Just another traveler on life’s highway, hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful; beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
The term “soul” is thrown around quite often in today’s society. Soul food, soul music, eternal soul are just a few. It always brings to mind that internal essence which many people consider the truth residing within each of us. Fr. Richard Rohr, cac.org , defines soul as “……anything’s ultimate meaning which is held within. Soul is the blueprint inside of every living thing that tells it what it is and what it can become. When we meet anything at that level, we will respect, protect, and love it.”
Notice that this advocate of the mystic nature of Christ does not describe my soul as an entity separate from anything else, as a part of my being which will move on to heaven after my physical death, nor a hard-to-understand tenet of any religion’s theology. Soul simply is. It tells me that I am what I am and it leads me to what I can become. It is the blueprint, the divine spark of DNA, present in every living organism. Every living creature has soul.
Francis of Assisi understood this and is well known for spending many hours walking the roads of Umbria learning from nature the meaning of soul. He called all of creation his brothers and sisters. Think about it. Every creature of nature is born, matures and reaches its destiny, when unimpeded, without a thought as to what it should be or how it should develop. A lion becomes the king of the jungle, a daffodil becomes a springtime beauty, a butterfly flits about searching for nectar. Only man disputes and denies his inherent divine spark of DNA. Man was created in the image of God and man’s destiny is to become a son of God, a recreation of that eternal Force which gave him life.
My religious tradition confused and often denied the teaching of St. Francis. It told me I had to conform to its theology and ritual in order to access the sacredness of soul. It led me to a narcissistic approach to God which proclaimed me as very unique and special while simultaneously damning me to hell if I did not conform through its creeds and prayers.
According to scriptures, John the Baptist eschewed the trappings of the temple and its purity laws calling people to repentance in the waters of nature. Jesus was baptized in those waters and subsequently spent 40 days and nights communing with nature in the wilderness.
Fr. Richard goes on to observe the mark missed by contemporary Christianity: “We would have done much better to help other Christians discover their souls instead of “save” them. My sense, after being a priest for almost 50 years, is that most Christians are trying to save something they have not even found.” cac.org