Richard Rohr – What Is Intimacy?

intimacy

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. None of us can go there without letting down our walls, manifesting our deeper self to another, and allowing the flow to happen.

True human intimacy or divine intimacy is somewhat rare and very hard for all of us, but particularly for men and for all who deem themselves important people, that is, those who are trained to protect their boundaries, to take the offensive, and to avoid all signs of weakness or neediness. God seems to have begun thawing this glacial barrier by coming precisely in male form as Jesus, who exposes maleness itself as also naked, needy, and vulnerable. The transmission of the inner mystery of God continues in space and time primarily through what Jesus calls again and again “the little ones” and “the poor in spirit,” which he himself became.

I think that many of us are afraid of intimacy, of baring our deepest identity to another human or even to God. Yet people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more real people. They feel like they have lots of “handles” that allow others to hold onto them and that allow them to hold onto themselves. People who avoid such intimacy are imprisoned in a small and circumscribed world. Soulful intimacy is a gateway into the sacred realm of human and divine love.

Therapists Jett Psaris and Marlena Lyons have found that our longing for intimacy can only be met when we soften the guardedness around our hearts:

We long to love from the fullness of our undefended hearts and we long to be loved unconditionally and without reservation. . . . The dual yearning of the human heart finds its satisfaction in the struggle to know ourselves at our most vulnerable levels. The deeper we know ourselves, the deeper is our capacity to know others intimately. . . . It is our deep hunger for this level of loving that moves us beyond our resistance, fear, and shortcomings to see what is special and unique about us. It allows us to see the profound core of another and to have that core be fully seen in ourselves. [1]

Father Richard concludes: We all desire true and intimate love. This longing seems to be hardwired into our beings. We have to want very strongly to love and to be loved—or we will never go to this strange place, and we will never find our True Selves. So, God obliges and creates us in just that way, with a bottomless and endless need to be loved and to love.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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