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Center for Action and Contemplation

Intimacy: Weekly Summary

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Intimacy could be described as our capacity for closeness and tenderness toward things. It is often revealed in moments of risky self-disclosure. Intimacy lets itself out and lets the other in. It makes all love possible, and yet it also reveals our utter incapacity to love back as the other deserves. —Richard Rohr

The big and hidden secret is this: an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. —Richard Rohr

Love for the divine guides and enhances bonding between partners, and the daily practice of love between partners helps to strengthen a sense of secure connection with God. —Sue Johnson and Kenneth Sanderfer

The gospel gives us a blessed assurance that we operate inside of an abundant, limitless, infinite Love. Even though we will constantly fail, failure is not the final word. We also have hope that everything can be mended, healed, and restored. —Richard Rohr

Ultimately, intimacy is about the freedom to be ourselves. True emotional freedom means no longer needing confirmation, agreement, or validation from another to know our basic goodness. —Jett Psaris and Marlena Lyons

It is helpful to know, in the light of faith, that you and God are already one in the intimate and mysterious sense in which God is creating you as God’s self-donating love. That is, in your very soul, the very mystery of who you are and the very mystery of who God is are already intertwined. —James Finley

Loving Our Inner Child

One of our primary blocks to intimacy occurs in childhood when our needs for comfort and connection are not met. In this meditation exercise, Buddhist practitioners Peggy Rowe Ward and Larry Ward offer a way to connect with younger versions of ourselves and our partners (or other significant people in our lives):  

Settle into a quiet place where you can experience calm and ease. . . . We begin by breathing and settling. Allow a few minutes with each of the phrases.  

Breathing in, know that you are breathing in. Breathing out, know that you are breathing out. Follow your in-breath all the way, follow your out-breath all the way. In. Out.  

Breathing in, become aware of your whole body. Breathing out, relax your whole body. Breathing in, aware of body. Breathing out, relaxing. Body. Relaxing.  

Breathing in, experience calm in your body. Breathing out, experience ease in your body. Breathing in, calm. Breathing out, ease.  

Breathing in, see yourself as a five-year-old little boy or little girl, fragile and vulnerable. See or imagine this child standing in front of you. Breathing out, smile to the little five-year-old. See or imagine holding the hands of the little child. Breathing in, seeing yourself five years old. Breathing out, smiling to yourself as a five-year-old.

Breathing in, becoming aware that the five-year-old little boy or little girl is in you. Breathing out, loving and holding the five-year-old in you. Loving and holding the five-year-old child.  

Breathing in, seeing your partner as a five-year-old little boy or little girl, fragile and vulnerable. Breathing out, smiling to your partner as a five-year-old child. See or imagine holding the hands of your partner. See your partner as a five-year-old child. Holding your partner’s small hands.   Breathing in, becoming aware that your partner is in you, breathing out, holding your partner in you tenderly. Aware that your partner is in you. Holding your partner tenderly. 

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Peggy Rowe Ward and Larry Ward, Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2008), 94–95.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 1 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Jack Delano, View of crowd dancing to the music of “Red” Sounders and his band, at the Club DeLisa, Chicago, Illinois (detail), 1942, photograph, New York Public Library, public domain. Nathan Dumlao, Untitled, 2020 (detail), photograph, Unsplash, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with historical images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: In the center photo we see two bushes, separate but entwined, touching and sharing space. Human intimacy requires us to come as ourselves, undefended, co-creating a space for connection. Friends, lovers, communities who share raw hopes for change: we welcome each other into the intimacy of authentic presence.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

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