Over the past year or so I’ve written from time to time about different aspects of soul tending and why tending my soul well is at the heart of inhabiting life fully, and how it enables me to better reflect the image of God. I’ve had the best of intentions to write an entire series of posts on soul tending. Somehow it just hasn’t happened. And then I heard about the 31 Days challenge. For the past several years, bloggers have been joining together in October to encourage one another to write each day during the month on the topic of their choosing. There are no other “rules” than that. Perfect!! So for the month of October, I will be posting each day on soul tending.
I’ve decided to try something a little different to stretch my creativity and stir my thoughts. Each day I will be using a photograph I’ve taken as the starting point for focusing on an aspect of how to tend our souls well. I’ll also be including some quotes that have been meaningful to me as I’ve explored how to maintain my soul health. Over the years as I’ve learned more about how to tend my soul well, how to make sure I’m living a healthy “soul life,” I’ve identified seven concepts (at least there are seven so far) that are foundational to my efforts to keep my soul healthy and functioning well:
- treating myself with gentleness is key to tending my soul well and will be the focus of Sunday posts. Learning how to be gentle with myself helps me grow in my ability to be gentle with others and reflects the gentle character of a God who does not “break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick.”
- practicing gratitude and being mindful of the abundance that is around me will be the focus of Monday posts. Being thankful helps pull me out of my human predisposition to self-absorption and reminds me that I am not the ultimate source.
- maintaining community and building relationships will be the focus of Tuesday posts. An interconnected network of relationships provides a way to get me outside of my own head and helps me recognize when I’m out of balance. We are all communal creatures with souls that can only be satisfied by a steady diet of relationships that are marked by vulnerability and intimacy.
- embracing solitude, which provides the space for contemplation and living a well-examined life, will be the focus of Wednesday posts. I get to choose what kind of person I want to be, the characteristics of my soul. Spending regular time in thoughtful contemplation is fundamental to recognizing where my soul is healthy and where there is still work to be done.
- nurturing my senses by experiencing and celebrating all kinds of beauty will be the focus of Thursday posts. Celebration is integral to completing hard tasks, to rewarding myself for finishing. Celebration encourages my heart so I don’t exhaust my soul with the effort required to make it through the difficult seasons of life.
- living within the margins will be the focus of Friday posts. There are many circumstances in life, and I think particularly for women, when it feels like we’re being required to tend to the needs of everyone else without regard for the needs of our own soul. It’s easy to develop an unhealthy and mistaken understanding of what it means to give freely out of love and regard for others. Learning to say no and purposefully pruning back any “branches” in my life that are overgrowing their allotted space reminds me, again, that I am not the ultimate source (see “gratitude” above).
- entering rest, declaring a true and recurring Shabbat, will be the focus of Saturday posts. Setting something aside for a purpose makes it sacred. Setting time aside for rest with no deadlines and no boxes to tick off, making a sacred commitment to the restoration of my soul, reminds me that I am valuable and that I have a purpose.
There is a rhythm and a cycle to tending, whether it’s tending a garden, or tending children who always seem to grow up too quickly, or tending a treasured relationship, or tending our own souls. You need to learn when to plant, when to prune, when to water and when to feed. You have to learn what supports and increases health and vitality, and then you have to actually do those things. As I focus on soul tending this month, I will be reminding and encouraging myself to do the things that I know contribute to the health of my soul. I think it’s going to be a great month!
Here are links to the rest of the posts in this series:
Day 2 – Celebrating the season
Day 3 – There is a season
Day 4 – Stillness
Day 5 – Gentleness
Day 6 – Gratitude
Day 7 – Friendship
Day 8 – Looking life in the face
Day 9 – In praise of chocolate
Day 10 – Choosing my margins
Day 11 – With hands open wide
Day 12 – Nurture, not force
Day 13 – Aware of what I have
Day 14 – Forgiveness
Day 15 – Transparency
Day 16 – Jump in
Day 17 – Space for my soul
Day 18 – Restoring my soul
Day 19 – Blessed are the gentle
Day 20 – Depth perception
Day 21 – The most precious thing
Day 22 – Enveloped by solitude
Day 23 – Let beauty nourish your soul
Day 24 – A step at a time
Day 25 – Completely free to rest
Day 26 – Infinitely kind
Day 27 – Practice, practice, practice
Day 28 – Weep with those
Day 29 – Take a deep breath
Day 30 – Transfixed by beauty