You might think that a person of my age, having heard and heeded a call to ministry, who has been to seminary and lived a life (thus far) attending to the hurts of others, would have the playbook down on the best ways of feeding the soul. But I do not. What I have instead is a path, several paths actually for feeding the soul that are well-worn and other paths barely used at all thus far.
In this section of Rise This Day, my approach to feeding the soul is less of a “how-to” and more of a journey of discovering what works and what holds us, spiritually. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Though I regularly attend worship services within my faith community, doing so, in my experience at least, isn’t necessary in the least for feeding the soul. In fact for many people it just gets in the way.
If you are one-stop shopping for faith and salvation then you have come to the wrong place. We have TV evangelists for that. At its core, Rise This Day and my approach to feeding the soul is a journey, a two-way path, that values image and word, including humor, uncertainty, room and Light for what comes. If you’re interested and as an effort at full disclosure, my credo in ministry is here.
Of course the word ‘soul’ has several interpretations, from spiritual that many believe gives life to the body and lives on after we die, to ‘soul’ that describes a person’s deeply felt and emotional inner-self. Sprinkle in different cultures and various religious experiences and the word and meaning of ‘soul’ gets even trickier to pin down. Still, most people have a sense of what soul means to themselves personally and that’s what is most important. If you’re the type of person who feels that whatever your soul is will be attended to by your religious beliefs, then great, you’re all set. But for the rest of us feeding the soul is something that we ourselves can nurture and safeguard.
So how do we feed our souls beyond the obvious? What works? And perhaps most importantly, do we know what things definitely do not feed our souls?
Using myself as an example, here’s what helps me to keep my own soul vital and present to my body in mind and Spirit:
- Seeing the sun rise almost daily just recharges my heart.
- Being on the water (with my rowing team), seeing the horizon, whether over the ocean or land just plants me square on the planet for the day ahead!
- Music…the right kind, you know what I mean. I keep a playlist called “Chill-out the Heart” and only certain kinds of music goes in there. Percussion? Sure. Pop? Rarely. Blues? Yup, with some Cuban and Afro beats too.
- After-five: Good rum or bourbon…just enough! (Surprised?)
- Keeping my morning wake-up time (4 AM) to write or explore photography. I cherish this time of day!
- Practicing my faith as a Quaker.
- Back to the water…along the shore, just walking, late in the afternoon whenever possible, is sheer gift for my heart and soul.
Elements that clearly do not feed my soul:
- Boisterous and self-centered people.
- Religious dogma passed down through the centuries by you name the faith.
- Being anywhere on the planet that’s far away from large bodies of water.
- Violence disguised as entertainment.
So that’s me. What about you? What feeds your soul? And how do you know when something is chipping away at the very core of your own soul? And what do you do and what can you do to “kick-out” the bad actors that insult and diminish your own soul?
Years ago I participated in a ridiculously simple exercise to get at what feeds and hurts our souls. But it works. On a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle. At the top label on side, “What Feeds My Soul,” and on the other side “What Hurts My Soul.” Start listing. Then, over the month ahead, try to bring about the good-stuff and look for ways to lessen or even eliminate at least some of insults your own soul.
Perhaps you will come too?