Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Phileena Heuertz

The Movement of Longing – 5 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

51T7TEZCf2L

  • The movement of longing

“The movement of longing makes us vulnerable…”

  • The darkness of night

“During the darkness of night, there was a restorative work taking place in the dark and hidden places of the body – a sign of the genius of God’s creation… The secret work of God was transforming me.”

  • Death is the culmination of darkness

“We want the fruit, the new life, but we resist the dying. Death is the culmination of darkness. During a season of darkness, I wrestled with God, trying to hold on to that which needed to die – my preconceived notions of who God is and who I am. Much of what my identity had been based in was being shattered and I fought to hold onto the crumbling pieces – having no guarantee of who I’d be without my false-self security blanket. The burning away (purgation) of my false self was a horrible experience. At times, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was sad and disorientated, and all seemed dark. I was losing grasp on who I was. I questioned all my life’s decisions, wondering which of them had been connected to my true self and which had been motivated by my false self. I was just trying to keep my head above water in the sea of darkness when everything about my identity seemed to be fading away.”  

  • The one who neglects contemplation

“…the one who neglects contemplation is at risk of being motivated and driven by false-self compulsions. When one neglects giving attention to his interior life, he is not master of his house. His ‘programs for happiness’ control him, and he goes through life unaware that his ‘service’ is more truly frenetic activity. He is not only blind to the real needs of those he serves but to his own needs as well. True acts of service do not build up our egos but bring us into deeper solidarity with the poor, marginalized and victims of injustice…”

  • Allows for space within to be carved for intimacy

“The spiritual journey allows for space within us to be carved for intimacy. Intimacy is about knowing and being known. But sadly there are a lot of obstacles that keep us from achieving this most necessary of human needs. ‘Programs for happiness’ that our false selves cling to threaten to prevent us from reaching our hearts’ desires for intimacy. We seek power and control, affection and esteem or security and survival, and none of these pursuits leave us fulfilled. At the end of life’s journey, it doesn’t matter what we have, what we do or what others say about us. What will matter is whether or not we are known and loved for who we are, and whether or not we have known and loved our family and friends well. This is why family and old friends are the dearest. They know us – the good, the bad and the ugly – and they still love us. We want to be known, and we want to know and love others well – this is the truest success in life…”

What is the movement of longing leading you to?

Phileena Heuertz is the founding partner of Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, and author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active 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

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

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

51T7TEZCf2L1. Living into our true self

“Living into our true self, being free of our ego and rooted in love allows for true acts of peace and justice. Without attention to our internal motivations and attachments, we are at risk of imposing our will on the world – deceived into thinking we are doing a virtuous thing – only to find out we need forgiveness for our action… The ways we interact with the world can be connected so deeply to our false self that we cause more harm than good. In our misapprehension we do not realize that what we are doing may actually be reaping destruction cloaked in virtue. The greater our leadership and influence, the greater the potential domination and devastation. How else can we explain nations at war with one another, global exploitation of the poor, destruction to our planet?”

2. Our true voice, our vocation

“Living in a place of union opens us to our true voice, our vocation. Service is refined and redefined. We live from the truth of who we are, rather than our false-self ‘programs for happiness’…”

3. Our truest selves are set free

“It is difficult to hear the voice of God calling us to fullness of life amidst the dissonance of other voices that filter through our ‘programs for happiness.’ But regular periods of solitude, silence and stillness provide a way to dismantle the dissonance. Contemplative practices provide a way to cut through the static and noise that lead us away from the voice of God. Slowly, slowly in the company of a patient God and supportive community we can find the ability to respond to ‘the fullness of our own life in the mystery of God.’ Throughout our lifetimes our vocations will develop and evolve as we grow and mature. Our response to the fullness of our lives in the mystery of God will look a particular way at each stage in our lives. All along the journey we do the best we can at the time to live and respond with integrity and truth. As time goes on, with ever-deepening awareness and freedom, our truest selves are set free.”

4. Into community with others

“Each of our lives does not look like anyone else’s… Our very own life is a gift to be given. We each have a unique vocation, and it is brought into community with others…”

5. Rooted in love

“Rooted in love, my true self was free to be expressed in all areas of life. My vocation continued to evolve into ever-widening layers of truth from which my deep gladness could connect with the world’s deep hunger.”

6. Simple, congruent communities

“When we are rooted in love – in union with God – simple, congruent communities made up of healthy relationships are formed…”

7. Peaceful union ahead

“I was learning how necessary contemplative spirituality is to dismantling my illusions and uncovering my true self. All the months of distress and agony were transforming me. And at moments the anguish, disorientation and darkness subsided, to hint at peaceful union ahead.”

Is the concept of union something that resonates with you?

 

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

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

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

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

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

Death – 5 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

51T7TEZCf2L1. Death is something we fear and shun

“Death. No one really likes to talk about it. Fewer people embrace it. Death is something we fear and shun. We avoid it at all costs. Our society offers remedy after remedy to help us look young, stay young and prolong life. Death is the last thing most of us want. We avoid it for ourselves and we don’t like talking about the death of others.”

2. The darkness of winter

“Along the road, new life was appearing in colors of green, red, yellow and violet. But the trees and flowers wouldn’t have bloomed without the darkness of winter. The darkness of winter is an invitation to death. In order for the trees to bear fruit in the spring, a part of them had to die the previous winter… By dying in season, the plants of spring and summer provide nourishment for the new life that will appear in the following spring. Death brings life.”

3. Courage, honesty and risk

“Decisions that stand in opposition to the status quo are not for the faint-hearted; they require courage, honesty and risk. These kinds of decisions release us into our destiny. Abundant life awaits each of us, but we must die to obtain it. The challenge is to understand which part of us must die and which part is dying to be raised to life. Until we have grown sufficiently in self-knowledge, it is difficult – if not impossible – to distinguish the false self from the true. I had to die not only to the status quo but to repressive attachments that shackled me in a posture of inferiority and subordination so that I could live and reflect the truth of who God made me to be. This meant dying to my old way of being so that I could live into the responsibility of proper self-assertiveness.”

4. To live and grow

“To live and grow into the fullness of who we are, we must move on no matter how painful and distressing it may seem at the moment. Death in varied forms is necessary.”

5. False-self security blanket

“We want the fruit, the new life, but we resist the dying. Death is the culmination of darkness. During a season of darkness, I wrestled with God, trying to hold on to that which needed to die – my preconceived notions of who God is and who I am. Much of what my identity had been based in was being shattered and I fought to hold onto the crumbling pieces – having no guarantee of who I’d be without my false-self security blanket. The burning away (purgation) of my false self was a horrible experience. At times, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was sad and disorientated, and all seemed dark. I was losing grasp on who I was. I questioned all of my life’s decisions, wondering which of them had been connected to my true self and which had been motivated by my false self. I was just trying to keep my head above water in the sea of darkness when everything about my identity seemed to be fading away.”

Why do we fear the process of death in our lives?

 

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

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

51T7TEZCf2L1. Discomfort, pain, and disorientation

“Progressing from one stage to the next is not easy – it is filled with discomfort, pain and disorientation. But it is ultimately life-giving, actually essential to the creation of life.”

2. The deeper, more complex phase

“I was quite familiar with the active, engaging, busy stage of life… But I was not at all prepared to explore the deeper, more complex phase that was waiting for me.”

3. The spiritual journey has to be made with simplicity

“The spiritual journey has to be made with simplicity and a desire to be free.”

4. Doubt gives rise to important questions

“In darkness, doubt gives rise to important questions. And abandonment allows us to be free from that which threatens to keep us in slumber. But if we’ve been asleep, we don’t know what it will be like to be awake. All seems dark, unknown and somewhat fear-inducing. Fear is actually the most common response in the brain to the unknown. But studies show that when we face our fears and overcome them, our brain develops and grows; and not only our brain, but our body and spirit as well.”

5. An internal descent into darkness

“Several years prior to being enveloped by this darkness, I had asked to draw nearer to God. In my naivete I had no idea that it would mean an internal descent into darkness. As the weeks unfolded into shadows of death, I realized that ‘emotional junk of a lifetime’ (as Keating calls it) was situated between me and God. Intimacy is about honesty and trust. To grow in intimacy with God, I had to face hidden emotional wounds and subsequent ‘programs for happiness’ and let go of them. As much as God may have wanted to embrace me, I was not free to be fully known by such an embrace. And I was not free to know God as God is. Intimacy is not only about knowing the other but being known as well. I was being invited to come out from hiding and into the agony of God’s piercing light, to eventually emerge into the ‘inescapable delights of the love of God.’ That kind of love could only be experienced through open, honest intimacy. Darkness was an indispensable agony.”

6. The bedrock of the false self

“The intense descent to the bedrock of my false self felt destabilizing. It was far from a pleasant experience. I began to face the unknown of my identity and it frightened me. As falsehoods and old affections and attachments were brought to my attention, the invitation was to let go. Without them I felt as if I had nothing, as if I was nothing. I realized that many of my acts of service were selfishly motivated to fuel a feeling of being loved. If I could meet the needs of others and support them I felt important, needed, wanted, valuable (therefore, ‘loved’). The line between true acts of service or kindness and falsely motivated ones is so thin.”

Have you ever experienced an internal descent to the bedrock of your false 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

Longing – 9 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

51T7TEZCf2L1. A necessary movement

“Longing is a necessary movement in the progression of the spiritual journey.”

2. Longing propels us forward

“What consumes you? What have you longed for with the intensity of homesickness? 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…”

3. Being true to the inner Voice

“The beautiful thing about being true to the inner Voice directing our path is the provision miraculously given along the way. When we set out to live our life with purpose, the journey can get lonely and difficult. We often face hardships and doubts that threaten to take us off course. It is only the veracity of the inner Voice and God’s provision along the way that sustain us in the midst of the harshest trials.”

4. Following our dreams is not easy

“During seasons of longing, sometimes miracles occur… Following our dreams is not easy. The longing intensifies the longer we preserve in the journey, and all kinds of obstacles threaten to deviate us off course. God’s provision along the way reassures us that we’re on the right path and encourages us to keep going.”

5. In, with and through community

“…there are times when we feel we can’t go on. We grow weary, we are injured along the way, our hope wavers. At times we are desperate for miracles of providence to keep us going… In, with and through community the dream for a better world is realized.”

6. We participate in a sacramental lingering or vigil

“But the dream takes time. All at once we long for and move toward the realization of our dreams. At times, it may feel like we’re getting nowhere, but the longing is moving us. In this way, we participate in a sacramental lingering or vigil.”

7. Longing is waiting

“Longing is about waiting. Longing is waiting…”

8. Accepting our brokenness

“Longing is essential to brokenness. Brokenness is the realization that our false self is dominating, which causes us to be alienated from… one another. Through brokenness we recognize our wounded condition and admit that we cannot heal ourselves. Transformation is possible when we accept our brokenness and long for that which only God can do for us. A circular and interdependent relationship develops between longing and brokenness.”

9. Freedom frightens us

“It seems that personal and systemic liberation is the common, prominent cry of humanity. Whether it is longing to be free to live into our true self or yearning to be free from systematic oppression like inequality or slavery, the gospel of Christ is about freedom. But for some reason freedom frightens us, and so two thousand years later we are still subjugating ourselves or expecting others to submit to a posture or system of captivity rather than liberation.”

What are some of the longings within you?

 

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

Awakening – 8 quotes from Phileena Heuertz’s book – Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Contemplative Life

51T7TEZCf2L1. Living life perpetually asleep

“And living life perpetually asleep doesn’t seem like much of a life at all.”

2. In a state of awakening

“In a state of awakening, my identity was being shaken and dismantled, and I was entering an internal nakedness. It’s difficult to describe this experience. Only in hindsight can I really name it for what it was. I felt like I was losing my orientation for life, relationships and service…”

3. The reinforcement of a false self

“All sorts of factors inhibit us from reaching our full potential and divert us instead toward the reinforcement of a false self. For many women, one big factor is patriarchy. Men too report awakening to perils of male domination. Various sectors of society, in both subtle and painfully conspicuous ways, effectively repress the feminine. Male and female alike suffer from this repression.”

4. Self-sufficient, capable people

“We want to pretend that we are self-sufficient, capable people who don’t need anything from anyone…”

5. The gift of mutuality

“The ones who hold power in any institution are often the most guarded – they are glad for others to reveal their hidden vulnerabilities and needs, but they neglect to reveal their own need. Meeting the needs of someone else may be kind, compassionate and even righteous, but it is, after all, a powerful gesture: You have a need, and I can meet that need. You need me, but I don’t need you… The point… is to remember the gift of mutuality – that we need one another, that we are not self-sufficient and that while we do have a lot to offer and give, we also have a need to receive…”  

6. Developing a mask or costume to hide behind

“Experiencing a certain deficit of our particular ‘program for happiness’ causes us to develop an alternative way of living in relationship… In essence we develop a mask or costume to hide behind to try to gratify our need for power and control, affection and esteem, or security and survival. Maybe if I create a mask I will feel safe and get the attention and acceptance that I want. Maybe the mask will be more interesting than the real thing. Maybe the mask is more lovable than I am.”

7. Contemplation is any way our illusions are dismantled

“Parker Palmer, the respected writer, lecturer, teacher and activist, says that contemplation is any way that our illusions are dismantled and reality is revealed…”

8. One finds and knows one’s self

“The spiritual journey is an invitation to know God and to be known by God, which presupposes that one finds and knows one’s self. Awakening allows for the initial stages of distinguishing between the false and true self. In relationship with God, grace reveals false parts of ourselves and invites us to embrace what is real. We have to abandon what is false for continued growth in wholeness and authentic relationship with God and others. As we press into deeper acquaintance and friendship with God, what is false in our preconceived notions of God, the world and our self burns away…”

In what ways have you pursued awakening in your own 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