Do you ever think about your soul? The part of you that makes you, you, is your soul. Some people call it your heart, not the physical organ, but the ephemeral inner-youness of yourself. You can tell that I’m using some seriously technical terms here, right?
The soul has been contemplated by philosophers, theologians, and even scientists. It is said by some to be the seat of salvation, blessings, damnation, and our life essence.
From The Body Farm, a British forensics crime drama that I’ve watched, an emotionally challenged but brilliant scientist character, not likely a man of faith, said, “you know we weigh the body just before and after death and the difference is just over 21 grams, the weight of the soul.” He speculates that the soul not only exists, but leaves the body at death. It passes away.
I wonder, is my soul fat or muscly? When you’ve worked out a lot and eaten reasonably, yet still gain weight, “they” always try to comfort, placate, or distract you by telling you that muscle weighs more than fat and your efforts have been rewarded with more muscle and less fat. I personally want a really muscly soul.
Did you all learn that weirdly scary Christian prayer when you were a child, “now I lay me down to sleep…. if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take?” In retrospect it doesn’t seem a prayer prescribed for the peaceful rest of a young soul.
On the other hand, Christians and our Hebrew predecessors haven’t got it all wrong historically, because there is the 23rd Psalm with its beautiful and lyrical green pastures, still waters, good and merciful paths, and comfort, all coming together without fear nor evil, to restore our souls.
Everyone can be reduced to our infinite soul – our one and only, highly original core, which is covered over with a readily recognized flesh and blood costume which is known to ourselves and others as “who I am.” It is this costume that we all recognize as “me,” and “I.” We muddle through life guided by perceptions that we’ve borrowed from the finite and limited culture into which we landed at birth.
Some of us, continue beyond adolescence to ask such questions as, “Who am I” and “What is my purpose?” These are a couple of questions that maybe ought to be answered at least cursorily before you reach out for a “soul-mate.”
In the answering of these questions, our philosopher-soul is likely to ask more questions than receive literal answers. Ever the therapist, our souls are always digging in order to unearth more treasure, all the while ruminating, contemplating, and struggling back and forth.
The perceptions we’re all guided by, are formed by culture, unique life experience, and a pinch of history, or genetic predisposition. It’s difficult to get past our retinue of perceptions, to bypass cultural dictates, and to reinterpret life experiences that have landed in our laps as defining principles of our character, personality, and agenda.
Would that we could do this, though – and cut easily right to soul. If we could reduce all the compounding, layers of the onion we call culture, and distill our lives – like when in the kitchen we reduce liquid juice into a thicker but greatly abridged paste, we might be enabled to see the soul more purely and honestly, through a sparkling clean window. However, most of our soul-windows are cloudy, dirty, dusty, and vague.
However, a few years ago, during a walking-church moment in the woods, I blurted out on Facebook, “’There is a reason for the season.’ It occurs to me that that saying does not apply only to Christmas, from a Christian point of view. It explains purpose in every spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and relational season we pass through. We can give thanks for all things as all things are permitted by God to benefit us in some way. We can mine each circumstance for the treasure that surely lies beneath.”
This new way of seeing, flung open the panoramic window to my soul, exciting and renewing my vision of how life could be. The word, re-vision has a whole new meaning when looking out of this window.
Re-vision of my perception led to a rekindled passion for covering the faults, missteps, failures, or my own expectations of how I and my associates should be (i.e., I Peter 4:8 “Love covers sin”). Rather than choosing anger or judgment when disappointed expectations surface, or taking it personal, as an affront or offense, I’m choosing to just throw a blanket over the fault – cover it over entirely.
My new mantra when I’m tempted to get hurt feelings, is a symbolic, “throw a blanket over it.” This is a mnemonic device to remind me not to take offense, but to cover that person who might otherwise hurt me or steal my peace, with love.
Re-vision doesn’t happen overnight. I clearly need practice in this – it hasn’t come naturally and I mess up every day, at least once. The temptation is to be offended when my ordinary vision is challenged, and my soul’s been hurt.
I think it’s natural to want to direct the course of events that drive us, in life. Everybody wants to steer, to drive. Not many of us prefer to ride along. We want to decide our direction, even assert control over the television clicker.
When I delve deep into soul, pitch my tent in that realm beneath the surface of culture, history, experience and perception I’m at liberty to be me. Black Americans in the early 1960s coined the terms “soul food,” “soul sister/brother,” and “soul music,” to lay claim to their unique contributions to American culture. Similarly, we can all reclaim our most noble of spirits and temperament, by getting to know our soul, and letting it exhale.
“Soul music,” epitomizes the window to the soul that I’m talking about in this column. It emanates from the core, from the heart, from the very essence of the human being. Although the genre originated in the 1950s in black American culture, I would surmise that given the tools to express themselves, can you say “soul-searching,” every human being on earth could fling open the window to their soul and belt out a song of “who I am.”
As to that muscly soul I’m longing for, perhaps instead of calories packed on my thighs this holiday season, I could add some heft to my soul instead. Cheers to some fat souls by the end of 2020.