productivity. Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today like they may have been for our ancestors whose days were filled with these qualities simply by the nature of their life’s labor and limitations. We tend to see restrictions to activity and engagement as something to be avoided. But limitations and restrictions can be a grace for us…”

4. Contemplative stillness

“…we cannot make ourselves grow; but we can choose to submit to or resist the process. And though much growth takes place in our active lives, all elements of creation are subject to contemplative stillness as an integral part of growth and transformation…”

5. Action – Contemplation

“Action – Contemplation. Life offers us the challenge of holding these essential elements of what it means to be human in tension with one another. One without the other leads to either pompous piety or frantic fury…”

6. A passage for growth and transformation

“And time was all I had. No obligations. No major responsibilities. The time given me amounted to a lot of waiting time. Waiting turned into longing. Longing mingled with darkness and death. The spiritual journey as a passage for growth and transformation was upon me. I didn’t realize then during the long days of relative stillness in the Rose Cottage, as I sat in the darkness of my soul and felt abandoned by God, that everything I was experiencing was a part of the process of transformation. Like the caterpillar in her cocoon, I felt the distress and torment of my confinement. Everything seemed dark and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. All I could do was succumb to the pain in my soul, try to grasp it somehow and try to understand it. In my desperation all I could do was cry out for mercy.”

7. Transformative silence

“After months of transformative silence, I was able to finally listen. God was reintroducing God’s self to me and holding up a mirror to my true self…”

How has transformation worked in you over the years?


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