Intimacy – 6 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

by Mark Votava

51T7TEZCf2L1. Crucial to intimacy

“Often the very parts of ourselves that we are most embarrassed by or feel most vulnerable about is the exact gift others need from us. Regardless, embracing these parts of ourselves is crucial to intimacy.”

2. Grow in understanding our deepest self

“In order to grow in the intimacy we long for, we must cultivate self-knowledge. Self-knowledge cradles intimacy. And to the extent that we grow in understanding our deepest self, we grow in relationship to others. Often, when we don’t experience the intimacy we want in relationships, we point the finger at the other person or at God and focus on their shortcomings and why they aren’t able to allow for intimate relationship. Though this can be true – some of the people in our lives our limited in their ability to be intimate in the way we may desire – often the key to being known and knowing others is knowing our self. When we dare to know our deepest self, with its sorrows and hopes, we encounter God who, in turn, invites us to greater enlightenment about our self and the world that we live in. In knowing and embracing our self, we find courage to offer our self to the world – most intimately to the people with whom we are in relationship. We are more inclined to put our self out there to be known when we are comfortable in our own skin. If we are hiding behind our ‘programs for happiness,’ our desire for intimacy will never be satiated. We have to come out of our hiding – naked and vulnerable – look at ourselves in the mirror, embrace and celebrate the person we are. Then we are free to be known and to more truly know others. An intimate exchange can occur.”

3. Intimate encounters with the wounds of Christ

“Even in the most insecure and vulnerable moments of my soul’s journey, I occasionally had the sense that I was not alone. In fact, I now understood those darker moments as some of the most intimate encounters with the wounds of Christ. The invitation to intimacy beckoned me toward growth and transformation, which meant also redemptive suffering. The desire for intimacy guides us through all of the movements of the soul.”

4. Fully present

“I also like to sit on a quiet, empty beach and watch the tide roll in. Yet sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to be fully present – can you imagine? In the grandeur of the expanse of the sea, earth and sky, how can it be hard to be attentive and fully there? This is the problem: we are fragmented – our mind, body and soul have trouble coming into harmony. We have overemphasized the mind in our Western experience that we are always in our heads.”

5. The divine indwelling

“Intimacy with God is possible when we believe in the reality of the divine indwelling…”

6. Intimacy is possible

“Intimacy is possible when I trust myself to the One within… God has not ceased to initiate with humanity. God has made God’s home within me and you, but it is up to us to awaken to the Presence.”

Have you taken the time over the course of your life to know your deepest self?


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