The Lord leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.Psalm 23
How is it with your soul these days? This is a question that John Wesley encouraged Christians to ask of one another, and it’s a good question, isn’t it? In our world today, it can be easy to neglect our souls. We can get so focused on our family, our job, our finances, or any number of other things, that we can forget about our souls. And even when we have a free moment, without all of the concerns of daily life bombarding us, we can find ourselves so tired that we just binge watch something, anything really, trying to catch a few moments of rest amidst life’s many challenges. And meanwhile, our souls, quiet and undemanding, can get neglected.
In Thomas Moore’s best-selling book, “Care of the Soul,” first published in 1992, he begins with these words, which still ring true to me:
“The great malady of the twentieth century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is ‘loss of soul.’ When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. Our temptation is to isolate these symptoms or to try to eradicate them one by one; but the root problem is that we have lost our wisdom about the soul, even our interest in it.”
So, how is it with your soul? What are you doing to care for your soul? What are you doing to pay attention to it, to pay attention to that part of you that connects you to God, that part of you that can only be nourished by God? “Hey, you! Human being! You have a soul!” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “See that you don’t lose it, that you don’t wake up one day from the frenzy of life—professional and private life—and see that you have become hollow inside, a plaything of events, a leaf driven back and forth and blown away by the wind: that you are without a soul. Human being, pay attention to your soul!”
You know better than anyone what nourishes your soul. I simply want to remind you (and me!) to do it – to pay attention to your soul, and to nourish it, so that it stays healthy. We all know that our physical bodies need exercise, rest, and good nutrition. What do our souls need? There are the obvious things: worship, for example, and prayer; reading God’s word, and getting together with other Christians. But our souls can also be nourished by other things, too, like spending time in God’s creation, or by reading books that feed our souls.
The good news is that simply by reading these words, you have already done something important: you have taken a few moments to pay attention to your soul. May God bless you as you care for your life-giving relationship with God by nourishing your soul.