I’m feeling a bit “off” these days. Like something is not the way it should be. Frightened? Frustrated? This disquiet isn’t physical. It’s not painful in the literal sense. But it is uncomfortable. It’s coming from deep within…my “soul” is quietly asking for attention.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about how “heartbroken” I was feeling for my college and high school grandchildren losing such important pieces of their lives because of this pandemic. When I reflected on the conversation afterwards, something about the word “heartbroken” bothered me. My heart isn’t breaking. My heart was fine, beating and pumping normally – doing its thing. What is breaking, what is crying out, is my spirit. I could say that it is my soul that is breaking.
This realization makes me think that so many of the emotional conditions that we have come to attribute to the heart actually originate in the soul. I’m thinking about familiar expressions like “heartache”, ”heartbroken”, “heartsick”, “heartfelt”. Is it the heart that births these feelings? Or do they rise from elsewhere within us…from that hard to explain, nonphysical part of us that is almost otherworldly. We know it dwells there someplace. We hear it…we feel it. Sometimes this enigmatic inner consciousness even causes a physical response. Shouldn’t we then really be referring to similar emotive experiences as “a soul-ache”, or being “soul-broken”, or “soul-sick”, or something that is “soul-felt”?
Webster says the soul is “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal”. I find this definition inadequate. I know my soul is my essence, my spirit, my conscience, my connection to all creation. It is the dwelling place of all that anchors me. It is critical to my well-being. Yet, admittedly, how often do I ignore, and thus, neglect it? I can’t help but think of the speed of my response to a headache or a muscle strain, or even a skin rash. I want to rid myself of this physical discomfort immediately. Yet, when my soul cries out for attention, it does so gently… whispering, almost. So it’s way too easy for me to dismiss the momentary unrest as a “mood” that will soon pass. But no. I need to listen hard to this voice. It speaks of something every bit as real as, as impactful as, and at times more significant than these bodily discomforts I experience. And I need to follow it wherever it may lead. It has never led me astray.
I need to listen now – when I am feeling “soul-broken”.
There is so much advice available on how to take care of your soul. But what I’ve found is that we each must find our own way of caring for our individual soul. It’s not a one size fits all situation. I’m so lucky to have a few reliable and, in other times, easily attainable “soul fixes” – a sprawling family, trusted friends, books, cooking, writing, journaling, piano, solitude and silence. These are the things that feed my soul – and I am needing them now more than ever before.
It is in times such as these that I need to pay attention to the wisdom of my soul. I need to give my soul a voice.
Here are a few links to some “soul-filling” Ted talks that I enjoyed…hope you enjoy them too.