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“Each person, when they share their own thoughts, their own way of experiencing, their own voice, offers a way in for others or a light along the way.  As each person adds their own spark of life this enlivens the way (takes it out of rules and regulations and makes it accessible and vibrant). This can broaden the way – making it possible for more people to find their way to spirit, God, awakening…”  This thought came to me this morning in moving meditation something called eurhythmy that I do most mornings to help me to center and begin to create the space to work/play.  Of course as they often are, these thoughts were hard to pin down.  I tried to keep them fluid and flowing AND to give them a place on the page.

When I am caught up in doing it right – I freeze.  I find in the writing circles that authentic voice flows with courage, beauty and humor…it is not dogmatic.  It is reverent and irreverent at the same time.  Reverent with universal truth and irreverent with our rules and regulations and hang-ups.  It usually makes us laugh or cry or sigh or sometimes even give spontaneous applause.

This morning I wanted to talk about soul as two of the workshops series for 2010 have the word “soul” in the title.  I first was introduced to soul in a book by Thomas Moore called, Care of the Soul.  For quite awhile it was my favorite.  I was most impressed at how he looked at symptoms that we often want to fix or get rid of as a “call” or “message” from the soul, a kind of code much like a dream image that needed to be heard.  This concept was not unfamiliar to me as I had exposure to AA early in my adulthood with a recovering spouse and had often noticed how those with a tendency to “lose” themselves in alcohol had a deep and sometimes hidden desire for true spirit.

I began to get a feeling for soul in terms like soul food and soul music; there was a certain kind of aliveness there, something that was feeding more than the ordinary senses.  And with poetry and its opening of perception, I began to understand that this kind of aliveness is available everywhere, in everything.

In fact however, my first introduction to “soul” was in my Catholic training as a child, learning that the soul stays with us after death and can burn in hell, a boiling pot of oil and fire – this now makes me laugh as I see my own hang-ups about getting it right!  Nobody wants that fate!  It is an interesting concept to think of soul as living beyond the body.  Many of the people in writing circles have shared this type of understanding when thinking of soul.

My daughter, Carrie, and I wrote a book called A Child’s Way: Slowing Down for Goodness Sake in which we began with the birthday story told in Waldorf pre-schools.  In the story the little angel (much like the soul) looks down to the earth and finds parents to be born to.  This soul could be viewed as the beingness of us that is before and after death.  And this beingness is here on the earth learning about love and sacrifice and wonder and mystery and about how its actions can affect the beingness of others.

I think of soul as the mediator between spirit and the body.  We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and the soul maybe is the translator for the two.  It lives in between and enhances the experience for both.  The soul deeply loves both.  Of course, this is what can be a little disconcerting about the soul, it loves the body too – loves the sensual as well as the spiritual.  It is a little harder to fit inside a box when that kind of love is allowed in.  In a patriarchal society it seems to be easy to view all things sensual as sexual and this is not so!  This is a deep insult to soul – its capabilities are much more.

In their life work, Robert and Cheryl Sardello explore the capacities of the soul for perception. These abilities come to fore in silence.  In the book, Silence, the Sardellos allow the reader to begin to perceive the landscape of the soul. Just as the ear hears and the eyes see, the soul has abilities to perceive and to respond with heartfelt, soulful aliveness.

For me, these capabilities are most evident in the works of poets.  Mary Oliver, like Emily Dickinson before her, opens herself daily to the wonders of the natural world.  She speaks to this ability to pay attention and becoming open to a new voice in her poem, Praying.

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Thirst)

It might be said that the authentic voice is the voice of the soul as it interweaves with the spirit and the physical, between the heart and the mind, between the left side and right side of the brain, between the masculine and feminine. . . This is the voice we have been waiting for.  This voice belongs to the world.

I didn’t like it, the first time I heard Robert Sardello say we don’t own our soul, it belongs to the world.  The soul is not a piece of property we own – it is more akin to the Native American understanding that it is impossible to “own” a piece of the earth. The soul is not a project we take on – we are soul – we are the world.  Again the native American understanding, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

When from our soul, we share our own thoughts, our own way of experiencing, our own voice, we give our soul back to the world and we open the path for others.  We offer our selves back to the world. This is the “living life more fully” we are all hungry for, this is soul food – food for the soul.  It will take us out of our comfort zone and the ultimate destination is where we are in the flow.

This kind of soulfulness needs room in our lives and this is the intention of Soul Stories and Art and Soul. “The seat of the soul is there, where the inner world and the out world touch, according to Novalis, Where they permeate each other, the seat is in every point of the permeation.” This is the space in which we work and play in our writing and art.  We weave between inner and the outer, we create a place for soulfulness and from this place we are ourselves truly.