The Enemy of Intimacy

Posted on 2012-06-10. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

I can’t begin to express how much Henri Nouwen’s writings speak directly to my soul. I read this passage this evening and had to reread it multiple times because of how poignant it is to me right now, in this moment.

Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. Fear makes us run away from each other or cling to each other but does not create true intimacy. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples were overcome by fear and they all “deserted him and ran away” (Matt. 26:56). And after Jesus was crucified they huddled together in a closed room “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). Fear makes us move away from each other to a “safe” distance, or move towards each other to a “safe closeness, but fear does not create the space where true intimacy can exist. Fear does not create a home. It forces us to live alone or in a protective shelter but does not allow us to build an intimate home. Fear conjures either too much distance or too much closeness. Both prevent intimacy from developing.

My own experience with people whom I fear offers plenty of examples. Often I avoid them: I leave the house, move to a corner where I can remain unnoticed, or express myself in flat, non-committal sentences. Sometimes I create a false closeness with them. I talk too long with them, laugh too loudly at their jokes, or agree too soon with their opinions. Whether I create too much distance or too much closeness, I always sense a lack of inner freedom and a resentment towards the power they have over me….

But whether through distance or closeness, fear prevents us from forming an intimate community in which we can grow together, everyone in his or her own way. When fear separates or joins us, we can no longer confess to each other our sins, our brokenness, and our wounds. How, then, can we forgive each other and come to reconciliation? Distance allows us to ignore the other as having no significance in our lives, and closeness offers us an excuse for never expressing or confessing our feelings of being hurt.

There is a balance in healthy relationships that must be maintained between distance and dependency that is difficult – nigh impossible – to find, much less maintain. Just as there is a balance in life between maintaining relationships and maintaining aloneness, without being lonely. Our decisions and actions become muddled through all of this, mainly due to the influences of various fears that lace our thoughts, feelings, and wills. O, to live life without fear! ‘Tis to live life apart from this world. I recognize that I am too broken to even imagine what that would be like.

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Prophet or Scribe?

Posted on 2011-07-13. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

I just read an idea that resounded within me. It is a distinction on how one goes about following and obeying God and even how they may seek God. It speaks to the way people approach God, think of themselves and interact with others.

Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known to nor understood by common men. They habitually spoke with spiritual authority. They had been in the presence of God and they reported what they saw there. They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen. The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God.

— A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Speaking with the hard voice of a scribe is something that I hear often and something I have been guilty of in the past. It is sadly also something that I will in all probability be guilty of in the future. But I also know that tender voice of the prophet. Real knowing – to distinguish from “book” (or even “Book” knowledge – of God softens your approach and reminds me of his love for you and those you deal with, regardless of their situation or actions. This experiential knowledge of God reminds you of the universality  of his undeserved grace and mercy.

It also may even make you smile more. 🙂

And lo, even a laugh comes forth from hence…

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Spiritual Combat

Posted on 2011-06-09. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

Here’s another great quote from Henri Nouwen that reminds one that being among those we love and that love us does not keep the darkness at bay. It actually may even highlight the darkness in such a way that it is felt more acutely.

Life in community does not keep the darkness away. To the contrary. It seems that the light that attracted me to L’Arche also made me conscious of the darkness in myself. Jealousy, anger, the feeling of being rejected or neglected, the sense of not truly belonging — all of these emerged in the context of a community striving for a life of forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. Community life has opened me up to the real spiritual combat: the struggle to keep moving towards the light precisely when the darkness is so real.

— Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

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Panda Ponderings

Posted on 2011-05-31. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


Lord Shen The Zen of Kung Fu Panda

Lord Shen: “How did you find peace? I took away your parents, everything, I scarred you for life.”

Kung Fu Panda: “See that’s the thing Shen, scars heal…”

Shen: “No they don’t… wounds heal.”

Kung Fu Panda 2 quotes 300x203 The Zen of Kung Fu Panda    Kung Fu Panda: “Oh yeah… what do scars do? They fade I guess.”

Lord Shen: “I don’t care what scars do…”

Kung Fu Panda:  “You should Shen.  You got to let go of the stuff from past – because it just doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.”

My family and I have been dealing with vindictive and selfish attacks on multiple levels for the last three years or so. It has been tiring and maddening and infuriating and … yeah.

But I’m done with that. I’ve been done with that for a few weeks now. I refuse to let the insanity drive me to drink. I refuse to allow it to change my outlook on life and my enjoyment of the few short years I have left. I am just gonna be the best damn me I can be and let the chips fall where they may. I refuse to lie down and let people walk all over me. But I will not let them get the best of me, either. They will not touch the real me – the emotional, intellectual me. They will not touch my relationships with others. They shall not.

I am surrounded by wonderful, loving, caring, needy people whom I enjoy genuinely. And I will enjoy them whilst I may.

The scars are still there. The wounds are still there. But I still have the ability to choose the life I wish to live. And I shall. I choose life and life abundantly.


Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.

By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil. When people’s lives please the Lord,

even their enemies are at peace with them. http://bible.us/Prov16.6.NLT


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He Done His Damndest

Posted on 2011-03-07. Filed under: Quotes |

He Done His Damndest
By E. Bell Guthrey

I ask that when my spirit quits this shell of mortal clay
And o’er the trail across the range pursues its silent way,
That no imposing marble shaft may mark the spot where rest
The tailings of the bard who sang the praises of the West.
But, that above them may be placed a slab of white or gray,
And on it but the epitaph carved in the earlier day,
Upon the headboard of a man who did the best he could
To have the bad deeds of his life o’ershadowed by the good:
“He Done His Damndest.”

Engrave upon the polished face of that plain, simple stone,
No nicely worded sentiment intended to condone
The sins of an eventful life, nor say the virtues wiped
Away the stains of vice — in lines original or swiped;
That rough but honest sentiment that stood above the head
Of one who wore his boots into his final earthly bed
Is good enough for me to have above my mould’ring clay—
Just give the name and day I quit and underneath it say:
“He Done His Damndest.”

Some who are overstocked with phony piety may raise
Their hands in blank amazement at the sentiment and gaze
Upon the simple marble slab ‘neath which the sleeper lies,
With six or seven different kinds of horror in their eyes;
But hardy sons and daughters of this brave and rugged West
Will see a tribute in the line so pointedly expressed–
And what more earnest tribute could be paid to any man
Whose weary feet have hit the trail towards the Mystery, than:
“He Done His Damndest.”

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Loving Our Enemies

Posted on 2010-12-28. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

I needed this quote today. As I deal with nonsense and insensibility, I hope that I remember this:

Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.  —  John Calvin

When it’s impossible to ignore the foolishness and selfishness put before me, I have to try and remember that there’s more than just those sort of qualities present. There is good within. Not all mistakes and misjudgments are malicious; some are simply… mistakes. Or, perhaps misfortune. Fools are not necessarily miscreants – even when they believe I fall into either category. Sometimes, they are simply fools. And sometimes, I need to give fools the benefit of the doubt because God would have me to do it. It would be so much easier to do so if the foolishness of fools didn’t affect the innocents. When do I live and let live in love and when do I stand up to protect the innocents?


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Our Faith, His Strength

Posted on 2010-06-03. Filed under: Quotes |

When the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us or give us fight—then we find out whether or not we live by faith.

— Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

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Forza fede!

Posted on 2010-06-01. Filed under: Quotes |

In a modern-day brand of Christianity devoted to good works, faith in the forgiveness of sin deteriorates, and the Golden Rule becomes a means of salvation rather than the fruit of salvation. An empty stomach is no way to a man’s heart, and racial justice is long overdue, but a cup of water can never replace the healing power of the Cross. In a country where famine and poverty have reduced the day’s ration to a bowl of rice and the domicile to one room, food and shelter are obviously important, but so is faith in God’s mercy. Faith is indispensable. Neither individual holiness nor social concern can be legislated… The fact is that the more seriously one takes the demands of God, the more conscious of his own need for mercy he becomes. But, fortunately, as Kierkegaard put it, “The opposite of sin is not ‘virtue’ but faith.”

— Paul G. Johnson , Buried Alive

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The Timeless Quick Word

Posted on 2010-05-31. Filed under: Quotes |

The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe. To jump from a dead, impersonal world to a dogmatic Bible is too much for most people. They may admit that they should accept the Bible as the Word of God, and they may try to think of it as such, but they find it impossible to believe that the words there on the page are actually for them. A man may say, “These words are addressed to me,” and yet in his heart not feel and know that they are. He is the victim of a divided psychology. He tries to think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a book.

I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scriptures of Truth. A silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when the book was finished lapsed back in to silence again forever. Now we read the book as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words.

I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. The prophets habitually said, “Thus saith the Lord.” They meant their hearers to understand that God’s speaking is in the continuous present. We may use the past tense properly to indicate that at a certain time a certain word of God was spoken, but a word of God once spoken continues to be spoken, as a child once born continues to be alive, or a world once created continues to exist. And those are but imperfect illustrations, for children die and worlds burn out , but the Word of our God endureth forever.

If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.

– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

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What Am I

Posted on 2010-04-29. Filed under: Prayers, Quotes |

And what am I, to know
your promises, your mercies, your grace, your love?
Suppose my heart is (as I can only too well believe)
hard, unfruitful, deep, deceitful—is that beyond the power
of the fingers that made the heavens?

O, majestic Lord, you care for me,
you have me in your mind and heart.
In that I rest.

– Timothy Dudley Smith, Someone Who Beckons: Readings and Prayers for 60 Days

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