“How is your soul?” a friend of mine always asks. The greeting always gets me thinking, “Well, how IS my soul doing?” And I can’t help but wonder, come to think of it, what exactly IS my soul?
When I asked that last question — “What is your soul?” — to the faithful worshipers at Wednesday Lenten service, the responses showed exactly how hard it is to describe a soul:
-The soul is the part of us that ‘goes on.’ (That is, after we die.)
-It’s the same thing as our ‘Spirit.’ (Ah, then what is our spirit?)
-It’s the part of us that is not our body.
-It’s the deepest part of us.
-The holy part of us.
Everybody had said truthful things, but we still hadn’t really defined the soul. And maybe that’s how it should be. Similar to when we talk about God, we can say all sorts of things that might be true, yet we never even come close to describing the wonder and mystery of God. Like God, the true nature of the soul, and all its deepest secrets, are unknowable.
A mystery, but when the faithful worshipers were asked who was certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they HAVE a soul, all raised their hands without hesitation.
On a level that transcends logic and reason we all are aware we have a soul, and we all seem to know that it’s in conversation with God in some mystical way that can’t be understood or explained. And when we are asked, “How is your soul?”, most of us can even can look inside ourselves and have a reasonably accurate idea whether our soul is doing well or doing poorly.
Perhaps that’s one reason the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books did so well. Everybody understands that their soul, like their body and their mind, can be healthy or unhealthy, and that exercise and nutrition are good for it.
Though I rarely think of them in these terms, Lenten disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, petty sacrifice (I gave up sweets) and worship fortify my soul. Spiritually speaking, I do feel healthier during Lent than other times in the year.
Let me put it out there for everyone to comment on: What do you think is your soul? How is it “you”? How is it connected to your body and mind? How do you keep it healthy? How is your soul?
Photo by oddsock used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!