Do you ever really listen to LIFE?  Do you ever pay attention to the encounters, events, and even the thoughts and feelings that arise within you throughout the day?  I have discovered all of them together as a means of conversation with the Divine within me.  Twice this week, I was engaged in a conversation around the soul and the apparent soul-less-ness of our current lives as a country.  Today, I encountered a meditation by the renowned theologian, Matthew Fox, called “Recovering Soul, Another Contribution of Black Spirituality” and all of these have set me wondering….

I must admit hearing Soul immediately takes me back to my younger years of dancing to the music of the people’s-anointed Godfather of Soul, James Brown.   I was also a big fan of The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  For us, soul was getting down to the very truth of who you were (are), singing and dancing, and living from that space.  Little did I know that this was an understanding inherited from the ancestors.

It was later that I learned in the African worldview, soul, is the essence of a person expressing itself “in union with the “Universal Order” and therefore with all Being.” It is most recognized in the human being’s capacity to feel.  Without the ability to feel, then, one might ask if the soul is even evident.  Paradoxically, with all the brightest and most salient contributions of AI technology where will such technology lead without the ability to truly feel on both sides of the AI equation?  To me, soul is the marriage of the human mind and heart as one.

At a weekly Centering Prayer gathering we discussed excerpts of an op-ed piece by David Brooks whose theme focused on the concept that every individual and even every nation has a soul or what he called a “moral essence.”  This fact, alone though, does not make for soulful living.  Having millions of dollars in a bank yet living poverty-stricken because one is unaware of its presence does not make one wealthy.

Could our divisions, anger, hatred, and vehemently polarized arguments be grounded in the general “lack” of soul that goes beyond “moral” essence?  Could soul really be something more—like the very core of what it means to be human beyond our ever-changing definitions of right or wrong?  After all, morals are always in flux, and this is especially true between cultures.  There must be something else that calls forth the true ME and the true YOU.  Can that not be the so-called “image of GOD” within us?

If the same image is within each one of us, then we truly are ONE at our core and we find no need to debate the sin of racism or any other sins— like how we treat the foreigners in our midst or how to agree on gun reform.  These things become moot because what I do to you, I do to myself and what I don’t do for you, I fail to do for myself.

At the end of the day our group, as much as we hated to say it, all agreed that soul-less-ness is truly a “thing” in our country and shows up easily in the ways we are usually against instead of for an-other.  Different cultures have other ways, of thinking about soul, like the one that is grounded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu.  There are other indigenous ways in the Americas, Asia, and Australia as well.  Matthew Fox suggests that it would be a good idea for some of these other approaches to become a part of mainstream thought and conversation about the soul.  Maybe he is right.

Hmmm, I wonder when that will happen.  How long will it take for us to become a soulful nation? Just something to think about.

Pondering with Hope & Love,
Freda Marie+