You shall love the Lord your God…with all your soul…” is our topic for March. Understanding soul and defining it may be the most difficult of the list to grasp firmly. While we of faith firmly
believe in having a soul and even experience having a soul, it is not something we can set in a box and say, “There it is.” Soul sits too deeply within ourselves to be seen clearly. Although we have certainly known people with deep and abiding souls, we struggle to name its essence in them.
Certainly soul connects to our understanding God more clearly than the others on our love list because our soul so closely aligns with spirit. Many struggle to separate soul and spirit. Although I think most of us think of them as different, we may have difficulty naming the difference. For me, we share spirit with God, as in the Holy Spirit. Flowing from Holy Spirit, spirit is
something that connects us to one another and God. The connection point of spirit is the soul, which we each have uniquely.
To love the Lord your God with all your soul exercises the connection of one’s soul completely to the spirit of God. True prayer comes from our soul. I say “true prayer,” because sometimes prayer can become words we repeat. Sometimes prayer may even be more of the mind speaking and creating ideas. Sometimes prayer is only self-focused desires. But prayer of the soul comes from deep within us and connects our spiritual and life center to God.
Exercise of the soul creates a conversation with God that is deep, engaging and growth-producing. It is something, like all exercising, that grows with practice and discipline. The more we pray from an authentic self, the stronger our soul becomes and the more deeply we love God. “With all your soul” suggests that all we are comes into the presence of God so that the divine eclipses everything else we are as persons.
Another exercise of the soul, which can also be a form of prayer, is reading the Bible. Here again, we can read the Bible or we can connect to the Bible. I especially like the process of Lectio Divina. This is an ancient concept that suggests reading the Bible as a way of devotion. In this model, you are not concerned about rational argument or finding universal meaning. Instead, you put yourself into the text as a way of walking with God. You seek in the scripture to find a personal message for yourself. To do this, you try to imagine yourself in the text. Maybe you become one of the characters. Maybe you are someone on the sideline, not mentioned, but witnessing the words as you seek to understand how the events of the scripture connect to your story.
I had a very meaningful experience at one time while reading the story of Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus. I imagined myself as Lazarus and discovered an important insight into my faith journey
with the church. That is too long to share now, but perhaps you might try being Lazarus in the story and discover how Lazarus’ story connects to your story.
Exercising of the soul as a part of the process of loving God can never be totally an internal journey. Our inner journey can never totally separate from our outer life. The soul is too central to who we are. Good events in our lives touch our soul. Bad events touch our soul. Choices we make touch our soul. It is important to exercise the soul so that when life hits us in the deepest parts, we are solidly connected to God.
Click here to read of the March Newsletter!